By Frieda Cowling
God gives us jobs and expects us to be diligent in doing them. In describing the virtuous woman, God writes in Proverbs 31:27: “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”
I am thankful that I was able to be a “stay-at-home” working mom until the last of our four children went to school. However, the real issue is allowing God to direct our path. God’s way is uniquely planned for every individual. Proverbs 3:5 and 6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
I have found that when I am willing to yield my will to the will of God, I have a peace knowing I am doing the right thing. Several years after I was married, I decided to give my husband veto power in every decision I made. I didn’t really want to do this, but I felt it was what God wanted according to Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”
If you are a single mom and must work to provide for your children, God will help you. Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
When working outside the home with a husband and children, you have several full-time jobs in trying to be a companion to your husband, spending time with your children, cooking, cleaning your house, shopping, and serving God. I established the following priorities for myself as an “outside-the-home” working mom:
1. Never be too busy to walk with God. This includes having a set time every day to read the Bible and pray when you won’t be interrupted and being faithful to all the church services. Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
The only uninterrupted time I could find when working was getting up 30 minutes before everyone else in the family. I didn’t like this, but I knew I couldn’t make it without a walk with God.
2. Establish your priorities and let these determine what you do each day. My priorities are as follows: 1) God—reading the Bible, prayer, church services, 2) husband, 3) children and grandchildren, 4) home—cooking, cleaning, and organization, 5) service to God, including soul winning, bus route, etc., 6) self—diversion to keep me going, and 7) my job outside the home.
I let the above priorities make my decisions for me. If my husband wants to invite someone to dinner on my cleaning afternoon, I clean at another time and prepare the dinner when he wants it.
3. Live by schedule. I get up at the same time every morning and allow two hours from the time I get up until I leave for work. There is nothing magic about two hours, but that is how much time I find I need to get everything done without feeling pressured and frustrated. I set a time when I clean the house, shop, do laundry, and go soul winning. I know if I stay with my schedule, I will get everything done according to God’s plan for my life.
4. Get your rest. This is a constant struggle for me because when I run out of time to get everything done, I “cheat on sleep.” As a result, I get lectures from my husband, my children, and Mrs. Evans. Do you have any suggestions for me?
5. You can’t do everything the way it was done when you only worked at home. When I was home all day, I vacuumed every day and tried a new recipe every week; now that is not true. I feel my house is clean, but I don’t have as much time to spend on cleaning.
6. Schedule time to spend with children even if you must have dust on the furniture. Driving your children to church and school or to activities is a good time to build relationships. At our house, every Monday is “Family Night,” and we let nothing interfere with that.
7. Plan meals a week at a time, write them out, and shop once a week when the stores are not crowded. Shopping early in the morning or late at night shortens shopping time. Making a list from a meal plan will eliminate time-consuming extra trips to the grocery store and running out of an ingredient you “have to have.”
8. Set the table for breakfast the night before and set the table for dinner after breakfast. Doing so will give you and your family a feeling that everything is under control even when you don’t feel that way.
9. Check your meal plan and know what you will be having for dinner that night before you leave home in the morning. The smell of a roast in a crock pot provides a great “welcome home” to a hungry family and eliminates a trip for “fast food” that is death to a food budget if it is a common occurrence. Salads and desserts can be prepared ahead of time.
10. Pick up any items scattered around the house and put them away before going to bed at night. I find it depressing to get up in the morning and face a mess. It is hard to teach your children to pick up after themselves if your house is a mess.
11. Choose clothes for the next day before going to bed. I pick out an outfit, press it if it needs pressing; match shoes and accessories the night before. I can get ready much faster when this is done.
12. Teach children to help around the house by giving them specific jobs to do each day such as getting dressed, making beds, cleaning rooms, etc. At our house if these jobs weren’t done by breakfast, the child finished the job while the rest of us ate breakfast. II Thessalonians 3:10: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
13. Have a set time for cleaning and laundry. Always look for more efficient ways to do these things. Do these things when your schedule demands—even when you do not feel like it. You’ll feel good when you do.
14. Schedule some time for yourself to keep yourself from becoming “weary in well doing.” I treat myself to a snack and 30 minutes of reading a book if I get everything done at night. I enjoy planting flowers, shopping in thrift stores, and playing with my grandchildren.
I hope this article doesn’t give you the idea that my life is perfectly organized, that I always get everything done, and that I never feel frustrated or discouraged. However, when I decided to allow God to order my steps, I have had more peace than when I made all my own decisions. Psalms 37:23 and 24 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way, Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”
The other day Krysten Vestal, our youngest daughter who is the wife of an assistant pastor in Oregon, called. “Mom, what do you do with all your time now that all the kids are gone?” she asked.
“I have no idea.” I replied. Maybe I’m getting slower as I get older; but I have a busy life, and I love everything that I do. I want to use the remaining time God gives me to make the greatest difference for God and good. It’s a wonderful life.