Why My Husband and I Had a Rough Few Years

Growing Apart as a Couple--how to pull together when life pulls you apart

How do you stay close if you’re afraid you’re growing apart from your husband?

I’ve been writing a three-part series on porn, and I have more I need to say. But I feel like I’ve been talking ONLY about that all week, and so I’d like to put all of that on hold and come back to it later (I promise). And today I just want to be really vulnerable and share some things with you.

My husband and I have had a rough few years.

It’s not because of anything either of us has done; it’s just because of work schedules and geography. We simply weren’t together very much. And that put a huge strain on us.

We’re coming out of it now, and I’d like to tell you about it–my warnings for other people to avoid, and what made it possible for us to reconnect afterwards.

I’m honestly  just a real person like all of you.

I don’t want you, my readers, ever to think that I’ve got the marriage thing totally figured out. Some seasons we sail right through, and others we really have to work. I shared in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage (my newest book) about some of the struggles Keith and I have had over the last few years, and what I had to do to change my own attitude and my own mind.

Sometimes when I meet blog readers I realize that there’s this perception that we have a perfect life. And we really don’t. And I think that this may be an encouragement to you–to know that EVERYBODY goes through rough patches. So let me tell you what happened with us.

Keith got a job in a different city.

For years his job in our hometown was so stressful. He had long hours, personality conflicts, and constant crises. They were chronically short staffed of pediatricians, but needed the call schedule covered. What do you do if there aren’t enough pediatricians? If you’re a caring, nice guy like my husband is, you step up to the plate and you do extra call.

But that takes a toll.

And finally he said, “enough”. He took a job at a bigger teaching hospital an hour away.

It was the perfect job. My husband is such a good teacher, and the job entailed teaching medical students and residents. He won some awards. He was having the time of his life.

The problem is that he had to about eight calls a month. Those calls were infinitely easier than the ones he used to do, because instead of going in to the hospital in the middle of the night, residents now took care of things and only phoned him for orders and advice. But it also meant he had to stay in that city for eight nights a month.

There was a long commute–and he had to be at work at 7:30. That means that we no longer had breakfast together.

He was home much later often, especially when he had periodic meetings.

And at the same time I still had speaking engagements.

We tried to work his call around my speaking, because our daughters were still at home.

So think what that did: he’d be gone eight nights a month. I’d be gone maybe five. Take a few more nights for his meetings. Then we had church commitments (we ran the youth quizzing ministry at church which required four weekends a year where we’d take the kids away to a competition. Four weekends doesn’t sound like much until you realize how few weekends we’d have).

Suddenly we had very little time together.

We didn’t realize it would be this bad (he was only supposed to do five calls a month when he took the job). But that first month he had his full call load, plus he had two weekends for conferences and training courses. I spoke for a weekend. We had maybe seven nights together all month. And I started to get scared.

Of course, when your schedules are bizarre like that, you know what always happens, right? When you finally have a week together, in its entirety–that’s when your period comes. It doesn’t come when he’s on call. It doesn’t come when you’re away traveling. It’s when you’re finally together again. And I was having major issues in that department and getting chronically anemic, and the stress was horrible.

And it just got hard. So hard.

I started getting used to living my life alone.

Keith used to be my confidante–the one I bounced everything off of and the one who helped me through all my decisions. But when he wasn’t home for days at a time, I got used to thinking about things myself. I’d take walks and process my thoughts. I’d call my mom and bounce things off of her. I talked to my girls a lot.

And he’d get home, let’s say three days after whatever crisis had begun, and it would feel like too much work to fill him in on everything. So I’d just share with him the “short version” of the story.

Within a year I felt like he didn’t really understand my heart anymore. When he didn’t even know 90% of the things that were bugging me, then how could we feel like we’re one?

We tried talking more, and sharing our “highs” and “lows” of each day, and that certainly helped. We called each other more when we were in different cities.

But when someone isn’t there in the day to day, you really start to feel like you’re walking through life alone and unsupported, even if that is not anyone’s intention.

And I know that Keith felt the same way, too.

The seasons of distance were draining us.

Finally Keith realized he was just too busy. He had no time for his hobbies, and he had no time to connect with me. And we really wanted to spend more time together and see more of the world. So he made a decision last winter that he would go part-time and we’d buy an RV so that we can spend several weeks at a time driving around for me to speak, and then return home for several weeks so he can work.

He arranged for a part-time job, we bought the RV, and we just got back from our first trip.

Was our trip ever great! We drove a grand total of about 70 hours in just 19 days, which is a lot of driving. We had several 8 or 10 hour days. But those days were great because we got the chance to just chat. It’s been so long since we’ve had that kind of time (after all, we had our daughter’s wedding this summer, too, which took a lot of our time!)

We stopped at places improptu just to explore and take pictures, whenever there was a sign for a waterfalls or a scenic lookout or a hike.

We planned this trip to Presque’ Isle park in Pennsylvania:

How to stay close when you fear you're growing apart

But then we found these waterfalls by accident when driving through Northern Ontario on our way home:


We stopped at a tiny town that had a giant goose statue off of the highway, because all bird watchers have to take a picture under a giant goose statue and then text it to their daughters:


We pulled over at various birding hotspots to see some new species of gulls:


And we stopped at the Terry Fox memorial outside Thunder Bay–close to the very spot where Terry had to abandon his cross-Canada 1981 run to raise money for cancer because the disease had returned.

Taking chances to make memories--staying close instead of growing apart

That meant a lot to Keith especially, since he’s seen far too many patients die of childhood cancers.

None of those moments was really planned. But we had a chance to take them because we were together again.

It was easy to pick up where we left off, because nothing had been seriously wrong in our relationship–no affairs, no secret texting, no porn. But despite that, we were definitely growing apart because we just didn’t have time together.

So here’s what I’ve learned:

What Kept Us Together During this Season of Growing Apart?

We had a great foundation for our marriage

We were best friends before this started, and we had a good sex life. We were always close to each other. So when we started to spend less time together, we knew that the relationship itself was still stable.

Conclusion: when life is relatively easy, cling to each other and seriously grow your friendship! Work even harder! That way when a tough time comes, you’ll weather it much more easily.

We knew for certain that we were staying together forever

There was no point in letting resentment grow because we knew we’d be together forever.

Conclusion: Don’t feed negative thoughts! When you know you’re together forever, then treat each other well to preserve that relationship.

We kept pushing through–it was hard work

I had to teach myself to share things with Keith about my day–even when I didn’t want to. If I had had a big issue that I had worked through, I wouldn’t necessarily want to relive it all again to try to explain it. But I learned that the work was worth it, even if it wasn’t easy.

Conclusion: Sometimes marriage IS nothing but work. When you have to deliberately keep each other in the loop it’s work. We think marriage should be easy, but often it isn’t.

We told ourselves it wasn’t forever–and we made specific plans around that

When we saw what our work schedules were doing to our marriage, we knew that we had to take steps to make sure this was only temporary. And it was.

I know not everyone has that option. Keith and I have been extremely blessed. But there have been periods of our lives that were intense, work wise, and we just had to get through them. Keith’s training, when he was gone 120 hours a week and I had babies; Opening up his practice; and then the last few years. I can’t imagine, though, if any of those stages was permanent.

Conclusion: If you’re in a position where a job is making your marriage super tough, then ask yourself: are there alternatives, even if those alternatives won’t come for a few years?

Keeping Marriage Strong: Be Intentional about not Drifting Apart

Sacrificing some financial security so that you can keep marriage security is often worth it, though I know it’s not always possible. But I really don’t think I could live like we did for the last three years indefinitely.

So that’s where we are! We were growing apart, but we’re growing close again. Sometimes marriage strain comes not because of sin or neglect but just because of LIFE. If you see that happening, double down, work harder, share more–and see if you can make that period of your life shorter.

Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage: Because a Great Relationship Doesnt Happen by AccidentThought #9 in Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage is that drifting in marriage is natural; it’s staying together that takes work. I experienced that firsthand while writing this book, and lots of my stories are in there (I think I’m more vulnerable in this book than I even was in my sex book!)

If you’ve been drifting and growing apart–pick it up to stop the drift NOW!

Let me know in the comments: have you had a season of your marriage where you were growing apart? What did you do about it?

The Decluttering Fight

 How to Avoid the Decluttering Fight with Your Husband

Can you win the decluttering fight with your husband if you’re married to a packrat?

Today’s guest post is from Sherry Gareis, author of Declutter Now! She’s going to share with us ten questions you can ask while you’re decluttering that can help avoid that big decluttering blow-out.

Declutter Now!: Uncovering the Hidden Joy and Freedom in Your LifeDecluttering, in and of itself, is tough stuff. Finding the time and energy to sort through personal belongings and deciding what to part with can be a taxing process. The challenge multiplies if you’re decluttering with your spouse. Even the most agreeable and workable couples can run into snags. But mix in an unhappy, unhelpful, fearful, or argumentative husband, and the stress level can quickly escalate.

There is a major rule that we, at Declutter Now!, teach and try to live by:

“You cannot declutter for someone else.”

I’m so grateful for this rule because while he won’t admit it, sometimes my husband, Lindon, tries to declutter for me – and I’m NOT having it! This boundary keeps us in line, just as much as it helps the people we coach.

One of our first decluttering tasks was to tackle my desk. More of a ‘collector’ (you understand this ladies, right?) at heart than Lindon, he didn’t see the need for the overwhelming stacks of papers and files I kept. Frankly, there wasn’t a ‘need’ for most of it, but I had to uncover that truth at my own pace. Sometimes ‘stuff’ represents WAY MORE than just ‘stuff’, and this was definitely true for some of the clutter that invaded and took over my desk. I was attached to the security of keeping old records and fearful at the prospect of letting go of these letters, documents, notes, etc.

What IF I needed them someday?

Hmmm….with the bulk of my ‘collection’ ranging from 10 – 20 years old, and largely untouched, I was definitely convicted when attempting to support my argument.

Luckily for Lindon, I was ready, and we made much progress on that first decluttering journey together. I want you to be reassured, though, that I understand the nature of this personal process. Even when critically necessary, it cannot be rushed.

Encouraged and supported? Absolutely!

Rushed? Not a good idea!

So how do spouses successfully declutter when items are community property or areas are common living space?


That’s not a solution!


SURE. But even the most committed prayer warrior isn’t going to clean out a closet just by praying about it.

Give Up?

NEVER. Throwing in the towel isn’t an answer.

You must take steps to ensure that decluttering is both courteous and productive. The secret? Constant communication – before, during, and after you declutter! So here are 10 discussion questions that can help you as you declutter:

3 Discussion questions BEFORE you start to declutter:

  1. What area(s), specifically, do we plan to tackle?
  2. Why are we decluttering? Is it a space we want to repurpose for another use? Are there boxes of memorabilia that need to be sifted through? Are we decluttering to gather items for our next yard sale so we can make a few bucks? Having a clear objective from the get-go will go a long way in aiding decision-making as you begin to work through the process.
  3. What type of items do we intend to toss? Donate? Keep? Sell?  Are we going hardcore or is this a light run-through? Will we each work on just our own stuff or will we sort through everything together?

4 Discussion questions AS you declutter:

  1. Why do you want to keep that particular item? What’s most important about this question is how you say it. If it comes out of your mouth as, “Why in the world would you want to keep that piece of garbage?” you’re going to get nowhere fast! Be sure your tone conveys sincerity.
    For an item of sentimental value – Is there a way we can better honor it rather than just having it packed away? Is there someone else in the family who might appreciate this item more than we do?
    For broken items, discuss whether or not it’s advantageous to splurge on the cost of repairs.
  2. How can we compromise? Perhaps we can each keep something ‘just cuz’, and then we’ll also each decide to get rid of something we know has no value or use. You’d be surprised how many things of ‘no value or use’ get kept for years and years and do nothing but collect dust and take up space. Even the seemingly meaningless can be a source of dissension.
  3. What can we do to motivate each other and reinforce the value of the process? While you work, have fun dreaming about the end result – more space to enjoy, extra money, a feeling of accomplishment, etc. Use words of encouragement to keep each other going along the way and to see the task through to fruition.
  4. How are we going to handle a difference of opinion? Convey a heart of compassion and muster up every ounce of empathy you’ve got. Consider what it would feel like if your spouse wanted to get rid of something very special to you. If at a total impasse, set the item aside and agree on a time limit with which to revisit the conversation. Perhaps enlist the help of a trusted friend. Sometimes a few brainstorming ideas from someone not directly impacted by the decision can do the trick.

3 Discussion questions AFTER you are done decluttering:

  1. How did it go? Not just in terms of actual physical progress, but how do we feel? Peaceful? Free? Accomplished? Did we achieve our goal?
  2. What would we do differently next time? In fact, what is our next decluttering project?
  3. How can we stay decluttered in the future?

Do you see a theme here? Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Open, honest, and compassionate conversation can make the difference between decluttering triumph and abysmal failure.

Overcoming Objections to Decluttering

Perhaps you have misgivings about decluttering with your man. Are there some sensitive areas to address but you’ve been hesitant to broach the subject? Even the closest of couples can encounter ‘touchy subjects’.

If your husband is nervous or resistant to the idea of decluttering, print out this list and use me as the instigator of discussion. Yes, I’m serious! Sometimes it’s easier to get the ball rolling if the prompts and directions are coming from someone outside the camp.

But what if the problem goes deeper than just working together and finding common ground during the process? Perhaps one of you has a severe clutter or hoarding problem? I advise to treat this as seriously as any other destructive, life-debilitating, marriage-destroying issue. Seek help.

The degree of help needed is dependent on the extent of the problem, but consider self-help material, life coaches who specialize in decluttering (Yours Truly!), and counseling.

The Benefits of Decluttering

For most situations, though, decluttering can be fun! Bonding and unification occur at the heart level when you and your spouse work as a team. There’s no greater feeling than when hurdles are overcome and positive results are realized together.

Decluttering, in and of itself, is rewarding enough.  Partnering together, declaring victory over clutter, and feeling the peace and freedom which comes from a job well done is gratifying on its own. But enjoying the benefits as a couple can quickly take decluttering from just a task or to-do on your list to a life-changing, marriage-enriching, incredible experience.

I’m on Focus on the Family Radio Today!

To Love, Honor and VacuumAnd I’m talking about To Love, Honor and Vacuum–the book!

Listen here.

Seriously, this is so exciting! I had a great time recording, and I’ll be going back in a couple of months to talk about 9 Thoughts That Will Change Your Marriage.

But if anything I said today resonated with you:

Get the book!

Or, here are a few more articles that can help:

Top 10 Reasons We Feel Like Maids

10 Ways to Banish the Stay at Home Mom Blues

Such an honour to be chosen for this.


Finding Joy in Your Boundary Lines This Summer

Please welcome Katharine Grubb, of www.10minutenovelist.com, who shares how our limitations can be good things, how boundary lines this summer may bring joy in unexpected ways.  Read on…

Finding Joy in Your Boundary Lines This SummerWhen you’ve spent your adult life in Massachusetts, you get a definitive picture of what the perfect summer is. This picture is full of clambakes, Cape Cod antics and Kennedy-esque leisure. If not the Kennedys, then you may envision 104 days of Phineas & Ferb type adventure in which no one has to do chores, pay those outrageous technology bills, or go to bed.

These images are far removed from my reality. We’ll never have the money for a idyllic Martha’s Vineyard beach house. The only boat we have is one we made of paper that is seaworthy for thirty seconds in the bath water. In most cities, you can’t legally own a platypus as a pet.

Every summer, I have to battle various restrictions on our family. Every summer this is a huge challenge.

Psalm 16:5-6 says, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

This verse challenges me to look at my summer boundary lines, or my limitations, as good things. School is out for my kids! I don’t have to homeschool for weeks! We are free! But even in that freedom, there are good things that keep us restricted or limited. Some of these boundaries I love, like the fence around Grammy’s pool. Some I’m not too fond of, like the fact I don’t always have a car available to me. Instead of complaining about my lack of freedom this summer, I need to look with fresh eyes the boundary lines God has given me.

Boundaries put us in a place where we must learn to submit to God’s call on our life. They may be there to correct a behavior in us, much like the toddler put in a time-out chair. We need that boundary too at times. I’ve had more trying summers than this one. In hindsight, I was grateful for the lessons learned and the gentle way God led me into obedience. If your summer is beginning in discomfort, pray that God shows you how you can change your behavior or your attitude.

Boundaries put us in a place of safety. In much the same way that we instruct our children to not swim in the deep end or to stay in the yard, God gently put his boundaries around us to prevent us from harming ourselves or being susceptible to temptation. Why do we have pool rules? To keep our children, whom we love more than anything, from being injured. How much more our Father protects us with his boundaries. Thank God for literal and figurative lifeguards, playground fences and warning signs on the deluxe package of fireworks.

Boundaries encourage contentment. When my plans change, or when I’m a season of transition, the last place I go to is contentment. Yet, I know my children will never learn contentment if they don’t see it modeled by me. Our summer will be much more pleasant if we don’t pout when faced with a rain delay, a summer cold or we can’t make the picnic. And really, who wants to be a Kennedy anyway?

Boundaries promote creativity. Pope John Paul II said, in Love & Responsibility “Limitation of one’s freedom might seem to be something negative and unpleasant, but love makes it a positive, joyful and creative thing. Freedom exists for the sake of love.” Out of love, God often restricts us so that we can find creative solutions to our problems. His solutions will be richer than we could ever imagine. I don’t have access to a car everyday, but I am within walking distance of the library and a playground. I’ve organized the mothers at church to meet me twice a week at places that are easy for me to get to. Our church moms now have two free events every week — one at the playground and one at a local swimming hole — that meets my need and theirs too. My limitation of not having a car regularly allowed me to create this. What are the creative solutions God wants to help you with in your boundaries?

(Looking for simple ideas? Here are 100 free summer activities to try!)

True Supernatural JoyBoundaries can calm anxiety. Thirty-one flavors of ice cream sounds like a great options but life is easier when you only have chocolate and vanilla. I’ve found, for me and for my children that the fastest path of peace is one with the fewest choices. Rest in that and be grateful for those boundaries that restrict your options.

Boundaries remind us that joy is not found in experiences nor in abundance.

We want to teach our children that while summer is fun, it’s not what makes us happy. True joy is found in rest, in thankfulness, in loving people and the simple beauty of a firefly at night.

True supernatural joy is found when we finally rest inside our boundaries, not when we struggle against them.

God is the God of the summer. He created summer so that the earth could grow. Perhaps for us, summer is a chance to stretch our faith and become more vibrant and healthy. Phineas, Ferb, and the entire Kennedy clan should be so blessed.

KatharineGrubbWrite a novel in 10 minutes a dayKatharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.

She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new weekly newsletter, The Rallying Cry, is an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. Sign up here.

Top 10 Ways to Stop Being Too Tired to Have Sex

Stop being too tired for sex! Find ways to rejuvenate instead. #marriage

Ever just feel too tired for sex?

Most of us do at some point or other. And because for women are sex drives are primarily in our heads, when we’re too tired to concentrate on sex, our bodies often don’t get in the game. And then sex doesn’t work well.

One interesting study I came across found that 25% of people reported being too tired to have sex.

That doesn’t surprise me, actually. In fact, I’m surprised it’s not higher. I remember when the children were little, and didn’t sleep, and I was so desperate to get at least 6 hours a night (even if it was broken up), that sex was far down on my priority list. It didn’t mean we weren’t intimate; it’s just that I was far more attuned to my need for sleep than I was my need for sex.

But as I wrote in To Love, Honor and Vacuum, exhaustion isn’t just about lack of sleep; it’s also about lack of downtime to recharge our batteries. It’s feeling like you’re working all the time–which is mentally exhausting, even if you’re not physically exhausted.

So let’s talk about that today: what do you do when you’re exhausted and you have no time for sex?

How do you get to the point where you are actually available to yourself and to your husband, both with time and energy?

Top 10 Ways to Stop Being Too Tired for SexHere are 10 ideas that will help you STOP being too tired for sex. And remember our Top 10 Tuesday philosophy: don’t try to do them all. Instead, pick ONE or TWO ideas that especially speak to you, and try your best to follow through and implement them this week.

Taking Time to Emotionally Recharge

Exhaustion isn’t only physical; it’s also emotional. When we aren’t doing things that feed us, we’ll chronically feel exhausted, even if we’re getting 9 hours of sleep a night. So let’s start with emotionally recharging.

1. Recharge Your Batteries Appropriately.

Some people are real extroverts, and they won’t be charged unless they get a lot of time to actually talk to people. If you need it, you don’t have to feel ashamed of it. Just schedule in some time everyday to talk with a friend, or go out for coffee after dinner with her. If you’re an introvert, and you need time alone, tell your husband this, and ask if he can do the bedtime routine so that you can have a bubble bath. In other words, be realistic about what you need.

If you don’t need time alone to feel invigorated, but you need time outside, then take a jog. But don’t feel guilty for taking time away from the kids! They can stand to be with their dad for a while, and he’ll be happier if you’re available to him later. It’s like the quadrant idea I shared with you last week: we all need to do those “important” things that recharge us if we’re going to have energy to pour back into relationship. So even though it feels selfish, it’s actually the opposite.

2. Find Someone to Watch the Kids.

If you’d love to try #1, but you don’t have time to yourself because of the kids, find a teenager in your neighbourhood to watch the children for two hours after school a few times a week so you can get some time to yourself. Don’t just use the time to do errands that won’t replenish you; put a priority on doing what you need to do to feel awake. Or ask your mother or your sister to watch the children for a while. Find someone to be your ally!

3. Schedule Half an Hour of Me Time During Your Day

Don’t let yourself come last in your list of priorities. Schedule time in now, during the day, for you to rejuvenate, whether it means taking a jog, doing a craft, having a bubble bath, or just praying. Take your lunch break at work; when the kids nap in the afternoon; in the early evening when your husband does kid duty. When you do have free time, use it for you, don’t only fill it up with more “things” that you really should get done. The most important thing to get done, after all, is to pay attention to your marriage.

It’s easier to spend time on yourself when you see the benefit in it. You know your marriage is important, but realistically how much time do you dedicate to nurturing it? Do you only pay attention to all the “things” you can do for your family, rather than just being there for your husband? He needs you, not just clean laundry. And when you feel connected to your husband, you also feel more energetic and more excited to get that housework done later!

4. Take One Thing off of Your Schedule

What is making you too busy today? Is it your church commitments? Your children’s schedule? Your hobbies? Whatever it is that is causing you to stop thinking about your husband and start thinking about other things needs to stop. We all need downtime. So find the one thing that is sapping your energy the most, or causing your mind to wander the most, and get rid of it if you can.

5. For One Week, Keep Track of Your “Highs” and “Lows”. Write Them Down.

Not sure what those things are that sap your energy? Try this exercise.

Everyday, think of your “highs” and “lows” for that day. But don’t think only in terms of “when I was happiest” or “when I was saddest”. Think instead of it like this: “When did I feel most invigorated, like I was in the groove and making a difference?” and this: “When did I feel my energy most sapped away, like I was doing something I hated and could barely get through it?”

This is a fun exercise to do with your spouse, because you learn so much about each other (and you learn stuff about yourself, too!) But if you trace this for a week or two, you may find a pattern to when you feel your energy the most sapped. For me, for instance, it’s when I have to deal with my email inbox or when I have to decide what comments to let through on this blog (I get a lot of mean ones or just plain unhelpful ones). It’s exhausting. And after realizing that these two things completely stressed me out beyond all proportion, I hired someone to start doing it for me!

6. Practice the art of compartmentalization.

Men are wonderful at keeping things in their place. They’re not as distracted nearly as much as we are because they’re not naturally trying to multi-task. We do. We multitask naturally, all the time. And believe me, sex is not a good time for multitasking! You should not be writing grocery lists in your head while you’re being intimate. You should not be planning vacations while he’s kissing you. When you’re with your husband, practice being with him. Concentrate on what he’s saying. Concentrate on how he feels. And above all, stop thinking!

If you’re finding that difficult, then when you are making love, keep asking yourself, “what feels good right now?” You’re not judging him; you’re forcing your mind to pay attention to your body, and that can help you focus and concentrate.

Taking Time to Physically Recharge

7. Go to Bed at a Decent Time

Adults need bedtimes, too! If you have to be up at 6:30, that means you have to get to sleep at 10:30. If you want the chance for other things to happen, then you have to be in bed by 10:00.

That may seem early; but the average person needs eight hours of sleep to function at their peak (and I know that’s really hard when you have little ones!). So go to bed.

8. Teach Your Kids to Sleep on Their Own

If your children need you to lie down with them to get them to go to sleep, or need you to rock them, or rub their backs, you’re going to find your nights are taken over by their bedtime routine.

Too Tired for Sex: Teaching kids to sleep on their own

Children who need their parents to get to sleep will also need their parents to soothe them whenever they wake up in the night.

Here’s why: they’ve associated you with sleep. You do this, too. Think about your favourite pillow. You need it to sleep. What happens if you wake up in the middle of the night and your pillow isn’t there? You turn on the light and try to find it. You fully wake yourself up because you can’t get back to sleep without your pillow. But if you wake up in the middle of the night and your pillow is there, you likely roll over and go right back to sleep without anything even registering.

If you’ve taught your children to associate you with sleep by “putting them to sleep”, then your children need you to sleep. When they wake up in the middle of the night, they will call for you. And that’s not healthy for anyone.

Kids need to be taught to self-soothe. That may mean a rough week when you stop rocking them, or lying down with them, or rubbing their back until they fall asleep. They may cry a lot. But they will learn, and then it will be over, and you’ll have your nights back again.

9. Treat Your Body Well

Exercise a little bit everyday, even if it’s just going for a walk after dinner. Eat fewer carbs and more protein. Stretch a lot! An inactive life makes you more tired. A poor diet makes you tired. And not using your muscles makes you tired. Start small if you have to: take a walk, do 10 minutes of stretches with your children every day; start getting rid of the packaged foods and the bread. You’ll find if you do small things, your body will start to like it, and you can add more small things to your routine that do add up!

10. Recruit Help for Evening Chores

What keeps you busy at night, and stops you from relaxing with your husband? Is it the laundry that’s piled up? The dishes that need to be done? The bills that need to be paid or the emails that need to be answered?

If you find yourself working, especially after the kids go to bed, then that’s a problem. We all need downtime, and if you’re doing chores at night, it will be much harder to transition to romance time.

So take a look at what you’re doing at night, and ask yourself: can it be done earlier? Can I recruit other people to help me with some of this? Can I talk to my family about sharing the load? Can I hire a housekeeper to do some of it? Try to rearrange your schedule so it doesn’t need to steal your energy late at night.

 Here’s the truth: often we think we’re exhausted when the issue is we just have too much on our plate, and thus too much constantly going through our brains. Turn off the constant noise in your brain telling you to do more, and turn on that part of your brain telling you to slow down, and practice being in the moment. You’ll find you’re less tired, and much more in the mood than when you’re always focusing on all the things you “should” be doing.

The biggest “should” in your life is about your marriage. You should be enjoying your husband. Are you? If not, learn to! Make it a priority. And turn everything else off!

Which of these 10 ideas would help you NOT be too tired for sex? What has made the biggest difference in your life? Let me know in the comments!

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What Could You Do with 750 Hours a Year?

What could you do instead with the time that you waste?

I’m back from Colorado! Yay! Had a wonderful trip, but being away from my family for 8 days was long.

Today I want to share with you a few highlights from the blog, but before I do that, I want to follow-up on Monday’s post about time wasters by asking you this question:

What would you do if you had 750 hours?

Do We Waste Too Much Time?We were talking on Monday about how most of us in the West spend an inordinate amount of time on what are essentially time wasters–activities that don’t add to our relationships, our faith, our skill levels, or even, in many cases, our enjoyment of life. We may want to relax and watch TV, but afterwards we still feel unsettled because we haven’t done anything meaningful.

The comments on that post were great, but I felt like there was still something unsaid. And so let’s look a little further.

Let’s assume that you are spending roughly two hours a day on things with no redeeming value. Let’s assume it’s browsing Pinterest, or watching TV, or playing video games. On its own, you can likely justify that time. After all, if you’re working during the other hours, what does it really matter if you want to relax and escape for a while?

Once you do the math, though, you see that that time adds up.

If you’re wasting two hours a day, you’re roughly wasting 15 hours a week (let’s use 15; it’s a rounder number than 14). And over the course of a year, subtracting two weeks for Christmas and vacation, that’s 750 hours.

That’s a lot of time.

What could you do with 750 hours?

You could likely:

  • Start that part-time business
  • Exercise, get toned up and get down to that target weight
  • Completely organize and streamline your home
  • Invest in your friendships by visiting/talking with some friends every week
  • Have people in for dinner
  • Volunteer for that cause that’s been on your heart

Now let’s take the long-term view and multiply that 750 hours over a few years. Then what could you do?

  • Get your degree online (my daughters took university courses online. At 15 hours a week, you could finish a Bachelor’s degree from home in 6 years)
  • Write your novel/book

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big DifferenceOr how about this: Malcolm Gladwell said in his book The Tipping Point that to get truly proficient at something you need 10,000 hours of practice. That’s maybe 10-12 years. Then you could:

  • Master an instrument
  • Become an artist
  • Start designing your own knitting/sewing patterns
  • Learn photography inside and out
  • Learn blogging and social media as a business (it’s taken me about 8 years of constant work to get proficient)

Wow! That time really adds up.

So next time you’re wondering about wasting time, ask yourself this: it may not seem like it matters if I waste this two hours, but if you take the long term view, is playing these video games more important than writing my novel? Than getting my degree? Than exercising and getting in shape? Than learning the piano like I’ve always wanted to?

All of us have dreams and goals for our lives. But we aren’t going to accomplish those things without time, and that time is not suddenly going to magically appear.

If you’re waiting for “one day” when you have time, one day will never come.

Many of us are in busy stages of our lives with babies and toddlers when starting something new may not be feasible. But look at those charts on Monday’s post again and ask yourself: am I spending time where it matters? Or am I putting a lot into time wasters? And if it’s the latter, then you do have time–right now–for goals that are important. The time is there. It’s just your choice how you use it.

That’s how I began to write–in little bites when the kids were toddlers. I turned off the TV and turned on my computer instead. And my life is so much better.

I once heard someone say that if Satan can’t make us bad he’ll make us busy.

That’s what he’s done in our culture where we entertain ourselves to death. We’re so busy with things that don’t matter that we’re not investing our time. Think about what our communities, churches, and families would be like if we took that 750 hours and spent it on important things. I get goosebumps.

What will you do?

What’s #1 at To Love, Honor and Vacuum This Week?

Have We Forgotten How to Be a Mommy?HandleMoney#1 on the Blog: Let’s Talk Time Wasters: Video Games, Netflix, Internet
#1 on Facebook: Have We Forgotten How to Be a Mommy?
#1 on Pinterest: Teaching Kids to Handle Money
#1 on Twitter: 9 FUN tips to make SEX great for you, too!


Want to See Pics of My Trip to Colorado?

Here’s my Girl Talk in Greeley, Colorado, and here’s my talk in Green River, Wyoming.

What I wish I could convey in pictures is how gorgeous it was driving through the mountains and the ranches, but my iPhone didn’t do it justice.

Now I’m looking forward to getting back to my real life and start planning my daughter’s wedding! She’s coming home for the long weekend (it’s a long weekend up here in Canada), and we’ll be making all the gifts for her bridesmaids together, just her and I. My husband is taking her fiance on a father-son canoe trip with our church this weekend so they can get better acquainted, and my younger daughter is off to camp. So it’s just Becca and me getting reacquainted!

I hope you have a lovely weekend, too.


Let’s Talk Time Wasters: Video Games, Netflix, Internet

Do We Waste Too Much Time?

Are video games a waste of time? What about Netflix? Facebook? Pinterest?

On Mondays I usually post a Reader Question and take a stab at answering it, but I’m in a bit of a contemplative mood today (perhaps it’s because I’m writing this on Mother’s Day, while I’m away from my girls on a speaking trip, and I’m a little bit restless), and I have some things I’d like to share.

On Saturday I posted this on Facebook:

Now THIS is an awesome story: I’m staying at my assistant Holly’s house in Colorado while I speak this week, and her 17-year-old son just sold his Xbox. He went on a men’s retreat last weekend and heard about how many young husbands wreck their marriages because they always use video games. So he thought that before it became an addiction that wrecked his future marriage he’d get rid of it!

Quite a few people liked that status, but I had a lot of comments to the effect of, “there’s nothing wrong with video games.” Or perhaps, “maybe he should have tried moderation first.” And I do understand.

I think we all have certain bents towards different time wasters: video games, Netflix, Pinterest, whatever it may be. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Aren’t we all entitled to some downtime?

And in general I’d say yes.

But that’s not the whole picture, and so I’d like to tell you a bit of my story.

Let’s start back in 1996, when Rebecca (my oldest) was a year old. I used to leave the TV on during the day all the time just to have some noise in the apartment. I watched soap operas from 1-4 every afternoon, because I was tired. I wanted an escape. It was hard work being alone with my baby all the time. My husband worked about 100 hours a week in his residency program in pediatrics, and I was often lonely. I found myself falling into television more and more.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal ChangeThen one day I picked up Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People at a garage sale, and I read it. And it changed my life.

Specifically, it was his discussion of Beginning with the End in Mind and Putting First Things First. In other words, know where you’re heading, and then make sure you do the things that are necessary to get you there–before you do anything else.

He used a graphic to illustrate what he was talking about, and I’m going to recreate it with my own embellishment and commentary.

Divide your life into four quadrants based on whether or not the things you are doing are important or urgent. When you do that, you get something that looks like this:

Don't Waste Time: Stephen Covey's 4 Quadrants

Everything that we do can be divided into those 4 quadrants. And when we do that, it looks like this:

Don't Waste Time: How to figure out what to spend time on

Let’s dissect this a bit.

Things that are Important AND Urgent Demand Your Attention–Rightly

That’s when you go into labour. When a child is in a pageant. When your mother is diagnosed with cancer. These are life events that basically have nothing to do with how you behave–they just happen.

But then there are crises which sometimes ARE avoidable–but when they crop up, we have to address them. We discover an affair. A teenager runs away. We suffer a nervous breakdown (sometimes this is purely chemical; other times it’s because we’ve let ourselves get too stressed.) We totter on bankruptcy. Sometimes it’s even little things, like running out of clean dishes or clean underwear because we haven’t done any housework. These are the fires in our lives that have to be put out.

Things That Are Important But Not Urgent DON’T Demand Our Attention–and that’s a problem.

No one is going to make you do them. They’re the date nights with your spouse, your time alone with God, your time alone with yourself (if that’s what you need to rejuvenate). It’s your time with a special mentor friend who points you to God. It’s reading to your children. It’s keeping the home organized. It’s spending time together as a family.

We all need these things–but it’s far too easy to neglect them because nothing is forcing us to do them, and there are rarely immediate negative consequences for leaving them undone. The consequences come later.

Things that Are Urgent But Aren’t Important–But we do them anyway.

You’re having a deep conversation with your teenager and the phone rings. What do you do? Chances are you answer the phone. But what was more important?

You’re out to dinner with your spouse and your phone dings with a new text. Do you ignore it or do you check it?

Your friend, who has been in constant crisis for the last two years because she overspends, drinks too much, and keeps dating jerks, calls you when you’re on your way out the door to a volunteer activity, in tears. Do you listen or do you tell her you need to go?

Things That Are Not Urgent and Not Important–that have no redeeming value.

This is where many of us spend most of our time. I’m not saying all hobbies or all movies fall into this category. Some hobbies do rejuvenate, like productive hobbies like cooking, or knitting, or woodworking. Some movies bond you as a family. Sometimes getting on Facebook helps you keep in contact with your nieces and nephews. But how often do you spend an evening watching TV or getting on social media or playing video games, and you feel even more tired than before?

Here’s the truth that Stephen Covey wants us to understand: when you spend time in Quadrant 2, doing things that are important, you have fewer fires in your life that you have to put out. But when you spend most of your time in Quadrants 3 and 4, you’re going to end up with more crises. And you’re going to feel more dissatisfied.

Dont Waste Time: How wasting time leads to more crises in our lives

Why do we spend so much time on time wasters?

I think we do it because we want an escape. We lead lives that are exhausting, that aren’t always fulfilling, and we want a chance to forget.

But if your basic problem is that your life isn’t that fulfilling, because you’re chronically lonely, or you feel as if you’re not doing what you’re called to do, or your relationships aren’t on track, then wasting time won’t fix the problem. It will only make your problem worse. And a spiral will begin, where your reality deteriorates, and so you want to escape even more.

After reading Covey’s book I quit TV cold turkey.

I just stopped. I didn’t want to waste my life. And what I found is that for the first time in years I was bored. And energetic! And so I started something new: I started magazine writing. I researched how to get published, and by 1999 I was well on my way. In 2003 I had my first book published. My eighth will be coming out in August. And you know the rest of the story.

I firmly believe that I would never have begun writing if I had kept watching TV.

And that’s why, when people say, “there’s nothing wrong with video games”, I have to take a pause. It’s not that it’s wrong; it’s that too much of it may be stopping you from doing what is best.

Hebrews 12:1-2a says this:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

To Love, Honor and VacuumI explained this concept in my book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, but here’s what really hit me back in 1996: there are things that are holding us back from God that aren’t necessarily sin. Sure, we have to throw aside the sin, but there are also things that aren’t sin that hinder us. We’re to get rid of those, too.

My life is better because I gave up TV then, and I believe that 17-year-old boy’s life will be better because he got rid of video games, too.

Does this mean I can never waste time?

No, of course not. My husband and I do watch Netflix today–but we’re trying to put limits on it so that we also take time to play games together or listen to talks or books on tape while we’re doing our separate hobbies together. We don’t want to waste whole nights.

Every now and then we have to re-evaluate because we slip into patterns. In 2008 I had to quit reading political blogs because I was wasting time and getting my blood pressure up in the process. After I quit reading other blogs, I started writing this one. Again, I found that I actually had time I didn’t know I had!

And now we’re re-evaluating our Netflix time and trying to find a new balance. We have to be vigilant.

I want to live a life where I can feel like I’ve accomplished something. I want to feel well rested, healthy, and organized. I want to have close relationships with my children and my husband. I want to feel as if I’m contributing. I want to feel as if I’m leaving a legacy.

And I can’t do any of those things if I waste most of my time on entertainment.

Dayspring Purpose Mug

I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know if you’re struggling with feeling productive, or with finding meaning in your life, or with being chronically dissatisfied. But if you are, can I suggest that you take a look at these quadrants, and ask yourself: where am I spending my time?

And then ask: where should I be spending my time? Where do I want to be spending my time? And then try to put first things first.

Let me know: have you ever had to quit a time waster? Or do you think I’m totally off base? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it!

To Love, Honor and Vacuum–The Book

Today I’m in Colorado Springs at the Focus on the Family headquarters taping a radio show about my book To, Love, Honor and Vacuum.

And since it’s our Book of the Month for our Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge in May, I want to let you all know a little more about it. It’s the first book I ever wrote (it was out originally in 2003), and last year I published a revised and expanded edition.

I know I write a lot about sex, but I’m also passionate about helping women with their daily lives. So I’d like to introduce you to To Love, Honor and Vacuum–the book.

To Love, Honor and Vacuum: For all women who feel more like maids than wives and mothers!

Do you feel harried? Taken for granted? Like you never have enough time in the day to get everything done that needs to get done, let alone anything that you actually want to do?

Then this REVISED and UPDATED book is for you! To Love, Honor and Vacuum helps women find peace in the midst of their hectic lives by helping them remember that the goal is to point people to Christ–not to wait on everyone hand and foot and to have a perfect house.

I give it to you straight: do you do everything around your house, but never have time for the important things? Are you inadvertently teaching your family members to treat you with disrespect? Or are you simply overwhelmed by keeping a house while you’ve also got toddlers underfoot?

I’ll teach you how to put first things first, and foster relationships where you’ll feel more appreciated, less harried, and more fulfilled. The book will help you:

  • Set realistic standards for housework
  • Learn to do housework more efficiently
  • Make your home family-friendly
  • Recruit help from family members
  • Command respect from your husband and kids
  • Prioritize family relationships
  • Make decisions about work and money
  • Keep romance alive!

TLHV Review

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To Love, Honor and Vacuum Review
Review of TLHV
To Love, Honor and Vacuum Review

Purchase from Amazon
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Ever wonder why you’ve tried dozens of different chores organization techniques and they don’t work?

Maybe the issue isn’t organization–it’s perspective and attitude.

  • Are you trying to raise children–or raise adults?
  • Are you trying to be nice to your family–or be good to your family by pointing them to Christ?
  • Are you trying to create a perfect house–or a comfortable home?

If your starting point is wrong, you will be stressed, no matter what organization technique you use. And so maybe it’s time to start with our attitudes, then look at our relationships–and only THEN turn to how to organize ourselves better.

4346 vac cvr CC.inddHere’s what’s included in To Love, Honor and Vacuum:

Chapter 1: Diagnosis Stress!
Why we women so often find home life so exhausting.

Chapter 2: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
A fictional jaunt through history to show you why life IS more stressful today–and why your grandmother could handle things better than you can!

Chapter 3: This Ain’t My Momma’s House!
An invitation to take a close look at who is setting your standards–with a plea for grace for ourselves.

Chapter 4: Balancing Tipped Scales
Feeling worn out? Maybe you’re spending too much time on the unimportant, and not enough on the stuff that revives you. A plan to include more reviving things in your life.

Chapter 5: Relationship U-Turns
We’ve given ourselves a break, we’re getting more organized, and we have more things that revive us in our lives. But what if the reason that we’re exhausted is that no one else seems to help–or even to care? A look at how to actually change relationships so that we point people to Christ, not away from Him.

Chapter 6: The Family That Cleans Together
You CAN get your kids involved in keeping the house under control. And you can involve your husband, too!

Chapter 7: Don’t Just Sit There–Do Something!
What do you do if people take you for granted and disrespect you? A look at how to earn respect in your family, and set your relationships back on the right course.

Chapter 8: Kids Spell Love T-I-M-E
You’ve got kids involved in the house, but you also need to just relax and have fun with them. Here’s how.

Chapter 9: Bringing Your Wallet Under God’s Control
Another big source of stress is money. Do you use money well? Do you save money well? What do you do about work and childcare? A helpful look at how to make decisions about kids, money, and savings.

Chapter 10: In the Mood
A peaceful family that reflects Christ’s love has the marriage at the centre. And that means that you need to prioritize your relationship with your husband–even in the bedroom! (You knew I couldn’t leave that out, right?)

Purchase from Amazon
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To Love, Honor and Vacuum Audio DownloadWant to hear more about it–but don’t have time to read?

Purchase a 45 minute talk based on the book.


If you’re tired of spinning your wheels, get
To Love, Honor and Vacuum.
And start feeling like a mom and a wife again!

I Actually Drank This–And What It Taught Me

So true story: Last Saturday night (like eight days ago) I landed in the Toronto airport late at night after having spent an amazing week speaking throughout Arizona.

Sheila Gregoire gives her Girl Talk presentation about sex and marriage.

But all day I had been battling quite the headache. I don’t handle changes in pressure from airline travel well, and combine that with the fact that I’ve been clenching my jaw at night, making for some tension headaches to begin with, and I was not in a Happy Place.

I picked up my luggage, which included a huge suitcase, a computer, and this mega huge golf bag which held the banner for my Girl Talk, and waited for the airport shuttle (which took 25 minutes) to take me back to where my car was.

Lugged that stuff up four flights in the parking garage, found my car in the dark, somehow managed to push that golf bag in, and then thought about the 2 hour drive I had home. And I knew I could not do that without fortification (namely Advil).

But I also didn’t have anything to drink, nor did I have the energy to find a corner store. So I searched under the seats and in the crevices of my van, and Hallelujah! I found an old water bottle that was still full. So I downed two Advils and headed home.

Thursday night, five days later, my daughter and I are in the car heading to the 100 Huntley Street headquarters for a Women in Music and Media networking event. I wanted Katie (my YouTube daughter) to meet the amazing gals there–Anne Mainse and Moira Brown, and we did.


But as we’re driving, Katie holds up the water bottle and comments, “boy this water looks gross.”

Then she flips the bottle and there’s algae on the bottom.

Sometimes we don't realize how toxic our surroundings are.

And I drank that.

No wonder I’ve felt so queasy for a week!

All week I was also telling you about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle (watch the skilled way I transition here; you will be amazed and astounded. :) ). And one thing that really hit me was that often I don’t realize how toxic my environment is.

Certainly there’s my environment-environment–the air I breathe, the food I eat, the chemicals on my clothes, and, of course, the algae in my water.

And you’ll learn with this Bundle how to create a HEALTHY Home–without going overboard on all the hype. There’s a lot of hype out there scaring us about all kinds of things. This ecourse tells you which claims have scientific backing, which ones don’t, and where you get the most bang for your buck.

It normally sells for $97–so if you buy the Bundle, it’s like you’re getting that course for 66% off, but then you’re also getting 99 other resources!

But it’s not just about our physical environment. It’s also the “feel” of my home that I, as the mom, tend to set up. Is home cuddly or chaotic? Nurturing or nerves-inducing? And how do we make home something that is relaxing and life-giving without wearing ourselves out in the process?

I shared with you last Tuesday ten books that did that for me–ten homemaking hacks that I really appreciated! But there are so many others–books on meal planning, mothering, passing on your faith to your kids, enriching your own faith, saving money, cleaning, and more. I’m partial to the organizing books and printables, and these ones alone are worth more than the cost of the bundle, too:

This Bundle sale is now over, but the awesome people at the Ultimate Bundles website offer about 6 bundles a year on different topics--and it's always about $1000 worth of digital products for $29.97. Sign up to be notified of the next bundle! (They have homemaking, digital photography, healthy living, work at home business, and more!

If you’ve already bought a bundle in the past, I understand. I’ve been part of five bundle sales, so I have a LOT of ebooks. But what I find with each Bundle is that there’s something new–some tip that really will change EVERYTHING. This time around it was learning how to organize myself paperlessly, and that was so worth it. I never would have thought to buy that book on its own, but when I read it in the Bundle, I was like: “Why didn’t I think of this before?” But last Bundle it was something else.

And remember–the bonuses are all new! And you get a designer scarf valued at $20; a physical book of your choice from Tyndale; an art print; registration in a Craftsy class to improve your craft skills (go for the knitting ones!), and so much more.

And it makes a great Mother’s Day gift!

I’ll be talking more this week about how not to be toxic in your marriage–how to pray for your husband; how to avoid seasons of distance; how to stay close and healthy. And I’m looking forward to those posts!

But for today, I am excited about this last chance to offer you the bundle. I do get a percentage of your sales (which go towards bringing an assistant with me when I speak so I don’t have to lug all that stuff by myself), but I also participate in these sales just because I love them. I’m like a kid in a candy store when I get to go through all the resources! Here’s one more look at them all:

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--97 ebooks and ecourses plus bonuses for just $29.97

Don’t miss it! It will be gone soon.

Click here to learn more

Have a great week!


Permission to Not Be a Perfect Mother

Have you ever noticed that what’s held up as the “ideal” within the Christian world is always that which is at the extreme–and very legalistic?

Those who are “holiest” are those who have the strictest interpretation of things. And somehow then it becomes incumbent on other Christians to never present an alternative view.

You're allowed to be yourself! Think freedom as a mom

I’ve talked about this in the past with regards to dating. My mom was a teenager in the 1950s and 1960s when it was NORMAL to date a whole bunch of people–even in her conservative Mennonite town. The thought of saving kissing until the wedding wasn’t even really talked about.

Today the most “Christian” thing is not to date–but to court. And not to kiss until the wedding. To emulate the Duggars (though they were not the first to do this).

I am absolutely NOT saying that there is anything wrong with this model. I know so many who have followed it and are in wonderful marriages. I do believe, though, that it is entirely up to you–it’s between you and God. I don’t think that it makes you more of a Christian to save your kiss to your wedding–though I do believe that some couples really benefit from this. I also believe some couples benefit by NOT saving it.

But here’s what happens: once this idea enters the consciousness, then people stop talking about any other model of dating because they don’t want to seem less Christian. So all of a sudden it seems like EVERYBODY is courting/saving kissing, and then it’s easy to feel inferior.

In truth, a very small minority does.

We see this in other areas as well. A good Christian watches absolutely no media unless it’s Christian media. A good Christian doesn’t listen to the radio. A good mom doesn’t go on Facebook during the day. A good mom doesn’t let her kids eat Kraft Dinner. Ever. A good mom doesn’t use birth control. And so on. And so on.

And blogs start talking about these things, and then writers are afraid to be real and Instagram their true pictures of “what I fed my kids for breakfast” (which in my case, all too often involved chocolate cake. They saw me eating it, after all; it only seemed fair to share).

What if you’re allowed to be you?

What if you don’t have to live up to some rules and follow some pattern of parenting to the letter? What if you’re allowed to make your own way?

Wouldn’t that be FREEDOM?

The Steady Mom's Freedom Guide: Joyful Motherhood on Your Own TermsI want to tell you today about the Steady Mom’s Freedom Guide.

Sometimes when we hear about homemaking advice, we think it’s all going to be of the don’t-ever-feed-your-kids-crap-get-perfectly-organized-so-you’re-absolutely-perfect variety. And, of course, the author’s version of perfect is stifling.

What if you’re not like that?

Jamie Martin gets that. In her book, Jamie admits that she lets her kids watch a bit of TV. She doesn’t focus on discipline–she tries to distract her kids and interact with them first, to avert the need to discipline in the first place. She sometimes doesn’t get the housework done, and she doesn’t get through her to-do list.

She concludes like this:

Maybe children aren’t meant to be solved like mathematical equations. Maybe, just maybe, the life of a human being, the life of a family, can’t be encapsulated in a bullet-point list of how-to’s.

And that’s why I’m done.

Done with theories, formulas, and labels. Utterly, completely, lavishly dependent on grace.

Labels hurt us and our children, even if never spoken aloud. We limit their future, their genius by projecting limiting thoughts and ideas over them.

I’m giving up all of it. It adds nothing to our family, but takes plenty away.
Today and forever, I paste these labels over me and my family, over you and yours: Mother

I think that’s beautiful!

And I want to assure you that THIS freedom is what I want for you in your home–with homemaking, with parenting, with marriage.

It isn’t about living up to someone else’s ideal (even MINE! :) ). It’s about figuring out who you are, and who your husband is, and who God made your kids to be, and listening to advice, and then tailoring it to meet your own family. You don’t have to look like anyone else. There is no “one way” to be a perfect Christian mom. There are thousands. Millions. And they all involve just listening to God.

Take just one example. I’m a big believer that kids should not sleep in their parents’ beds. You will never have as good a sex life with your kids in bed with you as you would without your kids there, even if you get creative. And since sex is so key to keeping a marriage together, and since it’s such a challenge when the kids are little, I think teaching the kids to sleep on their own is a great service to them and to the parents.

I absolutely believe this.

But you know what? You don’t have to do what I say. I hope you listen to my reasons and think about it and pray about it. But it is YOUR family. And you and your husband have the right to make that decision together. I am not God to you.

And that’s how so much advice is set up: like there is one perfect way to be a Proverbs 31 woman.

There isn’t.


You don't have to be someone else--you're the one made to mother your kids. Great resources from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

So rest easy, and go love your children!