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?
This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom.
Please check the series page for all of the posts!