I am always being asked, "How do you do it all?" To be honest, I don't.
Yes, we have a large family, I work a full-time nursing job and walk alongside my husband as he pastors Strong Tower Church. But living in a large family is an equal opportunity employer.
Family management is essential to my sanity. Sadly, I hear so many stories from burned-out moms. They feel guilty if they don't have the perfectly clean house, a gourmet meal on the table, and look like they walked off of Vogue magazine when their husband walks in the door.
So this blog is all about a reality check...and hopefully some wisdom and encouragement.
A wise person once said,
"Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance."
This is HUGE with mothering. There will be days that you will want to quit...just lay in bed in your jammies while the little munchkins take care of themselves...let the house fall down around you...and you won't even care. BUT...you can't quit! There are little humans depending on you for their survival. Many times when I wanted to just throw in the towel I couldn't...I already had too much laundry to do anyway. So instead, I used the towel to wipe my face (sometimes the tears) and keep going. You can do the same.
When you become a mom everything changes...or at least it should. Your priorities will have to change...shift.
You will need to simplify your life.
You will be sleepy most of the time, feel the need to write a list, and coffee and magic erasers will immediately become your best friends.
I am often asked what advice would I give a first-time mom. Hmmmm...where do I begin?
I guess my advice to new mothers would be to...
Remember your marriage
Your man was around before the kiddos appeared. Keep the spark in the marriage. It will take creativity...especially with little ones coming along.
Don't forget to shower daily
You will feel like a new woman after taking a shower instead of a milking machine.
And simplify your life
Everything needs to be washable. Learn to enjoy the little moments. With some grit and grace, you will survive. Just breathe!
I have ten children. Not all live at home anymore, so it takes a lot of energy to maintain a relationship. It's probably not enough kids to warrant our own TV show, but it definitely causes people to stare and asks some crazy questions. It also opens the door for many moms to reach out to me for advice.
"Parents who have four or more kids are actually happiest." Australia's Edith Cowan University
Here are some questions that I am commonly asked and how I respond.
1. How do I get my children to work together and stop fighting?
Our children rarely argue anymore.
From the time they were babies, we always encouraged kind words, positive attitudes, and spending time together as a family.
My kids have always heard me say such comments as "go play with your best friend". Speak words of life to your children.
BUT...we have had our "moments." (you know, the ones you pray your neighbors didn't hear) I find that the main reason my kids argue is over messes. "That's not my mess!" I know, it's nobody's underwear on the floor.
So, when it gets really bad...and it does sometimes...I simply set a time limit. If the job is not completed to my satisfaction I just add more work. AND I make the two that have chosen not to get along, work together.
Assigning them a project together promotes unity. Also, they are fighting for the common cause to get the chore completed so they can have time with friends.
"A family doesn't need to be perfect; It just needs to be united."
2. How do you keep it all flowing and organized?
Get a calendar!!
I have no idea how people manage life without one! I purchase the school year calendar. It runs from July to July. This way I have our homeschool year altogether.
I have a command center in my kitchen. I have a dry erase calendar for all to see-with field trips, appointments, soccer games, piano lessons, and such. I also have a chalkboard that shows the entire week's meals.
And I LOVE my clipboards. I have one with a running grocery store list and another with all the kids' names and what they might need...such as Victoria-snow boots size 7.
I am a big thrift store shopper and this ongoing list is very helpful. Keeping us organized is essential to peace in our home...ok, peace for this mom.
3. With all of those kids, your house must be so loud!
NO, it's not. We have our moments when the boys are wrestling, the dogs are barking, and the girls are practicing their piano...all at the same time.
I've learned to embrace those moments, knowing that one day my house will be very quiet. But loud is not our norm.
So what do we do to get some quiet with this tribe?
I have mandatory quiet reading time, puzzle time, or lego time. It's amazing how I can regroup and think more clearly with just 30 minutes of some classical music, a cup of tea and tranquility.
Other helpful Parent Tips:
1. Plan ahead. I write out my entire month's meals. I shop every two weeks. This saves money and time.
2. Purchase a crockpot. I have four! They are my besties! Dinner can cook while we work on school.
3. Do a 15 minute pick up. set your timer and everyone has to do a quick clean up for 15 minutes. It's amazing how much gets done!
4. Wake up earlier than your children. Spend some quiet time, grab your coffee and have a little talk with Jesus before you take on your day.
5. Charts - chores charts, meal charts, laundry day charts...just make charts. It will cut down the whining and confusion.
6. Maximize your trips. run errands on the way to soccer practice or make an appointment on library day. I find that if I leave the house not much school gets done.
7. Join a homeschool co-op. This is a MUST. You will be amazed at how it will inspire you to continue on your homeschool journey...and the kids love it. Find a homeschool co-op in your area
8. Use paper plates, get each child a colored cup with their name (one cup per day) and use freezer bags for left-overs to save room in the frig.
9. Hug your kids every day. It's great therapy!
10. Teach your children to be self-sufficient. It's not only important in becoming a responsible adult but a MUST in managing a large family.
Adulting is hard. Add in marriage and children and you have yourself a life of challenges. Remember, success is not an accident. It's hard work!
Joy will always overshadow the crazy...eventually. You have to learn to take what life dishes out and enjoy the meal. Not every day will be steak and lobster (yum). Some days you are gonna have suffered through those Brussel sprouts, and survive on pinto beans and cornbread.
The important thing is to keep tasting and enjoying all the seasonings of life. Keep those plates spinning! You can do this!
"But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength." 2 Tim 4:17
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