Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wet Wipes Are A Mom's Best Friend

Perfection is the enemy of the good.

I believe this is especially true of all things motherhood and homemaking. We tend to think if we don't have time to give that fridge a good and proper, 45 minute cleaning... then we just can't bother with the sticky syrup mess in it until we do have 45 uninterrupted minutes {tell me it isn't just my fridge right now???}. If we can't develop a perfect organizational system for our kids toys, then maybe we should just give up and ignore the disaster.

Which is why I am a huge fan of wet wipes.

Before I had kids, I remember my friend Jen (at the time, mother of 3) singing the praises of wet wipes. "I don't know what I did before having kids!" She used wet wipes to remove eye make-up in a pinch, clean up juice spills, and wipe sticky fingers, among other things. At the time I couldn't fully appreciate her enthusiasm. Two kids later, I am definitely there.

I use wet wipes to clean my kids up after every meal {no piles of wet wash cloths lying around}, wipe down my bathroom sink, clean my fridge, dust my baseboards, and get up sticky residues on any surface. They save me time and thought and effort, and make my home a whole lot cleaner than it would be if I waited for the perfect moment and perfect tools.

It may sound wasteful to use wet wipes so superfluously... but is it really? I tend to believe that when it gives me so much peace of mind and makes my life soooo much easier, the use is justified. I skimp on paper towels and try to be very frugal with the majority of our resources... but I've decided that going crazy with wet wipes is more than worth it for me. Maybe not for you, but for me it is. And I believe lots of moms could benefit!

Every other month we receive a case of wipes from our Amazon subscribe and save. It is nice to always have tons around, and to never have to go to the store to pick them up.

Mothering little people is exhausting. It is hard. You know that you are short on time and sleep, and that little tornadoes are constantly running through your house, which as a result, is less than tidy. If you can take a short cut that gets the job done without interfering with your busy day, take it. There are no prizes for the Best Cleaned house or doing the job perfectly. No gold stars. So cut corners when you can. Your home and family will thank you for it.

What are some corners you are willing to cut as a mom? We all could use the encouragement to pursue "good enough" in place of perfect! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

When Advice is More Hurtful Than Helpful

Advice is overly abundant in our day and age. From countless internet articles to your grandma to your next door neighbor, everyone has more advice than you could possibly want, need, or use- on everything from how to feed your baby, how to beat infertility, how to discipline your kids, how to lose weight, how to most efficiently exercise, how to clean your home, how to get stains out of clothing.... and on and on and on. 

Deep down I think we all just want to be helpful. We find a method or answer that revolutionizes our life, and we want others to experience the same "eureka!" moment. Or while we may have no experience in the area on which we are advising, we want the recipient of our advice to know that we care and are trying to be of service. 

And yet...

Haven't we all been on the receiving end of unappreciated advice? Best case, we might just feel annoyed that so-and-so thought that they had the answer to all of our perceived parenting problems. Which might be because the advice was handed down with an air of condescension, or might just mean we are a little proud and need a softer heart. Or maybe we were just tired and cranky, not in the best place to receive the admonition given.

Worst case, sometimes advice can be downright hurtful. You've been trying to get pregnant for years, seeing various health practitioners and adjusting your lifestyle, all to no avail. That super-sweet lady in church hands you yet another article about a new study that could be relevant to your situation. She meant well, but the encounter is just another painful reminder that you still can't conceive a child. You've tried it all, and this suggestion makes you feel like you just haven't done enough.

I remember how I exclusively pumped breast milk for S's first year of life. We had met with several lactation consultants, read quite a few books and articles, tried many different techniques and positions... yet I still couldn't get my preemie to nurse. Many well-meaning women who had nursed their own babies {none of whom were preemies} gave me suggestions. "Have you tried this? What about that? That is so strange!" 

I felt deeply frustrated, because despite gallant and persistent effort and education, I was getting no where. These conversations left me feeling like I was not enough of a mother, or like it was pretty silly of me for not being able to figure out something so simple. Then my second came along and nursed like a champ- c'est la vie folks.

A recent conversation with a friend brought this all back to mind. I realized {once again!} that I am often way too quick to hand out advice that may or may not be appreciated. At best, annoying; at worst, hurtful or even offensive.

What if our friend sharing her struggles is really just longing for someone to listen? What if she doesn't want that quick answer, or our suggestion with the eight philosophical/scientific/experiential points that back us up?

What if instead of quickly offering solutions and suggestions, we took time to listen quietly and pray as we hear, only offering advice when it is asked for? What if, when our expertise was requested, we offered it in a quiet and gracious manner, leaving the recipient free to reject it if it doesn't work for them? 

Sometimes the best way to be helpful is to keep our mouths closed. To lend ears and encouragement instead of instruction. Yes, there is a time for giving good counsel. Absolutely! We are going to have to develop hearts of discernment to know when to say something and when to say nothing. Wisdom requires us to be students of God and His Word, and of the people we are in relationship with. 

Again, I will be the first to admit that I am way too quick to offer my opinion on an issue, way too often. So I'm praying for grace and trying to remember that love listens first. I don't want to hurt you in my efforts to help you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#ReformingSocialMedia {A Blurb and Giveaway!}

You've probably heard me talk about it quite a bit lately. Mostly via facebook, but also in this post. My friend Mandy has written a wonderful little ebook, all about why we ought to and how we can glorify God via social media.

It was a game changer for me folks.

Mandy addresses this super relevant topic with heaps of clarity and grace. Her insights are poignant. I have felt very neutral about my usage of social media in the past- this book opened my eyes and challenged me to filter ALL of it (facebook, blogging, etc.) through the gospel and a desire to glorify God. It has changed not only my online time, but my thought life in general.

While #ReformingSocialMedia has been available for purchase several weeks, today is Mandy's official launch day. To get the word out and spread the love, Mandy has graciously offered to give away one PDF file of #ReformingSocialMedia to one reader of The Purposeful Wife. 

Enter below by clicking on the link below and following the instructions on the form. And be sure to check out this convicting and extremely beneficial book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And the winner is... Sarah Finlay! Congrats Sarah :)!

Friday, February 6, 2015

A PreSchooler Valentine's Day Round Up

Doesn't having kids make all of the little holidays such fun?

While Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day haven't always registered on my radar in the past, having little people to share and celebrate with makes these days worth marking.

I remember my own mom throwing little parties for us and a few friends. She served bologna, cheese and bread all cut with heart shaped cookie cutters. Those parties are such a highlight as I look back on my childhood!

Here is a collection of some of my favorite ways to celebrate V-day with S and W, as well as a few new ideas we'd like to give a whirl this year. Happy Valentine's! 

S enjoying heart pancakes many a moon ago....
Heart Pancakes. Serve up some adorable valentines for breakfast! I simply add a little bit of red food coloring {if you are strongly opposed, you can use a more natural alternative like beets, cranberries, or pomegranate juice}, and use a 1/4 cup to make one side of the heart, then the other. Mine never turn out perfect, but my kids sure do enjoy them!

Thread Hearts. Last year S handed these out as valentine's to her friends. I simply cut hearts out of red and pink construction paper and used a hole puncher to make holes all around the sides. She threaded them with red yarn, and we tied a bow at the end when she was done. Very cute, and a fun hand-eye-coordination activity!

Love Hand/Foot Print Painting. What a cute way to remember how little your child's hands and feet were in February of 2015 :)! This might have to become an annual Valentine's tradition in our home. 
Photo via HelloBee

Animal Valentines. Crafty morning has tons of valentine animal craft ideas, all shaped out of hearts! I think these are what S will make and hand out to her pals this year. Lady bugs, elephants, puppies, caterpillars, fish... all so very very cute. I also love this pipe cleaner flamingo I found on Pinterest.

Printable Alphabet and Number Matching Game. I heart crafty things has a really cool free printable for helping your preschooler work on their letters and numbers! I can't wait to give it a whirl with S. 

That about wraps up our V-Day! What sorts of special activities or snacks do you do with your preschooler for Valentines? 

Monday, February 2, 2015

How to Pick Yourself Up When All Housekeeping Motivation is Lost

For the past week or so I have really struggled with motivation in regards to cleaning my home, keeping up with the dishes, preparing meals, and doing laundry. I rarely find these tasks to be fun, but usually my desire for order and blessing my family keeps me on track. Sure, my house is never perfect, and I'm never quite caught up, but we get by and it is good enough.

Not lately. Four days went by, and though I washed dishes every day, still a stack remained constantly towered on my counters. I hadn't cleaned the bathroom since getting back from Ireland a few weeks ago. And unfortunately my in-laws dog didn't come home with us- he was so good about eating everything my kids dropped from the table that I forgot how disgusting my floor gets after just a couple of meals with S and W.

Part of it was having a really sick kid. Stomach bugs create quite a mess of their own that needs constant cleaning and attention. Between wiping up vomit, rinsing underwear after accidents, and waking up to a crying child and staying up with them for an hour or two every night, I felt tired and burnt out.

Yet the mess was crowding in around me, suffocating and taunting me at every turn. What's an exhausted housewife to do???

There is no easy answer. Because really, at the end of the day the work just needs to be done. It will take time, energy, and effort that you just might not have. But here are a few ideas that helped a bit in pulling me out of the no-motivation-funk.

Do the fun job first. I almost always have an organization or decorating project on the back burner of my mind. Something that I would love to do, but because it isn't quite a necessity doesn't get my attention.

I always feel like I have to wash all the dishes, wipe down the counters, and sweep and mop the nasty kitchen floor before clearing out my pantry. Or that I should really have my kids help clean up all the toys {so much harder than just doing it yourself! oh the cajoling, and encouraging, and reminding and threatening...} before clearing the clutter from and redecorating my daughter's bedroom shelves.

And yet... if I do the fun thing first, it usually gives me a big joy and energy boost! Once my pantry is pristine, I'm a little more inspired to do the dishes, wipe the counters and clean the kitchen floor. If I organize and decorate in the kid's rooms as I talk them through the clean-up, more is accomplished and I am far happier with the results.

In the name of all that is good for my housekeeping, I resolve to here after always do the fun job first!

Listen to a delightful audiobook. I think I've read every single one of Jane Austen's six completed novels at least 5 times each.... and yet somehow they never get old. I still find snippets of wit to smile at, life lessons to glean, and intriguing peeks into the absurdities and nuances of human nature.

Almost every year I give them a re-listen on Librivox {a 100% free collection of audiobooks from the public domain}. Some narrators are better than others. Give several of the versions a listen {there are usually 6 or 7 for each Austen novel} and choose your favorite. Right now I am loving Karen Savage's rendition of Pride and Prejudice

Also I've found that if I play audiobooks or podcasts over speakers for my children to hear, they object. The whining and chatter grows louder- it's as though they feel slighted, like I'm attempting to drown them out. The most effective method I've found for listening is to play it on my phone, one ear pod in and one out. That way they don't know I'm multitasking, and they play happily with me still able to hear both them and the book.

Set a timer for just 5 minutes. Or 10. Some small increment of time, so that you at least get something done in between snuggling a sick kid on the couch, reading books to the littles, or changing yet another diaper. Because something is seriously better than nothing. Five minutes of dishes right now is better than tagging that 5 minutes on to the 55 minutes you will already have to spend on dishes catch up when you finally get your energy back. Or when the necessity and desperation so compels you.

Or, if all else is lost, invite somebody over. Because we all know that:

That's all I got. How do you find motivation when all desire for duty is lost?

For further encouragement...

This post from Ann Voskamp seriously gave me a kick in the pants one particularly unmotivated afternoon last week. Specifically the first half of it. "Life is pain- and you get to choose: either the Pain of Discipline or the Pain of Disappointment."

Also, if group tasks and online accountability is just the shove you need, Sarah Mae is doing another round of 31 Days to Clean.