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The most important tool in my homemaking toolbox

The most important tool in my homemaking toolbox

I’ll be honest: our home is not exactly a well-oiled machine on a good day.

We are a work-at-home, homeschooling family that spends a LOT of time at home, and there are 7 of us (soon to be 8—holy moly!), including 5 growing kids whose needs change on a regular basis. Which means we adjust routines and rules and habits a lot.

But even though things don’t run perfectly all the time, our household runs pretty smoothly for the most part, and—as silly as it sounds—nothing makes my heart swell with love and pride more than those moments when everybody just pitches in to get something done and we work together as a team. I just love it.

If I had to pick one tool that makes the biggest difference for our family, though, I wouldn’t choose something specific like our meal planning process, our evening clean up, or our chore assignments.

No, what I’ve realized this past month is the most important tool is simply our willingness to embrace survival mode when it’s needed.

I know that sounds silly, but over the last 12 years, we’ve dealt with 10 pregnancies and 5 newborns as well as all-consuming work deadlines and various injuries, illness and accidents. And through those experiences, we’ve learned that trying to push through the tough times while maintaining “normal” is just not worth the cost.

We’ve discovered what survival mode needs to look like for our family, including which things are the hardest for us to maintain, which are the most important to us to still get done, which we can put off for later, and which just really don’t matter that much. And because we’ve been there so often, we’re able to switch to survival mode quickly and easily when it’s necessary.

For example, when my morning sickness started to ramp up last month, we immediately bought paper plates because we know that that one simple change makes a big difference in everyone’s stress level.

When I could no longer handle standing in the laundry room folding a load of laundry without wanting to vomit, we embraced the “basket method”, where I simply sort clothes by person and we live out of the baskets.

Our kids have watched more TV and done less intensive school work, and we’ve said no to various outings and opportunities.

They’re also eating cereal and bagels almost every day for breakfast, and we’re embracing simple meals like noodles with sauce for the rest of the day.

This time, it has also meant scaling back my posts here on Life Your Way and shelving various projects as well.

In my early years as a mom and homemaker, I would find myself desperately trying to avoid any of those “compromises,” but at some point my energy and strength would give out and we’d end up doing them anyway…accompanied by a full dose of guilt.

Now, I embrace them. No guilt. No regrets.

And that means we survive this time more emotionally intact and we’re able to bounce back sooner because we’ve focused on what’s really important during that time.