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 Sex
Here 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

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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.indd
Here’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?)

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To Love, Honor and Vacuum Audio Download
Want 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.

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:


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
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.

 

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!

 

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.


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!


Here’s why:

1. Paperless Home Organization

Paperless Home Organization
Here’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!

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 Works
Here’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!

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 Jesus
A 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 Time
A 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 Handbook
A 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 Guide
A 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 Within
If 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.

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!


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.

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!


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.

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!


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.

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

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Top 10 Ways to Prepare for the Empty Nest

Top Ten Ways to Prepare for Empty Nest
Today 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.

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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?