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Dear Hattie, 

I must admit I am having a hard time reconnecting with my church family during these weird times. We are generally healthy, so staying home would not be for medical reasons. But being an introvert, I’ve become a quick fan of sheltering in place…church on my couch, all my kids home, a simple schedule, drive-by gatherings–a dream come true in some ways. Why is it good to actually be with people?

Linda, Living in ZooMtopia

Dear ZooMtopia,

Honestly, quarantine had some perks, right? Especially for happy homebodies. We will do well to remember though, what the Bible says about Christians being physically together.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25

We can quickly grow dull without the sharpening examples, encouragement, and exhortations from other Christians. In motherhood, in marriage, in ministering, it is hard to resist entropy [putzing out] when left to ourselves. When we are together with fellow believers (and I would argue physically is best) we are spurred on by each other’s lives in countless ways and this consequently stimulates us to greater love and good deeds.

More seriously, we might find that in isolation, we grow in worldliness rather than holiness. When the influence of God’s people is lessened in our lives, our gauges tend to move. The best the world has to offer may become our “standard of righteousness” rather than the witness of God’s word, being lived out among His people. Christ is our standard of righteousness, but seeing Him lived out through His people is truly more strengthening than going it alone.

So we are told not to give up meeting together. When all you have is Zoom, then do Zoom! But if you have MORE available and you can participate in good conscience, then do that! And all the more as you see the day drawing near!

Love, Hattie

Dear Hattie,

Help! I am all out of ideas! From March to May we did all the things: crafting, cleaning, camping out, finishing schoolwork, completing house projects. Now come June, like little hungry Hobbits, my kids are ready for Second Summer! But, I am spent. Do you have any ideas for part two of staying home?

Thanks in advance, Stacy, Stunned by Second Summer

Dear Stunned,

Well it seems our approach to such challenges is rooted in a can-do attitude rather than a can’t-do attitude. For whatever reason, God has given many of us the gift of time in this stretch of 2020. Ask yourself how you want to use this time which you are being given. Undoubtedly your calendar and routines will resume at some point in the future. But for now, keep going, even into the unknown! 

You probably made lists and goals in March when life suddenly changed. Here is just a gentle reminder to go ahead and do that again, Summer Style.

Revamp your lists for part 2, and keep pursuing goals. Without a vision, people perish. Drifting aimlessly day to day is not fun! Try anchoring your days with a few structured tasks for you and your children. Add some fun free time. Tackle a long term “frog” project you have been avoiding (even if a little bit at a time). Read through a new book of the Bible. Memorize some scripture. Create reasons to celebrate–with ice cream and popsicles, and good summer food. Explore a new park. Weed your garden. Ask yourself how you want to look back on this time in your family’s life? Aim your goals toward achieving that end.  As you tweak your attitude, keep on going in perseverance! It is what God has called us to do.

Love, Hattie

Dear Hattie,

They say cleaning your house with kids in it is like brushing your teeth while eating an Oreo. Yep! How can I teach my kids to better tidy and clean up after themselves?

Betsy Oreo-Brusher

Dear Betsy,

Have you heard the old saying “A place for everything and everything in its place”?  This is a bit of homemaking wisdom that if followed, would keep our homes impeccable because things would always be put where they belong.

The problem is, we don’t often follow that advice ourselves. And some of our children don’t either–even if we have tried to teach them.  It is a training process that requires many stops and starts and resets. I have three quick suggestions to help you reboot:

  1. Have designated places for kids’ belongings and communicate your expectation that they manage their belongings. Spaces can be designated for sports gear, snow boots/pants when applicable, backpacks, event bags (AWANA, ballet, karate), etc. They don’t need to be fancy or costly spaces. A nail in the garage can hang a baseball bag. You get the idea. Where can you help organize your kids by giving them designated spaces?
  2. Tackle one small thing that never stays small. One particular annoyance is drinking cups. Kids like to get 4-5 cups a day if not deterred. This fills a dishwasher pretty quickly. To keep drinking cups to one cup per kid/per day, designate a space on a counter or the center of your kitchen table with a cup tray. Draw circles (on paper, with a dry erase marker or sharpie) with each child’s name on it. You can get creative here if you’d like. When they get their one cup for the day, they should return it to the cup holder and then load it in the dishwasher at night. It will make them more mindful of their actions and save on dish use.
  3. Implement a Lost and Found policy. Once you’ve communicated that personal belongings need to be in their designated places–shoes, toys, books, backpacks, etc.–give them a warning that if you find their things laying around the house, they will be placed in the new Lost and Found box. Collect unclaimed items in a tote and show them what made the box that day. If they would like to retrieve it they can do an extra chore or pay you a small fee (or whatever consequence you choose). This can become a slight sting to their forgetfulness and reinforce putting their things away.

I hope something in there is helpful to you and yours! Happy clean-up 🙂

Love, Hattie