Hey there! Thanks for visiting! Lets chat about something near & dear to my heart.
When I meet new people and they find out we have seven children I often share the ongoing joke that God took 2 people with type A personalities and an inborn desire for order and gave us 6 sons as a practical joke. We are the living proof of His sense of humor. Obviously our personalities have had to adapt to the circumstances of a large family but the assumption that a house full of kids goes hand in hand with chaos & mess just doesn’t have to be the case. Chaos happens. Mess happens. But they don’t have to be a way of life.
My need for order in motherhood started at the very beginning with one child and grew right along with our family. I remember belonging to message boards for moms (do they still exist?) and there was the seeming expectation that your messy house was a badge of honor- that it meant you were a good mom. I never understood that because for me I didn’t feel like a good mom when I was surrounded by clutter & chaos. Creating order made me feel like I was caring for my family and prepared for each day of motherhood. Seeing jokes about good moms having sticky floors gave me a complex back then but those days are well behind me.
Mamas, it’s a-ok if you need to provide a clean, peaceful, orderly way of life for your family. It doesn’t make you neurotic or un-nurturing. And there are ways to achieve it regardless of your family size. I look back at the specific seasons of our family’s growth and while some details have changed our core way of management has remained the same, giving us these Ten Tried & True ‘Best Practices’ for Big (or small) Family Balance, Peace and Order.
*Simplify your stuff. You don’t need half the stuff you think you do. More toys WILL NOT make your child play longer but they WILL give you more to pick up at the end of the day. More clothing WILL NOT keep your child dressed any more than a smaller wardrobe will but it WILL give you potential for an avalanche of dirty laundry to manage. More dishes WILL NOT keep their tummies any fuller but they WILL pile up until your sink is overflowing. Keeping these 3 areas- toys, clothing, dishes- simple goes a very long way in keeping the home manageable.
*Create a place for everything. And I mean everything. If you can’t find a place for it then it really shouldn’t come in to your home. This goes for objects and personal belongings but also for activities. Create a place you can encourage quiet time, time to read, time to create art, time to come together to play board games or just spend time talking as a couple or a family. Creating spaces to associate with activities can greatly reduce chaos and also increase our ability to find and seek peace or comfort when we need it.
*Have a routine, but not necessarily a schedule. If a houseful of kids are each going at their own pace things can get chaotic real quick. However there are so many potential interruptions that can pop up over the course of the day and those tiny interruptions can throw a timed schedule off real quick, which leaves you feeling ‘off’ or like a failure for the rest of the day. Instead, creating a routine gives structure to your day without losing flexibility. It helps kids young & old know what’s coming next. As they grow it gives them a sense of accountability when they know what they are supposed to be doing.
*Don’t overcommit yourself or your kids. Such a no-brainer but so easy to forget. If your kid’s activities, your personal commitments or your job are taking a consistent toll on your family its time to reevaluate and don’t hesitate to drop something if you need to. Busy seasons are ok. As long as they are balanced. Over burdening yourself, your kids or your spouse is not ok.
*Create a spirit of teamwork where everyone knows their role. Your spouse is your partner in this journey. Be there for each other. Teach your kids what position they play on the family field. Know what you are all responsible for and be ready to fill in for someone else when the need arises.
*Create simple systems that work for your specific family dynamic. Don’t sweat it if none of the chore charts, meal plans or bedtime routines you see on Pinterest seem to work for your family. Take inspiration and create systems that work for you. And again…keep them simple! A 10 step bedtime routine might look quaint on paper but it will quickly burn you out and become a burden you resent. An elaborate chore chart that’s too complicated to maintain will soon be abandoned. Systems are wonderful. But please, keep them simple and make them work for you and your household- not all the moms on Pinterest.
*Adapt and overcome. Your family is growing and changing every single day and what worked 6 months ago may be totally impractical now. Don’t throw in the towel. Adapt and overcome. Seasons change and we change right along with them. It’s amazing how our way of doing things can be so ingrained in us it just becomes second nature but then we evolve into something different without even realizing it. One day you’ll be going through your bedtime routine and you will realize you don’t even remember when your pre-teen stopped asking for his tuck in.
*Be present. I know its such a cliché these days. We see these reminders everywhere. But do it. Be present. Be present in the moments you want to savor and be present in the moments that stress you out or make you cry. These moments are ALL building your future memories and your teaching moments. They are all teaching you and shaping you into the person you are going to be and the mother your kids are going to remember. If something happens that really truly sucks pay attention to how you handle it, how it feels and how it affects those around you so that you are better prepared the next time life throws you a curveball.
*Make time for your marriage. You are in this together. And when the kids are grown and gone you will be left with this person. Make sure you like each other. Make sure you can count on each other. Make sure you still have passion for each other. This is important. Don’t wait until its too late.
*Make time for yourself. I wish I gave myself this advice when I was knee deep in diapers for 10 years straight. Find something that fulfills you and make time to nurture that. Take care of your health. There’s no grand prize for the mom that martyred herself the most. Nurture your spirit. Pray, open a Bible, meditate, practice affirmations. Find what nurtures the deepest part of your soul and make it a priority to connect with it regularly.
Our family has been through many seasons so far….one child, multiple toddlers, homeschoolers, various ages & stages at once and now here we sit on the other side of the diaper years with kids spanning from college to kindergarten. We survived! And we are thriving as a family. I hope you can see these Best Practices not as a checklist but as a framework for how you can create peace and order in your own family regardless of the season you may be in right now.
Do you have thoughts on the tips I’ve shared here? Do you have a “best practice” for creating order in your family? I’d love to hear about it! Please comment and share or connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you!