Making the most of the mundane is an encouragement to find a positive way to respond to monotonous components of being a homemaker. When running a home, there are many responsibilities. There are things we need to do over and over and over again. Laundry, dishes, sweeping, dusting, wiping counters, cleaning toilets…the list could go on and on. We may view these tasks as monotonous and repetitive. I know I can sometimes get bogged down by the ordinary tasks. However, I have talked in the past about how we are responsible for how we respond. I believe how we respond to others is important, but I also want to tackle how I respond to every situation in life.
If we let our minds wander too much during our work, we can suffer from discontentment. How do I know? I’ve been there. I can actually visit there often and need to be super intentional about not letting myself ruminate in the grind.
I think of a couple scriptures that inspire me. The first is, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Cor. 10:5. I think of working on changing the way I think so I that my heart and attitude remains in the right place. Taking every thought captive means that I don’t allow myself to dwell in a place of displeasure.
The other verse that comes to mind is, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” – Colossians 3:23. Changing my purpose for working hard makes it worth while. God offers me grace as I fail in this area, but I want to be in the will of God by realizing the worth and value of my work here on earth. If I’m doing it for approval from my husband, kids or watching friends, then this can also lead to discontentment because they’ll never praise me or be grateful to me the way we THINK I deserve. Therefore, I want to change my thoughts about the mundane to a celebration of joy as I honor God in what I do. That’s my goal.
Making the Most of the Mundane
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The big question, then, is how do I make the most of the mundane. How do I take thoughts captive and not fall into the trap of discontentment? Here are a few ideas that might help.
- Listen to Podcasts – Podcasts are a great! My FAVORITE PodCast for parents is Parenting in Truth and Grace by the Pritchards, who are my personal mentors. As parents of 11 kids, they have much wisdom, and listening to them always sets me back on the path I know I want to be in my parenting. They have both interviews (like the one they did with me – Episode 3) and teachings. I also love apologetics and heady Christian thinkers. I talk about my struggle with faith in this post, and I love to be challenged mentally be these guys: Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias, Dr. William Lane Craig and the discussions at the Veritas Forums.
- Listen to Audiobooks – Spend time listening to Audiobooks. You can play a good book while you are cleaning the kitchen. If you have children present, pick books that you will all enjoy. Without children, Tea with Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies’ Table, Our Journey Through the Middle East was a fascinating book for me. With kids, why not gather them in the kitchen while you are making dinner, doing dishes or cleaning-up and listen to The Chronicles of Narnia Complete 7 Volume CD Box Set (Unabridged) together.
- Listen to Music – Turn on your favorite Pandora station or playlist and go to your happy place. I love the Nora Jones station. I also love some of the Christian stations like Chris Tomlin or Jeremy Camp. Maybe your poison is country or 80’s. Confession: Sometime I put on Les Miserables and clean while singing along in a dramatic fashion. With kids, maybe turn on the Disney station or Preschool of Rock as you work as a team.
- Pray – You don’t need any phone or aide to pray while you are in the thick of the house work. Decide that you are going to pray for your family every time you do dishes. Maybe cleaning the bathroom can be the time to pray for the upcoming elections…seems appropriate. Making beds might remind you to be praying for the spouse with whom you share the bed. Make it a commitment to pray for your child’s school every time you see a school bus while you are running errands. These kind of triggers can help us remember the verse, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- Get Thankful – It’s easy to slip into a ungrateful and covetous mindset while doing our household duties. I wish I had a house cleaner. I wish my kids didn’t make such a mess. If only my spouse would help more. Why do I have to have a full time job and take care of all this stuff at home? I wish I could quit. These complaints can begin to take over. How do we tackle that? Gratefulness. Thank you for a house to clean. Thank you that I was able to have kids that can talk and walk and make a dirty house. Thank you for a spouse that works so hard to bring home the bacon. Again, it’s a shift of thinking.
- Memorize Scripture – Print out a Bible passage that you want to set to heart. Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum made these fabulous printable cards with 50 of the Most Important Bible Verses to Memorize. Set a goal to work on one of these a day or a week. Maybe you’ll decide you want to memorize a whole chapter or even book of the Bible. I’ve worked on Romans (I got through the first 5 chapters) and James. This was a powerful experience for me, and something I’d like to try and do again. It’s very challenging, but scripture hits you so differently when you are memorizing scripture in this way.
- Hang Scripture in Your Work Zones – Keep your work zones inspiring and a reminder of our heart attitude while working. Kim from Not Consumed has some adorable printables for the laundry room. I have a free Psalm 23 printable and a printable for my life verse, Philippians 4:8, in this post.
- Play Verbal Games with Your Kids – There are many games that can be played without supplies. While you are doing laundry together, play a thinking game that uses no other supplies other than your voice.
- Have Your Kids Read to You – It’s great to have kids reading to you. Have them sit next to you while you are working and spend the time practicing their literary skills on you.
- Do Work in Front of the Television – Laundry is my favorite chore. I know it’s the least favorite for many. Why do I love it so much? First, half the time it’s just doing itself. That sweet hum coming from the laundry room means something is getting done without you doing it. Beautiful. The second part of this is the folding. I use folding laundry as my excuse to sit down and watch the shows I want to watch. This might mean I watch TV after they go to bed. This also might mean that the kids can join me for an episode of Chopped or Cake Wars while I get things done. Having this down time makes it feel like I’m not working.
- Teach Your Kids – Who said you need to be doing this work by yourself? You shouldn’t! If dishes need doing, pull up a stool alongside you and have your kiddos watch and hands on learn. My oldest (age 8) is beginning to cook with me more. We have often baked together – measuring, dumping and pouring. She is now learning chopping and cooking. We just made fried rice together the other day, and she can make her own omelette. The kids are now alongside me in the kitchen, making lunches for the next day with my packing lunch resolution. Kids can learn to help alongside you as you teach them to do the work well. Here’s a list of chores that kids can do that might help you.
Do you have other tricks for making the most of the mundane? I’d love to hear about it. Another phrase we have in our family is “choose joy.” It’s a mental shift to grasp for joy rather than focusing on the negative. It’s about re-training the brain, and I know that I’ve had to be intentional about how to change the focus of my thinking.