There’s a saying I’ve heard all my life: If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I can remember my mom getting in a funk from time to time when I was young . . . sure enough, I felt down and unsettled myself any time she wasn’t happy and content. Lately, I’ve come to realize that a mom’s influence on her family isn’t limited to whether she’s happy or sad or mad. Her attitude in general and how she spends her time is a barometer of the atmosphere in the house as well.
Sometimes our days are not exactly pleasant (and that’s probably putting it mildly). Instead of the peaceful atmosphere I hope for, there is bickering, arguing, yelling, and anger coming from everyone.
When it’s time to have school, the kids holler and complain and every lesson is filled with attempts to delay, fussing, and even tears. When it’s time to eat a meal, the kids can’t stand the food and don’t want to sit at the table while the adults are irritated and eat in a virtual silence.
The house is a mess. No one can ever find their shoes or clean socks to wear. The kids say it’s all Mom’s fault that they don’t have clean pants because she doesn’t do the laundry, but Mom says it’s their fault because their dirty clothes are all over the floor instead of in the clothes hamper.
Sound familiar? Please tell me I’m not the only one.
Things are different lately, though. Calmer. More peaceful. More pleasant with room to play, work, and move around. Much less bickering and almost no yelling. (Hey, nobody’s perfect.)
What’s changed? Me. What I’m doing. Where I’m putting my efforts and time.
I made a daily cleaning checklist, which everyone in the family has been so good to work from everyday. I can walk through my bedroom without stepping on blankets, and I can go into the kitchen to cook without having to wash pots and pans first. I can see the living room floor!
It had to start with me, though. I made the checklist with everyone’s names on it, but it was my own consistent effort to complete my cleaning tasks each day that motivated the rest of the family to do their part also.
With the kitchen clean, we’re now sitting down to eat together everyday. (Maybe that’s normal for some families, but it’s been a very rare occasion for mine.) It’s a little funny and very sweet how much my kids love having all of us sit at the table to eat together.
I’ve known that it was important to them for a long time, but I kept putting off making a real effort toward family mealtimes. When I worked 40 hours a week, it was easy (and even necessary) to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in front of the computer while the rest of the family ate in the kitchen. I had to work, after all. Even when I wasn’t working, though, the kitchen table was never clean enough for all five of us to sit there.
Now, my seven-year-old gets lots of happiness from setting the table with placemats and cloth napkins. It blesses his heart, and that blesses my heart.
I’ve also discovered that my preparation or lack thereof has a direct effect on whether our homeschool day runs smoothly or is fraught with difficulties. If I lay out books and papers the night before, we’re ready to start lessons after breakfast the next day. The kids can see the books I’ve laid out, so they know what to expect.
If I check my email first thing, though, I almost invariably end up spending an hour or more on the computer. That often makes breakfast later than it should be and always pushes back the time we start school. While I’m writing emails and checking social media accounts, the kids are playing the Battle of Hastings in our hallway … and they do not like it when I tell them to quit. The day just goes downhill from there.
Again, it’s me. What I do or don’t do has such a strong effect on the entire household. If I
lead serve with a gracious motive, the family falls in line with grace and pleasantness.
I’m not trying to put blame on Mom’s shoulders for bad days, stressful times, or anything negative that’s going on in the house. I know that there are so many circumstances that can affect us. I also know that seasons of life change and that our household might not seem so peaceful and pleasant next week as it does this week.
But I also know that as a mom, my influence on my family is great. It’s my hope and prayer to make choices each day that influence my family for good. The result is so much more enjoyable.
Beautiful and VERY REAL article. My mother always told me the same thing, “A mother is the thermostat of her home.” I had no idea what she meant all those years ago – but now I do. I am grateful to serve a mighty God that gives us grace and wisdom. Bless you dear sister, and so happy to hear that the barometer is doing well 🙂
Thanks, Carlie! Your mother was right. 🙂
This spoke volumes to me. This is TOTALLY true. I’ve known it for years. Every time I get focused and organized and GET UP EARLIER than the kids and DON’T turn on the computer, Life is BETTER. Every single thing you said is true. If I get on the computer in the morning (a habit that is SO HARD to break), then the kids get into their own thing and take forever to get ready for the day and the whole day is downhill from there. If I get up early and have QUIET time (instead of computer time), things are MUCH more peaceful. Thanks for the reminder.
I’d LOVE to see your daily checklists. I’m still working on how to organize our cleaning as well.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Melissa! Sometimes I think it’s just plain awful that “MY actions” influence each day so very much, but I’m learning to accept that it’s just the way life is. The more I embrace it, the better off we’ll all be! 🙂
I’d be happy to share my cleaning checklists next time I get to post. They are sooo helpful to us!
What a great post. I’ve noticed the same thing — if I’m not organized, if I’m too distracted, if I’m in any way negative, then both my girls follow suit. It all really does start with Mom.
Thank you, Patricia!
I LOVE this post!!!! I have been dealing with this lately. Sadly, my HUSBAND has been pointing it out to me. How much I influence the entire family. It’s so hard to be ‘on’ all the time–but as they say, it’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it! Thank you for this!!!!
You are so right, Elizabeth – it IS hard to be ‘on’ all the time! I’m thankful for the days when it feels easy … and I’ve found that the more “routine” I make our lives, the easier things are. Glad you enjoyed the post. Blessings to you!
I have noticed the same thing! we really are barometers for our family. And these days, with all the heartache at our house- it’s not looking nice.
BUT no, you certainly are not the only house like that!
I’m sorry your family is going through heartache, Misty. I’ll be praying for you!
Beautiful and SO TRUE. Thank you for these excellent reminders! I needed them as I am on day 15 of sickness with my four littles and I am laying in bed with an elaborate pity party in full swing.
Oh my, Darcy! Day 15!! You deserve a little pity party. 🙁 I hope you all feel better very soon.
Thanks for a real post and a reminder. I needed to hear this today. Thanks!
I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Savannah!
Great post! I’m trying to make changes in how I spend my time. It’s so true that my attitude affects the whole house.
It’s definitely hard to change our habits, but changing for the betterment of our families is ALWAYS a good thing. 🙂
Wow, I had to come to this realization last spring. I was no fun to be around and I thought I was going to turn into a rattle snake I was so unfriendly. I was not enjoying my role as a mom or wife. I had several heart to heart discussions with my step mom. I felt like she was the one to turn to because she had faced adversity in her life, but she was still, kind and sweet with built in firmness that I have always admired. She asked me to get my hormone levels checked, Really? I thought I was way to young for any problems on that scale. (30ish) I will tell you, that was the best advice I have ever received. I am the me I was when I was younger. I have more energy to deal with my kids, my house is easier to keep up, and as much as I hate to say it, I think I am much nicer to be around. I did not realize how hard I was on my family till my daughter said that I was smiling more now. I had to go and cry in the bedroom because I did not realize what was going on in my family before I started the hormone therapy.
I have started keeping my home school area in a more orderly fashion and that is fantastic for me and my kids. I had to label my cabinets with index cards of what is in each cabinet to keep me from cramming them full of junk. but it is working.
I think life can throw you for a loop in general, but when your body is not right it makes life yucky.
What an amazing story, KB! You’re right that we often don’t realize that something “out of whack” in our body is affecting our thought processes as well. Thank you so much for sharing your experience!
This is a great post. Thanks for the fantastic reminder! It came on a good day. 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Penny. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing. This is so true and it is nice to know I’m not the only one 🙂 It is both hard at the same time, refreshing, to know how much we impact our household and our family. There is a saying in our culture that the mother is the “light of the home”, and how true it is our lights that seem to influence everyone else’s. Good luck to you and again, thank you so much!