When my husband and I were first married we belonged to a ward that was affectionately referred to as “Newly wed and Nearly dead”. It’s funny, now years later, we are in a similar ward where we are closer to the nearly dead members. Oh well, what goes around comes around, right?
There are a lot of things I wish I had known about living a gospel-rich life when I was newly married. I didn’t know how to cook, budget, make-from-scratch, clean, compromise, sacrifice, let alone start or raise a family. And yes, I have learned how essential it is to make each of those categories “gospel-rich”. For years Relief Societies have struggled with how to entertain the sisters during Homemaking meeting and it is my opinion it will never work, because the gospel cannot ever compete with the world’s idea of entertainment. The gospel is on a different platform and the Relief Society needs to support that platform, not the world’s. Where Relief Society could have supplied me with many valuable How-to classes I remember only one significant skill that I have used for years. I learned how to cut hair.
Granted, we learned the very basics that night, and with gumption that proves that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, I began cutting my husband’s hair. As my sons came along, I cut their hair too. Some cuts were better than others, but that simple skill has saved us thousands of dollars over the years. Think what money I could have saved if I had learned other skills early on at Homemaking Night.
Here are just a few simple ideas for each of the categories mentioned above. The gospel (and the Relief Society) should always be about adding value to our lives. It very well could change your life, or the life of someone in your ward.
Always create a menu as a guide, for a week, a couple of weeks, or even one month, at a time. This one small tool will help you:
- Stick to a grocery budget (especially if you plan your menu around sales)
- When 5:00pm rolls around (which happens to be the busiest time of the day)
- Save money by avoiding going to a nearby fast-food place
- Eat together as a family
- Stay healthy
Plus, if you save these menus you can organize a year round seasonal menu that prevents you from falling into a rut.
Discuss with your family, and design, your own realistic budget that will work for you and your family. It took me years to figure out I didn’t have to follow those pre-programmed budget forms, but that I could create something that actually worked for my own family needs. Create the budget as a couple, and as a family, during a Family Council meeting each month. Communication is the best tip for setting a budget. I knew a couple (in their eighties) that never discussed finances on Sunday, because they wanted one day in the week that was free from arguments. But a thorough, honest, discussion is necessary.
It’s almost silly to make from scratch when you can buy everything ready made. But something special happens to your bones when you realize you can outsmart a cash hog industry.
I just recently learned how to make my own makeup remover pads. They are so expensive, but so cheap to make. There are many things we can make for ourselves that help us not rely so heavily on regular store visits. I can make my own salad dressings, power shakes, scarves, clothes, quilts, etc. Keep the philosophy of independence in little things by supplying your own needs “from scratch”.
A house of order is a house of God. There is something about living in a clean environment where the spirit can enter and feel at home. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who actually likes to clean. But it is definitely worth it when it’s all over.
I’ve learned that by cleaning parts of the house for 30 minutes every morning, the house can stay relatively clean always. It’s kind of a “beat-the-clock” mentality. Changing bed sheets on Tuesday, dusting on Wednesday, mopping on Thursday, does not kill me. Picking up, cleaning the kitchen, taking garbage out every day isn’t going to kill me either. And the kids (at an early age) should definitely be given daily chores like making beds, vacuuming, sweeping, emptying and filling the dishwasher, etc.
My daughter-in-law told me how her mother always made a point of making cleaning the house fun. To clean the floor all of the kids got in their bathing suits, tied rags to their feet and, with suds on the floor, slipped and slid to their heart’s content.
Another thing we did, as a family, was every Saturday morning (around various youth sports activities) everyone would work separately or together to fix, deep clean, organize, etc. something in the house or yard. When we were done we got to do something fun as a family for the rest of the day.
Sadly, our bipartisan United States Congress confesses they are unable to compromise anymore. Apparently, no one wants to even make an effort. With that kind of example, why should any of us work at working together? When I was first married, I had no idea how hard marriage would be. The world teaches us that divorce is the built-in escape plan. The Lord expects more from us. He wants us to preserve our marriages and feed it continually. If it is not fed, the fire of love will most certainly die. A good way to keep marriage active, healthy, and strong is to compromise—or discuss things regularly, giving and taking, and interacting with one another. Marriage and family is for eternity.
It is not a good idea to gather as sisters and discuss something as personal as our own marriage problems, but the Church has provided several books, lessons, and pamphlets on how to make our marriages stronger. Relief Society can help build strong marriages.
It used to be that women, mothers especially, would sacrifice everything (perhaps too much) to make others happy. This doesn’t happen as much now because of the women’s liberation movement. Now, we don’t see very much sacrifice anywhere. We need to remember though, how sacrifice is talked about in the temple. Parents need to sacrifice, and parents need to teach their children how to sacrifice, and the family needs to remember the ultimate sacrifice paid for all of us by our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Teach your children about delayed gratification. Make them wait a little while for something they really want. Allow them to earn money for certain items of choice. If they’ve done something wrong, make sure they understand there is accountability for their actions. Remember The Marshmallow test? If children can learn to sacrifice at a young age they will learn to see others’ needs before their own, and ultimately, they will be willing to give up their will for their Heavenly Father’s will.
Each one of these subjects can be stretched and adapted to meet the needs of members of your Relief Society. We all need help in these areas and can use ideas, motivation, and experience from one another to help us add value and success in our lives.