How To Keep A Tidy Home Even When You’re Sick

Six simple ways to keep your home tidy even when you're sick. Pin this to refer back to  when you catch a bug this winter! I love Tip # 5!

My family and I went on an amazing vacation to the Outer Banks, North Carolina for a week. We spent time riding waves, spotting wild ponies, visiting a place that made us feel like we were in the middle of Egypt, climbing the tallest light-house in North America, standing in two states at one time, and taking a ferry ride to an island that used to have real pirates on it! It was an incredible week!


Instead of bringing home a normal souvenir, however, I brought home a not-so-lovely case of strep throat.

After we got home on Saturday evening, I slept for 18 out of 21 hours. I’ve also spent approximately 44 out of the last 48 hours in bed or on the couch. No books. Hardly any computer or TV. Barely any phone time. This illness has really knocked me down!

But, alas, the house will not get the best of me. I’ve been sick before and I’m sure I’ll be sick again. Here’s how to deal:

1) Accept every offer of help.

If you have a large family or your kids are too young to cook and a friend wants to bring over dinner, say yes! Even if you’re too sick to eat it, your family can enjoy the meal while you slurp soup.

Accepting help also goes for people living within your home. As the mom, I want to be the one to take care of the house. But I also recognize that my husband is awesome and when he genuinely wants to help by going grocery shopping and cleaning the kitchen, I need to accept his love offering!

And when Lily offers to make simple family meals and snacks to help out while I’m sick? Yes, please!

2) Compliment any helpful efforts.

No matter how large or small a task is that a family member completes, compliment it, even if it’s not done the way you usually want! When Grace got ready for bed and tucked herself in without me close-by, I told her how nice it was that I was able to rest while she took care of herself.

Those genuine and appreciative compliments often go a long way in helping family members want to offer even more help.

3) Forget about perfection.

When your well-meaning crew loses focus or you run out of energy after a job is only half finished, remind yourself that a sink full of rinsed or soaking dishes is much better than a sink full of stinky dishes!


4) Don’t do more than is good for you.

If I had forced myself to do all of my normal housekeeping this week, I would have made myself sicker for even longer. So I believe these two solid days of rest have been necessary.

Now that I’m feeling a tad better, I’m catching up on a little blog work. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to fold some of the laundry my family has been washing for me. In other words, do what you can but won’t worry about what you can’t do.

5) Drop everything unessential from your plate.

Feeling better by Wednesday doesn’t mean that you’re obligated to stick to everything you had planned for Wednesday. Cancel in advance and give yourself a day or two to catch up at home before resuming your normal activities.

6) When all else fails…

Maybe your family hasn’t done very well on pitching in around the house – now you know what to work on after you’re feeling better. Or maybe you’ve been sick for two weeks and in spite of everyone’s best efforts, your house has become a gigantic mess anyways.

Regardless of the reason, choose not to worry about the house. Just give yourself grace, let your family eat really easy meals, and know that you’ll be able to work towards an orderly home once you’re feeling better.


What tips do you have for keeping a semi-tidy house even when you’re under the weather?


When It’s Time To Live Out Your Faith

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 2:7 (NKJV)

When it's time to live out your faith. This article is SO inspiring!

I was recently handling a disobedience issue with one of my children – from the time I asked her to complete a simple task, until the time the task was actually complete, was over two hours.

As I discussed this with her afterwards, I apologized for my lack of proper discipline. I knew that that instead of giving swift punishment when she didn’t obey, I was helping to breed laziness within her by allowing the behavior to continue.

During our conversation I lectured, “Doing something more than two hours after I ask you to do it isn’t obedience – that’s disobedience and completely unacceptable.”

Then I stopped. It was one of those aha moments where I recognized doing this in my own life.

I reflected on my own Christianity. When I know that God wants me to do something, I normally consider obeying “only” two hours later an excellent time frame!

But, how many times have I known I needed to take some sort of action and put it off, not just for a few hours, but for months or even years? Even though I do my best to stay away from the “bad” things mentioned in Revelation 21:8, I also know that…

Christianity isn’t just about a checklist of things we don’t do. Christianity is also about what we do. It’s about following Jesus fully and completely, without delay.

For example, we’re told that Peter and Andrew were out fishing when Jesus called for them and, “They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Likewise, when Jesus called James and John, “Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.”


As I truly considered the passage in Matthew 4, I realized those men had incredible faith – the apostles didn’t dwell on the opportunity for several months, or even several hours, beforehand. They didn’t even go home to pack a bag! They knew where Jesus wanted them so they lived out their faith and they went.

Would you have done it?

Would I have?

I’d like to think so, but I know myself. I know that I would have probably wanted time to think about it. I would have doubted. I would have wondered, “What if this doesn’t work out? Maybe I should deliver these fish first. What if I want to come back to this occupation later but my customers have found someone else?”

When I’m truly honest with myself, I know that I probably wouldn’t have simply cast my net, my livelihood, aside and followed unless I was absolutely certain of the outcome.

But then, if we’re following Jesus completely, aren’t we already certain of the outcome?

“Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 (NKJV)

Yes, sometimes we need to consider options and make sure we’re doing the right thing.

But when we already know what the right thing is?

We need to stop putting it off! We need to open our eyes, refuse to let fear stop us, cast our nets aside, and obey by following Jesus.


Fast and Frugal Storage Solutions

Six Fast and Frugal Storage Solutions. Great tips from a mom who organized her entire home without spending a dime!

Maybe one day I’ll change my mind, eat my words, and embrace beautiful (and pricy!) organizational systems.

But, for now? I’m perfectly happy to organize my home using items I already have on hand. After-all, the pretty containers don’t organize my stuff for me :)

Here are some frugal storage items that I use:

Zip-top bags

Gallon size bags are my best organizational friend!

I’ve put decks of cards into sandwich bags then placed those in a gallon bag. We also keep small game pieces in sandwich-size bags in their respective boxes so they won’t get lost.


Lily and Grace have a bag of headbands and bobby pins. Another bag contains hair bows and barrettes.


I have a gallon bag of nail polish.


Grace’s toy box has like items in separate bags (cars, Lego’s, lacing games, etc.).


We even use gallon bags for toiletry items and first aide supplies when we camp!

A word of advice: I’m not usually a brand-snob but in this situation, I highly recommend that you “splurge” and buy Ziplock, or another good brand, bags. I’ve tried the off-brands and they’re not nearly as durable.

Cardboard boxes

I also love to organize with cardboard boxes! They definitely aren’t the prettiest storage containers. And if they’re used outside or in a cellar, it might be a problem. But in our home that stays dry enough? We haven’t had any problems with using boxes to store things.

Holiday decorations, mementos, and clothes have all been successfully stored in cardboard boxes.


Christmas storage – out of the way and easily accessible!

Gift Bags

Sometimes I buy holiday presents early and store them away in gift bags.


I also keep gift-wrap supplies in gift bags.


Tip: Gift bags are pretty for storing things, but stick with gallon bags and boxes for heavy items or things you’ll need to stack!


We’ve been given items in adorable gift baskets so I use them around my home!

The girls love their rainy day baskets. {Click that link for tips on how to make your own rainy day basket for free!}


And I love the super cute basket I use to organize desk supplies.


Baskets can also be used to hold blankets, magazines, photo albums, library books, and a plethora of other items!


The baskets under our coffee table! From left to right: Photo albums, blankets, borrowed books.

Plastic Containers

A few people have given us plastic containers they no longer needed. I use most of them to organize clothes and toys.


Under-the-bed totes for clothes to grow into.

We have one container for ponies, another for dress-up accessories and another for small dolls.


The girls each have a small spa container as well, complete with their bubble bath, extra sponges, etc.


Book Shelves

Bookshelves aren’t just for books! We have one bookshelf that only has art supplies on it. Bookshelves can also hold movies, games, and many other items!


Art supply shelf. Notice the gallon bags inside the baskets!

Other Organizational Tips:

Use vertical space. (Click that link for details.)


If you need to purchase a gift bag, consider buying an inexpensive container instead. My friend Alissa gave me a “writer’s inspiration” gift for Christmas one year and she put all of the items in an adorable box. I love it and keep all of my correspondence items (cards, envelopes, etc.) in it!


Sometimes the problem isn’t a “lack of storage” issue as much as it’s a “too much stuff” issue. So when you’re implementing new organizational methods, go ahead and throw out what your family is no longer using!

Whether you have cardboard boxes or beautiful bins, use storage containers you already have on hand to help set limits – once a container is full, it’s full, so something has to go.

Bags to donate and toss!

The less stuff there is, the more usable space you have!

And when you look at the big picture (an organized home) as well as look at the space as a whole (an entire closet instead of focusing on one specific item), your organized spaces probably look nice even though various things aren’t in the prettiest containers.

After-all, what looks nicer and is easier to use: an organized closet with a few gallon bags as storage containers or a closet that’s so disorganized, things fall out every time you open the door?

Personally, I prefer the first option!


What about you? What frugal storage solutions do you use in your home?

You May Also Like:

How I decluttered my entire house in just six days!

20 minutes or less to “Company Clean.”

Tips for keeping a clean-enough house when you’re really busy.


When Marriage Is So Tough That You Need A Helmet…

When marriage is so tough that you need a helmet... an incredibly touching and inspiring story that highlights one couple's journey from hardship to great joy. I literally cheered with them during the canoe story in the final paragraphs!

It feels like yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago. A distant memory… but not so distant.

I was 19 years old. He was 20. My friend Kelly did my make-up and I wore a long, white dress while I walked down a long white aisle.

We thought we were so grown up. We thought marriage would be fairly easy because we were in love.


Then we went on our honeymoon…

We thoroughly enjoyed being together but by the final day, we were ready to go to our new home. We made the mistake of doing just one more “fun” activity before we left.

We bickered the entire time we were in a canoe together. We couldn’t get the boat to go the way we wanted it to go. We spent our time in the water working against each-other, each trying to steer the canoe our own way. Not listening to the other person.

My visions of an easy, nearly perfect marriage came quickly crashing down.

The canoe guide saw what was happening and told us about his wedding ring. Scratched and worn and no longer perfect, but still lovely.

Still lovely.

That first year of marriage I became pregnant, Nathan and I both lost our jobs, we started a computer-service company with no money in savings, a high-school friend of mine committed suicide, my parents divorced, and we moved from a tiny apartment into a house.

Plus Lily was born and we became a family of three living on one part-time income.

The stress was enough to crush us. But it didn’t. We learned. We grew. We loved. We worked. We stayed committed.

We took our vows seriously. We held tight and refused to give up.

Still lovely.


We’ve been together through the deaths of three grandparents. He held me while I cried at my cousin’s funeral. He’s also comforted me when I’ve worried about situations outside of my control and when I’ve hurt so badly I thought my heart would never heal.

I learned that a good marriage doesn’t come easy. There’s no great how-to manual that I know of. (Although “His Needs, Her Needs” by Willard F. Harley, Jr. changed the course of our marriage for the better.)

There’s commitment. Respecting each-others differences. Learning to work together instead of against each-other. Trying hard. Offering grace. Refusing to give up. There’s also plenty of fun!

And there’s God. Through it all, His love prevailed and we never went without a meal in our bellies or a roof over our heads. He is good and our faith has grown so much.

We now have two healthy children, my husband’s computer business is thriving, I’m able to pursue my dream of being an author, we’re almost completely debt-free, and we’re closer to each-other than ever before.

As for canoeing? 

Nathan and I finally braved it again last summer with Lily and Grace. We had a blast. We worked together, we steered the boat without any problems, and we didn’t grow upset when the other person made a mistake.

When we pulled in to the finish-line with the rest of the canoers (friends from church), they celebrated with us that we conquered a marriage fear together!


Our friends understood that, for me, canoeing successfully with my husband was symbolic of the fact that we’re getting the hang of marriage.

Sometimes marriage is work. Some seasons are tough. But sometimes? Sometimes it’s so much fun that we laugh so hard, tears stream from our eyes. Sometimes we love each other so deeply that we think our hearts will explode.

Our wedding day, 10 years ago? We thought we were grown up then, but really, we’ve grown up together. We finally realize that we’ll never stop growing. I’ve spent over a third of my life married to my best friend. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Never perfect. But still lovely.



How to Get Kids to Think Chores are Cool

Want your kids to think chores are fun? Check out these great tips for ideas!

I’ll never forget the day that I walked into the kitchen to find Lily (about six at the time) sitting on the table and waving her “magic wand” at her little sister while saying, “Bippity-boppity-boo, make this room clean!” Grace (about two) ran around putting things away as fast as she could so she could help the wand to work!

That day I had an epiphany: kids will like cleaning more if they think it’s a game.

Sometimes we do have to just hurry up and clean, but whenever I remember to have a little fun, chores are usually accomplished with much better attitudes!

For younger kids:

If you give chores fun names, sometimes it can make young kids think the job itself is fun! For example, I never ask Grace to “gather dishes.” She’s a nature lover so I ask her to go on a “dishes hunt.” She really thinks that getting to hunt for dishes is cool (please don’t tell her otherwise!).

And when we put her laundry away? She moves it from her “suitcase” (the laundry basket), to her “tent” (her drawers), and she has to do her best to keep it off of the “dirt” (her floor). She also loves scrubbing the “bathhouse!”

Yesterday we even made two dolls come to life. I became the baby-sitting doll and she was the child. We talked in our best doll voices and cleaned our “doll house” (the schoolroom). She loved this change of pace!

If you have boys, maybe you could try some sort of super-hero thing where they can “zap” the items into place! (Moms of boys, please chime in the comments with your ideas!)

For older kids:


For older kids, chores can be made cool with cold, hard cash. Lily will cook dinner for the entire family for $2.00. Even with the cost of food factored in, that’s still way cheaper (and healthier) than eating out somewhere. Plus, cooking and working to earn money are valuable life skills for kids to learn.

I also keep a sheet on the fridge with chore ideas and amounts that I’m willing to pay for each chore. Both girls are welcome to do those chores anytime. On days I need to work extra on the computer or the house just really needs some TLC, I’ll declare it a “double-your-money-chore-day” and every single chore is worth double.

Older kids also understand reasoning really well. For example, sometimes I’ll tell my kids that whoever helps really well in the kitchen, living room, and bathroom gets to relax while everyone else cleans the bedrooms. This motivates Lily to help really well because she knows she’ll be able to relax while I finish up!

Race. Sometimes I’ll assign races. For example, Lily will clear the table while I load the dishwasher or she’ll make  the beds while I put dirty clothes in the hamper. The winner of each race race gets a tally mark. When we’re done cleaning, whoever has the most points wins. The “loser” then makes the winner a simple snack or a fun drink or rubs the winners shoulders for a minute. This motivates both of us to clean fast!

And of course, I always emphasize that when the house is clean, we’re all winners!

Additional ideas to make chores more fun:

  • Turn on music.
  • Occasionally have a reward (a glass of soda, stickers,  a book you bought used, etc.) for anyone who was a really great helper.
  • Only give a reward to those who actually were good helpers.
  • Race the timer.
  • Praise more than reprimand.
  • Work before playing.
  • Don’t overwhelm. If the house is an absolute wreck, possibly clean one room by yourself before enlisting help from the little ones.
  • Have a kid’s cleaning bucket!
  • Play a game or read a book afterwards. Make sure to let your kids know that since they saved you so much time by helping, you now have enough time to do a fun activity with them!

Cleaning Bucket

How do you make chores a little more fun in your house?



Marriage, Divorce, and Time Management Tips (Money Management Q&A)

Reader Questions Answered about money management, including marriage, divorce, and time-management. Insightful post with tips and book recommendations!!

During this Money Management series, I received a couple of really challenging questions so I’m going to do my best to address the issues requested!

Question One

Q: You quit Facebook to stay off the Internet. Now you’re writing more. How is that not taking time on the computer?

A: I didn’t quit Facebook to stay off the Internet :)

I quit Facebook to help me be more intentional with my time. I can spend 45 minutes browsing my news feed or I can spend that same 45 minutes writing an article or playing with my kids. I’m choosing one of the latter.

Why I Unfriended Everyone On Facebook

Question Two

Q: How do you work from home and still spend time with your kids?

A: I am not the expert on work-from-home time management! (That title belongs to my friend Misty who practically holds my hand as she helps me figure out how to schedule my writing time.)

But, since I was asked, I’ll tell you what I’m working on.

First of all, I highly recommend reading the book, “Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom” by Tricia Goyer. It’s only $2.99 right now and is hands-down the absolute best book I’ve ever read about balancing work and motherhood.

I felt like Tricia was giving me the permission I needed in order to make time for doing something I love outside of being a mom and wife.

Secondly, I’ve learned that to be successful at working from home, I have to get up early. I can accomplish more in 1-2 hours of work time before my girls are awake than I can accomplish in an entire morning after they’re up.

I’ve also learned to utilize quiet time well. I can knock out a couple small projects after lunch while the girls quietly look at books for an hour or so.

When needed, I can also work after the kids are in bed at night. I’m currently trying to limit evening work to two nights a week because nurturing our marriage is a top priority for my husband and me.

Finally, I’ve learned to give myself grace. Some weeks I work too much. Other weeks I don’t work enough. If I were to give up on things just because I don’t have a perfect schedule, then I would never accomplish much of anything! I simply choose to keep on trying.


Want to read more about time-management? Check out this post about working from home.

Question Three

Q: Do you believe that women working outside the home is a contributing factor for why the divorce rate has dramatically increased over the last few decades?

A: Yes, I do.

For starters, due to huge advances in the workplace in the last 50 years, many women earn an income so they’re no longer dependent on their husbands for financial survival. And even women who don’t currently earn an income know they could if they needed to.

Also, many women are in the workforce for long hours, completing projects, accomplishing goals, and often working closely together with those of the opposite gender while simultaneously spending less time with their husbands.  The large chunk of time that are spent completing tasks with male coworkers and succeeding together builds bonds that, if left unchecked, can become romantic.

Does this mean I think that every dual-income family is an affair waiting to happen? Absolutely not! It just means I believe that people need to be aware and mindful of their decisions as they take precautions to protect their marriage. Two great books about this are “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker (for men to read) and “Every Woman’s Battle” by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn (for women to read).

On a more personal note, I found that when I worked outside the home, it put a large strain on my family and on my marriage. Nathan and I would came home from work already tired and the girls would need our attention, everyone was hungry so someone had to cook, and there was always something around the house to accomplish (like taming the laundry monster).


The thing is, however, that I didn’t realize how much of a strain it was for me to work outside the home until I was no longer doing it.

Now that I stay home, I’m generally able to spend time with the girls and take care of the house during the day, as well as cook dinner before Nathan arrives home, so our evenings are usually much more laid back as we relax and simply enjoy being together as a family.

Am I saying that every mom needs to stay home full time? No. I know some women are refreshed and energized by working outside the home (instead of worn-down and exhausted like I was!), and I know that sometimes, both parents working is a necessity (although not nearly as profitable as some may think).

The important thing is to be intentional, communicate openly with your spouse, and make time for nurturing your marriage (monthly dates and yearly small getaways are helpful). Also, be truly honest with yourself about your motives and your finances.

That wraps up this Money Management Series!

Do you have any additional money-management or work/staying-home tips?

Money Management Series

Part One: Can You Afford to be a Stay-At-Home Mom?

Part Two: Work from Home Opportunities, Plus 9 Tips You Must Know.

Part Three: Work or Stay Home? 10 (Mostly-Unbiased) Things to Consider.

Part Four: Question & Answer Session (Marriage, Divorce, and Work-from-Home Time Management Tips).


18 Summers: How Many Do You Have Left?

The days are long but the years are short. How many summers do you have left with your kids?

I do it every summer. I never mean to but I can’t seem to help it: once again I’m counting down.

Lily (my oldest child) turned nine this summer. The reality of what that means boggles my mind.

My years of raising her are half over. The picture book reading, her crawling into my bed at night, depending on me for suitcase packing and hair brushing and drink pouring… they were just stages. She’s grown out of them. She’s growing up so fast.

And yet… she’s still a nine year old little girl who loves to match her doll and ride her bike and have pink icing on her favorite cake.

Still in the innocence of childhood. Not far from the reality of adulthood. It’s happening quickly.

Then there’s Grace. My wild and sometimes crazy and always spunky fireball who just turned five. She’s officially school age and we’ll start kindergarten in a few weeks. Five doesn’t seem very old until I think about how little time I really have left – she’s already over 1/4 of the way to adulthood (28% to be almost exact).

She can ride a bike without training wheels and read a few things and do basic math. The changes are continual.

My niece spent a week with us and I can see that’s she’s growing up too. She’s silly and kind and helpful and appreciates family.


And I rejoice, knowing that I am so blessed to witness the new things but I also can’t help but feel a twinge of sorrow because I know that I won’t always get a front-row seat.

Before long, my children will be grown with lives completely separate from mine. I’ll no longer be the first person they go to when they have a question or a problem or when they just want someone to spend time with them.

So, now, when they interrupt my work a hundred times and when they want me to play when I have other things to do, those times are when I need to count my blessings and make time for my children. I can thank God that my children still choose me. Because I know I won’t always be so lucky.

And you know what else?

I can’t control my kids’ memories. But I can choose how I spend my time, which will greatly affect how they remember their childhood. Will they remember me as a fun mom, baking and playing and laughing and reading? Or will they remember me as a busy mom, always working and cleaning and too busy for them?

Whatever I’m putting into their memory banks now is what they’re going to remember later.

Yes, work is good, and often it’s necessary. But extra time to browse the internet, re-organize already neat closets, or text friends? Those things won’t go away. My children will. Before I know it, the second half of Lily’s childhood will be over and I’ll be hosting her graduation party. Grace will follow shortly behind. I won’t get a do-over on their childhood.

Nine years left. Nine more summers. Then we’re done. Grace has 13. Childhood is ending so fast.

Let’s embrace it while we can.

18 summers


Work or Stay Home? 10 (Mostly-Unbiased) Things to Consider

In my nine years of motherhood, I’ve done several things to generate an extra income.
I’ve worked temporary jobs. I’ve filled in for various small business owners around town when they needed a few days off. I’ve had part time jobs, full time jobs, babysitting gigs, and jobs at my husband’s office.

On top of that work experience, I’ve just spent 12 out of the past 14 months as a 100% stay-at-home mom.

Basically, I’ve been through so many different work experiences and situations that I’ve learned the good, the bad, the ugly, and the awesome about each situation.

Whether you’re thinking about finding a job, are considering working more or less hours at your current occupation, or would like to quit your job altogether, there are a few things to consider:

1) Housework:

Being a working mom is busy. Being a stay-at-home mom is busy, too! One thing I really loved when I worked was that if the house was clean when we left in the mornings, it actually stayed clean all day.

When I stay home, messes are made all day long. On the flip-side, I do have more time to clean, fold laundry, cook from scratch, and complete extra projects when I stay home.

WP_002902 (1)
2) Efficiency:

As someone who used to really struggle with time management, working outside the home forced me to become more efficient with my time. Gone were the days of taking all day to clean the house – I had to learn to keep everything “good enough” in a much shorter amount of time. This is a good thing!

As a stay-at-home mom, I can now keep a clean-enough house, write, and spend plenty of time with my children among other things because of the time-management skills I learned while I was working outside the home.

3) Finances:

Yes, working outside the home helps financially. But not always as much as you might think. Without the cost of work lunches, an office wardrobe, childcare, and extra outside help, my family saves a ton by me staying home. Plus, the small income that I generate with my book business doesn’t hurt, either!

4) Vacations and other extras:


When I worked, we took more trips. Not only did we have a little more leeway in our budget, but we were so much busier in general that we needed to get away to be able to reconnect and relax as a family.

Now that I stay home, we can all relax and enjoy the evening as a family after Nathan gets home from work because I’m able to take care of the basic necessities during the day.

We still enjoy traveling together but it’s much less frequent and much more frugal than before.

5) Time away:

One thing I really liked about working outside the home was grown-up time on the days I didn’t have my kids with me at the office. Lunch breaks weren’t spent cleaning up spills or sticky faces. Computer work wasn’t interrupted every two minutes with a child needing something.

6) Time with my kids:

When I stay home full time, I’m (obviously) with my kids. All. The. Time. This means that sometimes I feel like I’m going to lose my mind, but it also means that I never have to miss out on their lives.

Every scrape, every tear, every sticky face… they’re all wiped clean by me. And every laugh, every toothless grin, every new skill that’s learned… I’m there for those too.


7) Safety:

As a stay-at-home homeschool mom, I rarely have to worry about bullies, a care-giver not taking proper care of my children, or other negative influences because I get to choose who my children are with. This is huge for me.

8 ) Intentional Parenting:

There are working moms who maximize every minute they have with their kids and they do a great job. Many stay-at-home moms do that as well!

There are also, unfortunately, working moms who spend their evenings and weekends seeking “me time” and stay-at-home moms who waste their days away with Facebook, Pinterest, TV and books.

Don’t be that mom. You’ll have the whole rest of your life to fritter your days away on electronics but your kids will only be young once.

9 ) Attitudes:

My children are both happier and more well-adjusted when I stay home. And while staying home is not a magic attitude cure, the rules and routines are now much more consistent. And it shows. My quiet child is more cheerful and personable. My wild-one is calmer and more reasonable.

The attitude difference in our children is actually the #1 reason that my husband and I decided to make a few financial sacrifices in order for me to be able to stay home full-time with them.

10) Reevaluations:

If you and your family are really happy with your current situation, great!

But if you’ve been reconsidering your financial and job situation, pray over it. Consult your husband. Talk to friends who have been there. Seek input from your children. Make careful, informed decisions but don’t be afraid to make a change.

Your family will benefit greatly from your willingness to follow where God leads.

What about you? What (respectful) pros and cons do you see to staying home or working outside the home?

Money Management Series

Part One: Can You Afford to be a Stay-At-Home Mom?

Part Two: Work from Home Opportunities, Plus 9 Tips You Must Know.

Part Three: Work or Stay Home? 10 (Mostly-Unbiased) Things to Consider.

Part Four (coming July 28): Question & Answer Session. Submit your financial questions here or ask them in the comments!

{Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /}


A Note About Friendship and Grace

Have you ever known someone who sees what they want to see instead of noticing what's really there? This thought-provoking article is full of much-needed truths about grace and friendship.

Have you ever noticed that we often see whatever we’re looking for?

The wife who gets annoyed when her husband leaves his things laying around – she sees the 3 items he left out after work but she doesn’t always notice the 7 things he’d put back away.

The child who thinks his parents are too over-protective? He might forget about all the things he is allowed to do. Because sometimes all he wants to think about is the one thing he isn’t allowed.

The mom you think is too permissive? It’s easy to overlook the 20 things she did right today and instead focus on the one time she went too easy on a child who disobeyed.

On the other hand…

When a young woman is dating, she may not notice all of the red flags in a man’s temper because she’s blinded by her infatuation.

Or a mom may ignore the warning signs regarding her child’s sin because she doesn’t want to believe that her child is facing an inward battle.

Without even realizing it, we often see what we want to see, instead of what’s really there.

From now on, let’s choose to see with grace. And with love. But also with reality.

Know that the permissive mom is doing her best. The strict mom is as well. None of us have the perfect balance. We all fall short at times. We all need to receive grace.


The mom choosing to homeschool? She’s doing the best job she can. The mom who sends her kids to public or private school? She’s doing her best too!

And the mom who chooses to hug her kids and talk lovingly to them when they do wrong – why is that better or worse than the mom who puts a child in time-out? Isn’t it possible that both of those things are good?

Why do different parenting styles have to become a battle? Don’t different children need different things, just as we adults don’t all need the exact same things?

Yes, let’s take the blinders off.

Know that if your friend talks poorly of her other friends to you, then she’s likely talking poorly about you when you’re not there. (If she isn’t yet, then she will when she becomes upset with you.)

But also know that everyone – our friends, our spouses, our children, the stranger at the grocery store – they could all use a little more love and grace.

Let’s love well and extend grace liberally, but also keep sight of reality.

But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.” 2 Corinthians 8:7 (NKJV)



How to Fake a Clean House in Less than 20 Minutes

Need to get a clean house fast? Check out these great tips for making your home ready for company in less than 20 minutes!
Since I regularly write about decluttering, it’s possible that I’m supposed to have all of my alphabetized, color-coded ducks in a perfectly organized row. But the reality is that sometimes (okay, daily) my house gets messy.

And whether someone is stopping by or I just don’t want to stare at a mess, sometimes I want to make my house look really clean, really fast.

I’m guessing that sometimes you need to make your house look clean in a hurry as well, so I’m giving you a few tips on how to speed your way to a clean-looking home!

Here’s how to fake a clean house in less than 20 minutes:

1) Give your kids jobs they like (1 minute)
This is no time to deal with bad attitudes over who has to gather the dirty dishes again. If one kid likes using too many cleaning wipes in the bathroom and the other child enjoys seeing how fast she can vacuum the living room, by all means, let them do those jobs!

Or, if your kids are too young to help, this is a perfect time to turn on a TV show so you can work fast.

2) Focus your time on areas people will see (1 minute)
For example, if your kids’ bedroom will take more than a minute to quickly tidy up, simply close and lock the door! Only spend time focusing on the rooms that will be seen.

Need to fake a clean house in a hurry? Check out these great tips and have a clean-looking home in under 30 minutes!

3) Pile dishes in the sink (3 minutes)
Maybe it’s just me, but I think my kitchen looks a whole lot cleaner when I take two minutes to move dirty dishes from the table and counters to the sink.

This is a great time to quickly gather dishes from other areas of the house and put them in the sink as well. You can even take a few seconds to run a little hot soapy water over the dishes so they can “soak” until you have time to wash them.

4) Gather dirty laundry (2 minutes)
If you have dirty laundry on the floor, quickly gather it and put it in one place (preferably next to your washing machine).

5) Throw trash away (2 minutes)
Take a trash-can around the house with you and stuff trash into it as you go.

6) Wipe counters and the toilet (3 minutes)
If you have multiple bathrooms, just focus on the one that’s most likely to be used. Wipe down the sink and toilet, then wipe the kitchen counters if needed. (I keep these these Clorox wipes on hand for when I need to clean fast.)

7) Tidy with the laundry basket “cheat cleaning” method (4 minutes)
I describe more about how to use the laundry basket cheat cleaning method here. Basically, gather stuff from around the rooms you’re tidying, put all of it in a laundry basket, then shove the basket into a closet or bedroom and close the door.


8 ) Vacuum the living room (2 minutes)
Nothing says “clean” like a few vacuum lines! Don’t even vacuum the whole living room if you don’t have time – just sweep the big stuff off the floor and consider the job done.

9) Spray air freshener or light a candle (1 minute)
Even if your home isn’t completely clean, it can smell clean which helps it to feel clean!

Total time = 19 minutes. Less if you move really, really fast or if you have helpers!

Bonus Tip: Spend a few minutes on yourself if possible (5 minutes to 15 minutes):
Take a fast shower, brush your teeth, and throw on clean clothes. Or change your shirt, brush your hair and teeth, then put on a little make-up. After-all, most people will spend more time looking at you than they will spend looking at your house.

What about you? How do you fake a clean house in a hurry?

You may also like:

Part 16: How to Keep a Clean (Enough) Home When You’re Really Busy

Part 19: How to Play (Almost) All Day and Still Have a Clean House

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