the home arts

Flexible focus…

I was watching a butterfly land on a leaf the other day- this airy, graceful arc that landed just so on the branch, with nary a shudder to leaf or limb. It seemed as though the leaf should have bent considerably- the butterfly looked so much heavier, vis a vis the leaf- but it just bowed gracefully, as if a perfectly choreographed duet with the butterfly.

In hindsight, I have realized that in my approach to homekeeping, I want to be that leaf in that airy dance- a solid, graceful, flexible landing place for my family and its many needs.

I struggled for a long time with the perfectionist demands of a schedrule- like I said in the last post, I would tend to go all or nothing with it- and therefore, spent much of my time taken three steps forward and two steps back, endlessly frustrated with the lack of progress.

I came to this point of “Enough!”- thoroughly convinced that I was going to end up in the loony bin, and soon if I couldn’t find a balance. I chucked everything. And it sorta worked. Sorta. Soon the un-schedule was stressing me out as much as the schedule did.

In this haze of frustration, I realized that I so often confuse reaction with intentionality, crisis management with proactive anticipation. I look for any ‘quick fix’ home keeping solution, parenting solution, etc. without ever really stopping to consider why I needed the quick fix in the first place.

This last six months or so has consisted of learning how to completely shift my stance, to lean back instead of rushing forward. And the funny thing is- those confounded lists reappeared! But how I’ve used them has completely changed. Instead of considering them a solution, I’ve learned to consider them as tools. I think that’s the mistake that so many mamas tend to make- we expect that this or that sort of homekeeping mantra will fix all the problems, but they are only a means to an end.

My husband and I sat down and had a long (sometimes painfully honest) discussion about our family needs. I was continuously surprised the longer the discussion continued at how much we simply didn’t realize was an issue. No wonder I was always catching up! I had no clue what I was working with at the get-go. And part of this was being blisteringly honest about what I actually could do.

I’m not sure I’ve found the sweet spot yet- there are still some areas that are woefully lacking in ‘intentional funding’ as my husband and I are jokingly calling it- but I feel so much more sane now!

I took my cue from Elise’s list as a sort of template as to what I wanted to extend to other areas- finding an intentional way to say yes instead of no, to bend gracefully and flexibly instead of snapping horrifically under the lightest of weight. Elise was talking about something as simple as snacks, but it was such a revelation for me- narrowing the choices as to enable more flexibilty? Light bulb moment! I have also been reading Elizabeth and Mary’s blogs for a few years and Mary’s point about limiting her menus (in conjunction with the Church’s feast and fast calendar) making for variety within the context of ease of preparation and predictability just seems so sensible. I’ve been evaluating how to tailor these ideas to fit my own family. I have been finding so much success with this, and I am so grateful…I feel like this new path is sustainable and sane and proactive versus me running around (and feeling like) a chicken with my head cut off.

And of course, my favorite inspiration for her simple, sane, and lovely approach is Anna. How I shall miss her gentle, lovely voice in the blogging world!


  • Sandi @ A Mother's Musings

    I created a 4 week rotating menu last November. It was working well until we moved and then I have yet (since Jan) gotten back to it. Now that is is warmer I might change it up a bit. I HAVE to have sometihng to tell me what to do each day for meals or we eat badly. I don’t enjoy cooking (yes I said that outloud) and not sure I ever will really get into it BUT it is a needed part of my daily life so I have to find away to make it work.
    Thanks for pointing me back to Elises post about snacks and her recipes. I read that and then forgot about it. I think a baking day could really work for me now that my little man is pretty consistant with sleep. I love baking so that’s easy for me.

    It takes time to find that balance. I ditched strict schedules last year and am slowly now trying to get back into come cleaning routines. I just would rather read to my kids or for myself then clean LOL! Not reality just the truth :o)

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