I received an email from a friend with regards to my last post about entertaining, and she asked me this question. She also wanted some tips as to how she might successfully entertain given her own set of limitations. I thought I would give my answer here in case it might prove helpful to others…or at least be good for a hearty laugh.
Well, the first and obvious answer is “I don’t”…nobody can do it all, of course. Now, I know, you have somewhere amongst your Friends and Relations an example of Her. The woman that you are certain keeps every nook and cranny of her fabulous home spotless and organized, who never has a hair out of place, makes delicious cookies for her children every afternoon, participates in 27 different community events each year and serves on 13 committees, throws the best parties, homeschools her 7 children, and spends two hours in prayer and bible study every day. I actually have a friend who comes shockingly close to this description myself.
However, I say again, nobody can do it all. God has created us with both strengths and weaknesses. Seeing marked improvement in our areas of weakness over time is part of our sanctification and growth as a person as we mature in both age and reason. I believe that recognizing our strengths and utilizing our gifts within our home is a vital part of creating a pleasant environment for our families.
For instance, I love to cook. I love to decorate and make things pretty. I am an extrovert who thrives in a group setting. I also adore planning and lists. Naturally, I enjoy entertaining, from the planning stages right up through cleaning up saying goodbye and escorting my friends to the door.
I am a book person. I love culture and art and thought and discussion. I love words and poetry and music and the thrill of being caught up in a good story. I like puzzles and projects and watching the lights come on in a child’s eye when they finally “get it.” I have a strong desire to nurture and disciple my children. So I do happen to enjoy homeschooling my children, and feel grateful that God has equipped me to the extent where I can direct their learning and have them home with me as they grow and explore and create.
But there are so, so many areas in which I am weak. I am a perfectionist, which may sound harmless at first, but it means I will often not even attempt something unless I can do it perfectly. For those who are wise and realize success is often preceeded by many failures, you can see how this is a debilitating flaw. I also work very, very slowly and once involved in something I am so completely absorbed that I become unaware of what is going on around me. Not the best idea with small children!
Over the years, I have learned a few tricks that work well for me given these strengths and weaknesses. I hope to share some of these ideas over the course of my next few posts, but I will start out with the overarching theme of simplicity. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Even my most extravagant entertaining (don’t get the wrong idea, that simply means we use real plates and no boxes of mac ‘n cheese) is a combination of a lot of simple things.
The more stuff we have, the more time it takes to maintain it. If you feel constantly stretched for time and resources, it’s likely that you have overcommitted in one or more areas (or you are a homeschooling mom! Sorry, had to slip that one in there). It’s also very important to consider what season of life you are in and what is inherently essential to that season…you may find you are trying to maintain the lifestyle of a young single or an empty nester when what you are is a mother with small children!
In my next post I will begin to share some examples of what we do here in our home to keep things running relatively smoothly, and I will also share what falls between the cracks. Your comments on both would be most welcome!