What does cultivating a home mean to you?
If you would have asked 10-year-old Shelby this question, I would probably have replied, a normal home. A father that wasn't addicted to painkillers and a stable foundation of home life.
That was one of my dreams as a child, to have a "normal" home. As I've grown and gone on to have my own family I have realized that "normal" is a societal concept in a sense. My normal looks different from your normal.
But one universal truth, a strong family is important and what you do/don't do in your home matters—what you do ripples into the world.
A "conspiracy theory" I hold is that one of the main objectives of feminism was to get women out of their homes so the art of truly cultivating a home could die out. I would say that was accomplished and big gov. got what it wanted—control of your home.
My father let addiction overrule his life, ultimately resulting in my mother becoming a single mom due to divorce. She lived in survival mode. She did what she could to keep us afloat.
But there was no community. No village. Even in the church we regularly attended, there was no help. Cultivating a home wasn't happening.
And the actions of my father and my mother molded me. It laid the foundation for having a distorted view of what a home is.
Public school, MTV, peers, and the many drug houses my father took me to during summer breaks while my mom was working shaped what I thought was acceptable.
When I became a teenager and started getting more and more freedom, I rebelled.
When I was 19, my father died. And at 22 I was married and a first-time mother.
I had no clue. At first, I was angry as a mother. I felt helpless and like everything was crashing, everything the "world" had taught me to believe about motherhood and even marriage, was wrong. I couldn't put myself first. I couldn't stay in survival mode as my mother did.
I was facing something I didn't realize I would face. I had faced heartbreak, death, grief, mental health problems, and more.
This is when I learned to cling to the Lord. I didn't have answers, but I knew I wanted better.
My faith grew and I learned.
Cultivating a home, wasn't about having a "normal", pretty, or perfect home. It became about setting a solid foundation for my children, marriage, and more.
I realized my upbringing rippled out into the world.
But, I also realized change can happen. Generational trauma is real, but it doesn't have to lay hold on our lives. Christ alone can break the chains.
Now, that I've shared a little bit about my how and why let me share how I have personally taken steps to cultivate my home.
1. Soul care not self-care.
I'm not saying self-care is bad, but I don't think self-care is sneaking away to Target for 3 hours or drinking a bottle of wine after the kids go to bed.
So, I will call it soul care. And I agree as mothers we are not meant to run on empty. Sure, sometimes survival mode happens, but we shouldn't stay there.
Things I do for my soul care:
I eat. I get hungry! Instead of eating scraps off my kid's plates, I make sure I eat something. Sometimes I have to plan and prep my meals, but I make it a priority.
I pray and read my Bible.
Sometimes I get up before my kids wake up, and have a nice quiet Bible time. And sometimes I just read the Bible out loud to my children.
But I make sure I read the scripture. When I read my Bible, my faith exploded.
And I pray. I pray over my children. My husband, myself, and others.
When I'm feeling helpless and worn down, I pray.
Finally, I do other things that fill my cup. I enjoy lifting weights. I enjoy getting outside.
These are things that I try to do often.
You don't necessarily have to put yourself first to always fill your cup, but filling your cup is vital to cultivating a healthy home.
I share a lot about food. I'm passionate about it.
It's apparent in our western world, so many are so disconnected from food. I was at one time. Fast food was daily and nutrition was in the back of my mind.
And part of my conspiracy theory of feminism having a hand in getting women out of the home was disconnecting women from the kitchen.
In the 1940s convenience meals started amping out. Margarine was declared healthier than butter. Vegetable oils were the best.
And the housewives endorsed it all because they were told to.
Then, when more and more women went to work, convenience made life easier. Women worked and could rely on tv dinners. Then fast food joints rolled out.
Then nutrition no longer mattered. The busy lives took over and getting fed was the only thing that mattered.
Fed is best, but when we apply this rule and stop caring about what is actually in the food, look around at all the health problems in 2023. Is fed best?
Cultivating a home is connected to the kitchen.
I cannot remember any weekly dinners that my mom, dad, and I sat around a table and ate. Instead, I can only recall grabbing happy meals after school eating in the car, and hot dogs and oatmeal.
Again, my mom did what she could. She followed society's "normal" and stayed in survival mode.
We all need food. And it's important to set your family's foundation on good food. Family dinners. Local food. Community food.
And if you're like me and had no clue about nutrition, it's okay. You can learn.
I've spent the past 5 years unlearning everything I was taught and learning so many new things.
There is hope. That's a big reason I wanted to create the homemaking collective.
Look at the food your feeding your family. Is it nourishing? Are you taking time to slow down and enjoy a family meal?
I truly believe the kitchen is the heart of the home.
I have created resources, a stress-free dinner 4-week cookbook, meal planners, and my Instagram page.
3. Seek the Lord and not the world
I wouldn't be where I am right now if it wasn't for the Lord's guidance.
The world is gonna tell you sometimes what you're doing is wrong, especially if you're following your life based on biblical principles, but something you need to accept right now is you don't need approval from the world.
That's been a hard pill for me to swallow. I always want to please my mother, family, and really anyone, but I can't.
If you're wanting to cultivate your home, seek the Lord. This is where reading scripture and prayer will come in big time.
And if others are upset because you do something that benefits your family, as my husband says tough titty.
Cultivating a strong solid home will go against what the world is selling.
4. Get some systems down
A big one I struggle with. I don't like rigid schedules, but I also don't like having any clue about our day.
As a mother of two, sometimes following a schedule seems impossible.
But, I have also realized we all benefit from some kind of system.
A few things that I do that have helped immensely:
Planning out our home school week
Setting aside time for outside
Have 15-30 minutes of clean-up time two times a day. Typically one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
I do laundry each day.
These are simple things, but I encourage you to set up systems that work for you and your family.
Cultivate a home that benefits your family.