Just being home

I think the best, most effective, and most enjoyable way to save money at home actually isn’t about pinching pennies, or utilizing the contents of our freezer and pantry to the utmost efficiency, or saving electricity and water (although all these practices are good and valid, of course). It is simply staying home, as opposed to running/driving about.

Of course, we all like to go out sometimes. Day/field trips, visits with family/friends, even shopping trips are fun – but it’s all about the proportion of time spent in vs. out (by “in”, I also mean on your lot – in your garden, on your deck, on your sun roof, etc, not necessarily in your living room).

It is really quite straightforward: when you are pleasantly occupied in your home, instead of browsing shop-windows, for example, you have less temptation to buy stuff you don’t really need. Also, you don’t waste money on gas.

Of course, this means you have to put in the effort to make your home a place of fun, enjoyment, wholesome activity, family togetherness, usefulness, comfort and recreation. And there is really no limit to all those things, even in the smallest, most humble home.

This doesn’t mean you need to have expensive decorations or furniture, or spacious rooms. A welcoming home is cozy and well-organized, without being oppressive to children or visitors (as in, making people wary of touching anything for fear of ruining a perfect arrangement).

A day or two ago, my daughters complained about “having nothing to play with”. Now, if you had seen their room, you would have known the claim was simply ridiculous – because though we’re not at all consumerism-driven when it comes to toys, still, gifts from grandparents and friends, and giveaways, etc, make for quite enough to be getting on with. As a matter of fact, they had a couple of new board games and puzzles they had hardly touched. All these, however, were lost in a jumble of toys all piled atop one another.

So, you need to make books, games, toys, and art and craft supplies easily accessible.

Another point is to create inviting areas for all sorts of activities: reading, drawing, sewing, etc. We have one all-purpose table in the kitchen that serves us for eating, studying, ironing, board games, and all sorts of projects. Being so much used, it’s easy for our table to overflow with stuff. I must be careful to keep it clean and clutter-free, so that when my children want to draw, they won’t need to restrict themselves to the last tiny corner of free table space.

Do interesting things at home and thereabouts. Every year, we make a family project of harvesting, sorting, processing and putting up pickled olives. We currently also have seeds going on indoors, several experiments on the go, our chickens, and always plenty of reading to do. Naturally, in the winter when it’s too cold and rainy, and in the summer on the hottest days, we are more restricted to indoor activities. The spring and autumn are the pleasantest seasons where we live.

A few homemaking do’s and don’ts

 

Do make to-do lists and approximate schedules. It will help you stay organized and focused in moments of confusion, when a myriad of things are demanding your attention and you aren’t sure what to do next.

 

Don’t get addicted to crossing items off your to-do list. Life isn’t a neat little list; sometimes unexpected and urgent issues will arise, someone dear will call you for help, or you’ll just want to take a break and do something special with your family. The world won’t collapse if your dishes sit in the sink for another two hours while you take a walk and watch the sunset.

 

Do work hard during the week and give the best of your energy and productivity.

 

Don’t be tempted to think that by working seven days a week, you’ll be able to accomplish more. You’ll only exhaust yourself and be less productive in the week ahead. God knew what He was doing when He gave us a day of rest! Our soul needs the peace and tranquility of spiritual refreshment.

 

Do practice hospitality and open the doors of your home – and your heart – to others.

 

Don’t do it at the expense of your health, peace of mind or the time you dedicate to your precious family. You’ll end up exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated, and that won’t do anyone any good. Carefully evaluate how much you can give without damaging your spiritual life or family time.

 

Do aim for advancing your creative skills, such as cooking, crafts and decorating.

 

Don’t drive yourself to discontentment by comparing yourself with others. Someone’s cakes will always be fancier, and no matter how hard you try, someone out there will have shinier windows. It’s not about ‘having it all together’ – what really matters is the spirit of joy, peace and love in your home.