Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An Older Woman's Wisdom - Susan

I was blessed to find yet another letter, another wealth of wisdom from Susan, mentioned in The First Day of School. Tim and Susan were another couple that greatly influenced us during our growing-up years as parents. They have a slogan to their lives,

"Married in 80,

Had one child in 81,

two in 82 (one handicapped)

third pregnancy in 83."

I remember that they had four in diapers at once. That's alotta babies. That's alotta love. That's alotta work.

Add to the fact that Tim traveled often for work, they moved a lot, they were involved in a tremendous amount of hospitality, poured their lives into others, had people live with them, led Bible studies and were always actively involved in church planting and/or church growth and you wonder how Susan kept it together.

But, she did.

I remember staying in their clean home with preplanned and healthy meals, always desert, the kitchen cleaned up right away amidst laughter and good fellowship. Her kids were bathed every night and she put the girls' hair in curlers.

In about 1993, I asked her to write down her advice for me on keeping a clean/organized/hospitable home. I have kept the letter, read and re-read it and passed it on to other young moms. Blogging gives a greater audience, so I am praising the Lord I saved this letter!

She covers a lot more ground than just housework.

"As we go through mothering, first of all, we must be convinced that it's the most blessed and privileged position we can have, and I know you do. God calls us to it. It's our #1 mission field, so don't let me hear you say, "How can I serve the Lord?" :) We're training little soldiers to be big soldiers. Thank the Lord for each soldier He's given to you to direct and order for His purposes. When the soldiers get out of line, lovingly get them back into line. (on the double! - don't wait!)

How does one organize the household? Good question. It takes hard work and constant planning. I was trying to recall how it was when I had four little ones around me daily. I have four bigger ones around me daily now and I see how much easier it was to discipline for naughty deeds than it is now to discipline for naughty attitudes. The scope of busyness changes as kids grow - instead of picking up toys, you are transporting kids here and there, cleaning up baking messes that they didn't do the way you'd approve of, etc. Face it; each stage has its training areas.

Do you make lists? I never did, but I do now, simply because I forget if I don't.

To run our household I think in the quietness of the evening about what needs to be done the next day and then plan how much time it takes to do them and arrange them around meal preparation, etc.

Generally speaking my motto was and is: Unless all is in place prior to bedtime, it'll only add to the next day's load, so don't allow it.

1. Have a place for everything and train yourself, your husband and kids to put things in their place.

2. No dishes in the sink at bedtime. Start the day with everything intact.

3. Have your quiet time during naps, if possible. (I ended up having my quiet times in the early morning and studied at naptime.)

4. Don't let papers stack up on the cupboard - another end of the day project if not done during the day.

5. Throw anything that is clutter- if you don't use it, pitch it.

6. Whenever you start something, finish it before going on to the next thing.
ex.) Baby Grace needs a bath. Give bath, feed and settle down and before starting dinner, go back and put bath stuff away if not already done. Keep on top of things one by one. Some days there are those things that pile up, but don't let it be the norm.

7. Plan simple meals. While kids are happily playing, peel your spuds for supper, even if it's only 3:00pm and supper is as 6:00 pm. The kids will get more cranky later and then that'll be out of the way. Always trouble shoot and be prepared ahead of time.

8. Keep up with the laundry. Do it daily - sheets and towels one day, clothes every other day. Iron as the clothes are washed - don't let it pile up. That's too discouraging. Even if it's three shirts, do it.

Building a happy home takes sacrifice on our part, too. I don't always feel like playing a game, but sometimes I must do it to give the boost needed. Then, the kids leave me alone and I can work like mad.

Get Scott to take the kids out for one hour and have an uninterrupted time to work now and then too. Amazing what one can get done.

Make deals with your kids.
Ex.) when the timer on the stove rings, everybody pick up 10 toys quickly and bring them to me! (You'd be surprised how putting a # on the items will motivate.)

Now that I've rambled and make it sound so easy, let me tell you it's not. It's hard work that goes on, day in and day out. We aren't always happy. Laundry isn't always done. Meals aren't always on time. In short, I'm not perfect even when striving to be and the Lord knows the humbling I need.

I hope your day is organized enough to have a slot of time to get through this mess. Don't let it clutter up your cupboard, OK?

"Love your husband, love your children, work at home, be pure, sensible, kind, be subject to Scott that the word of God may not be dishonored."

May the Lord bless your life with Susan's advice as it has blessed me!


  1. I've thought of Susan often lately as baby #9 was thought to have have some special needs at one time. Doesn't look like it now but her attitude was a great comfort to me while I waited to hear of my baby. Thanks for her letter.


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