4 Sanity-Saving Tips for Balancing a Large (or Any) Family

4 tips on balancing a large family

When I was a little girl, there was hardly a time that you didn’t see me taking care of dolls. Lined up in a row, I would talk to them, feed them, change them and you know- the whole life routine. I always wanted to be just like my mom and I feel incredibly blessed that God saw fit to provide my large family dream.

After growing up in a family of 9 children and having a tribe of my own, as part of The Better Mom series on balance, I’m sharing 4 tips for balancing a large household. Can I tell you I’ve not hit the professional household manager mark yet? Please know as you read the tips that I consider myself an experienced learner, but NOT a perfect expert by any stretch of the imagination. With that disclaimer, here we go:

1. Write out a definition of “balance” and be sure it is realistic.

If “balanced” means you can eat food off your kitchen floor at any point in the day, then the definition itself is out of balance.  One of the best illustrations I’ve seen on life balance was a wheel, not a scale. Life priorities should be in the center of the wheel and activities around the outside.  As the wheel turns, activities will vary in position. At certain times of the day, a baseball game might be the top activity or focus. Then when it’s time for bed, nighttime routine needs to be the focus. I like to think of balance as: “living with enough structure for our family to function well, but with enough flexibility to enjoy living.”

2. Keep a family calendar and use it consistently.

Many methods of calendaring are available, whether you use your smartphone, paper calendar, or Google calendar. The method is a preference; the point is to find a system that works well for you and your family. Keeping a family calendar has been a critical component of striving for balance in our home.

3. Set your calendar limitations; do not over-schedule as a family.

With the number of bodies in our household, there is a lot of daily action, interaction and logistics. Knowing who has to be where at what time and making it happen can take its toll quickly. Discover your own limitations and set them firmly; communicate the boundaries to everyone involved. For example, my children know that Mommy and Daddy only allow them to participate in one extracurricular sports activity per season.  This is just what works for us and everyone knows the rule.  Another tip that has worked well for us is to have one day a week with no appointments scheduled during the day hours. For us, Friday has suited well for this purpose. If someone asks to schedule an appointment on a Friday, I simply say: “I’m sorry; our family doesn’t schedule appointments on Fridays.” With 8 people living in the house and multiple others floating in and out, having one guaranteed appointment-free day each week can be sanity-saving.

4. Accept and solicit assistance when you know it is needed.

This point was a tough one for me to learn. I enjoy taking care of my family and I want to do it. All the time. But honestly, I can’t do it well and do it consistently without some help.  As our family has grown and needs have changed over the years, we’ve:

  •  hired babysitters as we could afford
  • accepted help from neighbors
  • requested assistance occasionally from our church family
  • and bartered child care with other families.

It’s not always easy, but in the long run, I can tell you it is worth it. For those you blessed with family members living close by, enjoy their help and don’t be afraid to ask when you know you really need it. Raising a family is a marathon; not a sprint.

There you have it! My top 4 tips for attempting to keep the Wojo tribe lassoed in and still enjoy large family life to the fullest.

I’d love to know: Which one is resonating with you?

Rachel

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

The Beauty of Community

church is peopleA single mom rested her head against the door jam, not knowing what her next step should be. The fridge was empty; the cabinets were bare. The last bite of bread was almost gone and her and her little boy would soon be hungry. She breathed a quick prayer and headed out to church, not knowing how they would survive through the week.

Church is not a place; church is people.

The tiny community church she attended contained a handful of faithful women and from the moment this single mama stepped foot inside the door of the church, she knew that she was loved and accepted. While the loving atmosphere of the church gave her a sense of community, she did not feel capable of admitting her shortcomings to the group. She had learned to pray in this very space and now her faith in the Lord to provide would have to be enough.

Where two or three are gathered…

One of the women in this church was gifted with an uncanny sense of knowing when others were in need. Perhaps it was her own upbringing of living with next to nothing or maybe it was her spiritual calling, either way, her spirit sensed that the single mama’s heart was burdened. This same sensitivity also provided her with the knowledge that the single mama just might be embarrassed to be approached about her needs; she didn’t seem ready to fully open her hurting heart. So the wise woman smiled and gave her a shoulder hug, wishing her a wonderful week.

Loving others sometimes requires giving them time to heal.

But the next day, the faithful leader headed to the grocery store. With 9 children of her own, the woman knew how to make money stretch to feed a family. So after her weekly shopping was completed, she took a portion of her grocery budget and bought groceries for the little family of two- the single mama and her sweet boy. Then after unloading her own family’s groceries, she headed towards the tiny apartment of the single mom where she piled everything on the porch, rang the doorbell, and left as quickly as she could.

The Lord rewards the secret work.

Decades later, the wise mentor became ill. The single mom had an opportunity to chat with her one day. She learned that the dear lady had one fear:  “Who will pray for my children if something happens to me?” And the single mama vowed that day that she would be the one to pray for the 9 children. By name.  Every day.  The wise woman went to be with Jesus not too many years later and the single mama moved to another state.

Each time I reflect on this story, I’m overcome with the beauty-the beauty of community in a tapestry of lives God so graciously weaves. The beauty He creates when two women choose to take everyday moments and act in His love.

Thank you, Bonnie, for praying for me- one of those 9 children- every day.

Rachel

Check out this simple jelly bean Easter poem to share the love of Jesus with your community.

How to Measure the Success of Motherhood

 How to Measure the Success of Motherhood

Being a mom day after day, week after week, month after month… is quite the demanding job. We have our moments of joy and tears, as well as strength and fears. We experience highs and lows of which we never dreamed before parenting. Last week I spoke with a group of moms and the conversation stimulated a round of thoughts about success and motherhood.

Have you ever really thought about how to measure the success of motherhood?

No one comes along offering a raise after a stellar meal with no complaints. We don’t receive a bonus for potty training unless we reward ourselves with a few M&M’s. Reaching the next plateau in folded laundry piles returned neatly to the drawers doesn’t deliver the fringe benefit of a company car.

How do we determine how to measure the success of motherhood?

Rewards are delivered in the form of precious smiles and soft snuggles. Payment for services is rendered through hugs and kisses. Bonuses arrive when you hear your child pray for the first time. Or watch her ask Jesus into her heart. Or view his baptism. You see, the success of motherhood cannot be measured by tangible, temporary goods.

Motherhood’s fortune can’t be tallied in dollars and cents nor can the mommy stock plummet overnight. The bond between child and mother can never be sold and the making of memories can never be traded. Compensation often arrives via giggles and laughter. The motto of motherhood life insurance was stolen from the penny- In God We Trust.

The success of motherhood can’t be doled out by paycheck or explained in percentages. The job is ever-changing and the job description is endless; yet the blessings continually outweigh the burdens. The corner office of motherhood looks like a nursery. Or maybe a playroom. Or the dining room. All the most important work happens in that corner office – conversations about life, love and dreams. Investments of higher value than pure gold are transacted while rocking chairs gracefully sway.

So the next time you think about your motherhood paycheck or wonder when you’ll ever make it up the mommy ladder of success, remember that instant gratification is fragile. While you may catch an occasional glimpse of how rich you are on this earth, the full value of motherhood can only be calculated by the almighty God.

Keep investing, Sweet Mama. Our rewards are in Heaven.

Rachel- RachelWojo.com

Check out 16 Bible Verses for when you feel exhausted for an extra boost of energy!

Before Mama Blows Her Stack

Before Mama Blows Her Stack

I honestly wish I could tell you I never get upset at my children.

But I do.

He forgot his homework. Again.

She failed to mention the birthday party until the day of.

His clothes are all over the floor. For the tenth day in a row.

You see, being a parent is a 24/7 gig. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world, but man, no one told me it would come in the form of little self-replicas who walk the earth, holding my heart. ;)

Maybe you’re the mom who yells and gets it out of her system, then feels horrible and must apologize.

Or perhaps you’re more like me and the frustration eats away at your joy, occasionally permitting a slammed cabinet or irritated look.

No matter your expression or lack of in the anger department, we all know:

If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

For as she thinks in her heart, so is she. Prov. 23:7

To prevent those initial feelings of grumpiness, I’ve asked the Lord to change my thought process. Before negative feelings have a chance to take hold, I’m tackling them in my mind first.

Allowing the upsetting issue to ruminate in my thought life only makes me more likely to act on those negative feelings. We can’t always control how we feel about an issue, but we can control how we react to the issue. (Hmmm. Thinking I learned this from Lysa TerKeurst in a totally awesome book, Unglued. Highly recommend it.)

By this time, we’ve experienced an incredible month of advice on moving from grumpy to great here at The Better Mom! Today I wanted to explore how mama needs to think before she blows her stack.

When I analyzed what I thought about certain issues, then I discovered that by changing what I think before the issue occurs, I can more easily control my reaction to the negative issue.

For example, when I finish cleaning the kitchen, instead of thinking:

There- I’m finished with the kitchen. Hope no one comes in and messes it up.

I think:

It’s ready to be used again!

Because we all know that it’s going to be dirty again. Quite possibly within the next 2 minutes.

By placing a simple positive outlook on the completed task, we are changing the probability of our response to doing the same task again. While I haven’t refined this process to perfection, when I stay in God’s Word and think the right things, I’ve found I’m able to offer more positive reactions to negative situations.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8

If you’d like to read more on the topic of “How to Stop Negative Inside Chatter aka Don’t Water the Weeds,” you can find it here.

And we’d love to know-

What replacement thoughts have you found to prevent yourself from turning into an upset mama?

Rachel-RachelWojo.com

This post is part of the month-long challenge From Grouchy…To Great.  Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

From grouchy to great

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