Six kids all home schooled, an average of 4-6 therapy appointments a week, one or more (sometimes many more) trips up to the Children’s Hospital for appointments a month, helping with the church, play dates, volunteering at the local food pantry on top of the kids colds and other fun stuff like trips to the ER. Then add in cooking, cleaning, mothering, grocery shopping and all the other stuff life brings with it. Now you have an idea of why I call myself the superrollercoastermama. Not because I’m super but because my life is the equivalent of a super rollercoaster!
So how do we survive and even thrive through all the ups and downs life brings us? Here it is.
- SPEND TIME ON ME – For me that contains a few things. The biggest is my time on the treadmill in the morning. I use it to pray and worship God. If I can ever get my IPOD to do what it should I will eventually listen to the dramatized version of the Bible I have tried numerous times to load on it. The point here though is that I need time to focus myself and focusing on God focuses me. My children have been trained to give me peace if I am walking or they will lose privileges. They learned quickly. The olders entertain the youngers and get them breakfast while I walk. Now mind you, when all my kids were youngers this would not have worked. I just muddled through those times taking a moment to pray or read before bed once the kids were in bed or with the occasional bubble bath while my hubby kept the hoard entertained.
I do still take bubble baths, do coffee with friends and dates with my knight in shining armor but those are in addition to my designated time alone with the Lord.
2. HAVE A SCHEDULE-
It doesn’t have to be written in stone, but at least a general format for parts of your day. My kids have heard, “Eat, get dressed, do chores, do school” so often they should hear it in their sleep. That is our M-F schedule. I don’t have to tell them to eat when they first get up. If I am walking and they get up they know to start on breakfast and I will be there eventually. The get dressed and do chores part we do ok on, but I have boys and an ADHD one at that, so we still have days I have to remind them or their siblings repeat the mantra, “Eat, get dressed, do chores, do school.” It only will get better with time, or that is my theory anyways.
There are a few other things I schedule, like snack time. They can look at a clock and it they see it is snack time they don’t have to ask, they can just go get a snack off the approved snack shelf or list. That way I’m not always hearing, “what can I have to eat?” all the time.
The other thing that is scheduled, for my sanity, is bedtime. Kids under 12 must have had snacks, jammies on and are in bed by 8pm. After that mama’s brain turns off, so for the well being of all it is a necessity:) Kids over 12 are responsible enough and self-controlled enough that mama’s brain doesn’t have to work so hard so they have a later bedtime.
3. CHORE CHART-
I have, if I do say so myself, an awesome chore chart. If the chore is on your magnetic square, it is yours, no arguments. When you finish the chore you move it over to the done column. If I check the chore because it has been moved over and I see it isn’t done, or is improperly done then it is the equivalent of a child having lied to me and we deal with it as a lie.
As a side note- the children must all be trained how to do a chore for several weeks before they can be held to this standard. Children need instruction repeatedly. And repeatedly. And repeatedly. I set aside time for training new chores. Then I have a child stay on that chore for at least a year so I know it is ingrained. If I have a chore like “clean bathroom” I also have a list in the bathroom of what that entails put in a plastic page protector with a dry erase marker. Then the child can mark off each step of “clean bathroom” so they don’t miss anything. For younger children pictures work well.
We set our chores up by ability. Now that I have older kids my big girls each cook one night a week. They also handle the laundry for the most part. By the time they graduate, if not before, they will be able to run a household of their own. (The boys will do all this as they get older also.)
4. HAVE SET CONSEQUENCES-
If kids know what the consequence to an action is, and the consequence is consistent, then it eliminates some of the “I didn’t know” arguing. It also puts you in the position of being more just and therefore more respected. (Notice I did not say more fair. Life is not fair. Fair is not always best. Just is what is best for all. ) This also keeps you from wondering how you should deal with a situation that happens over and over. I have seen some very nice if-then charts but you could make your own.
I am a fan of talking. Talk about how the offense hurt the offender, others and how it will affect them in the future. Example: If you lie you become known as a liar and then people won’t trust you. People won’t want to be your friend and someday people won’t want to hire you to work for them. Etc..Etc..
Then if some form of discipline is necessary that will be part of the known consequences.
5. HAVE A DATE NIGHT WITH YOUR CHILDREN-
It’s good for them to have some one on one time with you and it’s good for you to really see and hear them. Kids can be different when you get them alone. Use this time to hear what is really on their mind, what is really going on in their life. They will know you take a serious interest in them. In the chaos of life one of the worst things we can do as parents is let our kids lives just run parallel to ours.
This date night can be as big or little as you want it. We keep it simple. I do a once a month big grocery shop trip and then go every week or so for perishables that need to be restocked. On the big trip every month I take one child. They are my helper. We talk. Maybe go for coffee or dinner. They get to pick one special treat from the grocery, maybe a sweet cereal I never buy or an ice cream topping. Something the other kids can enjoy at home with them.
I want to enjoy my family. Without some organization I would just spend all my time putting out fires. These are some things that have worked for us. Just ideas to get you started. I am including a couple resources below that really helped me when the kids were all younger and got me started on a schedule. I hope this helps you have time to enjoy all your blessings too.
RESOURCES – Here are some of my favorite.
This book will help any family organize their day. It is written to/for stay at home mom’s but I think anyone could benefit from it. I used this system for years until we got in a routine. Now we just do it and don’t need the visual. You may recognize it if you are familiar with the Duggar family. They use this in their house.
I enjoyed this book because it gave ideas on how to train children. It reminded me that if I am not with them I cannot train them. As always, you may not agree with everything, but eat the meat and spit out the bones.