Consider the Ant
Studying Proverbs 6:6-7 (“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest”) made me evaluate how a wife and mother should view her God-given responsibility. Did you know that the ant is a proactive insect; ants work without needing managers, leaders, supervisors, or overseers. Words like self-motivation, purpose-driven, and commitment to excellence all describe the ant. They have an innate industriousness which makes them super neat and super organized. They work collectively for the daily needs, as well as and to provide for later needs. They share tasks and cooperate with one another. (Uwana Word Press 2-6-2013).
I was very fortunate and blessed to grow up learning the principles of the ant! It’s not difficult for me to organize my day, see what needs to be done, and get it done. I realize that some of you reading this never had that privilege. The principles of good home organization and what I call “productiveness” are the same for every woman (single, newly married or married with children). It’s good to learn these principles when you are young, because as you add children to the mix, you will need to be even more industrious and planned.
Since I cannot be an example to you as a mother, I am approaching this important topic through my mother’s eyes. Open your heart to change and a challenge. If the Lord is speaking to you as you read this article, I pray that you will glean from my very organized, industrious, wonderful mother. My mother wasn’t even a Christian during my growing up years, and yet she had the industriousness of an ant as so aptly defined in God’s word! At 93 years, she is sharing her heart through me to you. I asked her a few questions and she supplied these answers.
- What did you do EVERY day that helped your day run smoothly and get everything done? She responded: “The day began the day before!” Such an interesting response. She never flew by the “seat of her pants” but organized each day the day before. She took out meat for supper and planned that meal the evening before. Besides having four kids, Dad often had hired men who joined us for meals. Mom baked ahead,and bought her groceries ahead. (We were 12 miles from town, so there was no “running to the store” to get an item that she needed.) She applied this same principle for cleaning, laundry, shopping, etc. When she pillowed her head at night, she was ready for the next day.
- How often did you do laundry? “Because there were 6 of us and we didn’t have many clothes, towels, etc., I had a schedule. I did laundry every Monday-Wednesday and Friday. That way, all your clothes were cleaned, ironed and in your drawers or closet. I had so much to do each day that I was diligent about sticking to this schedule. Never did I allow dirty laundry to pile up, nor did I have clean laundry that wasn’t put away. Finish the job!” (Schedules help everyone in the house. As your children get older, scheduling is important. It helps them become organized and planned. Besides, there is something very comforting for the whole family when they can “count” on a schedule.)
- Did you have times for bed, baths, etc. for all of us? “Yes. Bedtime was the same time every night- generally by 8 when you were younger, and 9 later on. Consistency in nap times, bed times and meal times is very important for children. It gives them security and confidence. It was my goal, to have very secure children. (Plus ,I knew what time you’d be down for naps and I could use that time for many things that perhaps I could not get done with 4 little kids needing my attention. It was a win-win for me.)”
- What did you do for discipline? Who was the main disciplinarian? “Discipline wasn’t difficult because your Dad meant what he said and said what he meant. He was the main disciplinarian. We were always on the same page concerning this. If he said, “Finish your supper or it’s bed time,” you kids did what he said. He rarely said things twice! He was very firm and you knew he meant business! When you were young, he never allowed questions or back talk. As you got older, certainly there could be conversation concerning an issue, but most often he did not change his mind! He knew what was best for you. Consistency and firmness here make a huge difference in the home. It’s not a fun place if all you are doing is “putting out fires” instead of having a plan and disciplining accordingly. You want to enjoy your kids at every stage.”
- What was your typical day like with 4 kids, hired men, no clothes dryer, kids in swimming lessons 12 miles away, canning, etc. “I always got up earlier than anyone but your Dad. My day was always planned. I had you older kids help me with all the tasks I needed to do—BEFORE you got to play. We had a huge garden. I hung clothes on the line. I baked all our bread and buns. You kids cleaned your bedrooms and I inspected! There was so much to do, and you all had your jobs—on “my” time.” A house functions best with an executed PLAN.
- What did we do for fun? Did you have any social time with your friends? “Most of the time, I was a Mommy! Occasionally, we would walk to neighbors’ homes and have coffee and pie and you kids would play. When I helped my mother make doughnuts, you kids came…and ate doughnuts and played with your cousins. Once-in-awhile, I’d let you have a sleep-over. Most of my time was being a mother and teaching and nurturing you kids. I loved it.”
- What are some other things that you can address that you think young mothers might learn from? “Preparation was key for me. Before holidays or before I would have a baby, I baked and cooked and filled the freezer. I never knew how I’d feel when I got home after delivery. Plus, I had two of you in the fall- August and September- and that was a busy time for your Dad, so I needed to be prepared. I always doubled every cookie and bar recipe. My motto was: ‘PLAN ahead and DO ahead!’ That really worked well for me. I was very busy. We didn’t have the luxury of going to town to get something. We didn’t have microwaves, convection ovens and things that young people have nowadays to help get more done. Every day was WORK –WORK- WORK! I wanted to be ready for the tasks each day. I see families now that perhaps have too much stuff. It’s difficult to keep everything neat and tidy when there is too much. Simplifying your life is a good thing.”
No two households are going to function exactly the same way, but if you read these tips and “read between the lines,” I think you can learn much from my Mom! Her approach to being a mom reminds me of Proverbs 31:15: “She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens” and Proverbs 31:27: “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth NOT the bread of idleness.”
Examine your focus as a wife and mother. If you find each day so very difficult, could it be that you have not planned and executed? Often something doesn’t get done, because we don’t feel like doing it! Laziness is a sin. Don’t go by your feelings. I bet my mother, on many occasions, did not FEEL like doing something. If you struggle with this, ask the Lord for help (read Proverbs 31 daily for awhile, so the Lord can teach you this). You may need to humble yourself and ask some lady in the church (that you know has a grasp on this principle) for help.
*Small correction for hanging pictures from last issue: The sentence should have read-. No matter what size the picture is, generally you want to hang it 57-60 inches on center from the floor. Meaning, measure down 60 inches from the center of the picture. Pictures do not have to be placed in the middle of a wall as stated.