I recently received the following comment:
I’ve been married for 2 years and have been a stay-at-home wife for about 5 months. I admit that I’m a little bummed out. I’m having a difficult time creating a schedule. I read blogs about SAHW’s and they all seem fulfilled, happy, and have things to do all the time. I live in an apartment in a city so I can’t plant a garden or tend to farm animals. I don’t have any children yet. We can’t move out of the city because then my husband would have a very long commute and I don’t want that. I’m literally stuck and boggled down with questions from people like, \What do you do all day?\. I don’t know how to answer them and I feel like a failure at times. I live in a big city where 90% of the women work, the other 10% are SAHM’s. But when I talk to SAHM’s, they pretty much tell me what they do with their children, which I don’t have. I don’t even know what time to wake-up in the morning? Or what to do first thing in the morning? I know that this sounds \crazy\. Does anyone have any advice or guidance on how I could create a schedule? Have any ideas of what you do with your time? Thanks in advance. Blessings to you!
Welcome to a rare and noble calling, a life of incredible freedom and nearly limitless potential for service, ministry, and the creation of order and beauty, and one that can sometimes cripple us with its never-ending choices. There you are, all day. You can do whatever you want. How do you make the most of it?
I was a stay-at-home-wife for three years before my first child was born. I remember the choices, the clueless questions from “normal” people, and the uneasy feelings of being directionless and not necessarily useful during that rough, initial-adjustment period. I didn’t get it “all figured out” back then, and I floundered around a lot. So much of what I’m about to share I learned later, after the transition from “stay-at-home wife” to “stay-at-home mom,” but I don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with having children. I think it’s much more about time in the trenches. And, take heart, five months really isn’t a very long time to find yourself when you’re doing something as radically countercultural as turning your back on the nine-to-five work world. You are doing something valuable and worthwhile that takes a long, long time to master. Be patient with yourself.
OK, so what do you do all day? Here are my two cents on navigating the possibilities. I hope others will have some ideas to suggest as well.
Step 1: Find your vision.
Why are you staying home? What’s your purpose? This forms the basis for evaluating your many options. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning. And it becomes your “elevator speech,” the brief little life summary you can share cold turkey with people who ask about what you’re doing. It’s also deeply personal, something you may want to pray about and discuss with your husband. Here’s the sort of thing I’m talking about:
I am staying home because I feel called to serve my husband, family, church, and community through creating a beautiful, well-functioning home where my family can thrive and from which we can reach out to meet needs around us so that I can be the kind of woman outlined in 1 Timothy 5:9-10 (“well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work”).
Step 2: Make your goals.
Once you have your big vision, focus in on smaller goals to support that vision. Someone who had the vision I just gave above might have smaller goals such as keeping the apartment neat and clean and beautifully decorated, learning new skills (like interior decorating, quilting, flower arranging, etc.) to support the goal of keeping a beautiful home, studying to prepare for other seasons in life (parenting, elder care, home ownership, etc.), extending hospitality to new families at church, taking meals to families when someone is sick, helping with housework or taking care of children when new babies are born, helping elderly family members or neighbors get to doctors’ appointments or shopping, discipling younger women, and writing encouraging blog posts (I had to throw that one in). Goals, just like vision, are going to be deeply personal and based on each person’s individual talents and interests, as well as the needs around her.
Step 3: Work out the nitty-gritty.
Once you know what you want to do, you have to decide how much time to devote to each thing. Start with your own family’s physical needs and move outward. Figure out how much time it takes you to handle all your laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and beautifying of your little nest, and then take a look at what you have left to devote to “washing the feet” of the needy people the Lord brings across your path.
Next you need to decide when and in what order to do everything. Here, you’ll want to start with your hard constraints like hours of sleep needed, mealtimes, and any regularly scheduled activities. Pencil all of those in first. If you have options about when to go to bed and/or get up in the morning, you may want to just adopt your husband’s timing. It maximizes time together, and gives a little nudge toward making sure there’s plenty of nonsleeping happening in bed, too. If you need more sleep than your husband, you may want to consider scheduling yourself a nap time. Also be sure to give some of your freshest and best time to the Lord.
When your “must do at such and so time” skeleton is made, you can start planning times to tackle your goals. For this, it can be helpful to take advantage of your body’s natural rhythms. I am a morning person. My big energy spurt is right after breakfast, and it gives me a great big boost to hit the ground running, getting my most important and most physical jobs done before lunch. That way, as my energy wanes through the afternoon, I don’t feel depressed about all that I still have to do.
All that’s left is trying your schedule for a while and tweaking as necessary.
You may also want to check out these related posts:
Ideas of Home by me, and Coming Back Home and Home, the Forgotten Realm both by Mrs. Anna T. (Actually, Anna’s entire blog is wonderful and has a strong homemaking focus.)