Becoming a Work at Home Mum

This year has seen me officially make the change from Stay at Home Mum to Work at Home Mum (or from SAHM to WAHM).

Like all my major life changes, I approached this one with the same joy and enthusiasm as I do a trip to the dentist.

It’s been painful. There have been tears and mourning and fears (spoken and unspoken), but now… well, here I am. A mother who works from home. And it’s not all that bad. I actually quite like it.

But it’s forced me to face some big questions about my identity and my role in life.

I’d been a SAHM for years, and it became a large part of my identity. In fact, you could even say it was part of my identity since before I was even a mother. From a young age, my dream was to marry young, have babies (and be done before I turned 30) and raise them from home.

I never felt the need to “contribute financially” because I was always convinced that the role and work of a SAHM was inherently valuable. Sure, it’s possible to squander that time and not use it for the good of your kids and family – there are lazy SAHMs just like there are lazy workers. But I didn’t need anyone to convince me that my work was valuable because I always knew it was.

And I think that’s a big part of why it was so hard for me to (mentally) make the change from being a SAHM to a WAHM. If everything I was already doing was good, valuable work, then which parts could I possibly drop to make time for working?

Of course, that’s a simplification. I have lazy days or periods – I’m not trying to say that literally every thing I did with my time was good and valuable. But on the whole, I couldn’t see which big things could be dropped.

Which leads me to my first big realisation as a WAHM.

I can’t do everything that a SAHM can.

Let’s be honest. There are only 24 hours in the day. We all get 24 hours.

Now, I’ve recently seen the argument made that actually some people have more than 24 hours because they have money, and money buys other people’s time. Like, I pay my 2 year old’s childcare to look after him for 8 hours, so you could argue that I actually get 32 hours that day – because I’ve paid for 8 of someone else’s hours with my money.

But I don’t buy it (pardon the pun) because while I am paying for someone else to care for my son for 8 hours, I’m not doing it myself. And I firmly believe that child-rearing is not just a “task to be done” – their needs are not just boxes to check. And that 8 hours? It’s time that I don’t get to spend with my son, bonding with him, discipling him and investing in his heart. And that’s 8 hours that a SAHM does spend with her child.

Do you get what I’m saying?

It’s an illusion to think that you can be a working mum and still do the exact same things as a SAHM.

A big part of adjusting to being a WAHM has been changing my expectations about what I can and can’t do. And not just being reactionary about it either, but proactively letting some things go. (Like certain standards of cleanliness. My cleaning routine is done on a triage basis now.)

Speaking of letting things go…

It’s okay to not be on top of everything

I like being on top of everything. I like being in control and being the one who can handle it all. But really… I can’t.

And it’s okay to admit, “I can’t do all of this!”

Because once you admit that you can either accept it (for a season) or figure out what you can change.

And the best thing about not being on top of everything is that it makes me lean on God more and drives me to prayer.

Now, a big part of the chaos and difficulty at the moment is that I’m still adjusting (and probably also, this time of year!). I’m sure things will settle down and even out more, as I get into good habits and routines. But to some extent, things are always going to be changing.

Working does not make me feel more fulfilled

I’ve heard other women say that working makes them feel more fulfilled – like they are finally doing something important. As I touched on earlier, this hasn’t been the case for me.

My work is fun – it’s something I really enjoy, so I definitely get a sense of satisfaction from it.

But I don’t feel better now that I am financially contributing to the household. I don’t feel like the work I do for my business or clients is more important than the work I did (and still do) in my home for my children and husband.

All in all, I’m very thankful to be in the position I’m in.

I’m thankful that my husband’s job allowed me the wonderful opportunity to be a SAHM for as many years as I was. And I’m thankful now that I’m able to do this job from home, limiting my time away from my kids.

Have you made the transition from SAHM to WAHM? How did you feel about your changing roles? What did you struggle with?

Saving Yourself, or Something Else?

If you haven’t heard, Joshua Harris has recently come out with a statement and a documentary about the ways his views have changed from those he laid out in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

With all the media and blogs and tweets coming out about this news, it raises again the topic of “purity culture”.

Now, I always look onto these discussions with great interest, because I was raised to save sex for marriage, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I was part of “purity culture”. Primarily because there weren’t many Christians where we lived, let alone enough to form a whole “culture”, but also because there was a distinct lack of creepy Daddy/daughter stuff.

I’ve been specifically thinking about the language we use around sexual purity – the phrase “saving myself for marriage” or “waiting for my future husband”. (The latter being popularised by Rebecca St. James’s song “Wait For Me”. I had the matching journal, Letters to my Future Husband, in which I poured out my weird little teenage heart. Hmm, maybe I was more part of purity culture than I thought…)

The problem with these sayings – euphemisms for abstaining from sex until marriage – is that they place the emphasis, the reason, for not having sex as an unmarried person on the eventual hope that you will marry. And that’s a great hope, even goal for a teenager to have, but what about those who don’t go on to marry, despite desperately wanting to and pursuing this goal?

Where does that leave their sexuality? Being saved for something – someone – that will never come. And to be honest, I think that leads sexual immorality. It leads people to think things like, “If I did the right thing by saving myself, why hasn’t God given me a husband?” and “If doing the right thing didn’t get me what I was promised, then I may as well not bother any more.”

Not to mention, that “saving sex for marriage” is totally the wrong frame. It approaches the issue from the perspective of the (secular) world, who have no moral constraints on sex apart from “consent”, and kind of says, “Well, I’m not going to just have sex whenever I want, I’m going to save it.”

What would it look like, how would we speak about this, if we started from God’s perspective? If we held as right and true that:

  • Sex is a good gift for married couples
  • Singleness is also a good gift.
  • The only appropriate context for sex is within marriage.
  • This is not about a personal or religious choice, it’s simply about obedience.

Maybe then we (and our children) could speak not of “saving ourselves for marriage”, but instead we would talk about “living holy lives to God’s glory” and “obeying God because we love him”.

Whether that looks like getting married and having frequent sex (in obedience to God).

Or staying single and celibate and living wholeheartedly to please the Lord (in obedience to God).

In all things, let’s live to His glory.

A Time to Savour and a Time to Hustle

I can hang out a basket of washing in 5 minutes.

I did it today in the small window of time I had before I had to pick up my daughter from school.

It would have been easy to fritter that time away with a scroll through Facebook (as I have done on other days), but today I squeezed those minutes for all they were worth – I hustled.

I felt a glowing sense of accomplishment at the time well spent. And the benefits extended into the rest of the day – it was one less thing I had to do.

My favourite time of day to hang out the washing is in the evening, right after dinner. The kids are sitting on Daddy’s lap watching videos or getting ready for bed.

The air outside is cool and the birds are calling to each other in the trees surrounding me.

I hang an item and then stop to take a deep breath as I look around, trying to spot which bird is making that unusual sound I haven’t heard before. I might bend down and wonder at the lady bug traversing the blades of grass, slowly making her way home.

Doing it this way, it takes about 5 times as long to hang a basket of washing, but the experience is far more pleasurable.

Would I get more done if I hustled all the time, squeezing productivity out of every minute? Unquestionably.

Would I have a better quality of life? Not a chance!

Hustling all the time is a sure-fire way to burn out. (And if Mumma burns out, we’re all gonna have a bad time.)

The key is seeking God for wisdom on how to spend our time – moment by moment, day by day.

Here’s what I’ve observed in my own life. The more I’m in His word, the more my priorities match His.

And the more I’ve been intentional about keeping Sunday holy and restful, the more productive I am the rest of the week.

Ask the Lord to help you know when it’s time to savour and when it’s time to hustle.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
James 1:5

This Cross

Lord,

I know you said to take up my cross and follow you,

but,

I don’t want this cross.

It’s heavy and the splinters are digging into my shoulders.

And look,

over there –

her cross looks MUCH lighter than mine!

What’s it made of?

Looks like plastic to me.

Can I have a plastic cross too, Lord?

One that’s easier to carry and doesn’t dig into my flesh so much.

One that doesn’t make me stumble and trip and

call out to you for help so much

and…

Oh.

If…

If none of my dreams and plans come to pass…

If doubts and questions crowd into my thoughts…

If each day brings tears and sorrow…

If pain in my body is constant…

If no amount of sleep fixes the tiredness…

If all my friends desert me…

If I am mocked and ridiculed by all…

If I lose every possession I have gained…

If we have no money for food and no where to live…

If I lose my whole family…

If I die tomorrow…

 

…God is still good and faithful.

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “there

 

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

– Thomas Chisholm

Are you starving yourself?

I’ve been sick with some kind of cold virus lately, and it seems to have affected my appetite, putting me off most food and even *gasp* coffee!

But I know that it can be a vicious cycle – feeling too sick to eat, then feeling weak because I haven’t eaten, then being sick for longer as my body struggles to recover.

So even though I didn’t feel like it, I forced myself to eat things that my body needs – red meat, veggies, egg and (yes) coffee. It’s not a fantastic experience, eating with a blocked nose. But I see the benefits of nourishing my body when I have that little bit of extra strength returning and I’m that little bit less cranky.

Whether or not I feel like eating is irrelevant. My body needs food so I should eat.

And sure, sometimes we do need to stay away from food for a while when we’re sick. But this can only be a temporary thing, or it becomes hazardous to our health.

It made me think about how we approach reading the Bible.

In her interview on the Sheologians podcast, Rachel Jankovic encourages women to feast on the spiritual food that God has made freely available to us – His word, the Bible.

Why would we spiritually starve ourselves or try to get by on crumbs, when we have an absolute feast available in His word daily?

Since doing the Summer reading plan and now the Bible reading challenge (in which we will read the entire Bible in 9 months), I’ve become much more aware of my own need for His word, daily. I haven’t managed to keep up with the set readings each day, but the amazing thing is that after spending so long making this habit and enjoying the Bible daily, I actually miss and long for God’s word when I do miss a few days.

Here are some signs I’ve noticed that tell me my spirit is “starving” for a Bible feast:

  • I am more irritable around people.
  • I am more direction-less in my day – not really knowing what I should do next.
  • I scroll through social media mindlessly.
  • I am more easily discouraged by difficult circumstances.

When I notice those things, it’s a sure sign to me that I haven’t been in the Word.

When was the last time you ate?


 

Related: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/women-we-need-his-word

 

Emotional First Aid

I woke up grumpy the other day.

Well, to be more precise, I woke up with the expectation of being grumpy. And my expectations were abundantly met.

I’d been battling through various illnesses with the kids and myself for weeks, and was just getting on top of the conjunctivitis going through the last kid to get it.

I’d gone to bed mentally scolding no one in particular, “If I wake up to one more sick kid…”

Sure enough, I woke to find the familiar goop had returned to the eyes of the youngest child – the first one to catch it.

I wanted to scream and stamp my foot. I wanted to punch something. Hard.

But instead, I stuffed that mess back inside it’s box and let out a big sigh. Then I got on with cleaning the goopy eyes, administering eye drops and making breakfast.

And as I worked away at my tasks, still nursing my anger like a newborn baby, I felt that gentle prodding of the Holy Spirit. Like the sharp end of a stick, pointing out my sinful attitude and refusing to let me stay in it.

Because it can be tempting to nurse our anger and frustration sometimes. There are so many sources out there that will tell us that “venting” is okay and complaining is totally normal, but in the Bible, we read that grumbling against God’s provisions for us (which includes the good and the bad) is wickedness.

In Numbers 14, verse 27, God says:

How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me.

Sometimes you can’t just make yourself “snap out of it” though. And God sees our heart – he’s not interested in plastered smiles and sing-songy voices.

God sees our heart - he's not interested in plastered smiles and sing-songy voices.

 

When I feel stuck in a bad attitude, here’s how I apply some “emotional first aid” and turn it around – I remember these truths, found in God’s word, and I preach them to myself:

  • God is holy – He is set apart and there is no one like Him.
  • God is good – everything He does and is is good.
  • God made me and is the boss of me – not only is God my creator, but as a Christian, he is also my Lord and King.
  • God has saved me from my sins and the consequences of them.
  • God gives me every spiritual blessing I need – I am lacking nothing.
  • God is sanctifying me – he is working on me from the inside out, to make me more like Christ every day.

Sometimes there are other thoughts that flow from those, but generally speaking, it’s pretty hard to continue with my bad attitude after getting through that list!

Now, these are things I know to be true. When I go through them, I’m not trying to convince myself, I’m just trying to remember – to bring these things to the front of my mind.

And as I remember the truth about who God is, it reminds me of who I am and who I am becoming. And fills my heart with thankfulness instead of bitterness.

Pray for Your Husband Through the Week

This year I’ve committed to praying for my husband more diligently.

The other day I was thinking about it, and while each of us has friends and a great church family whom we could (and do) call upon to pray, there is no other person who knows my husband more deeply and intimately than I do. And there is no one who knows me more than him.

Therefore, we have such a privileged position when it comes to prayer – we can pray for each other in ways that others wouldn’t even think of. We can direct our prayers with accuracy and love. We can use the daily reminders brought on my living in close proximity to serve as prayer prompts.

We can pray for each other around those sensitive areas that the other person might not be ready to talk about yet.

What a gift it can be when we pray for our spouse intentionally!

One way I’ve been doing this recently is that I set a reminder on my phone for 10am every day to pray for my husband. (I didn’t realise, but apparently our calendars are linked so my husband gets this notification too – he told me he loves it, because it reminds him to pray for me!)

Then I wrote a list where I assigned a generalised prayer point for each day of the week.

Pray for Your Husband Through the Week

This is my list, but you could definitely make up your own prayer points to suit:

M – Maturity in Christ. This is something Paul often tells us he prays for the believers he addresses his letters to. None of us will reach full maturity in Christ until we are completely transformed into His image, so this is a great thing to pray for your husband

T – Trust in Christ. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” Each Tuesday I pray that my husband will put his trust in Jesus as he walks in obedience to him.

W – Wisdom. I pray that my husband will have wisdom from God in whatever challenges he is facing that day – whether spiritual or earthly.

Th – Theology. I pray for my husband to grow in his understanding of and love for God.

F – Friendship. On Fridays I pray for my husband’s friendships, that they would be a source of joy and encouragement to him.

Sat – Seeing God. I pray that my husband would see God’s hand mightily throughout his day and week.

Sun – Sexuality. I pray for my husband’s sexuality (with thankfulness!) that God would use it for His glory.

 

Each day when the reminder goes off, I take a minute to recall what the prayer point is for that day, and then briefly pray for my husband in whichever way that point best applies to him at the moment.

It’s so simple, but such an effective way to be building up your husband and practically loving him.

Why not give it a try?

Hospitality for the Socially Awkward

“Where do you think I should put the drinks table?” I asked my husband, as he scrubbed the barbecue in preparation for our house-warming party.

“I don’t know,” he said.

“Because I was thinking it should go down there on the ground, so it’s not a big deal if people spill drinks. But then I was thinking that it might be too far away from the food table, so maybe we should put it up here on the deck. So… what do you think?” I asked again.

“I don’t know. You decide,” he said.

“Fine,” I huffed, “We won’t have a drinks table then.”

“You’re being ridiculous,” he said, as I stomped back inside.

Ugh. Is there anything worse than someone saying you’re being ridiculous when you are actually being ridiculous?

The truth is, hosting people at our house for a party or even a casual barbecue does make me go a little crazy.

I find myself playing out all the things that could go wrong…. Not enough food. Someone’s child goes missing. Someone’s child breaks something. My child won’t nap. Guests won’t feel welcome. It will be boring. I won’t know what to say to people. On and on, in my head, goes the list of potential problems.

So by the time we get to the day of the party, I tend to be in a bit of a state.

 

But personal weakness and discomfort are not reasons for ignoring (or wilfully disobeying) God’s instructions.

Hospitality is something Christians are commanded to do – it’s one of the tangible ways we are to show God’s love.

Hospitality

This is why I really appreciated Michelle Lesley’s article “The Christian Introvert: Putting off Social Anxiety, Putting on Serving Others“.

I love Michelle’s kind but direct approach to the issue.

When I entertain those anxious thoughts and feelings, I’m focusing on me. My fear of man. My worries about what others will think of me. My discomfort and desire to be somewhere else. Me. Me. Me.

Oooh, it stings so good!

The reason I get so worked up thinking about hosting others is because I’m fixated on myself: What will people think of my cleanliness? What will they think of my food? What will they think of my decorating?

Michelle has some great practical suggestions in her article for “putting on” a selfless attitude in various social situations.

Here are my tips specifically for hosting guests when you feel socially awkward or introverted:

  1. Simplify the food. I mean, you don’t have to be really cheap about it, but the key is to remember that you are making food to provide for people, not impress them. Don’t think about what food will make you look the best, but what food will contribute to everyone’s enjoyment of the party. For our house-warming party, if people asked “Can I bring anything?” we said we would love it if they brought a plate of finger food. Sharing the load of food prep took a lot of pressure off on the day, and I think people enjoyed contributing!
  2. Get your house clean enough. Again, take the focus of “what will people think of me?” and put the focus on, “what will best enable my guests to enjoy themselves and move freely about the house?” Aim for clean and hygienic bathrooms, and get the clutter off the floor, or at least moved to the edges of the floor. I actually think it’s good for people to see a little mess around the edges of your home. It makes them feel more at ease and less like they are walking through a museum. (Not that my home has ever got to museum standards…) Put anything you really don’t want broken away in a cupboard.
  3. Get the kids to help. It’s so good for kids to see and work together with their parents to serve others. Talk them through the practical steps, give them age-appropriate jobs to do and let them see how you love others through hospitality.
  4. Accept help when it is offered. If you have a great church family, like I do, it’s likely you’ll hear the phrase “What can I do?” quite a bit when hosting guests. Have your answer/s prepared! Don’t, I repeat, DON’T say, “Oh, I’ve got it under control.” Because even if you do right now, I can guarantee you won’t for the whole time! So, think of jobs other people can do to help ahead of time. Things like, asking who would like tea or coffee, walking around with a plate of food, clearing empty plates off the table, etc.

 

As the last smiling guest left our doorstep on the afternoon of the house-warming party, I crumpled into my husband’s arms and let out a sigh.

“That was great,” he said. “We should have people over more often!”

“Yeah, we should,” I agreed.

(And then I went and had a nap.)

What I’ve Earned

One of the Bible verses I have hung up in my house is Romans 6:23:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It’s one of my favourite verses because I love the contrast between “wages” and “gift”.

What I’ve earned – what we’ve all earned – is death. If God is to “pay” us at the end of our lives for all we did, he would righteously give us death. Just like a worker who does their job Monday through Friday and then earns their pay check, the work of our lives is all sin (without Christ) and so we are owed death as our just payment.

BUT!

God doesn’t give us what we earned. Instead, he gives us a completely free gift – eternal life! In fact, it’s the opposite of what we earned!

Every time I read this verse and ponder it again, it blows my mind.

Thank you, Lord!