So many ask me, how do you do it?
I don’t think I do it any better than any other mom, really. I fall short plenty and in many areas!
But here’s a few things I’ve done that do help my sanity.
First, get rid of stuff. Lots of stuff. Stop having emotional attachments to things and throw them out. It might feel hard at first and it might even seem mean to get rid of your kid’s toys, but really you are helping everyone in your house. There’s so much baggage when you are attached to stuff and so much unnecessary guilt when you don’t want to clean out your kid’s excess. You will feel lighter and more free if you just remove it! Pack up 50% of the toys, get rid of the boxes you never unpacked from when you moved 5 years ago, clean out the cabinets of all those appliances you had good intentions with. And keep doing it. I probably go through my house a few times a year and haul stuff away to Goodwill. I think the junk reproduces when I’m not looking.
I have also greatly downsized my kids clothing. My kids have about 10 outfits and that’s it. And if we get new items, we pair down the old. My boys have baskets for their items and if their clothes don’t fit in the baskets we know there are too many items. So we hand them to someone else too bless them. My girls have dressers but the same thing applies. This helps immensely with laundry as well. My out of control laundry piles consist of about 6 loads. I used to have 15 loads in my out of control piles, when I didn’t get to it daily.
Second, my kids have to help. They do a lot! After each meal two kids have to clean up the kitchen and two have to clean the dining room. My kids take turns being my kitchen helper, helping me cook so they learn how to do it too. They clean house every Saturday morning – I honestly hardly help. They each have a zone in the house they have to pick up if I say, “Zones!” They have to keep their rooms in order, do their own laundry once they are 8, and take care of all the animals. Every child from about age 2 can do something around the house. At first it might feel like it takes more time to have them help, but trust me, in the long run, you’ll be glad you took that time.
Third, I take time for myself. Not a lot, but I try to make sure I get a little. The most important thing I do for myself is read God’s Word. I wish I could say I do it daily but it doesn’t always happen. I do try to fit it in everyday though. That’s my goal. It doesn’t matter what I read in the Word l, if I’ve read that day I can tell a difference. I have a better attitude if I’ve read and, in turn, my kids have a better attitude, and, in turn, our day goes better. I may not even remember what I read, but that connection with the Lord really makes a difference.
I also try to work out a few times a week. This really helps my mood and helps me get back in shape after baby Dottie! It’s not easy to fit it in, but it’s worth it. I just do 20 minute workouts so they don’t take that much time. My kids even like to join in!
Another thing I try to do for myself is create. I love to paint, make boards, crochet. Sometimes I get 5 minutes to work on my latest blanket. Sometimes I get to go to a ladies art night and spend a couple hours painting.
I used to be an all-or- nothing kind of person. Like if I couldn’t do the project from start to finish I wouldn’t start. But if eleven kids had taught me anything is to fit it in where and when I can! And if it doesn’t get finished, I can come back to it. I’d still prefer to finish it all at once, but I’ve learned to give that up, a little bit.
Give yourself grace and lots of it! His mercies are new every morning so try again tomorrow if it didn’t go so well today. I can get so down in myself for not getting my workout in or my Bible reading done, or for not having a perfectly decorated house (I know, dumb). But He has asked me to care for, mold, and shape these children so that’s where my focus needs to be. It’s not easy, but it is good!