But then some days when I am with mommas I know who have 6 or more kiddos…..I suddenly feel like we maybe aren’t a large family after all.
Who knows what really defines a “large family” – The more the merrier they say – it can b overwhelming though.
So I know that even though I think I am somewhat allergic to organization and schedules, I know we need one so we can be successful and on task.
And here I am to share a couple things I have found and been shown, that work for us, bless those who are so eager to share their experience and wisdom 🙂
- I don’t listen to a ton of podcasts, but every now and then someone will share something with me that is so good! This was one of them and truthfully this is something that is a work in progress for us. Striving to live this one out more and more intentionally in our home because it is a good strong truth. And there is so much our kids can learn from this! I do believe this is a great way to strengthen family bonds also. Of course since we homeschool this looks a bit different for us; when we are doing weekly goal sheets or monthly project plans. If there are art or science supply lists – these need to come to be at certain times. And it does make a difference
- Meagan Francis of The Mom Hour, says, “One thing I’ve always done is group like tasks together. If I’m signing permission slips, for example, it’s easier and faster to go through a big stack all at once then deal with them one by one as they trickle in.” To be sure, “This has necessitated some ‘training’ for my kids,” she says. “They know they can’t just wave papers in my face, but need to put them in the inbox on my desk so I can take care of them all at once.”
- Are you able to remember things easily? I am not! I admit it, I can seem rather flighty to some, scatter brained…With my four there is plenty to keep in mind. All the time. And we really do keep activities to a minimum – Still, I cannot rely on my head and I know that. When I think I will simply remember it, thats when it ends up lost forever. So we have a calendar; my oldest son has his own he uses as well. I also have a small datebook I keep in the diaper bag in case I need to write down appointments made while we are out. Or phone numbers. Maybe I am the only one but random things pop into my head sometimes while I am out. A reminder to get glue or tape while I am sitting at the doctors office or waiting for my kids to be done in their robotics club. Little things that if I don’t write them down somewhere, who knows when they will be remembered again.
- We live by the saying: “A Place for everything and everything in its place.” We have basket near the door for shoes; we have a basket for hats and mittens and scarves. There’s a basket for things that are being given away and another for those downstairs items that need to be brought upstairs to be put away. Its important for us to really “own” it. Whether its toys or jackets, books or lego pieces, we need to care for those things that belong to us. And no hoarding things that we just don’t care for anymore. Its so true that less is more. So when we are no longer full of joy over that toy or stuffed animal, when something just doesn’t fit right, its time to let it go.
- Do we manage our home? Or is our home managing us? Jamie Smith, states that when it comes to large families it is all about “teaching kids to be self-sufficient in an age-appropriate way. I offer my kids a lot of autonomy and I expect them to use it well.” So, she doesn’t make lunches but she will help younger children with tasks such as slicing apples. Also, “We start early teaching our kids how to get around town, and we expect them to pick up on those skills. We were free-range parents before free ranging was in the news.” Independence is a virtue she wants to foster for its own sake, “but incidentally? It saves me a lot of time.” In so many levels this is such a blessing to us mommas. It helps our children learn how to really get along and work together. It also encourages and builds their confidence as the older is helping the younger to learn skills. This is how we do it and while some have lamented about how “kids need to be kids” its beautiful watching them earn and grow together. None are missing out on anything but instead learning that hard work is important too.
- Who doesn’t need a buffer? I am one of those folks that HAS to be on time for things. Being late is something I just cannot accept. And so we have a built in buffer for our family. Since I also tend to be directionally challenged I make sure I know how long it will take us to get to our destination. Then we add between 15-20 minutes to our “leave time” for those things we need to go back home for. Maybe stopping for gas. Whatever may take us off the path we are on. And those missing shoes! There is always at least one kid that loses just one shoe, right as its time to go. Lol
- Where do we need to go? Really. I know so many mommas who are so tired because they are always on the go. And many aren’t even large families. But their kids are involved in so many things there is just no time to breathe. That said, we limit what we do. My daughter is going to be starting gymnastics this spring; all of our kids will be taking swim classes as well. As a family our kids are involved in our church’s Bible Quiz program. They also do speech and debate classes together in the fall. My two boys are part of a local golf club and my daughter will likely join when she gets a bit older. But when things come up we really try to be wise in what we decide to be a part of. Will it fit into our schedule? Can we manage the home and education with this being include inner schedule? Sure there are lots of things we pass up that I wish we didn’t have to, but those things that we do take part in are so much richer experiences because we have chosen them carefully.
- Can we buy it in bulk? Can we minimize this? These are questions I have to ask every time I am out shopping. We buy flour and butter, rice and noodles in bulk. We buy paper and printer ink in bulk as well as folders and pencils and highlighters. We are not going to lave the house every time we need some starch for making slime or some food coloring for an art activity. I strive to know what we use most and what we don’t so that we can ensure we have things on hand for those “suddenly” projects my kids love to do! Other things (like toys and craft materials, science materials, even clothing) we tend to be more careful about. What do we absolutely need and how are we going to feel about this after we buy it? Let’s face it, sometimes something is great until we own it and then its just not so awesome anymore. Let’s try to curb that by asking “why” before we buy.
- Is your house as full of clutter as mine is? We have a small house so while we still strive to live more minimalist, at the same time, just the basic stuff sometimes turns into clutter. Is the stuff we use a lot easily accessible? Those things that we don’t use often, can we store them somewhere out of the way? Old materials that are not being used – preschool and kindergarten curriculums, books that are for study and will be used again one day when someone isn’t so small….Box them up. We have two garages (not sure why) so we have a great amount of space for storing things. Spoiler alert – we store too much sometimes since we have the space! I have been going through closets and crawl spaces lately; thus a frequent visitor at Goodwill. I think they know me by name now! ha-ha
- Some things just aren’t necessary. Can I admit that sometimes my littler ones may go to church or another evening activities in jammies? We are big on setting everyone up to succeed so as few steps possible (especially for mornings) make everything that much simpler. Put out clothes the night before. Lunch boxes can be packed before everyone goes to bed too. It may be that we have to let go of some things all together for a time. And that’s okay. We do our best. We don’t stress over those things that we just can’t manage right now. Naps. Perfect hair on my little girl. Sometimes its matching shoes or socks. HA
- While I am not a fan of Elsa, I do appreciate and have learned to sing, “Let it go…” now and then. Because we need to learn how to do that more. The house isn’t perfect. It won’t be for a long time. Those fingerprints on the walls. Those broken crayons we just bought and the dried up markers that we found under the couch. We teach our children how to take care of their things, and how to put away things when they are done with them. But you know what? They are still kids. Many times these things are opportunities presented to us, to train them in what they ought to do. And while I admit I may yell and be hard on them at times, I am often reminded that these times things don’t go as we want them to, we need to “let it go..” Respond gently, in love. Show patience and kindness too. How much time do I spend stressing and worrying and in turn teaching my kids to do the same? My family its very blessed and for that reason there will always be messes to clean and laundry to do; dishes will need to be washed and floors and walls cleaned again and again. It is a blessing. It is an opportunity too.
So often I think we all forget how imperfect we really are. I know I can get lost on Pinterest. Looking at all those amazing things some folks make. I can also start to think thoughts I shouldn’t. Let us not value ourselves based upon others. Its about the moment. Tomorrow is not promised. Let us always think ourselves happy. Think on thoughts that are wise and good and pure, encouraging and full of truth. Just like words can give life, so can our thoughts. So we need to think on the right things. If we have any doubt we need only turn to the Word itself which is full of wisdom, more and more being revealed to us every day!
The Bible encourages us, commands us, to build contentment. The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:11-12:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
Let us be encouraged by Ecclesiastes 3:12-13:
“I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.