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An End to Your “Work Day”

A mother’s job is never done. But can a housekeeper’s, a school teacher’s, a baker’s, an accountant’s or a blogger’s job end at 5 o’clock with the rest of the world? Of course it can! As homemakers, we wear many different hats and some of those need to be taken off both mentally and physically at some point in time or your day will simply turn into one overstressed, unproductive mush. Having a cut off time for certain household duties is beneficial in many ways.

First, it gives you incentive to work hard up until that designated point in time. It is much easier to put your nose to the grindstone when you have a light at the end of the tunnel to keep you going. When you feel like giving up or surfing the web, you can remind yourself that you have time for that on your “off” hours. Alternatively, deluding yourself with the prospect of a never ending work day can result in procrastination and frustration.

Shutting down shop around 5pm also gives you the ability to refocus and recharge before your husband gets home from work. Let your husband come home to a peaceful, quiet home and a peaceful, quiet wife while you are at it!

Another benefit to segregating some of your daily duties to a set “work day” is your ability to focus on family time at night. It is difficult to give your whole heart and mind to your husband and children when  you still have the day’s cares hovering above you like a black cloud. This small amount of time you have with your family every night is precious and should not be taken lightly. It is especially precious to your husband, who spends much of his day outside the home and looks forward to your company when he returns. Some of the most important family activities happen in the evening, from dinner to family worship to bath time to romantic rendezvous. Let your heart, body and mind be all there during these precious times.

One last benefit to cutting off some duties when your husband gets home is that he will not feel as though he needs to help you in those activities. He has been working hard all day and envisions this as his time to relax and rejuvenate, but he can’t truly do this unless you are as well. Watching you fold laundry while he relaxes will only make him feel guilty and you feel bitter in the process!

Now, I am not proposing that you put aside your duties as wife and mother. Dinner still has to be prepared and served, babies still need to be nursed, bathed, and put to bed, and much much more. However, there are specific duties that you can designate to your “work day” and others that you can designate to your “off time.” In order to achieve this reality there are certain disciplines that need to be cultivated every day, here are a few:

Have a plan for your day.
It doesn’t have to be a minute by minute guide, but having a general plan laid out will help you know what you need to accomplish before the “whistle blows” for the end of your work day. Ideally this should be done before your time off so that you don’t have tomorrow’s to-do list hanging over your head while you are trying to relax. Give yourself 10-15 minutes at the end of every work day to plan the next day’s duties. [intlink id="82" type="category"](You may find some of these free Planner Printables helpful)[/intlink]

Get to work on the hard things first.
We all have those specific tasks that we dread doing every day. Whether it is vacuuming or cleaning the tub, getting it done first thing will aid your desire to be productive and spur you on throughout the rest of the day.

Do the most important things on your list next.
With the painful, but necessary tasks out of the way, move on the most important tasks. These will vary day by day, but you don’t want them to get looked over as you go about your business. If you do overlook (0r perhaps ignore them!) them, the chances of you getting to relax when your husband gets home are greatly decreased.

Make as many nighttime chores daytime chores as you can. 
For instance, if you normally unload and load the dishwasher after dinner or before you go to bed consider moving your dishwashing routine to the middle of the day. After lunch is through, run the dishwasher and unload it before you call it quits for the day. Then all you will have to do before bed is load the dinner dishes. Maybe you could move bath time for the little ones to a less hectic time during the day. If so, that is one less thing you will have to do before the kids go down. Simply setting out the kid’s diapers and pajamas for bed time (before you stop working for the day) is a huge help when you are trying to simplify your nighttime routine, plus it makes you feel prepared for the night.

Take the necessary steps to be able to call it quits. 
You can’t truly call it quits if the house is still in disarray when the quitting bell rings! The last 30 minutes of your day will have to be dedicated to a thorough pic up in order to make quitting a reality. This means that if you desire to stop working at 5pm, you must begin preparing to stop working a little after 4! Imagine how peaceful you would be if, at around 4:15pm you began picking up the house, looking for loose ends that need to be tied (like a clean load of laundry that needs to be put away or dishes that need to be unloaded). You are able to accomplish these last minute details, light a few candles, and put on a pot of coffee to enjoy before you start cooking dinner. Then, at 4:45pm you sit down with the your cup of coffee and plan out the next day. Depending on how long your dinner preparations are going to take, you may even have time to pray for a little bit thanking the Lord for the things you were able to accomplish and asking him to prepare your heart to be ready for your husband. It all sounds rather ideal does it not? Imagine how different your nights could be with just a little bit of planning!

When it is quitting time, quit! 
As you are planning out the next day, include the tasks that you were unable to get to today. Most household chores will not blow up if they are left for the next day and unless something completely unexpected happened, you already tended to the most imperative tasks by doing them first. Still, it isn’t as easy as it sounds to quit because a lot of the things we do can be done in just a few minutes. Remember that your off time is designated to other important things like preparing dinner, reading to your kids, or enjoying your husband’s company. These things are just as important (most of the time more important!) as matching a pair of socks or windexing a window.

Keep your plan for the next day handy. 
Though it is wise to make this plan before you quit for the day, having it handy so that you can add duties or activities as they come to mind is very helpful. As soon as you think of something or see something that needs to get done jot it down so that it does not weigh on you throughout the night. Before you go to bed, look over your plan for tomorrow one more time and make any adjustments necessary.

Make the “pick-up” habit second nature. 
If you aren’t going to dedicate yourself to cleaning after 5, then you will need to be diligent in the upkeep of the house from then on out. Keeping a tidy house must become part of our very nature as homemakers if we are to be able to enjoy a clean home for more than 15 minutes! Just take the time as you are enjoying your family to leave every room you spend time in orderly and picked up.

View your tasks after 5pm as enjoyable, relaxing activities.
Obviously, no matter how much you get done before you quit for the day, there are certain activities as wives and mothers that will have to be done during the night time. However, viewing them as enjoyable, relaxing activities rather than more chores will make your evenings much less stressful. Cooking, if you are not strapped for time, can be a therapeutic and creative endeavor. Bathing your children and putting them to bed should be an enjoyable, memory making activity. Unfortunately these things can become stressful tasks in and of themselves if you have not done the necessary preparations or accomplished enough ahead of time.

Being part of a family is hard work, being the mother or wife in that family is even harder work. However, evenings can be reserved for relaxing and fellowshiping with your husband and family as a means of service to them. The whole work day is devoted to serving your husband through working diligently in your home while he is out, let him enjoy the home  you have prepared for him by letting him enjoy you. If we work diligently throughout the day, we can also relax peacefully throughout the evening.

This post is linked up at Time~Warp Wife,  Raising HomemakersA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, and Our Simple Country Life

Photo Credit


  1. such a timely reminder for me! Thanks Jessalyn!

  2. Yay! This is always my plan, but it’s so easy for me to forget & slip out of the habit of ending at 5. Thanks so much for the encouragement! <3

    • desiringvirtue says:

      Me too Katie, although for me it is just laziness. I tend to spend way too much time during the day “relaxing” and then wish that I could relax in the evening when I have lots of catching up to do. It is a constant struggle to be a “worker at home” and not a “relaxer at home!” LOL.

  3. Loved this! Shared the link on my blog. I appreciate your writing- apologetically based on God’s Word and very applicable! Thank you for writng!

  4. Jessalyn,

    Hey, I love this concept. In the past couple weeks I have moved the kitchen/dishes clean-up to after lunch so that the kitchen is clean for the evening, and I don’t have to do it when my husband is home (or he doesn’t see the mountain and feel like he should help take care of it!).

    My husband doesn’t come home until nearly 6:30 each night and we eat immediately because the baby really needs to get to bed not much after 7. I try to tidy up the living room (and have my 2 year old help) right before dinner, so that when we sit down to eat it’s pleasant. But our evening is STILL incredibly rushed! Sometimes we only have a half hour or 45 minutes of family time. I guess I’m just thinking that it’s hard for me to think of “quitting time” before the baby goes to bed because it’s such a squeeze for time right at the end like that. Do you have any input for me?

    Thanks! I’m still a new stay-at-home mom. I LOVE it and while there are challenges, it is SO much easier than being a working mom w/husband in school! :)


    • desiringvirtue says:

      Hey Gretchen! First of all. I do not want, in any way to imply that I am some kind of time management expert! LOL. I think that is why I try to give myself this goal of getting all of my work done before Richard gets home. Actually, most nights Richard doesn’t get home until around 6:15 and sometimes even 7 these days, so I know exactly how you feel. Mostly what I am referring to as things that I try to “quit” before 5 are the household chores and “projects” that I am working on. Mothering, however is one of those things that never ends and that never takes a break. I think this is one of the most difficult things about being a mom (you are constantly caring for other human beings that are very much dependent on you). I’m sure you would agree. What I have come to realize is that I must give my all to these little boys God has entrusted to me and not view the care of them as a burden (which honestly is always something that I am tempted to feel). The days that I am happiest are when I don’t view getting them ready for bed, picking up their room, tucking them in, reading them a story as “work” but as a beautiful privilege and gift given to me by the Lord. The days when I feel the most worn out and burdened are those that I don’t put everything I have into loving them well. It is odd that such a paradox could be true, but it definitely is. Getting as much done around the house, and buttoning up all the projects I have in limbo before Richard gets home helps me to be able to be focused on loving the boys and Richard well. That being said, there is very much another finnish line for us parents of getting the kids tucked in at night (and asleep!) before we get to “completely” relax with our husbands. So I guess what I am saying is, get as much done as you can during the day (I even give the boy’s their baths during the day while I dry and straighten my hair) and then focus wholeheartedly on the babes and your hubby, truly looking to enjoy them and your role to them throughout the evenings. I feel like this is what you are already doing, so I don’t know that I have helped at all. :)

      Also, be encouraged that soon Chippy will be able to stay up later and that will completely change the dynamic of your evenings. I put both of the boys down at 8, Elliot (3) Hudson (20 months), so we at least have an hour to eat and play with them before they are off to bed. (obviously giving them baths during the day gives us more time that isn’t rushed)

  5. LOVELOVELOVELOVELOVE!!!! This was SO helpful to me!

  6. Good points, my friend!


  7. Very helpful advice! I read somewhere that if you get one of your most dreaded tasks out of the way first, it helps the rest of the day fall into line, so I’ve been trying that this year and it’s really helped. I still have trouble turning on the “work” brain at 5 so I can enjoy the evenings, though. Need to work on that.

    • desiringvirtue says:

      Yes, I feel that the “thinking” part is one of the hardest things to change. It seems like there is always something that I can be doing or getting done, but my hubby and children just want me to *be* with them. So I am trying to be more *there* if you will. :)

  8. These are great tips! :o) My husband gets home before five so I don’t always have everything quite done by then, but usually close! (He goes into work at 4am and gets home around 4:30). But, even so I try to have the house not in disarray by the time he’s here so he can relax after such a long day!

  9. LOVED IT! Thanks for linking this post up for “Hearts 4 Home.” I was truly encouraged and had to share it with my readers…I know they will be blessed. Just letting you know, I’ll be featuring this blog post for next weeks link-up. Thanks again for sharing your heart, and linking up! :0)


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