Sunday, June 8, 2008

Contentment at Home

A new knit dishcloth for the kitchen. Such an easy and fast knit; I plan to make more!

To start with, I would like to say that this is not a post about women staying at home vs. working outside of the home. Just to get that right out of the way. :)

Over on Ravelry, we are a bit further ahead in our read-along with the Living More with Less book. The topic we were discussing over the past two weeks has been based on the chapter entitled, "Money" and it has had me thinking about "going" and "staying" and contentment at home.

A couple of homeschooling friends of mine and I were discussing the past year and the amount of running we do among our various activities. Those of you who read my blog should, by now, realize that the concern for lack of socialization within the homeschooling community is a moot point. Actually, deciding what activities in which we will not participate is a more challenging decision for many. I, however, advocate for fewer than what many choose and part of me has begun to wonder if this is a mere personality difference of mine or the lack of practice within our culture. I suspect a bit of both.

For example, when I was having the discussion with my friends, I mentioned a couple of times that perhaps they could just drop an activity or two. Both friends seemed to want to find more time or have more peace, but seemed challenged to actually say no to the activities in which they or their children were involved. When I pressed them some more on it, one said, "Well, I don' t like staying home too often. If I stay home too long, I get lonely or bored." I mentioned a few of the things I like to do - relish, in fact - when I have down time at home (such as my knitting, painting, embroidery, etc.), and one said, "Yes, well, you have that. I don't do those things." And that is true. She does not share my interests in those areas. But I wondered what she might have if she gave herself time to look?

Another point: My daughter has a friend whom she would like to see more often, but she only sees him once-a-week at church. She keeps asking to have him over to play. I know that she wants this because she has a great deal of fun with him, but that when we are in our more regular group of friends, he is inclined, as most children are at this age, to gravitate to his friends of the same sex. The situation with this family, whom we all like very much, is that they live approximately 40 miles east of us. It is not conducive to a simple play-date. The gas, alone, for a round-trip in our minivan would be $16.00. Our resolution is to have him over when his mom comes into town to run errands. I didn't used to think so concretely about these things, but I have really started calculating the cost of gas into our destinations. I wonder if others are beginning to do the same?

For me, being at home is a pleasure. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was bored. Loneliness is another thing, as I can attest, having moved 1,500 miles away from those dearest to me and having fewer women at home in the neighborhood around me. Such is the magic of the internet for me and I am grateful to have connected with so many people who share many of my own interests in this way. That said, when my friend mentioned that she did not do the same things I enjoyed, I wondered to myself, "Do you not like to read? Or play an instrument?" A whole list floods my mind: learning a new language, trying new recipes, tending to the gardens, taking quiet time to pray and read God's Word, playing a game of cards with the children, learning a new craft (from among oh, so many!), writing a letter (and decorating it beautifully), inviting someone over, making bread for your family and a neighbor, having tea, decorating for the season, taking a bike ride, writing in a journal, and the list can go on! And these are things listed merely for pleasure. There is menu-planning, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and the regular maintenance of home life among all of these pursuits.

In a favorite book of mine, the author, Karey Swan writes, "I've learned to keep lists and consolidate our trips, I find that I need to remain home for long stretches of time in order to get beyond the maintenance part of homemaking (stuff like cleaning, laundry, and ironing). If I don't stay home, I miss the creative part of homemaking, which for me is needlework, crafting a dried flower wreath, training a young heart, or giving hospitality to a tired friend. Without these, I'd go crazy and burnout would become a serious threat."

It is a goal of mine this summer, for frugality, but also peace, to limit our excursions. I hope to make outings just once-a-week. I can see that it may be a challenge, given what we are used to. Without giving up our van, though, I'd like to behave as though we only have one as gas prices continue to rise. It may be that twice-a-week will be likely, but I'd like to plan for just one day, not including Saturday which is often when we do things out and about with Daddy.

Do you find peace and contentment at home? Do you consolidate trips or try to limit your outings? Do you foresee a peaceful summer for yourself?


Kelli said...

We have definitely started figuring out the cost of certain trips. I told Grace that it was time for a break from yard sales. It is very easy to go through a 1/4 tank of gas on a Saturday morning, and that is about 20 dollars worth for our mini van. Phillip and I are talking about selling his small truck and going back to a one vehicle family.

I also have run into similar situations with parents not wanting to drop a couple of activities, but still feeling the pressure and unhappiness of their busy lives. I cannot even imagine being bored or lonely at home, there are so many wonderful and fun things to do-the list is never ending! LOL
Great post!

(((((HUGS))))) sandi said...

We are ALWAYS home, and my friends have slowly all moved away. I think I've had seasons of loneliness in the past, but you are so RIGHT! Now I can't find enough time in my day! I have a HUGE stack of books to read, I LOVE to practice my mountain dulcimer, and OH do I love to crochet! Lately homeschooling alone takes up almost all the day~I can't fit it all in! DEFINITELY not bored~LOL! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

Laurie said...

I find it almost scary how often you and I are on the same thought line. With DH's new job having him work from home, we save a TON on gas prices. However, I do find that I want to get out more just so that the kids aren't shuuuuushed all day long. It gets tiring for me and I know they tire of it too. But we don't have any weekly scheduled things except for Bible Study that is a hit or miss for us, it seems, so even that's not *always* a trip every week.

I have found that I don't run to Wally World as much as I used to - I do consolidate trips a little more. Not so much for the gas but more for my lowering energy levels. As the temps go up, my energy goes So if we get out, we try to do several things in that one trip but for different reasons.

Having said that, I did drive into St. Louis *twice* yesterday - about a 1.5 hour round trip. But I don't think that has ever happened before...just a weird day.

I *do* think Americans over schedule themselves and their kids. And I think the homeschoolers feel a larger pressure to get involved in something because of that 'social' issue that, I totally agree, is a moot point.

As for my hobbies? I'm a dabbler. A little of this, a little of that. I love to sew and crochet and play guitar and write and cook and play computer games and read (oh how I miss reading fiction!!) and on and on. Kind of a Jack of all Trades but a master of none.

Sharonnz said...

Petrol (gas;-)) has just hit $2 per litre in New Zealand so we think very carefully about all our trips. It took me a long time before I found contentment in being a SAHM. I love the term "passionate contentment" that Angela Thomas Guffey uses in Tender Mercy for a Mother's Soul - I like to think I can retain the passions from my pre-kids life while being contented learning at home with them now.

Kez said...

I'm quite happy staying at home - I try to limit our trips out to twice / week at this stage. Billy is an extrovert, and an only child, so he does enjoy being with other people!!

Danielle Says Hello said...

Oh I really enjoyed this post. I always try and get much of my 'work' done during the week so I can just 'be' and enjoy my home on the weekends. I thought I was the only one who tried to consolidate trips to stay at home. I even go so far as to cancel appts and reschedule if I feel as though 'too much' is happening any given week.

Going Goofy said...

You have put into words, how I feel. I am trying to consolidate my trips "to town" and I find that in staying home more, you do have time for the more creative side of homemaking.
Great post.

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