I have to start this writing out with a little giggle 🙂 I have heard the comment “Girl, I don’t know how you do it all”, more times than I can count and I’ve heard it with many different tones and feelings attached. Here’s the deal, we all have different parenting styles, and we are all learning as we go! No parent is doing it all right and no parent is ever going to produce a perfect child – we are all sinners in a fallen world – period. Now that we got that out of the way – girl brush your shoulders off, put a smile on your face and roll with it! Motherhood is an adventure, it’s not meant for the faint hearted or the hard-nosed, it’s for those amazing women that are ready to bounce back on their feet after the unexpected chaos of parenting sucker-punches them in the face. Unexpected, unwanted, painful things happen in the journey of motherhood, there is no changing that. But, there are some amazing, beautiful, miraculous things that also happen in motherhood, the kind of things that change your definition of what love is.
So, here’s what I realized early on in my life: I’m a plate-full kinda gal. I function best at a high capacity level, I thrive in busy environments with lot’s to do or accomplish. There is no fighting that, trust me I’VE TRIED!! I’ve tried more times than I can count, I’ve watched in awe as my friends have lived these incredibly simple and gentle lives, sometimes, to be honest, I’ve envied them. I’ve tried to be like them and it was awesome…for about a minute, lol. What I learned in my seasons of trying to be a stay-home, empty-schedule momma was that there is a lot of beauty in those times. There is power in the simple and in being still, there is time for creativity, dreaming, and casting new visions, I love seasons of rest at the feet of the Lord. I cherish those times and I’ve learned that I have to intentionally schedule them into my life but, I’m not that kinda momma all the time, and that’s ok. Let’s keep in mind, we are created in the image of a God that created the whole entire Universe in 7 days! God is an amazing God and we all have different characteristics and giftings that take after him, it’s what makes us unique and gorgeous.
Here’s the thing, there is no room for judgment in the sisterhood of mothering! We are all different people, love it, embrace it, don’t criticize it! So this blog is for my fellow color-coded beautifully scheduled momma just as much as it is for my gorgeous empty-schedule momma, may we learn from one another and grow in love and respect of one another. Because, the bottom line truth is that we are all doing what we think is best for our families, every kids activity, schooling choice, job decision, trip, home-time, or adventure is on our schedule or not on our schedule because we believe it’s best for our family. Don’t loose sight of that friend.
With all that being said…Here is how I “do it all”, well at least “my all” 😉
1. COLOR-CODED SCHEDULES WITH ALARM REMINDERS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND! There are two options that I find most helpful; Outlook on your computer and phone works great if they sync. I find Outlook to be best for smaller families or with younger children. It’s really managed by the parent and you can add people to the events or share the calendar with your spouse or child. But, my favorite is Cozi Calendar. It works awesome for large families, especially with older children. It’s all color-coded, it has the ability to add cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses for every member of your family which is so convenient for reminders. Cozi will send a reminder of the appointment to everyone you instruct it to. It also has MEAL PLANNING on it! Grocery shopping list area, journal area, to-do list, it’s simply amazing. (No, I don’t get paid for advertising) I really love this program and it has an app for your smartphones or you can log-in on your computer, here is a link to their site http://my.cozi.com/ Your calendar truly can be your best friend 🙂
2. MEAL PLAN & PLAN TO EAT TOGETHER EVERY NIGHT! Sit down once a week and plan your meals according to your schedule. If I have a busy day at work and evening commitments for the kids then I plan a crock-pot meal that day. If I know we have a day clear of commitments I plan a more elaborate meal that takes a long time to prepare but, we can sit and savor it together. Meal planning is essential for a busy family. Plan it out and shop one day a week! You will save so much time and money by being prepared and shopping once a week. The best part of meal planning and once a week grocery shopping is that you are prepared to handle the week and when you are prepared, you have more time. It is a HIGH PRIORITY that our family eats together every night as well (unless it’s a date night of course). Coming together around the dinner table and connecting with each other is essential for a healthy family. Sometimes we eat really early dinners around 4:45 so we can make it to activities, other times we eat late at 7:15 or 7:30 after an event. Our priority is to consistently eat together, not consistently eat at the same time. Busy families need to make these connections a very high priority so they don’t loose touch with one another.
3. BE SELECTIVE! ok, plate-full momma, you can’t say yes to everything! Learn the power of saying no, it’s amazing 🙂 Hold this truth in your heart, “You say, I am allowed to do anything–but not everything is good for you. And even though I am allowed to do anything, I must not become a slave to anything.”1 Corinthians 6:12. When you become a slave to an over-booked schedule you are not honoring God and you will start to see the negative effects in your family. Be careful, be wise, seek discernment in the things you partake in – Pray first, sign up second. Our rule is that our children can be in one extracurricular activity at a time. Because we have a large family that alone can bust our schedule. So we are careful and we are mindful of the commitment. My children need to learn to say no too, they need to master their ability to have self-control and what better place to learn it than in our homes. I’ve had to learn this the hard way and I’m wise to listen to my husbands advice in this area too. He has been with me long enough to see the warning signs and know that there is way too much color on the calendar. On this note I’m prompted to give a word of advice to our gorgeous empty schedule momma’s, please don’t hold us to your standard of selective scheduling. We are not you, we will never be you, so giving us advice with the weight of your expectations is never received well. If you pray and God urges you to talk with us about concerns we will listen, we will love you for speaking truth into our lives, please just don’t use your own schedule as the balancing weight and we will graciously not use ours as a weight against yours. We should all be humble, listen, pray, and respond in love.
4. SPREAD THE LOVE & THE RESPONSIBILITY! We are a family, everyone should share in responsibilities around the home. Chores build character, children need to learn the value of being a responsible member of their communities and that starts at home with their family. We get to teach them how to work with a joyful heart, how to do things with integrity and to the best of their ability, how to think for themselves and take care of things on their own, it’s powerful, it’s essential! Every child in our home does household chores, from their own personal spaces to; laundry, dishes, sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, gardening, pet care, mowing the lawn and even garage organization. We take pride in our home and our things, we want to have order & cleanliness so our guests can always stop by and feel comfortable and we can relax with peaceful surroundings as well as, quickly find what we need when we are running to an event. Organization, Cleanliness & Responsibility helps us achieve a more peaceful, welcoming home as well as the ability to make it to our scheduled events without stress and chaos. Common lines you will hear from my husband and I are; “If you’re going to do something, do your best the first time so you don’t have to do it again”, “A place for everything and everything in it’s place so you can find it again”, “We work with a joyful heart unto the Lord”. Having helpful, responsible children takes a lot of stress of any momma!
5. HIRE SOME HELPING HANDS! This has been huge for me. Being a working mom with lots of kiddos and a wonderful husband to love and care for, I can easily get stretched too thin. I had to learn to ask for help and be willing to make other sacrifices in our budget to afford to hire people. I pay a wonderful young lady to help with our children a couple hours a week, if I know I’m being pulled in too many directions then she comes over and spends time with a couple of the children so I can focus on getting one child where they need to be and spending quality time with them. She also cares for all of our children so my husband and I can go on dates…DATING YOUR SPOUSE IS A LIFE LINE – make it happen! The second thing I budget for is a housecleaner, yes that’s right, I hire help around the house. Not all the time, or for everything, just the deep cleaning. My housecleaner comes in once a month and scrubs the bathrooms and floors and all that hard stuff, it’s amazing and worth every penny! Coming home on “maid day” is my favorite, the house smells so nice, it’s sparkly clean, and even the end of the toilet paper rolls are folded fancy, it makes me feel like a million bucks and it’s worth sacrificing other things in our budget to make it happen. It’s a blessing to not have to spend my precious time off with the family scrubbing toilets. Part-time, occasional help from a babysitter and a maid are unbelievable gifts to a busy momma, there is no shame in getting a little help.
6. SCHEDULE DOWN TIME! This is so important friend, us plate-full kinda ladies need to be intentional about having those beautiful clear days in our calendars, the ones with zero commitments or reminder alarms going off. Have pajama days with your kiddos where you never leave the home and you just relax, watch movies, read, craft, play, eat yummy food, whatever your heart desires. TURN YOUR PHONE OFF and be still! Bonding and rest restores our often weary and tired souls. Also, schedule quiet time in the morning every day! Coffee & the Bible, that’s the best way to start your busy schedule, get filled up with the Lord before you get drained out for the day. It’s powerful. Schedule regular vacations and long breaks, I don’t homeschool so I try to take time off work for at least half if not the entire school breaks that my children have. We rest and go on adventures together, it’s wonderful for all of us 🙂
7. BE PRESENT! It’s very easy for us busy moms to always be distracted, I’ve been guilty of this 😦 We are looking at our calendar or thinking of the next thing we need to do, or sending work e-mails while at kid events or vice versa, it’s not good for anyone! Make a commitment to be fully present wherever you are, look into the eyes of the people in the room, focus on them, love them, pay attention! I was deeply convicted about this recently at a ballet class. All of us moms sit outside of the class behind a wall of windows while our sweet little ballerinas dance their hearts out so, it’s tempting to be on our phones and distracted. I watched a little girl in the class look over at her mom after doing a beautiful leap and she was grinning ear to ear but, the mom was starting at her phone. She missed the moment and it hit me hard, I realized that I’ve been that mom before and I don’t want to be it again. Wherever my schedule has me, that’s where I intend to be and I hope to encourage you to do the same, because those moments can never be retrieved once they are lost dear friend.
Enjoy your the life you live sweet mommas, it’s an awesome adventure!