Ok, this picture is tongue in cheek. I don’t rely on alcohol to get through these years of parenting, doesn’t mean I’m not tempted at times…
Here are the things I do do to be the best mom I can be:
We are minimalists.
Shortly after having a baby along came baby stuff. Lots and lots of baby stuff. It didn’t take long before it looked like the one baby required more space than the 2 parents!
Then birthdays and generous family members. Fairly quickly, the house was nearly bursting at the seams.
Which meant, it was very challenging to keep up with the kids and keep the house clean. As I’ve had more kids, I’ve had to learn to let more things go. At first it was items in my schedule, because I just couldn’t continue giving all my time away. But it wasn’t too long after that, that I realized all the material items in our home was taking my time as well.
So, with each additional person that came into our family, more stuff had to go away, both in time obligation as well as material goods.
To be truthful, doesn’t feel minimalist in our home. We live in an old house (1882!!), with only 2 closets and there are 8 people that share 1132 square feet of space. We have stuff, and our stuff is visible. If I could hide it, I would, but I do enjoy our old house, so at the moment, it is what it is. We continue to get rid of things, as things still come into the house, so things still must go out.
I run a tight ship.
We have a schedule. We have consistent mealtimes and bedtime and sometimes I can be rather militant about it. Partly, because I have struggled with hypoglycemia most of my life and have learned that I am a much nicer person if I eat regularly.
My kids are all schedulers. They love knowing what we’re doing, what time it’s going to happen and what exactly they should expect. They know that we eat lunch at 12:10 PM when Daddy comes home for lunch and they know that we eat dinner at 5:30 PM after Daddy gets home. Having an early dinner time works best for our family.
I flex-schedule my babies. To work with our family schedule of work, school and meal times, it’s easiest if the baby’s schedule fits in. I don’t want to be torn with trying to meet the needs of my baby and the needs of my older kids and not being able to do both. I will say, that I am fairly relaxed with this schedule, but I do try to wake the baby the same time every morning (this really isn’t an issue, he wakes himself before my alarm goes off) and put the baby to bed at the same time every night. This means that I can nurse him, change him and he is ready for the day, freeing me up to make breakfast and help the other kids start the day. Naps are predictable, so we can plan activities, school work and anything else fairly easily. I would go crazy if I didn’t have some predictability.
I give in to my hermit tendencies.
I stay home. Yeah, I’m not talking about being a stay-at-home or work-at-home mom, (though, I am one of those). I’m referring more to being a hermit. Heh. I realized this doesn’t work for all people. Some have to leave for work, some have to get out of the house for their own sanity, so do what works for your family. With me personally, I’m a homebody and I prefer to stay home and keep my little routines consistent. It’s just how I roll.
are forced to help me.
The kids have chores. I can’t do it all. Well, maybe I could, if all I ever did was clean and they parented themselves. Having older kids helps tremendously, but even teaching the younger ones how to do chores and allowing them to help, not only gives them pride and a feeling of being a useful contributor to the family, it also helps parents have time to enjoy the children. Having all the weekly and daily tasks taken care of means we have free time to do something fun together. We set a time frame to get chores done: for the homeschooled kids, it’s before they play in the afternoon. For the high schoolers, it’s generally before 7 PM.
I make my health a priority.
I’m really worthless if I’m sick! There is just no time for mama to come down with something. That means I have to get adequate sleep. I force myself to go be bed between 10 and 11 PM every night. That gives me about 8 hours of sleep (albeit interrupted). I eat 3 balanced meals a day, limit my coffee intake to 1-2 cups, drink water, and take vitamins and supplements (click here to see what vitamins and supplements I take). I also avoid gluten. I found a few years ago, that gluten was the cause of my every-other-day-migraines. Life was difficult at that time in my life and eliminating gluten has meant eliminating migraines. Hallelujah! Thankfully, I also discovered that I can eat a traditionally fermented sourdough bread. So I still get to enjoy sandwiches and toast.
I give myself freedom to be me.
I’m a foodie. I’ve learned to treat myself. I drink a cup of coffee (maple cream or buttered) after my typical morning routine and I am known to sit in the evening sipping a glass of wine, nibbling some high quality chocolate or enjoying a slice of semifreddo after the kids are all in bed.
I know my coping mechanism and I take time to do it. I cope by being creative. It doesn’t really matter what it is I do, as long as it’s creative in some way. I’ve learned to quilt, crocheted a bedspread, learned photography, wrote poetry, draw and paint. So, to keep myself emotionally healthy, I just set aside time a couple times a month, to be creative. Currently, that means painting.
I keep minimal hair styles. Currently, I have dreadlocks, which may, at any point get chopped off into a cropped haircut. Dreads or short hair, both take much less effort to maintain and fix every day. Keeping minimal hair styles means I save a good 20 minutes. It means I can take 30 seconds to fix my hair and I’m ready for the day. The freedom in that is pure bliss for me!
Dad and Mom spend time alone.
I need this. We need this. We need to be able to talk to each other, and talk about kids, parenting, work and everyday challenges. When all the kids were younger, this was in the evening, after they went to bed. Bedtime for younger children is 8 PM, which leaves a couple hours to visit 1:1. Now that we have teenagers who stay up as late as we do, we have to get more creative to get that time alone together. Often we’ll take off and let the older kids babysit while we go for a walk or to a local coffee shop.
We have fun.
We enjoy each other. We play games, laugh together, read books (Laura Ingalls Wilder, Narnia and LOTR), eat every meal we can together, camp, fish, hike, etc. It’s never been an issue of finding things that work for all the ages. It may mean that the hikes are shorter and sometimes the little ones sit out while the older ones play Risk together. But it’s not a fight. Even when we did something specifically for the little ones on vacation last year and went to Storybook Island, the older boys had just as much, if not more fun than the little ones did!
And sometimes we just laugh, because it’s better than going crazy. Life with 8 people can feel crazy at times, but it’s ok. We laugh at ourselves, we laugh
at with each other. We just laugh.
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