Don’t you hate the way feminism has devalued the work of stay-at-home moms? As if raising human beings wasn’t one of the most important jobs on the planet!
I think it’s been downplayed so much that we’ve forgotten a lot of the dignity and pride that comes with the job. I’m not talking the bad type of pride that says, “I am so good I can do it all my way, without any help from God or anyone else.”
No, the type of pride I am talking about means:
a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements [with God’s help, of course].
We are not just “housewives,” ladies. We are professionals, and as professionals we need to have the outlook of those who reach for excellence in every area of our lives.
We should strive to be the best:
- Prayer warriors,
- Biblical scholars,
- Financial officers,
- Plant managers,
- Nutritional consultants,
that we can be.
In fact, what we accomplish each day with the limited tools we have on hand should defy logic and understanding. We should be able to make presidents of fortune 500 companies wide-eyed with amazement!
Of course, the specifics of what we do will never quite compute into production numbers or dollars and cents. It’s not that easy to quantify how well we are able to juggle an infant with a toddler with a preschooler with an eight and ten and twelve-year-old in the line at the bank, but it absolutely should rank high on a scale of difficulty and competency. (In fact, I don’t think there is a CEO on earth that would volunteer for the job!).
In the business world, everyone is striving to become “best in class.”
The highest current performance level in an industry, used as a standard or benchmark to be equaled or exceeded.
In the world of homemaking, we are told this:
An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.
The word “excellence” is translated from a word that means “strength, efficiency, wealth, army.” From this (and the rest of Proverbs 31) we gather women are supposed to strive to become their best when handling the affairs of the home.
In order to do this, it might do us well to take some of the precepts of industry and adapt them to our particular situations. We need to be familiar with what these ideals are and formulate a way to put them into practice. Below I have outlined just a few that I know of, with a short explanation of how they could be applied.
Enlist the help of a life coach.
There is nothing new about this trend, except that now we are paying people to do it.
Coaching is a form of development in which a person called a coach supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. The learner is sometimes called a coachee. Occasionally, coaching may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to more general goals or overall development.
Mentoring is an old, old concept, and the Bible speaks of it specifically concerning women:
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
Sadly, older women who have been successful wives and mothers are hard to find, but they are still out there! Just pray and ask God to lead to you someone who would be willing to help you become more successful (besides my own daughters and the work I do online, I also mentor young women at our church, and I know other older women who are active doing the same).
Did you know that it’s usually only 20% of what we do, what we eat, who we know, what we pay attention to, that gives us 80% of the most benefit? Think about it; right now I can bet that only 20% of the tabs up on your computer or other device are actually useful to you in this very moment (I am perusing mine and, yep, I have about 30 up, but only six of them are of any real use).
If you’re trying to lose weight and get healthier, probably only about 20% of what you eat each day is actually beneficial, with the other 80% being there for fill or because you have a sweet tooth or some other craving.
What about homeschooling? If you look closely, you may find that you could easily concentrate on the top 20% of your curriculum choices and your kids would probably be better educated than the rest of the population, but you feel obligated to fill up the rest of your time with items that give you a really lousy return on your time investment (ROI–Return on Investment–is another one you could explore).
JIT and the Seven Wastes
I heard about “Just In Time” production from my husband the years he worked in the electronics industry. While looking up the definition I discovered it is only one part of the “Seven Wastes” as outlined by Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System (TPS) (I know, you are wondering how Toyota got into this discussion, read how I flesh it out and you will see the connection):
- Over production. When we create in excess of demand, in our case too much spaghetti, too much entertainment, too many presents at Christmas, too much freedom and not enough boundaries, etc.
- Waiting. When one process must wait for another to finish, such as when we have to wait for the dryer to finish before we can put a new load in, or for the hamburger to thaw before we can start dinner, or our teen daughter to finish putting her makeup on before anyone else can use the bathroom…
- Transportation. Having to move “product” from one place to another creates time waste. I like to think of this one as meaning we need to have the tools and the product next to where they will be used and consumed. No sense putting the mixing bowls across the room from the flour, or the school books in the basement when your children do their work at the dining room table. Or, why waste your time going criss-cross around town trying to save 20 cents a pound on chicken when you could simply purchase it next to your house, saving you time and the money you would have spent on extra gas.
- Inappropriate processing. This one is about using overly elaborate and expensive equipment to do simple jobs. What comes to mind is all of the silly household gadgets we have cluttering up our counters and cupboards. Do we really need a separate appliance for cooking rice, or grilling sandwiches, or making fries? A good set of pans would do just as well, but at a fraction of the cost and storing space.
- Excessive inventory. This is where J.I.T. comes in. The idea is not to hoard. There is only so much spaghetti you can use before the expiration date, even if you find it on sale for 50% off. Those turkeys you found for a pittance last November? They’re probably blooming with flowers of freezer burn. And food isn’t the only area we hoard in. We are blessed with a Goodwill Outlet nearby where the clothes are only $1.89 a pound. It’s so easy to find absolutely amazing deals that we just can’t pass up, but often they are for pieces which do not match anything else in our closets, so they can become a huge waste if we are not careful. Books are another category of items we just can’t help but gather too much of, and we probably only truly read or refer to 20% of them (see the 20/80 principle above).
- Unnecessary motion. This one I remember from the book Cheaper by the Dozen. The idea is to make each task flow as smoothly as possible. For instance, we keep spices and large cooking utensils right next to the stove. We also keep our dishwashing liquid in a pump by the sink so we can squirt it directly in or on our hands without even picking up the bottle.
- Defects. This is something we try and teach the children repeatedly. Doing a quick, slip-shod job does not save you anything if you have to to do it over again. Do it right the first time instead of going through the rejection/correction process.
Recently, psychologists have been warning people against trying to do too many things at once. They say doing such will slow us down and perhaps do damage to our brains. They also say the bad type of multi-tasking is actually “task-switching,” since we can’t really do two things at once, we just switch quickly between tasks.
This was intriguing to me because I have a hard time believing all of the multi-tasking I have done with my family over the last 34 years has damaged me in some way. So I did some research and came up with some interesting information that made me feel much, much better.
First of all, the negative warnings have to do with technology-related tasks, such as trying to respond to email while talking on the phone. In those instances, where one’s brain is trying to do two similar tasks simultaneously, there is a definite downside.
However, the way moms multi-task, such as having a discussion with our children while folding laundry or taking care of business on the phone while we are washing dishes or sweeping the floor, is actually beneficial. Researchers found that people who were enjoying “screen time” while on a stationary bicycle actually pedaled 25% faster. There is also evidence that some multitasking actually helps the brain work more efficiently.
20 hour work week (for mundane tasks)
Of course, a mom’s job is 24/7, which I don’t mind one bit, but the more repetitive tasks should be streamlined so they do not eat up time for the better things. I’m thinking here of chores such as doing the laundry and grocery shopping (to minimize shopping I use “Club Pickup” at Sam’s and “Grocery Pickup” at Walmart).
Quality management ensures that an organization, product or service is consistent. It has four main components: quality planning, quality assurance, quality control and quality improvement.
Perhaps your children are different, but ours were born with a tendency to do as little as they can get away with. This is why I am known for making standards and then inspecting to make sure those standards are met. When I get distracted and fail to inspect, quality goes way, way down and then the “seven wastes” show up everywhere!
Please understand, none of this is possible in your own strength. If you take the above lists and put it as a burden on your shoulders, you are going to crash and burn and your family will suffer.
Here are some verses you must always keep in mind:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Believe it or not, I still have loads more to share 🙂
However, I don’t want to overload you. Besides, the next topic deserves its own post. I’ll just keep typing away and bless you with this much today and the rest very soon…