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.

WIMM

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:

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!

But it’s all over tonight at midnight EST. And then it’s gone.

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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, or

P.S. Don’t forget to email me your receipt if you’ve bought the Bundle from me! I’ve got a great contest going on where you can win one of these awesome prizes–including dinner with me!

Homemaking Bundle Prizes

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, which is an awesome book that’s part of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.

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
Child
Grace
Love
Enough.

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.

And so I want to assure you about something today with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. There are 97 resources–that can seem overwhelming. Are they all going to try to turn you into Martha Stewart? Into the Duggars? Into Sheila?

No. Not at all. I hope what they’ll do is give you tools to be a better YOU.

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

Here’s why I love bundles: it’s like a big grab bag, where you reach in and you’re never sure what you’re going to get. My friend Susan loves buying those $2 grab bags the drug store sells, because there’s always some cute makeup or chocolates or something they’re trying to get rid of. Sometimes the lipstick colour is awful. Sometimes the nail polish just isn’t you. But there’s always SOMETHING, and you never know what that something is going to be until you open it.

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

A number of people have asked: Is this the same as the bundle I bought last year? NO! It’s all NEW resources! Every Bundle is ALWAYS unique. So fun!

That’s how I attack these bundles when I get them (and I LOVE them!). I skim it all, put the books I know just “aren’t me” into a giveaway folder, but then I give myself half an hour a night to read through the ones that ARE me. I try to do the courses that apply to me one by one (right now I’m working through the 14 Days to a Better Neck video course because my posture is so bad that my neck is really bad!). And inevitably I find a way to be a better me.

You see, the books don’t all teach the exact same approach–because we all have different personalities, different homes, different circumstances. But they’re full of awesome ideas, and you are free to pick and choose. It’s okay. You don’t have to do everything–and it’s okay to say, “this won’t work for our family.”

Paperless Home OrganizationIt’s like I told you on Tuesday–I am gaga over the book Paperless Home Organization. But I know for some of you that would be stifling. But don’t worry–there are tons of printables if you’d rather go that route! It really is okay.

You’re allowed to be you. There is no one-size-fits-all. But you CAN be a better you. I’ve taken so many ideas that I’ve gleaned from bundles in the past (and from this one) and they’ve help me to enjoy my life better and feel like I’m more on top of things.

But I still don’t meal plan. I still don’t do my devotions before breakfast. I still watch Netflix sometimes. When my kids were little, I still tried distraction rather than a 4-point discipline program. I still was my own person.

And you can be, too. There’s freedom in Christ, people, to listen to the Spirit.

But there’s also excitement in the “grab bag”–in sifting through different ideas, holding them up to see if they fit your family, and finding the new tools to be even better.

Marriage Intimacy and Sex smallYou even get my audio download of me talking with my husband about sex. It’s a talk we gave at a marriage day a while ago, and you won’t want to miss my husband’s ballroom dancing story!

I love the Bundle–and I hope you will, too!

Remember, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is only available until April 27. After that this collection is gone for good! And it’s a great collection–79 ebooks, 20 courses and audio downloads, and over $200 in bonuses!

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Or, click here to buy now!

Here’s how you can see what a bargain this is:

Looking just at the resources I’ve mentioned,

  1. 14 Days to a Better Neck: $14
  2. Marriage and Sex Download: $3
  3. Steady Mom’s Freedom Guide: $3
  4. Paperless Home Organization: $5

Total: $25

Just those resources alone pretty much come to the price of the bundle. But you get 96 MORE! And that includes freebies, like an actual physical book Tyndale will mail you. A gorgeous new scarf valued at $20. Free enrollment in one of Craftsy’s classes.

Even the Healthy Home ecourse–valued at $95!

Healthy HomeSo it really is a great deal. And you can use it however YOU want. Customize it to help  YOU. Because you really are good enough!

Top 10 Homemaking Hacks for the Not-So-Perfect Homemaker

You don’t have to be able to entertain at the drop of a hat.

You’re allowed to have laundry that’s not folded.

You’re allowed to sometimes feed your kids McDonald’s.

Homemaking well is not about being perfect–it’s about creating a home that is fun, nurturing, and chaos-minimized. (click to tweet).

You don't need to be perfect! But you can have fun. Find out more with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle Sale--April 20-27

And so today I’d like to share 10 Homemaking Hacks for not-so-perfect homemakers–hacks that can make what you do everyday easier and far less stressful!

All of these hacks I learned from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle–a sale of over 79 ebooks and 20 other courses and downloads that can help you on your homemaking journey. And the Bundle is on sale right now until next Monday for just $29.97! It’s so worth it.

Here’s why:

1. Paperless Home Organization

Paperless Home OrganizationHere’s the book I was telling you about yesterday–the book that changed my life.

I’m not even kidding. I got access to the bundle about three weeks before it went live, so that I had a chance to go through all the books. And I read this book. And then I didn’t sleep. All night. I just lay there, wide awake, picturing how awesome it would be if I actually implemented her system.

Finally, at 4:00 a.m. I gave up trying to sleep, got up, and actually set it all up! And now I use it everyday.

Here’s what you do: You use three main online (free!) programs: Gmail, Evernote, and Remember the Milk (an awesome task reminder program). All of these can also be synced onto your phones and devices.

Then you set up checklists in Evernote for your daily activities, and you enter special things in Remember the Milk. I’ve got reminders for everything in there–that I have to change the furnace filter every 2 months (seriously, we’ve had to call the furnace repair people 3 times in the last decade just because I forget to change the furnace filter), reminders for when bills are due, reminders for what projects I have to get done for my daughter’s wedding, and more.

Here’s what I love: she shows you how to use both Evernote and Gmail so that things automatically get saved and filtered, without you having to use a whole lot of words or remember where you filed something. It’s easy to retrieve again, and it’s ever so easy to check on your to-do list. It’s not like you need 23 different tags and 32 different notebooks. Not at all. It’s really simple. It took me about an hour and a half to set everything up.

So now everyday I scan papers I need to scan, save them in Evernote, and I don’t need to keep notes anywhere anymore. And I always have my to do list and reminders with me! It’s awesome.

One of my big problems is that I have so many things that I’m trying to remember and hold in my head at one time. And I’m always thinking, “I can’t forget that!” But that’s stressful.

This way, I know I’ll remember. It takes less than 15 seconds to set up a reminder and to plan when I’ll do it, and now I don’t have to constantly feel I’m going to forget something.

You’ll Save: Late fees on your bills–and lots of stress and tension because you don’t have to remember anything anymore. The computer does it for you!

Price: $4.99, but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

2. Backwards Meal Planning

Backwards Meal PlanningA perfect homemaker has a 2-week meal plan all ready to go, with a grocery list completed, before she heads out to the store.

I’ve never been that organized.

So when I read Backwards Meal Planning, I thought–finally! Someone who gets ME! Sometimes we run to the store because it’s the only time we have free all week, and we don’t have time to plan first, so we just buy what’s on sale and what tickles our fancy. And then what do we do?

This book shows you how you can go grocery shopping FIRST–and then figure out, from what’s in your fridge, cupboard, and freezer, how you can come up with a menu. It’s simple! Just keep track of your favourite meals for each ingredient, learn how to substitute easily, and brainstorm on pretty printables!

You’ll Save: 20% on your grocery bill, if you stick to what’s on sale instead of what’s on your grocery list.

Price: $2.99 but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

3. Budgeting for Yearly Expenses–When You Need a Monthly Budget

Build a Budget That WorksHere’s problem #1: you’re preparing a monthly budget, but you don’t have a monthly income. Let’s say you’re self-employed and you have no idea how much money you’ll actually make each month.

Here’s problem #2: You budget for insurance, transportation, food, mortgage, etc., etc., but you forget that in the summer the kids have to go to summer camp. And next year you’re going to need to buy a new car. So you think you have a budget that’s reasonable, but when summer comes, there’s no money for camp.

In Build a Budget That Works, Jessi Fearon shows how to budget for yearly expenses, or even every-few-years expenses, so that the money is there when you need it. And she hows you how to compensate if you don’t get paid on a regular or predictable basis.

But there’s still problem #3: You know you need to put away $50 a month for summer camp, but WHERE do you actually put that $50? You can’t create 20 bank accounts for all your different yearly expenses.

So Jessi shows how to keep track of how much you’ve saved for each thing, while still keeping it in your chequing account. And she shows you how to make sure you don’t inadvertently use that money you’ve earmarked for something else!

So it really is a budget that works–with lots of worksheets and printables so that you’re not caught unprepared.

You’ll Save: Interest payments from going into overdraft–and you’ll end up saving money, too!

Price: $2.99, but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

4. Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Several of the books in the bundle have different recipes, but all are super easy. You can make them with your kids–and then your kids may be more eager to help with laundry, too!

Laundry Detergent

You’ll save: The author of DIY Natural Cleaners puts it this way: “The average American family does 400 loads of laundry a year. This will save you $0.17 a load, for a total of $68 of savings in a year–and that’s only 1 of 60 plus recipes!”

Price: $9.99, but FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

5. Make the Most of Daily Activities to Teach About Jesus

How to Introduce Your Child to JesusA Perfect Homemaker has family devotions every night, teaching her children a verse a week, doing crafts to learn a Bible story, and creating object lessons to drive the point home.

An imperfect homemaker simply looks for things that are happening around her–like seeing a squirrel gathering nuts, or seeing a crying baby, or seeing a sunset–to bring Jesus into the conversation naturally. Without a curriculum. Without crafts. And without preparation.

You can introduce your child to Jesus without a lot of fuss, because Jesus is just a natural part of your life, too! So learn how to make Him a natural part of your conversation with your kids.

You’ll save: A lot of guilt thinking you’re not doing a good enough job as a parent! And you’ll feel empowered.

Price: $5.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

6. DIY Breakfast Station

A perfect homemaker gets up 45 minutes early to cook a hot breakfast for her husband and her children, which they all eat while sitting down around a table with napkins in their laps.

An imperfect homemaker sets up a DIY breakfast station, with healthy food kids can stick in the microwave by themselves if they want, along with cold food they can grab in a hurry. Kids as young as 6 can make their own breakfast–while you run around trying to get everyone out the door!

Sounds much more like me.

I LOVE these recipes–and it comes with printables you can put on your breakfast burritos, muffins, crepes, or energy balls. So easy–and really fun for kids, who can choose what they want without bugging you.

DIY Breakfast Station

You’ll save: Aggravation. Time. And money because you won’t take them to the drive-thru in desperation on the way to church or school!

Price: $9.50, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

7. Know How to Find Pics of Your Kids with Buck Teeth

One Bite at a TimeA perfect homemaker scrapbooks her kids’ lives on a weekly basis, printing out the important photos and decorating them.

An imperfect homemaker goes through her pictures, throws out a ton of them, decides it’s okay to keep some in a shoebox, but organizes most online so that she can find them quickly–even if she never decorates them or prints them out.

I’ve hired my youngest daughter to scan all of our family pictures, and then throw away the hard copies of ones that aren’t worth saving, so that we can locate any pics, any time. We want to have everything at our fingertips so we can create slide shows for my older daughter’s wedding.

Organizing your pictures is just one of the 52 projects in One Bite at a Time–one of my favourite books for making your home more manageable. Each project is practical–and limited in scope so it’s not overwhelming. And they’re fun, too!

You’ll save: A ton on photo albums. And a ton of storage space! We reclaimed a whole bookcase once we got rid of our photo albums. And now our pictures are on those digital frames that switch every few seconds. So much more fun!

Price: $8.00, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

8. Get Rid of the Drawer Filled with Warranties and Instruction Manuals!

Your Simple Home HandbookA perfect homemaker tapes all instruction manuals and receipts to the backs of appliances.

An imperfect homemaker stuffs them in a drawer.

But you don’t have to do either! They’re both too much work.

Here’s what you do instead: Like Jessi says in Paperless Home Organization, scan the receipt an warranty and save it in Evernote.

Then, as Elsie Callender says in Your Simple Home Handbook, google the instruction manual when you buy it, and save that link (I’d suggest putting it in the same Evernote note). All instruction manuals are online anyway!

No more bulging drawers!

You’ll save: Space. You get your drawer back. Hassle: If you need to return something, or if something breaks, you can easily put your hands on the receipt and the instructions.

Price: $7.95, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

9. Let your kids watch TV, let yourself on Facebook, and don’t always give time outs.

Steady Moms Freedom GuideA perfect homemaker has her children play imagination games all day while she cans vegetables and creates lovely crafts. If her children act up, she is swift with the discipline.

But what if that’s exhausting?

Maybe what we need is more grace. A half hour of quality TV or netflix won’t hurt your kids. Looking at Facebook while they play is okay. Using distraction and coaching rather than being a firm disciplinarian is likely a better idea anyway.

I’m dedicating a whole day to talking about this book on Friday, because it’s that good, but today, just a simple word of encouragement: You know your home better than anyone else. You know your kids better than anyone else. In everything, there can be balance. Let love and grace reign, and you all will be okay. You don’t have to be a perfect home; you can just be yourself, and raise your kids to be themselves, and rely on God, and you’ll find life far less stifling.

You’ll save: guilt for not being perfect. Heartache when your kids act up and are angry at you. Frustration for being bored. Learn to live again!

Price: $2.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

And perhaps most importantly…

10. Managing the Mundane is the Key to Surviving the Insane

A perfect homemaker has a list of every task that needs to be done, all color coded.

An imperfect homemaker knows that there are really only three things that ultimately matter in how your home feels, and it’s these:

Managing the Insane

Controlling the Spin WithinIf you get these three things under control, everything else will follow. And you’ll feel empowered. You’ll feel like you’re on top of things. Everything will work out!

Holly Dvorak helps you zero in on the necessities, so that you can survive the insane world of mommyhood. And she makes it so super easy. It’s not some major cleaning schedule. It’s just getting the most important stuff done. Like she says, there are two universal truths:

Universal Truth #1: If we don’t eat, we die.
Universal Truth #2: If we leave the house naked, we go to jail.

If you’ve got these covered, you’re good! And she tells you how to, in easy-to-follow steps.

You’ll save: guilt that you don’t have a super-organized cleaning system. Aggravation that there’s nothing for dinner. And anger that your house is always a mess!

Price: $2.99, or FREE with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

That’s it–ten books with great homemaking hacks that don’t make your to-do list longer. They lessen your guilt, simplify your life, and give you breathing space, all so you can:

Work Less. Enjoy Your Family More!

That’s the theme of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and if any of these resonated with you, I encourage you to check it out.

Just these resources would cost you $57.50, but you get them ALL–plus 90 OTHER resources, including $200 in bonuses like a free designer scarf and a free art print, for just $29.97.

See the complete list of books here.

Don't miss the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--$1274 in ebooks, courses, and bonuses for just $29.97.Happy Homemaking!

 

When Being a Mom, or Just Plain Running Your Home, Overwhelms You

So many of us find homemaking–just plain doing life at home–overwhelming.

We spend out lives putting out fires, cleaning up messes, and we wonder if we’re even getting ahead. If life is always chaotic, how do we find time to appreciate what we have?

When I was a little girl, I dreamed about getting married, becoming a mommy, and having my own home.

I wanted to make a special place that was a magical mash-up of:

  • a school,
  • a playground,
  • a refuge,
  • a boo-boo “fix it” station,
  • a “you can do it” pep rally, and
  • a safe place for personal expression, sharing and growth.

And then real life happened…

…laundry, diapers, stretch marks, and never-ending meal prep… budgeting, trying to remember to change the furnace filters… holiday stress, and teaching my daughters to read (and master long division)… a husband who works long hours, kids with croup, trying to find time to do my devotions… and a secret dream to run my own little business from home.

Trying to create a schedule that works…trying to buy the right sized garbage bags (hubby just told me the ones I bought are too small)…trying to remember to send birthday cards and gifts.

And that’s why my online friends Erin and Stephanie created the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle… because as rewarding as it is, homemaking is hard work and it doesn’t always come easily.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

To help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships with proven, simple, and effective tools that really give you a boost as a homemaker – help, inspiration, tips, encouragement, resources at your fingertips…

… the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is just for you.

It is a complete library of carefully selected eBooks, eCourses, audios, online conferences, and printable packs designed to help you turn your house into a home… without all the overwhelm.

What’s in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle?

The first step in putting together this collection was to find the critical homemaking skills that you need to transform your house into a home.

Here they are:

Homemakingcollage

  • Cleaning… create a healthy, toxin-free home
  • DIY/Homemade… fun and frugal ways to express your personal style
  • Devotionals and Faith… take a break from the daily grind to renew yourself
  • Finances… build a budget that works
  • Cooking & Meal Planning… serve easier, tastier meals in less time
  • Holidays & Special Events… brighten up old family traditions and create new
  • Homeschoolinghomeschool with grace and ease
  • Marriage… heat up your marriage
  • Motherhood… find peace, balance & joy in mothering
  • Organizing… conquer the clutter and simplify your life
  • Pregnancy & Babies… enjoy a healthy pregnancy and prepare to nurture your baby
  • Health & Wellness… soothe aches & pains with natural remedies
  • Working from Home… hone your talents, live your passions and earn money to help your family

… a complete library of 99 eBooks and eCourses to help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships.

Homemaking Bundle PrizesAnd when you buy it through me, you get a chance to enter to win a whole bunch of prizes, including Dinner with Me sometime before June 30, 2017 (if you live in Canada or the continental United States, although I’m likely coming to Australia, Kenya, and the United Kingdom before then, too, so if you’re there, I’d probably honour it as well!)

Scroll to the bottom to learn more about these prizes.

Are there too many books in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle?

Have you ever taken your family out for a buffet dinner… and then been disappointed when you couldn’t eat every single morsel on display?

Of course not!

Sure. There’s that first, breath-taking moment when you see and hear and smell the amazing meal spread before you… and you think, “Where will I even start?”

But that’s the thing… because you do start… with something.

Maybe it’s a tender flaky biscuit, or a piece of delicious roast beef, or maybe you’re like me and start with a piece of pie (mmm, blueberry or apple with whipped cream)?

So relax, enjoy, and start anywhere you like. Come back to the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle “buffet” as many times as you like. It’s all here for you.

Here’s why I love ebooks…

An ebook tends to be different from a “regular” book not just because you read it on your computer, tablet, or phone, but also because the information is different.

Ebooks tend to be practical–they give you tips and tricks that you won’t find in a “regular” book because all you need is a bite-sized chunk. It’s like a ton of homemaking hacks all in one!

I’ve been involved in five bundle sales now, and I absolutely love them. I get so excited when each new bundle comes, because I know that I’m going to read something that will change everything.

This Bundle has a book like that for me, in the Organizing section:

DIY-Bookshelves

It’s Paperless Home Organization, and OH MY GOODNESS. I did everything she said and it totally works! I love it, and I’ll be sharing it with you tomorrow.

Here are just a few other life changers I’ve had from past bundles:

  • I finally quit Diet Pepsi for good–and lost about 20 pounds in the process.
  • I figured out how to use essential oils around my home.
  • I started making my own household cleaners. They smell awesome and I’ll never go back!
  • I learned what “The Dirty Dozen” is and “The Clean Fifteen”. If you don’t know–it’s in this bundle, too! (hint: it has to do with which produce you really need to clean well, and which ones are okay)
  • I figured out how awesome coconut oil is
  • I learned how to track my prayer requests better–and track answers to prayer.
  • I figured out how to stop wasting food by using scraps to make AMAZING chicken stock.
  • I finally organized all my crafts!–and my works in progress.

I don’t need to read all of the books–though I do scan them. But I totally have gotten some amazing tips out of each bundle that has made my life simpler, cheaper, and seriously more fun.

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Is the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle worth it?

In a word… yes!

To be absolutely certain, Erin and Stephanie asked questions, tried techniques and just about drove themselves crazy making sure that the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle was the very best homemaking resource anywhere.

They dug through hundreds of websites and connected with dozens of authors and teachers.

And then we all worked together to make these resources the most affordable possible.

And They Were Delighted to Help…

The result? This collection is a fraction of the price of what someone would pay for each resource individually!

For a short time, the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle… a complete library of:

Bundle Summarized

Here are just the ecourses and audio (cause I have to show you where I am!)

Audio ECourses

…Altogether, 99 carefully selected resources designed to help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships… is only $29.97. (A total value of $984.74.)

That breaks down to 30 cents per book.

Your 30-Day 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

If for any reason, you decide that the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is not for you, then please send an email to customerservice@Ultimate-Bundles.com and we will refund 100% of your investment. No questions asked.

Don’t Forget the Bonuses…

Of course, no Ultimate Homemaking Bundle would be complete without the generous, inspiring gifts donated by companies that understand homemakers like you. Every gift is yours to keep and enjoy.

  • Choose 1 FREE Online Class from Craftsy (Select from 24 of Their Most Popular Classes – Up to $60 Value)
  • 1 FREE Kids Discovery Box from Green Kid Crafts ($19.95 Value)
  • FREE $15 Credit to Hope Ink PLUS 2 FREE 8×10 Art Prints ($71 Value)
  • FREE 90-Day “Good Deal” Subscription to She Plans Dinner ($15 Value)
  • Choose 1 FREE Stylish Spring Scarf from Deborah & Co. ($20 Value)
  • FREE $80 Healthy Moving Class Credit ($80 Value)
  • FREE 90-Day Pro Membership to ListPlanIt ($30 Value)
  • FREE 65 Tyndale Rewards Points to Be Used for a FREE Book or Towards Any Book of Your Choice ($15 Value)

Now It’s Your Turn

I think Laura Ingalls Wilder said it best…

Just as a little thread of gold, running through a fabric, brightens the whole garment, so women’s work at home, while only the doing of little things, is just like the golden gleam of sunlight that runs through and brightens the whole fabric of civilization.

The proven, simple, and effective skills you need to transform your house into a home are all waiting for you in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.

This is your chance to get all the love, support, guidance and inspiration you need to nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships with proven, simple, and effective tools that really give you a boost as a homemaker.

But time is running out! The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle will only be available from 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday, April 20 until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, April 27.

 

motionmailapp.com

After that, the shopping cart closes and the deeply discounted price is gone.

Act now!

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Buy it From Me–and Win!

As an author and an affiliate for this bundle, I make a commission off of every sale made from my website. But I want you to benefit, too! So I’m going to be giving away a total of 22 prizes to people who purchase the bundle through me.

The best one is that I’ll take you out to dinner. Seriously. If you live in Canada or the continental United States, then sometime before June 30, 2017, I’ll come within an hour of you and take you out to dinner (you may have to drive up to one hour to meet me, depending upon where you live. But we’ll make it work!).

And then I’ve got a bunch of others, including:
Prize Amazon CardPrize 31 Days

AND more bundles: I’ll give 5 prizes of $10 towards purchasing some audio downloads in my store, and I’ll give 5 prizes of grab bags of 10 homemaking ebooks that AREN’T in this bundle!

Here are all the prizes!

Homemaking Bundle Prizes

When you buy it, you just send me your receipt, and you’ll get sent a link to enter to win.

It’s an awesome bundle!

Click here for more info or to buy now.

Best wishes and happy homemaking!

Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

Top 10 Ways to Prepare for the Empty Nest

Top Ten Ways to Prepare for Empty NestToday Gay Christmus, from Calm, Healthy, Sexy, joins us to talk about preparing for the empty nest! Considering my youngest is leaving this summer, I’m eager to hear what she has to say.

Is your daily schedule packed with homework, soccer games, dance recitals, and Scout meetings, not to mention work, church, and community commitments?  Do you feel like a juggler most days, just trying to keep all of your balls in the air?  If so, planning for the “empty nest,” the time when your children will be out on their own, is probably the farthest thing from your mind.  And no wonder – it’s hard to think about the future when you’re just trying to get through each day.

I want to encourage you, though, that now is the time to think about and prepare for empty nest.  Because time flies, and that day “down the road” is going to arrive sooner than you think.  I know a bit about this, because my husband and I have been moving toward the empty nest for a couple of years.  Our older son has graduated from college and is living with a friend, and our younger son is living at home while attending college.  They’re both doing their own thing – even though one still sleeps (and sometimes eats!) at our house – and my husband and I are essentially doing our own thing too.

We’ve been anticipating this for a number of years.  I can’t say we’re fully prepared, but we’ve been aware of it and wanted to know that we could enjoy life together when soccer and basketball and school activities came to an end.  So I want to share with you 10 things we’ve attempted to do (some well, some not so well) to get ready for this new phase of our lives.  If your children are in elementary school or older, I encourage you begin incorporating these things into your marriage and family life too.  On the day when your youngest child heads off to college or moves into an apartment, you’ll be glad you did!

1.  Pray together.

Establish your faith as the foundation of your marriage and family by praying together regularly.  This doesn’t have to be complicated or burdensome; just spend a few minutes together each day thanking God for your blessings and asking for His help with your concerns and problems.

2.  Orient your family around your marriage.

Your children are important, and their needs and activities require time and attention.  But those needs and activities shouldn’t become the “sun” around which your family revolves.  Placing your marriage at the center of your family’s life helps keep things in perspective when your children are young and eases the transition into the time when it’s just the two of you.  It also reminds your children from an early age that the universe doesn’t revolve around them!

3.  Talk about the future.

The elementary school years are not too early to begin talking about life and marriage after the child-intensive years.  Because by the time your children get to high school, they’ll begin focusing more on their friends and outside interests and less on the family.  So enjoy the elementary and middle school years and all the activities they entail, but spend time talking with your husband about the future too.  It’s never too soon to dream about the life you’ll enjoy together when it’s just the two of you.

4.  Take care of your health.

When you reach the empty nest years, you want to be able to enjoy them.  Which means that you want to be strong, healthy and fit, and don’t want to be slowed down by health problems.  Most of the health problems that begin to affect people in their 40s and 50s – diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart problems – are preventable.  And it’s never too early to begin working to prevent them.  So start now by eating well, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and generally taking care of yourself.  And encourage your husband to do the same.  Those simple activities can help ensure that your empty nest years are healthy and active.

5.  Begin developing interests you can enjoy together.

You don’t want to deliver your youngest child to college, only to discover that you and your husband no longer have any interests in common.  So even though it’s difficult to find time for adult activities during the child-raising years, make the time to develop at least one activity that isn’t focused on your children.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive; Sheila has mentioned that she and her husband enjoy bird watching, and my husband and I have taken up bike riding.

6.  Develop friendships and a social life beyond your children’s sports and activities.

When our younger son finished his final season of high school basketball, I (somewhat) jokingly asked my husband, “What are we going to do for a social life in the winter?” Because for many years, our social life from November through February revolved around basketball.  It’s natural for that to happen, because basketball (or soccer or dance or Scouts) takes up a lot of time.  But if you aren’t intentional about developing friendships or a social life beyond those activities, you may experience quite a “social shock” when they end.  So spend some time and energy developing friendships in your church, neighborhood, or other social circles too.

7.  Prioritize sex and intimacy in your marriage.

During the child-intensive years, it’s tempting to let sex and intimacy fall by the wayside.  It’s so easy to think, “I’m tired, I’m busy, the kids are sucking up all of my energy, I just don’t feel in the mood.”  Some or all of those things are probably true, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for you or your marriage.  Sex holds the two of you together in the hard times and creates joy in the good times.  So don’t let it slide.  Instead, nurture it and pursue it.  Deep intimacy and an enjoyable sex life will pay you back in spades, both now and in the empty nest years.

8.  Find ways to serve together.

It’s easy to be so focused on our family’s schedule, activities, and commitments that we forget about real needs that exist right in our own communities and around the world.  But it’s important to recognize those needs, both to keep our own problems in perspective and to find ways to serve others.  After all, crazy soccer and ballet schedules don’t seem so overwhelming when we remember that people are hungry or lonely or homeless.  So look for ways to serve others, as a couple or a family.  It will help keep things in perspective now and create an interest you and your husband can continue to develop as your children get older.

9.  Manage your finances.

The earlier in your marriage you begin to control your finances, the better.  Debt, lack of savings, and living beyond your means take a toll at every stage of life, but the older you get the harder it is to recover from financial mismanagement.  Plus, when you finally have extended time to have fun with your husband, you want to have a little bit of money on hand to do it!  So start now to eliminate debt, control spending, and/or bring in some additional income.  My husband and I didn’t start working on this early enough in our marriage, so we’re having to work harder on it now.

10.  Develop the fun side of your marriage.

Sometimes marriage becomes just a little bit tedious, doesn’t it?  It’s all work and no play, and suddenly no one is having very much fun!  So don’t let your long list of “have to” items suck all the fun out of your marriage.  Set a goal of doing something fun together at least once a week.  More often is better, but once a week is a good place to start.  It doesn’t have to be a “date,” just something both of you consider fun and relaxing – a walk after dinner, a bike ride, an outing to get a cup of coffee, or time to watch a funny movie.  You don’t want to arrive at the empty nest years and find that you don’t know how to have fun together anymore.

Whatever the age of your children or stage of your marriage, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the empty nest years.  And it’s never too late either.  If your children are in high school and you haven’t given it much thought, start now!  Talk with your husband, begin making plans, develop a couple of shared interests, and work on enjoying life together!

 

Gaye Groover ChristmusGaye Groover Christmus is a wife and mom to two almost-grown sons.  In her “day job” she works as a writer and editor in a health field.  Her passion, though, is encouraging married women to slow down, live with vitality and energy, and create joy and intimacy in their marriages.  She believes that small steps can lead to big changes, and that women armed with knowledge and a plan can transform their hurried, hectic lives.  Gaye blogs at CalmHealthySexy.  She’d love to send you her ebook, 17 Ways to Live Calmer, Healthier and Sexier – Starting Today – as a gift when you subscribe to the blog.

The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex

Marriage isn't supposed to be blah!


Sex is supposed to be stupendous--physically, emotionally, AND spiritually. If it's not, get The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex--and find out what you've been missing.

When Ministry Steals Your Husband

When ministry steals your husband--thoughts on getting balance back between ministry and marriage

A reader recently wrote me:

I just had a baby 8 weeks ago, and we’ve been married for two years. My husband was a new Christian at the time and a former drug addict. He is now in ministry, playing drums on the worship team, leading a Bible study at a local nursing home, street preaching, traveling around the Midwest rapping in concerts at churches, giving people rides (“Saint shuffling,” I had a friend call it), and helping with anything else our pastor needs help like building projects. On top of that, he has a job. We only have one night a week that he doesn’t have to rush off an hour after he gets home.

I feel like he’s married more to “his ministry,” than he is to me. The majority of the responsibility of taking care of the baby falls on me, so time is very precious to me. I’m often exhausted and don’t want to go to all of these activities. That makes my husband very mad, especially when the baby and I have had a bad night, and I won’t go to church in the morning… or evening. We have two services on Sunday, and one on Wednesday.

Yesterday our church did a concert on the lawn of a youth center in a bad neighborhood. I decided to go ahead and go. We were doing okay during the outreach part where we go door to door in the neighborhoods and invite people to the concert. I had an issue where I couldn’t set up the stroller by myself while holding the baby, and she was starting to fuss with all the noise of the concert. I had to hold her, while standing (all the seats were gone) for the whole concert and my back was hurting. I called and texted my husband–it went straight to voicemail. A friend let him know I needed help, but he said he had to stay at the front to pray with those who became Christians.

On the way home I was upset, but he said, “Well, I do love you, but souls were saved. That’s all that matters.” His words sliced right through my heart. I still haven’t gotten much sleep and when I wouldn’t go to church this morning he told me I’m making “poor choices that will affect our daughter some day.” I want to go home (four hours away in another state) to my parents, but our pastor told me I need to stop doing that and lean on my husband or it’ll destroy our marriage. I want to lean on my husband but how can I? He’s rarely home and the few hours he is, he either refuses to help, or will only take her for a half an hour as long as it doesn’t interfere with either his Bible studying, song writing or whatever else he “needs” to do. I feel trapped. What do you do when ministry comes above you and your family?

I feel so sad for this woman. She sounds just exhausted–with an 8-week old baby to boot! I remember that feeling. Katie, my youngest, didn’t sleep. Seriously. Only 9 1/2 hours over an entire 24 hour period (including naps). And yet when she was awake she was happy! She just didn’t need sleep. She sleeps more now than she did then. I felt like I was going crazy; for about 6 months I was just beside myself. And Keith was working hard and studying for his pediatric exams, so he just wasn’t there for me (he couldn’t have been). It’s a hard time.

But it does pass, please know that!

But my heart also aches for this woman, too, because I’ve seen this scenario play out in so many relationships–especially ones with new Christians. They were often addictive personalities to begin with, so they replaced a chemical addiction with a “God” addiction–they need to keep super busy and obsessed to feel healthy.

And here’s where things get fuzzy.

I do believe that some people are called to a specific ministry that means that their wives (or husbands or kids) will have to shoulder a burden alone.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson StoryI think of Billy Graham, whose wife Ruth talked and wrote about how she felt like she parented alone. Yet look at the ministry that God gave Billy Graham. I think of Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon who writes poignantly in his autobiography about how he missed his kids’ events and how his marriage suffered because his work was so busy. But look at the lives saved.

Sometimes God does call individuals to a life where their family will be a sacrifice. After all, someone needs to be president. Someone needs to make research breakthroughs. Someone needs to be a traveling evangelist. And these things can’t be done on a normal 40-hour work week. If your husband may fall into one of these categories, then pray hard, knowing that if God has called your husband, He will also equip you, just like He did Ruth Graham. He’ll give you energy when you feel depleted. He’ll lift you up if you feed on Scripture and make your life a living prayer.

But I think these kinds of callings are very few and far between.

When God calls you to a ministry where your family will suffer, I think there are two main tests:

1. Does he also call your spouse?
2. Is it to a specific work?

I think if God is calling you to something that will require so much time away from the family, he also gives a peace to the spouse that they feel called, too.

And that calling is for something specific–international evangelism, pediatric neurosurgery breakthroughs–not to just “ministry” in general, like in this letter. It’s not about being busy; it’s about being called to a specific work.

A Note to Wives Who Feel Like Ministry Has Stolen Their Husbands…

Usually I’d recommend talking to a pastor, but in this case it may not work, first because your husband may very well be the pastor, and second, because in many cases, like this one, the pastor is benefiting from the husband being sold out to ministry.

So get on your face and seriously pray for your husband and for your family. Ask for help from friends when you’re overwhelmed with being a mom.

Emotionally Healthy WomanAnd read The Emotionally Healthy Woman, one of our selections for our Ultimate Marriage Reading Challenge in March. Written by Geri Scazzero, whose husband was a super-busy pastor, she knows what it’s like to feel like a ministry widow. And she learned that she had to start quitting some things if she, and her family, were going to be healthy.

She thought that as a pastor’s wife she had to sacrifice herself and all her time and energy, too. But eventually she realized that wasn’t actually godly, and she made some changes in her own life that ended up changing her family for the better.

Together, she and her husband Peter also wrote The Emotionally Healthy Church, looking at how churches can stop over-burdening people and start building them up.

A Note to Wives Who are Too Into Ministry

But let’s not pretend that this is only a male problem. I have seen women get too busy with homeschooling, and running ministries at church, and volunteering. We can let “good works” stand in the way of our marriages. And when we do that, it’s easy to feel superior, like our husbands somehow aren’t as spiritual. One of my friends was so over involved at church and with homeschooling groups that she grew apart from her husband, and later divorced him because he wasn’t a strong enough Christian.

If you don’t have time just to hang out with your hubby and do nothing, you have serious issues. Jesus took time to Himself. We all need balance.

The Emotionally Healthy Church, Expanded Edition: A Strategy for Discipleship That Actually Changes LivesA Note to Pastors

Your church will not thrive if the marriages in it are hanging by a thread. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to tell some of your volunteers, “You’ve done enough. Go home.”

Now tell me: Have you seen marriages falter because one spouse has gotten too involved in ministry? How do you tell when someone’s done enough?

10 Things To Consider When Working with Your Spouse

Today, please welcome author Jill Lynn, who shares 10 key ingredients to working with your spouse, finding the balance to a thriving marriage and a successful business partnership. Yesterday we looked at the business aspect of working with your spouse; today here’s a look at the marriage aspect of working with your spouse.

Working with Your SpouseAbout eight years ago, my husband and I bought a small business. Our plan? That I would do the accounting and he would manage the rest. We were young and naïve. Many things have worked out over that time, but we’ve learned some lessons along the way. Whether you are already working together or just thinking about it, here’s ten things to consider when working with your spouse.

1.  The first thing to ask yourself if you and your spouse are considering working together in any capacity, is should we work together?

Is it right for you and your family? Some people barrel into working together, assuming that since it’s the easiest solution, or makes the most monetary sense, it’s an obvious choice. It’s not. Have open discussions about what each of your strengths are and if your marriage can weather this change in your relationship.

2.  Ask yourself if you really have the time the position would require.

Do you need to give up some other things to make it happen? For instance, if you have small children, where will you have an office? How will you carve out time for work? Are you going to hire a sitter a few days a week? Or perhaps someone to clean your home? Logistics matter. Being on the same page matters.

3.  Communicate.

Eight years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom, who loved my time at our family business. As it’s grown over the years, there’s been many times my husband and I have felt stretched beyond our skin. We can’t accomplish it all. We’re thankful for the work, but it feels unmanageable at times. In these moments, we always come back to one truth: there’s a choice in everything. Is this growth just for a season? Or do we need to hire more help? My role has changed from what we thought it would be to something different. We only came to that conclusion through open lines of communication. My husband doesn’t push me into what he wants. We consider each step—how it affects our marriage and also our family. We have to being willing to change and grow in our roles as the business changes. It would be very stressful if both of us weren’t open to talking about these unexpected twists.

4.  Put your marriage first.

You can rebuild a business. You can come back from it failing. You can come back from financial ruin (many have). But a marriage? That’s something my husband and I don’t want to put at risk. Our marriage existed before the business and we pray it exists long after. Pray for wisdom over the small things. And make sure your home life, family, and marriage are functioning well before attempting to add working together into the mix. Whatever you do, do not enter a time of working together when you are not at peace in your home and marriage. It’s only going to exasperate those troubled areas. When I see couples who are struggling in their business relationship, they are also often struggling in their marriage. Deal with these issues first. Don’t throw one stressful situation on top of another one.

5.  Discuss when it’s okay to talk about work and when it’s not.

When my husband and I go on a date, we do talk about work. But we don’t only talk about work. We talk about kids, dreams, whatever comes to mind. For us, this has been an organic experience. We haven’t had to put the business in a box that doesn’t enter personal conversation. But for some of you, this is going to be an issue. Again, be open. If a husband or wife wants to have an evening without any talk of the business, determine that ahead of time instead of silently seething that your partner doesn’t know you don’t want to talk about the business. If you’re working together, that means it’s a major part of your lives. Talk about where and when you feel it’s okay to have conversations about the business and when you’d prefer not to.

6.  Respect each other.

I can’t stress this one enough. I mentioned my husband respecting me by often checking on where I’m at, how I’m feeling about the role I’m in. I can’t tell you how much this helps in my desire to support our business. It also makes me want to be the same for him. I do my best to protect the time my husband needs to accomplish his work and make the business run smoothly.

7.  Complement each other.

Often, in business, as in life, we only talk about the things that need to be fixed or change. Remember to compliment your spouse on what they do well. Talk about each other’s strengths.

8.  Carve out a schedule.

I have always carved out a schedule for working and I’ve respected it. Yes, I could skip work and take my young kiddos to the zoo, but I put that schedule in place for a reason. My husband knows when I’m working and when I’m not. We both depend on that schedule. I’m not saying it never fluctuates, just that we both treat it as if I were working for another employer. Otherwise, it’s too easy to say you’ll just get the work done when you can… and when would that be? Between the laundry, the school volunteering, my writing? Without a schedule, I would never get the work done, therefore creating more stress for my husband. He has enough stress running a business. I want to be a help, not a hindrance.

9.  Have fun.

Don’t forget to laugh with each other and enjoy the path God has for you.

10.  Forgive.

Have grace for one another. When mistakes are made, remember we’re all human. We make mistakes. Yes, money matters. But relationships matter more.

Jill Lynn HeadshotFalling for Texas (Love Inspired)Jill Lynn lives in Colorado with her husband and two children. When she’s not working at the family business or playing laundry fairy, she writes Christian romance with themes of humor and grace. Her first novel, Falling for Texas, is available from Harlequin Love Inspired.
Connect with her at Jill-Lynn.com, or on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.

 

Reader Question: How Do Spouses Run a Business Together?

Reader Question of the WeekEvery Monday I like to post a reader question and take a stab at answering it. This week’s has to do with a husband and wife working together: can you run a business with your husband without getting into conflict?

A reader writes:

I am a stay at home mom and my husband works from home as well. We run a small business, I handle the admin and he is the artist. We had a big adjustment when our baby arrived and my husband did not do well on lack of sleep. It resulted in us being very late on all of our client orders. This stresses me out to no end, while my husband doesn’t seem all that bothered by it. I can’t stand it when he takes naps or sleeps in during the day when he should be working. I am up all night with the baby so he can sleep, and he still does this. We are far behind and our clients are starting to complain. As the manager in our business, it is extremely hard not to become a nag to him, or see him as one big long to-do list. How do I separate my husband as ‘husband’ from an ’employee’ who is, quite frankly, slacking off. He has also become quite addicted to a game on his phone (he admits this, but hasn’t stopped it). I try and keep busy out of the house during the day, but when things keep not getting done, it’s causing some serious problems in our relationship. Even if we try and do something as a family, I still can’t seem to quiet the feeling that he really should be spending the time getting caught up on our clients so that we can breathe. What do I do?

I can’t tell this particular woman what to do because I don’t know her financial situation, their education or skill levels, how easy it will be to get other jobs, etc. But I would like to just mention a few big things about a husband and wife working together, and give us a way to think about the BUSINESS side of how to work with your spouse–or whether we should be running a business together in the first place. (Tomorrow we’ll look at the marriage side!)

The hardest part of marriage is communication. And the hardest part of getting along well at work is communication. Put the two together–and it’s really tough! So it’s just essential to put things in place so that these conversations are automatic, natural, and expected. Then business problems are far less likely to derail your marriage. Here’s how:

Running a Business with Your Husband: When husband and wife working together doesn't work for the marriage--and putting steps in place so that it might again!

When Husbands and Wives Have a Business: Sorting out the Business Side

1. Create a Business Plan

Often we end up “falling” into a business together because one person has an idea or a skill, and we run with it. But unless your roles are clearly spelled out, and unless you know what you’re aiming for, you’ll have no way of judging whether the enterprise is working well or not.

For instance, let’s say that you figure out that if one of you worked full time and one of you worked part time you could make $60,000 a year. You may decide that if you both were able to work from home that would be worth about $10,000 to you. So if you could generate $50,000 from a home-based business, that would be a win-win.

But unless you’ve sat down and talked about it and come up with that number, how do you know whether continuing in the business is worth it?

So you need to write a business plan. That sounds really scary, because it involves numbers and goals and honestly taking a realistic look at what your business can accomplish. But you need something on paper. Here are two books that can help you do this:

The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan: A Pro Shares a Step-By-Step Guide to Creating a Plan That Gets ResultsThe Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan

Here’s a simple book outlining how to create a business plan that’s measurable–and that works!

Everything you need for a step-by-step traditional plan with revenue goals, competition, and more.

Seriously, I wish they taught this stuff in school.

The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for SuccessThe Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success

Our letter writer is married to an artist–and many businesses are more creative in nature. If you’re a creative type, and the thought of sitting down with checklists and a calculator paralyzes you, here’s another way to go about creating a business plan that’s more intuitive.

It’s colorful, it’s bright, and it’s all about brainstorming, and you and your husband may find this a more palatable way of getting your thoughts and goals down on paper.

2. Treat Yourselves as Employees with “Measurables”

Once you’ve figured out your business plan it’s time to figure out what each person needs to do. Write up job descriptions for both of you. What are you each responsible for? That’s the big picture.

Now for the day-to-day. Within your job responsibilities, create to-do lists with definite deadlines. Post these somewhere where both of you can see them–or use an online system so that you can look at the to-do lists. Know what needs to be done when, so that you can also know when you’re late.

What happens if you work for someone else and something doesn’t get done? You stay late or you have to come in on the weekend or you have to take work home. It’s expected.

If you’re running a business from home, you have to do the same thing. If deadlines aren’t met, it should be easy to verify that and see it, and then you can talk about how we’re going to meet those deadlines and what that may mean.

I work from home and I know the pull to sometimes have a Netflix marathon instead of getting my work done. I know how easy it is to let yourself get sucked in with all the other things you’d rather be doing–or all the other things around the house that need to be done. But that’s why you need these deadlines and to-do lists so that you can be sure you’re pulling your weight.

Even if you’re not a list type of person, it avoids a lot of potential conflict if the deadlines are there for everyone to see. It keeps people accountable without one person having to nag.

Husband and wife running a business together: how to evaluate if it's working

3. Have Regular Evaluations for Your Business

In the workplace people have performance evaluations, usually on an annual or semi-annual basis. Do the same thing with your business–plan that once every six months, or at least once a year, you will take off for a day, without the kids, take out your business plan, and see if you’re sticking to it. Where are our finances? Are we doing well? Should we be putting more resources into advertising? Into new product creation? Are we each pulling our weight?

Again, if this is a regularly scheduled thing than there won’t be tension around it. Often what happens when spouses work together is that we find it difficult to critique one another or to bring up the hard questions. It seems as if we’re criticizing or we’re mad, when really we just may have legitimate business concerns. And because the marriage is involved, it seems as if bringing up a business issue actually could undermine the relationship. So sometimes we say nothing and choose to stew instead.

If, on the other hand, you have regularly-scheduled times to check in and to plan and evaluate, then you have a natural time to have these conversations without them having to reflect on the marriage.

My husband and I set aside twice a year to look at our schedules, figure out when I’m going to speak, what conferences he’ll take, and pray and plan together about where we each should be putting our energy and effort in the upcoming year. We don’t work together (well, not yet anyway), but each of our businesses affects the other, so we have to plan together. And I find that having those planning meetings helps me stay on track, and forces me to take a long, hard look at what’s working, and what’s not.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Look for Alternatives if the Husband and Wife Business Isn’t Working

Part of the evaluation and the business plan always needs to be the two questions: “is this business worth continuing?” And “are we both the best choice of people to work in it?” Sometimes a business may be worth it, but one spouse may be getting so busy with a different job, or with caring for kids, that hiring outside help may be wiser. Sometimes the business may be expanding so much that having a spouse do the bookkeeping really isn’t working anymore–you need an honest-to-goodness accountant.

And sometimes, like in the case of this letter writer, one spouse may just be refusing to work, which makes the business itself not viable.

Trying to keep a business going at home when one spouse isn’t working on it is likely to kill both the business and the marriage–or at least do serious damage. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a marriage is to say, “I love you, but I don’t think working together in a business is good for us or our family. I’d like to look at alternatives to bringing in some income.”

Now, there may be periods where you spouse needs some grace. If your spouse has an idea for a business that is going to take several years to really see fruit, you may very well owe it to your spouse to stick in there–just like you might support a spouse while they went to law school or med school. You know those three or four (or more!) years are going to be awful, but you put the time in because of the reward at the end, and because you know it’s important to your husband.

And sometimes, like with this couple, huge changes come like the birth of a baby and you both need some time for adjustment.

But when it’s a chronic thing and the business just isn’t going well, there should be clearly defined measures when you know, “it’s time to part.” Nagging someone or being upset at someone isn’t viable in the long term. Personally, I think if you can financially handle it, it’s better for one of you to stop working in the business than for that business to always be a source of tension.

Tomorrow, on our Top 10 Tuesday post, we’ll look at how to make marriage and business work together from the MARRIAGE standpoint. But today, for those of you husbands and wives who have run businesses together, let me know: how did you figure out who did what? How did you keep each other accountable?

Top 10 Truths About Clutter

Top 10 Truths About Clutter

My house is filled with a lot of stuff.

I try to stay on top of it, but sometimes it really gets away from me. And then, before you know it, there are certain closets I’m afraid to open or certain rooms I’m afraid to go in. I just don’t want to think about what’s on the other side of that door.

It’s exhausting.

Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your SpaceSo when my good friend Kathi Lipp sent me her book Clutter Free, I was excited about reading it. It isn’t just a to-do manual on how to get rid of clutter; it’s more a way to change your mindset on how you think about your stuff, and I found it so useful. Kathi is sharing a post with us today, but before she does, I have to tell you about one funny thing in my life that came about because of reading her book.

At one point she was talking about “bathroom product clutter”. You know what she means–all the different hair products you’ve bought over the years that you’ve never used, or all the different creams, etc. And she challenges us to take 6 months and either use it or chuck it. Here’s the deal: you’re not allowed to buy a bathroom product until you have gone through your bathroom and found something like it, and either used it or admitted you never will and throw it out.

So for the last two months I’ve been on a rampage to use my bathroom stuff.

It now takes me 15 minutes after each shower, because I have to use the cellulite cream, the body spray, the varicose veins ointment, the eczema cream, the foot cream, and the foot spray. But I smell great! And I’ve finally taken all the essential oils I own and actually started to use them again.

I love it! It’s a great book.

And now, here’s Kathi:

Has clutter stopped being a cute problem in your life?

Clutter is something we laugh about over coffee (like watching too much TV or, come to think of it, ordering that venti double frap “coffee”,) but for many of us, clutter is much more serious than a couple of piles left on the kitchen counter.

If you feel like clutter is stressing you out, you’re right. There are real, psychological and emotional issues with clutter. It’s not all in your head.

But clutter lies to you. Clutter tells you “It’s not that big a deal,” and “You’ll get to it later.” Only to cause you more stress as the piles grow.

So here is the truth about clutter- or more accurately – the Top 10 Truths About Clutter:

1. Clutter Makes You Live Poor

When you are buried in clutter, you don’t know what you already have, so you tend to hang onto everything out of fear. (I don’t know how many pairs of shoes I have, so I can’t give any away.) I’ve had some times in my life when I haven’t balanced my checking account for longer than I’d like to admit. So when I saw a need, it was hard to respond because I didn’t know how close I was riding to the financial edge.

2. But Dealing with Clutter Can Make You Generous

Information is power. When you know that you have two pairs of flat black shoes you wear all the time, you’ll have no problem giving away that third pair to someone in need. When you know that you have enough groceries to get your through the week, you can open your pantry to your neighbor who is going through some tough times.

3. Clutter Steals Your Joy

UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) studied 32 California families and the stuff in their homes, cataloging thousands of items in each residence. The resulting book, Life at Home in The Twenty-First Century, shares about the link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female home owners and a high density of household objects. In other words, the more clutter, the more stress.

4. But Dealing with Clutter Can Bring Your Joy Back!

Simply by reducing the number of items in your home, you can reduce your stress levels and bring back peace. Stop right now and get clear off one surface around you – a desk, a counter, a table. Now enter the room and look at that blank space. There. Don’t you feel better already? Every time you clear out a drawer, clear off a surface, or gut a cabinet, you are reclaiming some happy in your life.

5. Clutter Costs You Money (Lots of it)

How many times have you re-purchased an item because you didn’t know where the first one was? How many late fees have you paid over your lifetime because your bills were all over the house? How many rebates have you found stacked in a pile that are past their mail-in date? How many fines have you had to pay because you couldn’t find all of the library books your kids checked out? Clutter is costing you money – and lots of it.

6. But Dealing with Clutter Can Actually Earn You Money

By selling those gently used clothes, donating those outgrown toys, mailing in those rebates on time, making an accurate grocery list (because you know what’s in your pantry,) not only will you save money, but you will add to the family coffers.

7. Clutter Can’t Be Organized

Stop buying more boxes, systems, totes and tools to organize your clutter. Clutter can’t be organized. But by digging through your clutter trash and recovering the treasures that lay in there (in every stack of twenty papers, there is one you actually need,) you can see what actually does need to be dealt with and organized.

8. But Dealing with Clutter Can Make You More Organized

Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.” Says Sherrie Bourg Carter the author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout. By dealing with our clutter, we can let our brain know that we are done with that project, and we can move on to another item, giving it the full attention that is deserves.

9. Clutter Hurts Your Marriage

As I’ve helped women deal with their clutter, I’ve heard time and time again how it hasn’t just affected the space in their homes, it’s also hurt their relationships. Fights over stuff. Laundry piled on beds and couches, making them unusable. Cluttered kitchens that are impossible to cook in – the list goes on and on. Clutter adds an extra layer of stress to a marriage that may already be stressed to begin with.

10. But Dealing with Clutter Can Improve Your Marriage – Quickly

Many of the ways to make your marriage better require both of you putting in an effort – not so with clutter. By eliminating clutter in areas where you and your husband connect (the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom,) you are immediately lowering your stress level, which can do nothing but make your marriage a better place to be.

Clutter is a liar. It makes you feel distracted, stupid and out of control. But once you know the truth about clutter you can fight back and regain your life.

Want to win the battle against clutter in every area of your life? Join Kathi’s 21 Day Clutter Challenge and regain your home – and your sanity. (just click through and sign up on her sidebar!)

Kathi LippKathi Lipp inspires thousands of women each year to take beneficial steps in their personal, marital and spiritual lives through purposeful living. With humor and wisdom, Kathi offers hope paired with practical steps to live each facet of our lives with meaning.  She is the author of 13 books including The Husband Project, The Get Yourself Organized Project, and I Need Some Help Here – Hope for When Your Kids Don’t Go According to Plan. She is the host of You’ve Got This! with Kathi Lipp and speaks at conferences across the US.  She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not doing laundry, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.

Wall Decal $150 Giveaway with Evgie!

Under the Sea Wall Decal

Under the Sea Wall Decal

Want to make your house–and especially your kids’ rooms–super special?

Then today I’m got a special treat for you! I know many of you have little children at home, and I’ve got a chance for you to win $150 towards redoing your son’s or daughter’s room with these lovely wall decals! (And they’ve got living room wall decals, too!)

Evgie and Ev from Evgie.com are real women who are experts in digital illustration, interior design, and wall decal design. And they’ve created a whole collection of intricate wall decals that you can apply to your walls–and then remove easily–without messing up the paint. It’s easier–and even more beautiful–than wall art. And it’s easily removable, so your decoration can grow as your child does.

Today they are giving away a $150 coupon to one of YOU! Here’s what you need to do:

1) Go to Evgie.com and find your favorite products, or visit their etsy store.

2) Share ones you like on facebook or pinterest.

3) THEN, come back and leave a comment, saying which product you liked and shared!

4) You can do it all in the Rafflecopter below!

That’s all!

Panda Bear Wall Decals

Panda Bears!

20% Off all wall decals right now with the coupon 20OFF. Free shipping if your order is over $150. Every wall decal package has freebies!

Space Monkey Nursery Wall Decals

Space Monkey Wall Decals!

A few words About Evgie & Ev:

Evgie and Ev say:

Each of us liked drawing very much since childhood, so much so that it became our profession. With vinyl wall decals being the latest trend in home decor it was the perfect field to dive into. The warm response to our illustrations and design work eventually allowed us to set up a wall decal studio. Our constant personal engagement with the home and interior décor field led us to this venture.

Decals are easy to apply, easy to remove, easy to tailor to a specific wall or surface – we offer handmade large and small vinyl wall stickers with our designs and ideas for kids’ and grown-up’s rooms.

Teddy Bear Wall Decals

Teddy Bears

We start with an idea, a pencil and blank paper and then render our designs digitally for vinyl cutting. We view walls as backgrounds for living. We have started this decal studio in 2010 and pretty soon it became our full time job and engagement. It is a pleasure to get your feedback and one of the most enjoyable things is to see our decals on your wall or that of your toddler, in your nursery or living room. We also know that it is really fun to put our wall decals design on the wall, even if it take some time and a very little skill, this itself makes this product so attractive. If you decide to go with the whole wall decals theme you won’t regret it. It changes your walls, your space and places your little one in a world surrounded by a jungle or safari, forest or just friendly animals.”

And they don’t just have children’s wall decals or baby wall decals. They have lots more–including wall decals for grown ups, like this family tree wall decal for the living room. And I think this one is stunning!

Family Tree Living Room Wall Decal

Family Tree Wall Decal!

So click through to their website, tweet or pin one that you like, and then come back here and tell us about it! And one person will win $150 towards their order. I’ll do the draw Monday, February 23 at 11:59 p.m. (or thereabouts :) ).

And $150 can get you several ones, depending on what you buy. This one, for instance, is super cute, but it’s only $25:

Kiss Me Goodnight Wall Decal

Kiss Me Goodnight Decal–Only $25!

Remember, it’s 20% off with the code 20OFF. So go look, pin or Facebook one you love, and come back here and leave a comment telling me what you liked and where you shared it. Happy hunting!

a Rafflecopter giveaway