This is my first appearance in this series on the disciplined woman, by my request. With three little ones, achieving order means catching Owen before he smears lipstick all over my duvet. When it comes to Habit #6 though, several of my mom’s suggestions have made a big difference in this season of my life. Here are three tips for establishing an efficient routine for managing your home:

Food and Clothing First: Lately, my laundry has been spinning out of control. I don't think I will ever see the end of it. I've been trying the denial method. I shut the door firmly and choose not to think about it. But it's not getting any better. I'm still hoping one of my kind sisters will come and do it for me (Janelle, are you doing anything today?)

As a wife and mother of young children, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. On top of that, I really enjoy a clean home. My temptation is to find my joy and peace in the order of my house. I can shut the door on my laundry and fridge, but I cannot shut the messiness of my house out.

But, in busy seasons like this, Mom has encouraged me to focus my homemaking efforts first on these two basic needs: food and clothing. My house may be a mess, but if my husband and children have clean clothes to wear and food to eat, they will be happy and life will go on. So, I guess I’m going to have to open that door to the laundry room after all!

Minimal Cleaning: Before I had children I cleaned my house from top to bottom every week. I sought to keep this standard after I had Andrew.  I would stick him in the entertainer each Friday as I cleaned.  Well, now with three little ones, all that is out the window.  My house is almost never cleaned all at once. For example this past Monday I thought I could mop the floors--just mop, nothing else. Well, by the end of the day, I was only half way done. I still haven't finished. 

My standard, to say the least, is a little lower these days. Mom has encouraged me to adopt a “minimal cleaning” approach: develop a plan for maintaining general cleanliness in the home and save the thorough cleaning for another season. So Windex(r) and Clorox Wipes(r) have become my special little friends; my quick way of making my messy house look a little cleaner.

And when I stop and look at my husband and kiddos, I realize that caring for them should be my top priority. Next week my family won’t remember how clean the floors were, but they will remember the time, care, and love I gave to them.

Ruthless Paperwork Habits: We moved into a small townhouse earlier last year. The corner of my room became the "unpacked section of the house." If I set some bills or miscellaneous papers in the stack there was no telling when they would be found. Bills were disappearing, papers and receipts were getting lost. I finally went off to Staples and purchased $40 worth of files and labels. I still haven't bought a filing cabinet to hold them, but I do have my paperwork sorted into the proper files. Now, when bills come in, they have a place to go.

In her book, Organized for Success, Stephanie Winston suggests the TRAF method for organizing paperwork. She says, “Happily, I’ve discovered there are only four things you can do with a piece of paper—four decisions: Toss it, Refer it (i.e. pass it along or discuss it with someone else), Act on it personally, File it.”

So, by practicing ruthless paperwork habits, setting realistic goals for cleaning my home, and tending to food and laundry first, I am able to at least be somewhat effective at managing my home in this busy season. These three simple goals may not serve my idol of a perfectly clean home, but they serve my husband and children, and that, I believe, pleases the Lord.


This article was adapted from "Girl Talk" - a blog kept by Carolyn and her three daughters for women in all seasons of life.

Carolyn Mahaney is a wife, mother, homemaker, and the author of Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood and Shopping for Time: How To Do It All and Not Be Overwhelmed (written with her daughters) due out in July. During her more than 30 years as a pastor’s wife, Carolyn has spoken to women in many churches and conferences, including those of Sovereign Grace Ministries, which her husband, C.J., leads. C.J. and Carolyn have three married daughters and one fourteen-year-old son, Chad.

Nicole Whitacre is the oldest daughter of C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney, as well as a wife, mother, and homemaker. She assisted her mother with Feminine Appeal, and is the co-author of Girl Talk. Nicole and her husband Steve—who is a youth pastor at Sovereign Grace Church—have one son Jack, 4 and a newborn daughter Tori.

Kristin Chesemore and her husband Brian are the busy parents of three boys. Andrew is seven, Liam is four, and Owen is three. In the little spare time she does have, Kristin supports Brian in his role as a pastor in Family Life Ministries at Covenant Life Church.

Janelle Bradshaw has been married to her husband Mike for four years and they have a beautiful daughter Caly, 1. Mike serves as a pastor in Children’s Ministry at Covenant Life Church.  

Pictured above, left-right: Janelle, Kristin, Carolyn, and Nicole