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 “25” List : Creating Doing and Being Goals

The “25” List : Creating Doing and Being Goals

About ten years ago I sat down and wrote a list of the top twenty-five things I wanted to do or be. I kept this list by my computer and looked at it often. 

There are always things I’m still working on, yet in all these areas I’ve taken positive steps. I’ve also achieved many of my goals, such as writing parenting books, developing a time of Bible reading, study, and prayer with my husband, and booking a family vacation. (We’ve gone on numerous family vacations in the last ten years!) I have no doubt that having these goals has made all the difference!

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision,” said Helen Keller.

I moved forward in these areas because I took time to think about WHO I wanted to be. As you can see, the “being” part took up more slots than the “doing” part.

I am still a work-in-progress. I’m still working on becoming a woman of prayer, keeping an orderly home, exercising and eating healthy (among other things). But I know I’m not on this journey alone. As I seek God, trust Him, thank Him, and follow Him, He leads and guides me. He also shows me His plans for me, which are different than I ever thought.

There are things that have happened in my life—in the last ten years—that I couldn’t imagine. We’ve adopted three more kids, and we moved to Arkansas. I lead a Teen MOPS group in an inner city church, and I host a radio podcast. I also love offering help and hope through blogging. Those are things that weren’t even on my radar! Yet God led me to them, and He’s walking me through them. As the Bible says:

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,” Philippians 1:6.

What about you? If you sat down today to make a list of the top twenty-five things you wanted to do or be, what would you write? (If you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them!)

But even more important than having a list is taking time to SURRENDER your plans to God’s. He has more in store than you could ever imagine! He doesn’t just show you the way, He IS the way. Turn to Him. Trust Him. Listen to His voice. When you do, I can’t wait to see what His plans are for YOU!

My list:

1. Continue to be in tune with Jesus’ voice.
2. Become a dedicated seeker of truth.
3. Become a woman of prayer.
4. Have a healthy spirit, soul, and body.
5. Exercise and eat less.
6. Spend more time studying the Bible.
7. Keep an orderly home.
8. Have our family’s lives be one of peace and not hurry.
9. Have fun times with my family.
10. Support my husband.
11. Develop a time of Bible study and prayer with John.
12. Develop strong relationships with my kids.
13. Develop a deeper love for my extended family.
14. Stay on a budget.
15. Foster a heart of worship and thanksgiving.
16. Be a voice for young moms.
17. Write a book to help moms.
18. Write a book for veterans.
19. Spend more time with friends.
20. Connect with other families.
21. Write novels that will touch hearts.
22. Develop dynamic speaking skills.
23. Continue to grow and learn as a writer.
24. Find an assistant to help with my writing business.
25. Take a vacation!

What’s on your list?

Blessings,

Tricia Goyer, TriciaGoyer.com

10 Holiday Celebration Timesavers

10 Holiday Celebration Timesavers

Celebrating the holidays is a wonderful family time, but complicating the celebrations is easy to do. With a house full of children and the many responsibilities of a day, I wanted to share these 10 holiday celebration timesavers to ease the stress – and workload. Nothing fancy- just simple shortcuts to save time.  Perhaps one or two of these ideas will help you in holiday preparation or celebration!

10 Holiday Celebration Timesavers

1. Plan your work; work your plan.

Even if you’d not typically a planner, taking a few moments to write lists can save a ton of time in the long run, whether it is for meals,shopping, or a schedule.

2. Use gift bags instead of wrapping paper.

3. Keep the decorations simple.

Candles are always easy and elegant. A fresh wreath makes a huge impact.

4. Prepare Christmas breakfast ahead of time.

Whether you choose an overnight casserole or simply bake the muffins and freeze ahead, having at least some portion of Christmas morning breakfast prepared allows for more time to enjoy family.

5. Reflect before running “out to the store.”

Can I do this task at a more suitable time in regards to traffic, work hours, etc?

6. Simplify your holiday schedule.

Allow  time margins to enjoy each event, rather than rushing from one to the next.

7. Prepare wrapping supplies and print gift tags in advance.

Whether you are a “wrap as you go” person or a “do it all at once” person, having your supplies in one organized place can be pivotal. You can find a wonderful set of free printable gift tags with Bible verses right here.

8. If you need to mail items, do your best to make one trip for cards and all packages.

9. Limit the number of “new” holiday activities.

Trying five new cookie recipes may not be the most efficient use of time. Drop it down to two and then try the others later in the winter when time is not as tight.

10. Capture teaching moments in the moment.

Use the cuddles around the fireplace for meaningful conversation! Here’s a simple example of making the most of the moment to simply embrace the true reason for the season.

And there you have it- just a few ideas for holiday celebration timesavers!

Do you have a holiday celebration timesaver that keeps you sane?

We’d love it if you’d share it!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Rachel-RachelWojo.com

4 Practical Tips To Make Life With Kids Easier

I have five kids.  That’s a lot of logistics to juggle.  I know many mamas have more and there are many solutions to the little dilemmas we all face.  Here are a few solutions that I’ve worked out.

{One thing about being a mom, we learn to be flexible.  These solutions change with family size, parent preference, children’s ages, and all of the other factors we deal with.}

towel hooks

1.  towels

Towel Dilemma 1:  how many towels are on the towel racks after bath time?  at my house, not many.  They’re all lying on the floor, strewn throughout the house.

Mama says:  “Child #1, put away your towel!”

Child #1:  I did!

Mama:  Child #2, put away your towel!

Child #2:  I did!

And so on.

Solution:  If everyone has their own color coded towel you never have to guess which child’s towel is on the floor!  Also, it’s possibly more hygienic (if there is such a thing in a house where everyone shares air and toilets and sinks and just about everything.)  Also, the kids love having their own towel!

(I got these towels at Target for $5 each.  A steal for sanity!)

Towel Dilemma 2:  little hands are not dexterous at folding and replacing towels on towel racks.

Solution:  Coat hooks work great in the bathroom, you can hang more towels than most towel racks, and the towels dry faster.

simple closet organizing

2.  the coat closet

Dilemma:  Little hands can’t reach the traditional level closet racks, and have a hard time hanging sweatshirts and coats up anyway.

I struggled with this one forever.  Until I had three, I periodically hung up everyone’s sweatshirt from the pile on the floor, or I kept them in everyone’s own room.  Then I just let all the sweatshirts nest in a big pile on the floor of the coat closet.  This was not ideal.

Solution:  those little plastic self-stick hangers you can get at Walmart or Target or wherever.  I bought a few packs and went to town on the coat closet.  I hung them around the inside of the coat closet at child level and on the closet door.  If the sweatshirts get unruly it’s an easy chore even for my two year old.  But most of the time the sweatshirts are now hung!

drinking cup placemat

3.  drinking cups

Dilemma:  Half-way through your day there are about 500 plastic character covered drinking glasses from your kitchen counter to the front porch.  You need an extra dishwasher just for the drinking glasses!

Solution(s):  I’ve seen some pretty cute solutions.

#1:  homemade placemat (made by my sweet niece back when we only had three kids).  This works well at my house.  My kids love having a spot for their own cups.

#2:  assigned drinking cups.  You can write names on the cups using Sharpies or buy one color for each child.  Kids love this, too.  Everyone loves having their own cup.

#3:  this crazy neat drinking cup tile thing that I’ll never make but love from Bee In Our Bonnet.  Now that I see the tutorial it doesn’t look that hard.

DSC_0612

toothbrushes4.  toothbrushes

Dilemma:  yuck.  When it’s time to brush teeth I’m not sure there is a good solution.  Our bathroom is small and no matter how few children I send to brush their teeth at one time, when all is said and done there is toothpaste everywhere.  Ideally, I would like to keep all of the toothbrushes in one of those little cups with separate holes for each brush but a) they don’t make them with more than four holes and b) Tinkerbell and Spiderman toothbrushes don’t FIT in the holes. It seems so sanitary, though.

Solution #1:  No more brushing teeth.  Who needs it?  They’ll probably get cavities anyway.  But just in case my mom reads this I’ll offer my real solution…

Solution #2:  (and this is imperfect, but it’s what I’ve got) I keep all toothbrushing supplies in a kitchen cabinet.  High enough that toddlers can’t reach them.  The children brush their teeth in the kitchen where there is more room and for some reason less toothpaste when all is said and done.

Solution #3:  my friend makes homemade toothpaste and her kids don’t love the taste, so they just use a very little bit.

Solution #4: This super cute little organizer my friend Kara has for her kids.

What little tricks have you learned that make life a little easier?

(and if you figure out how to get everyone to replace the cap on the toothpaste, I’m all ears.)

Blessings,

Christy, One Fun Mom

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