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Practice Makes Progress: Simple Steps for a Less Chaotic Home

Practice Makes Progress: Simple Steps for a Less Chaotic Home

I talk a lot about grace on the blog.  It’s kinda right there in the name.  So I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that one of my deepest desires it to build a more grace-based home.  When it comes to the “home-making” part of my life, my overarching goal is fairly simple: I want to fill my family with grace and growth inside these walls–so we’ll have plenty of love to share when we step outside of them.

Sounds fairly simple. But we all know, creating a peaceful, faith-filled home involves dozens of practical details.  Meal planning. Juggling appointments and events. Household chores. Personal and family devotions. Marriage Communication . . . Well, I’ll just stop listing things there, because I’m already feeling overwhelmed.

Here’s something I learned the hard way about trying to manage all these facets of building a great home:  You can’t do it all, and you can’t expect it to be perfect.  I spent many years trying to live up to “The Perfect Christian Woman” standard in all things, including my home life.  I tried to do All. The. Things.  And here’s how that worked out for me in one simple equation:

Everything + Perfect = Burnout

I’ve written a lot about God’s wake-up call in my life–how he caught me when I tripped over all my efforts in exhaustion, and finally helped me understand the idea of grace. It’s taken a lot of time, but I’m finally walking a healthier path of pursuing progress, rather than perfection.  This has revolutionized my faith journey.  But it’s also been a game changer in the practical details of home life.

Of course I’d love to have a smoothly-running family calendar, meaningful family devotions every night, and a nice, clean house for my family to enjoy all the time.  It’d be great to have every closet decluttered, and every room freshly updated.  And oh glory, wouldn’t it be fabulous if I had “perfect attendance” for every workout or Bible study moment I intend to do?

But I live in reality.  And in reality,  I don’t have the bandwidth to hit all these priorities, all the time. Things ebb and flow. I might find an awesome meal-planning strategy that works for awhile, but then family commitments change, and it’s not working anymore.  Or I rock an awesome family Bible study through the winter, but then summer comes along and distracts us with warm weather and family outings.

Seasons change. Life changes.  And far from achieving any sort of “perfect,” my home life is always a work in progress.

Do any of you relate?

Here’s the good news, friends: We don’t have to figure it all out at once.  We just have to pay attention to the “next little thing” God might be prompting us to try. And you know what happens when we respond?  We live out a much healthier home-making equation that looks like this:

Little Tweaks + Time = Healthy Progress

You don’t need to set up a massive, complicated system to make your home life perfect. Honestly?  I think that just sets you up for either a.) failure (because you never even get it off the ground), or b.) burnout (because you DO get it going, but no one can actually sustain that kind of system forever!)   But when you get serious about one little tweak, and then give it some time, it can lead to a meaningful change in your home.

Better meal-planning systems.  Prioritizing family devotions. Starting a new exercise routine.  Staying on top of family appointments.  Trying to achieve all these things at once will drive you crazy!  But what if you just picked one little goal to get you started?

  • Maybe it’s a new family devotional you try so you can share your faith with your kids.
  • Maybe it’s taking a half hour to research meal-planning ideas and coming up with a new system to try.
  • Maybe it’s setting the alarm ten minutes early so you can take time to write in a prayer journal each morning.
  • Maybe it’s printing “chore sheets” so your kids can do more of the cleaning.
  • Maybe it’s starting a “ten-minute” clean-up each evening, when you declutter the kitchen before bed.
  • Maybe it’s finding a weekly planner where you can get your to-do list out of your head and onto a page

Maybe you want to do ALL these things!  That’s great. But my advice?  Avoid the overwhelm (and all the guilt that can go with it), and just start with one. Give it time. Notice and enjoy how it fills your home with a little more peace.  And then once it’s become a “new normal,” you can tackle your next goal.

For me, it’s building better cleaning habits. I’m great at the whirlwind clean-a-thon of the main floor when guests will be coming over. But when it comes to deep cleaning room by room?  Well, I’ve been managing home now for 20 years, but I still haven’t really found a great system for this! So my next “tweak” will be getting my kids more involved with the cleaning and trying to build some better routines.

What’s your next little tweak? What is one area where you could build more faith and peace into your home?

Whatever it is, I hope you can find one small, concrete step you can take toward your goal. And as you give this new habit a try, I hope you’ll remember that God’s right there with you amidst these everyday chores and challenges. And that he’s not expecting perfect: He’s just cheering you on toward progress.

One little tweak at a time, friends.  I’m praying we all build more grace and peace into our homes.

 

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