Welcome! I’m so glad you are here today for the beginning of our Living Simply series. I’m teaming up with 3 of my favorite local bloggers to share how we are focusing on mindful, purposeful living in different various areas of our lives this fall. We’ve been brainstorming this series for a while as its been on all of our hearts’ and we will be talking about living with purpose as Mamas and how that relates to our Kids, Home and Routine. This week is all about Living Simply MAMA and I hope its inspiring to you! I’m most excited to see how four different mamas seek the same goal with different families, personalities and giftings.
A little about me. I’m Eileen. I live in Greenville SC with my husband Luke and our three girls, 4 year old identical twins and a 1 year old. I worked in design before the girls were born and now I stay home with them while building and selling bedswings with my husband. See more about me here if you so desire and more information about our bedswings here.
When we decided the first week of our series would be about Mama and what self care looks like for ourselves in this busy season of having young children, I knew what I wanted to share. You see, over the past year my viewpoint of self care has changed a lot. It used to be just an idea of ‘treating myself’ with new shoes or a pedicure (both of which I love and do!), but that was as deep as it went. It was a definition defined by what our consumerist culture tells us is self care. While those things are good and a definite part of self care, I’ve been working through a deeper understanding of what it should look like in my life in my daily rhythms and home.
This time last year I was floundering, a newborn at home and 2 three year olds meant our house was busy and I felt like I was running myself ragged. Nothing felt really joyful in our home because I felt like I was always behind the eight ball and striving to catch up. I didn’t see how seeking daily beauty and peace in my home could coexist with 3 kids, 4 and under even though I desperately wanted it in my soul.
I then read a book that changed my mindset and home dramatically for the better. “The Lifegiving Home” by Sally and Sarah Clarkson. This mother daughter duo wrote a book about creating a home that was filled with joy and creativity and how that pursuit can reflect the ultimate giver of joy, God. It was such a breath of fresh air for me and validated my desire to create beauty in my home. This quote sums up the book so well. “The essence of home, you see, is not necessarily a structure. What makes a home is the life shared there, wherever that may be. And cultivating the life of home requires intentionality, planning and design. There must be someone (or several someones) to craft the life, the beauty, the love, and the inspiration that overflows from that space.” (page 8)
I’ve highlighted and dog eared so many pages in this book. They talk about everything from creating the feeling of home and belonging in a hotel room on a business trip, to stock piling your pantry with stuff for soup and homemade bread in the fall and the importance of having specific family goals and traditions. It goes month by month talking about the specific joys and possibilities of each month. Its all laced with the idea that everyone is different and will have different priorities and strengths but the overarching message is to create a personalized sense of joy and beauty seeking rhythm in your home.
It was like a light switch went on for me and since then the joy I’ve had in building this home has increased dramatically. The world screams at us all the time to hurry up, rush, no one has time to slow down and enjoy the day so why even try?? No. Stand against that rush. And I know we all have times when we can’t even shower we are so busy or everyone is sick and it feel so overwhelming and its just about survival. This is more about creating a permeating culture in our homes of rest and beauty in whatever way sings to our own creative soul. That creativity looks different for our each of us. Some of us may love baking with our kids, some of us love to design beautiful spaces in our home. Some of us fill our homes with sweet animals and some of us love working out every day to strengthen our body. God gives each of us different forms of creativity and delight and they all bring joy to His heart. One way is not ‘better’ than the other so don’t compare your gifts to others. I’m not a baker so I order takeout for all my kids birthday parties but I love going to my friends’ houses who bake homemade cakes for their kids. I celebrate their capacity by eating their cake and enjoying it a lot but I shouldn’t let that shake my joy in my Costco cake takeout.
Here’s how that journey has looked for me. What fills my soul with delight is a beautiful home where my family and friends feel safe and inspired. Lots of time outside. Clutter bothers me mentally so I’ve created daily rhythms to keep it at a minimum (I’ll talk specifics on how we do that on our daily rhythms week!) Our house has lots of noise all the time with three young girls but I know I love feeling at peace so I play lots of music throughout the house on spotify that inspires me. Right now its lots of The Oh Hellos, Need to Breathe, Bethel, and Celtic music. Reading as a family feels magical to me (probably because we did it a lot when I was little) so we read about 5 to 10 minutes of the illustrated Hobbit (a gorgeous edition!) with the girls almost every night. I’m dying for them to be old enough to read Harry Potter. I have the illustrated copies of those ready to go when they are! I work throughout the day to make dinner time as easy as possible and set us up for success because dinner, bath and bed with three littles can feel like a never-ending marathon! I love making the house cozy so we do lots of soft lamplight and music after the girls go to bed. Taking a nighttime shower is a ritual I don’t miss and something about that steam makes me relax. We have worked really hard to make the girls love sleep and thankfully they all do. Right now ha! We had about a year when the twins didn’t want to go to sleep until 9:30 because they wanted to play together in their beds. That was rough. We finally dropped their afternoon nap and they started going to sleep at 6:45. Cue the angels singing.
Striving to create a home full of magic and memories for my family restores my soul. Sure we have crazy days and tantrums and sickness and all the normal life things but it has been more about creating a culture. A culture that reflects our family values and loves and gifts and creativity. When things get crazy we hold onto those traditions and ride the wave until things settle down. This is what home and a vital part of self care means to this mama now. I want to “create a home that nourishes, nurtures and sustains life and beauty. It is about how to order your living space and what happens there to embody the joy and beauty of God’s own Spirit.” (Life Giving Home page 14 of the introduction).