So today is the day I spill my biggest secret about Ordering the Stars: Spend more time at home. Spend more time at home, and your home will be taken care of and it will take care of you. That’s it. The foundation of homemaking as far as I can tell.
Of course, as with most simple truths, it took me awhile to figure this out.
There was a time, oh a little over three years ago, when I feared becoming a housebound mama. I recognize the look of panic in the eyes of newly pregnant friends worried about what life could possibly hold without a job and yoga class and afternoons scavenging at thrift stores. I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mother. Just without the staying at home part. Wouldn’t that be…isolating? depressing? a failure of modern expectations of socialization? Our days would be busy–children’s museum, library, playdates, park. Definitely the thrift store. We would be freewheeling gals, my baby and I, out with the sling.
Sigh. I’ll just glaze over the hard lessons I’ve had along the way and say that I’ve changed my tune.
I’ve come to see that a home-based, rhythmical life is good for my children. To my surprise, I’ve found that it is also really good for me. I learned that if the only thing I had to do in a day was serve dinner by 6, the day flowed easily and inevitably became productive in unexpected ways. If I was in and out all day, on errands or playdates, cooking dinner became a stress. And the house, inevitably, a mess. We’d spend the whole next day recovering—that is, so long as nothing was scheduled for then, too.
I know that for new mothers, it is one of the big transitions of life to go from being out in the world to a more purely domestic life. I think it helps to have some vision of why you are home–I’m the first to admit that I’d get bored quick without my side-line gig of changing the world through Radical Homemaking. I do declare it’s the finest home entertainment system available.
Perhaps something magical has happened over the years and I now reside in the mother’s version of a zen retreat center—simple days are enough for me. They offer me the universe in a grain of sand. Chop wood, carry water. Wipe bums, sweep the floor. That’s right, Dorothy: surrender.
I’m not a recluse. We take walks around the neighborhood almost every day, to parks, and friend’s houses and the market. But somehow, that feels like home to me. If we can walk there, it’s part of our kingdom. The mantle of home is still around us. We do spend about 1/3 of our time out in the world, at playgroups and the like, but I try to balance such days with many more servings of quiet days at home. If we are out one morning, we don’t go out again in the afternoon. If we are out one day, we generally stay home the next.
It’s like breathing: in and out, give and take, busy and quiet. Try it. It feels good. And have you noticed that many of the mothers that seem to have it all together–the ones that seem to get an obscene amount of baking and sewing and storytelling done, not to mention have plants that are watered, are the ones who spend more time at home than away from home. Just saying.
Still need some inspiration to spend more time at home? This blog post from the smart folks at Simplicity Parenting says it all quite simply (as one would expect from them). And this one (and many others like it) from The Parenting Passageway have hugely influenced me. But I’d love to hear from you: How do you keep busy and inspired and content in the home? What do you do when you’re not?