Sunday, February 28, 2010

Seven More Habits of Highly Successful Housekeepers

Image courtesy of

When I wrote the Seven Habits of Highly Successful Housekeepers post, I asked my friend Jodi--mother of five children, twelve and under, and a highly successful homemaker--to share with me some of her habits that help to keep her house under control at all times. I was blessed by what she shared and am confident you will be too.

  1. Get up plenty of time before the children. Proverbs 31 talks about rising when it is dark. I usually get up 1-1/2 - 2 hours before my children. This gives sufficient time for meaningful devotion time of reading and praying. It also allows me to put dishes in drainer away, move a load of laundry along, look over my list for the day, check email, turn on the Scentsy [wickless candle], etc. I cannot stress enough how this is probably the single most important factor in determining how my day goes. The key to remember: In order to this, I must be disciplined about getting the kids and myself to bed at a decent hour (always by 10 pm for me). And trust me, if you get up consistently by 5 or so, you will be tired by 10!
  2. Don't allow children to make multiple large messes. This is very important to me. I don't mind play-doh, legos, Lincoln logs and trucks. They just can't be out at the same time, especially in the living room (I am much more relaxed about their rooms). Don't be afraid to have discipline consequences for disobedience. Most of the times that my children are confused is due to the fact that I am not consistent in my follow-through. My goal is to explain simply what needs to be done. Monitor their immediate obedience (or disobedience). Praise them or discipline them. And, yes, I spank for this. If I have asked them to do something and they refuse or delay, they are disobeying me. Period. This is very Biblical, loving and effective. The better I am in this area all the time the better my day goes.
  3. Practice cleaning one area completely before a meal or snack, even if you might come back to it later. This accomplishes two things in our house. 1 - It reinforces the idea of good work ethic. You don't work, you don't eat. 2 - It gets one area of your house tidy. Again, assign the children a task while you do a task.
  4. Invite people over often. Let's face it. Most people tidy up before guests arrive. So...invite someone over weekly. It can be for dinner, coffee or a just a play date. You will be motivated to have your house cleaned up (not perfection, but inviting) so that you can relax and enjoy yourself when guests are there. The more often you invite others over, the tidier it stays! Trust me.
  5. Keep it clean. Cleaning shouldn't be a major overhaul. Doing a little bit, all of the time, is what my day consists of. This is not a burden any more than other "professional" jobs are. I am thrilled to be a stay-at-home mom and my husband will believe me if I delight in my children and my home! One other tidbit - I like to check email and blogs so I discipline myself in this area and make sure dishes and floors are done before I enjoy this pleasure.
  6. Be scheduled. You know this would be a big one for me. Everything from naps, meals, outings, chores. Kids need boundaries, they delight in boundaries. This is not an elimination of freedom or fun, but parameters around it. Training is my job as a parent, and I have seen wonderful, happy results in eating, sleeping and playing by putting my children on eating and sleeping schedules from infancy. (Most of the frazzled mommies begging for relief are the ones that demand feed and have very light to no schedules. On the other hand, the ones that have scheduled naps and feedings seem much more relaxed, efficient and able to be involved in activities and ministry outside the home. I know this is not absolute, and trust me, I know there are always exceptions to the rule, but for the most part it is what I have consistently observed.) You know the old saying, "If momma ain't happy, ain't no one happy!" How true is that. If I am fatigued because I have been up all night with kids, the next day is probably not going to go as well as a well-rested mommy! [Moms In Need of Mercy here--Jodi and I approach this a bit differently. I tend to have more of a general routine, and more flexible feeding times. But I asked her to share the habits that work best for her (and her family), and this is one of them. If you think it could help your family, you can prayerfully consider becoming more scheduled. If you do not agree with a more formal schedule, that's fine too! God has created us all differently. We are to do that which we feel He is calling us to.]
  7. Be willing to work hard! Some people ask, "What's your secret?" It's no secret. It's hard work, especially in the beginning, but I believe it is foundational to the training of children and letting them know from early on the roles of parents and children.'s worth it!!
Thanks, Jodi!

If, like me, you are working to improve your housekeeping habits, I encourage you to pick one area to concentrate the bulk of your efforts. As you see improvement, you can work on adding a new habit. Don't try to do everything all at once, or you--like someone begin to train for a triathlon--will burn out quickly.

I'm continuing to train my mental responses to do something immediately that I see needs to be done. I'm seeing improvement! I am also working on inviting people over regularly (at least once every couple of weeks). Jodi's right--it provides a benchmark for making sure your house is relatively tidy. Plus it's a great way to bless a friend, or even a stranger! The more comfortable you become with having people over, the more you realize it doesn't have to be perfect--just inviting (your spirit of hospitality has more to do with that than your home!).

Last week, I said we'd start link-ups for Messy Monday. So here we are! If you have a housekeeping tip that has helped you get it together, please link up a past or present post to encourage us all!

(I am having some problems getting the links to display properly. Please check back later).


  1. I praise the Lord for your blog! I remembered your post about doing things NOW this weekend...and my bathroom finally got cleaned! Sounds silly, but we are recovering from having a sick baby and hectic work schedule. I can't wait to print out the 7 Habits post. Anyway, your blog is so encouraging and entertaining. I look forward to it every day. God bless! Victoria

  2. A baby should be fed on cue (demand fed). It's bad advice to say otherwise. I feed my babies on cue, and I am NOT a frazzled mom.

    • New mothers are more likely to establish an adequate milk supply if they breastfeed frequently and on demand
    • Newborns should be nursed frequently and whenever they show signs of hunger—ideally, before they begin to cry
    • It's a good idea to let the baby's interest--not the clock--determine when a breastfeeding session is over.
    • Demand-style infant feeding schedules permit babies to adjust their intake in response to natural variations in milk quantity and quality
    • Infants breastfed on demand may benefit from higher quality breast milk and fewer digestive problems
    • Infants (of any age) breastfed on demand may experience less stress and pain
    • Infants fed on demand may take more naps
    A great website that explains this:

  3. Oh Cheryl -- I laughed (after my mouth dropped open) when I saw this. I guess I didn't realize my ideas to you were going to be a complete post. Ha ha. And already I've made a demand feeder unhappy.....

    To Anonymous that posted above: I realize there are exceptions, and I am so glad you are not frazzled. But, from my observations it is usually the moms that demand feed and get interrupted sleep that are over-tired and worn out. I appreciate your suggestion of the website, but I gently disagree and would subscribe to parent directed feeding/sleeping schedules. (I am not a Baby-Wise fanatic, but those books have been extremely helpful to me and countless other women.) I have 5 children that all slept through the night by 6-9 weeks, were scheduled nursers (every 3-4 hours) and were/are happy, healthy, thriving children. Actually, it is the training we provided during these early infant years that has proven an important foundation for structure and discipline as they have grown older. I know this is a sensitive area of disagreement and my purpose in this suggestion was not to debate, but to offer very real, practical solutions to moms that really do struggle with sleep, feeding and energy problems due to demand feeding. If it works for you and your husband, that is great.

    I am far from a perfect housekeeper, mom, wife, friend but by God's mercy and the power of the Holy Spirit, I press on.

    Thanks Cheryl - I think :) By the way, dinner is misspelled 'diner' above. Apparently I didn't catch that on my email to you. You have a great blog, are a great writer and it is neat to see so many people gleaning from it. I feel privileged to know you personally. Can I have your autograph......

  4. Victoria,
    Thank you for the very kind words. They mean a lot to me! I'm glad my encouragement helped motivate you :)

    Hi Anonymous,
    I had asked Jodi what she personally does that helps her with her home management.
    Jodi had written that she knows we view schedule feeding a bit differently. I edited that out, but did not want to edit her comments, since she was sharing what works best for her. I do things a bit differently, and it sounds like you do, too. My point in sharing her list of habits is not to endorse a particular method, but to offer ideas and suggestions for us all to consider under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

    Hi Jodi, I'll give you a call later today! I corrected that typo; sorry I didn't catch it earlier. Ha ha, I'll autograph a cookbook for you--how 'bout that ;) (Thanks, by the way) :)I appreciate you too!

  5. Cheryl - No problem and nice visiting with you. A signed cookbook would be fabulous. You're the best!

  6. I wasn't trying to create a debate either. I just think the initial post came across as babies should be scheduled from birth, and that all of us who prefer to work with what comes naturally for an infant as frazzled and sleep deprived. I would like to (kindly) challenge you in your thinking. Hundreds and hundreds (thousands) of years ago, babies were often carried in the modern term slings. Many non-western countries still do this. The babies often have full access to nurse as needed and can nap as needed. Babies have tiny tummies, and it is gentler on them to eat smaller more frequent meals. In addition, babies will develop a routine as they are old enough to naturally stretch between feedings (my kids stretched to 3-4 hours on their own). My children are on a schedule (not rigid -- naptime may be at 2:15 instead of 2 sometimes, and that's okay. Life just happens like that sometimes.). I just don't force one on them when it's best for me. I like to let them be the guide to show me when they are developmentally ready to follow more of a schedule. My challenge to you (or any rigid schedulers of infants) is to consider the motive behind such a rigid schedule. Often, not always, the reason for a rigid schedule for an infant comes out of a selfish place. I like it better, I want to sleep more, or I want to be able to do x,y,z. My children do not run my home -- they are quite disciplined, VERY well behaved, so this isn't coming from a parent with no-rules, out-of-control children. What I do is recognize that this tiny little infant that God has entrusted me with is so small that they need me more to thrive. Instead of having the attitude of I need to sleep and this baby needs to work with my schedule/needs (selfish), I need to put myself aside for now and cherish the moments I have with this precious baby. They will grow up all too soon and not need me in the same way anymore.

  7. Thanks for sharing your tips. The getting up early is the one that I have the biggest problem with. I don't have children yet and I work from home. But I WANT to get up early so I can help my husband make his lunch and get my day together. It makes my day go so much smoother.

    But a lot of days...I just can't. I'm not sure how to find that motivation. It's just hard sometimes.

  8. Hi Guys,

    Gosh--sorry to you all for any misunderstandings. I personally do not schedule my babies. But I think those of us who nurse more on demand for our infants would still probably say it fits into a general routine (such as upon rising, mid-morning, lunchtime, whenever they seem to be hitting a growth spurt and are extra hungry, etc).

    I love what Nancy Wilson has written in one of her books: there are principles and methods. As Christian women, methods may vary from person to person, and we can respectfully disagree, but the truly important thing is that the principles are being met. In this case, the principle is feeding (and loving) our children. The methods may vary.

    I also think that Jodi's tip ("Be Scheduled") was about more than just infant-feeding styles, although I can see how I should have clarified that much better when I posted this all. So I apologize for that. I understood her "be scheduled" point to encourage us to be intentional about setting goals for our day. Again, the methods may vary. Someone may schedule down to the hour (or smaller increments), another may have morning goals and afternoon goals, someone else may just have a few priorities for the day in general.

    Hope that clarifies better!

  9. Thanks for the clarification, Cheryl. I believe we are thinking the same way about the general nature of scheduling. Hope you don't lose any followers over this. :)

    Anonymous: I appreciate your follow-up, but I feel that you are taking my comments totally out of context and using extreme examples/reasons for women who choose to "schedule". I did not say that ALL demand feeding moms are frazzled. I said that often moms I have interacted with that are "frazzled and begging for relief" are those who have demand fed and/or not getting adequate sleep. These are often the women that are not happy with their current situation. Also -- all caring mothers put limits on types of food and when kids eat. If I didn't my child would generally choose chocolate over carrots and would be "demand" eating it much more often than would be healthy.

    Since you are clearly not frazzled or begging for relief, I am not sure why this post affected you so deeply or why you want to change my mind about my scheduling preferences. I have no desire to change yours, only offer a little assistance to those women who are weary from little sleep with frequent nursings not necessarily for food but for pacification.

    Again -- if you are satisfied and happy with your scheduling choices, that is super! If you come into contact with women worn out by their scheduled lives, they may be able to benefit from your perspective.

    However, I have met many women who desired a change from this method and found restored energy and happiness in their marriage and life (not simply for selfish reasons). I think we would both agree that there is a lot of middle ground between "rigid, selfish, task masters" and "out of control, random, no-rules" types of people.

    The big issue is not whether we breast feed or bottle, demand feed or schedule, but do we do all things to glorify Christ? I think we all, like Cheryl, desire to be better moms and wives and changes necessary to make this happen come only by God's great mercy and grace. Amen?.

  10. I have to split this up. Apparently, I'm long winded. :-)

    "I feel that you are taking my comments totally out of context and using extreme examples/reasons for women who choose to "schedule"." That's your perspecive. I don't consider them extreme. I'm not sure how using the same examples you used for scheduling (more sleep, being involved in activities, etc.) make my position extreme, but not yours.

    "Also -- all caring mothers put limits on types of food and when kids eat. If I didn't my child would generally choose chocolate over carrots and would be "demand" eating it much more often than would be healthy." As do I. I just don't put limits on my babies. Isn't this taking what I was saying to the exteme as you said I did? I was simply stating that I allow a schedule to form naturally. God has given babies this wonderful ability to stop eating when they are full. A lot of the "junk" foods in our lives are acquired tastes. If you have been told that by putting your baby on a feeding schedule you are keeping them from "demand" eating as a child, I would seriously check the validity of the source that told you that. There is much research that shows that natural limits to food intake happen if allowed to be as a baby. Putting limits on that causes babies to lose that ability.

    "Since you are clearly not frazzled or begging for relief, I am not sure why this post affected you so deeply or why you want to change my mind about my scheduling preferences. I have no desire to change yours, only offer a little assistance to those women who are weary from little sleep with frequent nursings not necessarily for food but for pacification." It's not that I am trying to change your mind. I was trying to help you see another perspective on the issue. My impression (not necessarily accurate, but that's the trouble with typed words. Sometimes the intent is missed) was that your method was best. I felt lumped into a group of frazzled people. I guess I would hope that the solution to a tired mom isn't just putting a baby on a strict schedule. I remember getting some beautiful advice about instead of obsessing about the minutes of sleep lost to just enjoy the special time with an infant who needs me more for this season of life. I think a lot things in life are about perspective. If there are moms out there who have babies who continue to have frequent nursings not necessarily for food but for pacification, then there are several issues that may be happening that aren't just solved by a schedule. Sometimes, they are having latch issues or general nursing issues that could be easily corrected and should consult a lactation consultant. Sometimes, the new mom needs other ideas to soothe their babies besides nursing. Sometimes, the babies are going through a growth spurt, so it will end soon. I guess I'm trying to say that the solution could be numerous things. In some cases, the mom needs to find a bit more of a schedule. In some cases, it's other things that a schedule would cover-up but not necessarily be the best remedy.

  11. "However, I have met many women who desired a change from this method and found restored energy and happiness in their marriage and life (not simply for selfish reasons). I think we would both agree that there is a lot of middle ground between "rigid, selfish, task masters" and "out of control, random, no-rules" types of people." Absolutely on both items. As I said, the schedule doesn't always come out of a selfish place. My hope is that advice as to whether or not to force a schedule is on a case-by-case basis. Scheduling is never the first advice I ever give a new mom, but there are times that I have suggested that they develop more of a routine for their babies. I just tend to suggest it out of what seems to develop naturally instead of deciding when the feeding and nap are going to happen and work to force that to happen that way. I often ask the mom to notice for a few days (if they don't already know) when the baby seems tired and hungry. They may have a routine already in place and not realize it, or they may be all over the place and should have a pattern developed several months in.

    I am sorry to have upset you so much. It was not my intent. I wanted to point out that forcing a schedule isn't the only way. It's also not best practice to schedule nursing. I have met endless moms who do not follow a rigid schedule that are very relaxed. However, they usually follow a routine that develops naturally. The frazzled moms that I encounter have no routine and do something different everyday. I honestly believe that we're both schedulers to varying degrees. The difference is the path we take to get there.

  12. I think anonymous (I feel bad calling you that, but I don't think you left your name) and I agree in general principle regarding scheduling and the disagreement came in "perception". My tips to Cheryl were never meant to advocate an absolute, only what had worked best for me.

    No worries about upsetting me. I actually wasn't, but rather thought you were by your tone in the comments. Your first line was: "A baby should be fed on cue (demand fed). It's bad advice to say otherwise."

    Maybe I read that wrong, but it seemed pretty clear that you said my advice to Cheryl was bad?. I agree though, typed words make it difficult to judge tone. I thought I tried to reiterate in both comments that I was happy that you were a non-frazzled-demand-nursing mom and I had no intentions of trying to change your mind. It sounds as if we are both equally satisfied and blessed with our own methodology and the children are fed. Praise the Lord! Blessings to you and your family. :)

    P.S. My oldest is 12 and my youngest is 2, so we are past the nursing stage so TRULY I never intended this email to Cheryl to get on the demand/schedule nursing bandwagon. And for the record, I spent more time on the computer today than I had scheduled in. :)

    Cheryl -- so do I owe you a Starbucks or do you owe me one?

  13. Whew! Should've saved this for Coffee Talk Thursday! ;)

    On a different note, Sarah, to get back with you: :)
    What time does your husband need to leave for work? Maybe you could try to get up with him one time per week and slowly work up from there.

    I wanted to share a brief story with you.
    When I used to produce and anchor the morning news for our local NBC station, I had to be in at work around 3am. I usually woke up somewhere between 2 and 2:25. My dear husband almost always woke up with me, started a fire in the wood-burning stove of our tiny 800-square foot first house, cut me a grapefruit and made me toast, and started my car for me in the winter.

    Although that schedule was grueling, those times together in the very early am are some of my fondest memories today. It was just a special time of bonding (and it made me feel like more of a "normal" person to get up that early with someone else!).

    There's some fun stuff here
    about rising early. I'm going to check it out too!

    Good luck!

  14. Loved this post, ladies! I do most of these steps already and have noticed a HUGE difference between when I practice them and when I don't. I do feel that #1 is much easier if you are more of a morning person to begin with (I am:) but will say I am "towered" (how my then 3 year-old said tired:) by dinnertime at night and it's sometimes a challenge to get through those last couple of hours before bedtime. I'm working on getting more sleep so I can enjoy the early evening hours more with my family. And don't even get me started on how much I LOVE a schedule (and containers and lists and a plan....:) Thanks again - have a blessed, organized day!

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