There are a few habits that we have cultivated (or are actively cultivating) to help hold things together at our house. We do them with our Best Effort, but we rarely get them done perfectly. I am sure that you have different things working for you at your house, but these are seven things that keep things running in my house.
- The Habit of Eating Well, pt. 1: Planning Ahead
Some things just make life easier and cheaper. I feed five people three meals and two snacks a day. So, it is a good thing that I like to cook. On Friday evening or Saturday morning, I check the fridge and pantry for things that need to be used and make a meal plan and grocery list. Then, we stop at Aldi to get most of the stuff. I’ll run to Costco on the way home from CC, and maybe hit Trader Joe’s between two activities later in the week. I may wind up making meals in a different order as the week unfolds, but if I follow my list, I can avoid end-of-the-day decision fatigue by following the plan.
2. The Habit of Eating Well, pt. 2: Dinner
We set a goal to eat dinner together at least five nights a week. Sometimes it evolves into a long conversation, and sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, dinner keeps my husband involved in what they are learning and gives us many opportunities for discipleship. We will shift the time if we have do. If dinner needs to be late, we have a larger snack in the afternoon. If dinner needs to be early, I’ll make sure no one snacks. Sometimes the evening activities can pre-empt our half-hour if we aren’t careful, so we purpose to guard this time. For our family, it has been very beneficial.
3. The Habit of Fun
Movie night is usually a hit over here. We will stay home and watch something on DVD, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. Occasionally, we actually go to the movies. We saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi a few weeks ago, and this week we really enjoyed The Greatest Showman. Movies add to our family culture like books do – when we watch them together, little quips and jokes are added to our common pool of shared expressions. Using those memories draws us closer together.
4. The Habit of Play
We also love to play board games together. Like family movie night, we enjoy doing this a couple of times a month. We don’t always achieve it, but when we do we have a blast. We played Tsuro with the cousins over the holiday. We also played countless rounds of Spicy Uno and Dominion. If we have plenty of time, we like Catan or Ticket to Ride. Sometimes we need something is quick and easy and allows for people to move in and out of the game – Chess or Spoons or Nertz.
5.The Habit of Cleaning Up
Chores are a necessary beast for all of us. We have tried several systems, and it turns out that the best one for us is to change it up often. So, people have assigned days to be the dishwasher, the sweeper, or the launderer. Jon and I fill in as needed, and we continue to teach these boys to clean all the way. They need to know how to clean a kitchen and a bathroom. Those convenient horizontal services that collect items that we were too lazy to put away correctly the first time sure do fill up fast! Doing this one daily is absolutely necessary because I need the house to be somewhat presentable, and all we have to do to achieve that is tidy a little bit at a time.
6. The Habit of Identifying Problem Areas:
So, we manage these few things (chores, meals, fun and games), but we fail repeatedly at other household habits to the extent that it is embarrassing. We are terrible landscapers and yard-keepers. We aren’t great at completing repairs. We get things tidy, but the floor usually needs mopping, and the stovetop is always dirty. We just can’t do all the things.
7. The Habit of Continuing to Refine Habits
We are all working on getting out of bed when we ought in order to complete what needs completing in the time that we have to complete it. The boys are working on putting things up when they are done with them and not waiting until I command it. They also get to work on attending to the answers they get to their questions. I’m working on giving them space to take care of things themselves before I remind them and to remind them with kindness and humor. I’m also working on my own attitude when people aren’t doing what they ought.Being grumpy and whiny, isn’t the proper way to encourage them to do as they should. It’s a rather bad example of how to handle Other People’s Attitudes. I should react differently.
These seven simple things aren’t as simple as they seem, but they do keep things from getting out of control over here.