Thursday, March 26, 2015

Love Me My Nap Time!

I don't know about your household, but in ours, between 1pmish - 3pmish, we have nap time. For the older kids its just a quiet time and for the Littles, they take naps. My oldest usually reads, works on a personal project, reads or plays on the iPad, and does her devotions. My second and third are in the Den together, each taking an end of the couch. They often have to have a reading time, sometimes are allowed to get out a bin from the closet (I'll be writing a future post on using some awesome bins to simplify my life) and then are allowed to watch a movie, while they just rest. I'm 31 weeks along with #6, so lately they've just had a movie time so that I could get some good rest in and not have to think about anything else. Might sound sad, but it works. :)

My fourth still takes naps, so she's in her bedroom where my oldest is resting and doing her own thang in her own bed. My youngest is in the midst of dropping her morning nap and only taking an afternoon nap. Some days she stays up till 2-2:30 and just plays before going down for a nap. On the days when I can get her to skip her morning nap, she goes down at 1 with the rest of the hooligans.

Right now, my quiet time almost always involves a nap, but I can usually only get in about 20 minutes of sleep before my legs start getting restless. Bothersome. Sigh. The rest of the time I'll either rest and watch movie, while trying to doze a *little* bit more (rarely actually happens though grrrr) or I'll work on some paperwork - making lists and organizing for something, working on the next months menu and/or grocery lists, plotting and planning - and then there are those rare days where I have energy to spare and start working on a project around the house. SOMETIMES I even *finish* it! :D

In our home, this daily rest time is strictly enforced. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Its a time for Mama to recharge, get some rest, and hopefully some quiet. Its a time for the kids to each get some down time and quiet. Everyone needs to be alone for some period of time during the day. For some, they need longer, others just need a few minutes of "time out". My husband and I are both the type that really need some time to ourselves during the day to just be alone. I get mine in the afternoon and he takes about 20 minutes in the evening after dinner to just chill, and on his day off, he just joins the rest of us, finds a place to chill and thoroughly enjoys it. :)

Even though two of my kids have their rest time together, I limit the amount of interaction between them so they still get that "alone" time. My oldest has been allowed to come out of her room on some days so she can work on some writing projects at her desk, but that often leads her to wanting to ask me questions, read me some of her work, or something like that. And there are times when I'll think of something I just want to chat about with her. But we both need that time to just be alone, so we've been working to make sure we both keep our mouths shut. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Three Tips to Help You (Mostly) Keep Your Sanity

I've been asked several times before, "how do you do it all???" My first thought is "uh......I don't. If only you knew..." But then I realize I've asked and wondered that very same thing of other mamas at times when I only had 1-2 kids or days I'm so very overwhelmed or when we have something major going on in our lives. So I thought I'd give you three tips that I use to at least help keep my sanity. (although if you talk to certain people in my life, they may totally disagree with the fact that I have any left, but just ignore them).

1.) Breath and Speak Calmly

When is seems that chaos is winning, or disobedience and bad attitudes are prevailing, when I can't seem to get one single little job done because I keep having to stop to counsel a child, I've found that simply standing still for just two seconds, closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and reminding myself to speak calmly, it does wonders. Having those 2-5 seconds to myself, when I remind myself to be calm, that I'm dealing with the exact same attitude, or that they are still learning, and then actually following through with speaking calmly (even if I want to scream, pull my hair out, or go have a good cry), within a short amount of time, *I'm* feeling much calmer and the kids respond to that and start being calm themselves and/or behaving better.

If I'm telling the kids to behave and to speak nicely, but I'm not teaching them that with my actions, its pointless. I'm being a hypocrite. Its a lesson I'm constantly working on.

The next thing I do after counseling and discipling children, is to give tasks. It may be a play task, a simple job, or a more intensive job, depending on the situation and the age of the child. After everyone has fanned out and are using their energy for good, I feel like I won the battle with chaos. :)

2.) Plan, Plan, and Plan

I can't stress this one enough. Planning meals, grocery lists, chores, school, a general daily schedule......its a life saver. Having a plan of action gets it out of your head and onto paper and you don't have to actively think about it again.

I plan out a month of meals at a time and then I plan my main grocery list around that. Spending a couple of hours each month doing all that planning and thinking is a *lot* of work, but then I'm done with it. I don't have to stand there to figure out what we are eating and then figure out if I even have the ingredients I need for that meal. I simply look at my calendar to see what is for dinner, then get the ingredients out. Its very rewarding and makes you feel very awesome. :)

Every so often I revamp our chore charts, either because its simply not working anymore or because kids are ready to graduate to another job. Each child has their personal chores they do each day (bed, bedroom, teeth, dressed....) and then they each have 1-2 other jobs around the house. I also have a master chore chart that can be reused every month. I sat down several years ago and wrote down all the jobs that I wanted to see done, but that weren't getting done. I then broke them down into smaller jobs and assigned 2-3 jobs per day on the calendar. The first time we worked through the list, it seemed to take for. ev. er to get it all done and I had a hard time keeping up with other stuff too. But it paid off! The next time we did those jobs, it took even less time, and even less the next time. Soon, it was taking very little time at all. I finally felt that I had a grip on my home and that it was being kept (mostly) clean.

A while back I wrote up a general schedule for the day. It wasn't precise, just the order of events that I typically wanted to see happen. I didn't even assign times for it. I was feeling that I didn't know what we should be doing next and really felt at a loss, which wasted lots of time. Having a general guide for the day was soooo helpful! Every so often, I have to rethink it because our needs change, we add a baby, and it can be fun to switch things up too.

3.) Use Time Wisely

A good exercise to do is this - for one day, write down every single little thing you do. And the time it took to do it. Even changing a diaper should go on the list. Doing this takes time, which seems kinda silly when you're trying to figure out how to use your time more wisely, but trust me! Its a good thing! At the end of the day you can see exactly what you've done during the day and how much time you spent on each thing. I was surprised to find that I spent quite a bit of time checking email and Facebook. I was never on the computer for very long at all, but it added up fast. Seeing how you spend your day can feel like a slap in the face, but you can see the areas you need to work on a little bit. Sometimes its just a few things here and there you need to work on. Or you may find you're wasting a ton of your day. Either way, its a good exercise.

Once you've figured out what you need to cut out, work on, or save until after the kids go to bed, you can then start to implement a plan that you work out. Asking your husband for help with this would be amazing. Not only would you be utilizing his wisdom, but you'd also now be accountable to someone.

Something I've been doing for the last several years has been such a help to me and I *love* it. Whenever we go anywhere, even just a quick grocery run, I mentally figure out about what time we will get out the door, then add a few minutes. When everyone is mostly ready to walk out the door, but I'm still getting ready, finishing putting shoes on littles, or whatever, I start assigning things. "Abby, since you're 10, go in the Den and put 10 things away." "Felicity, go straighten the kids bathroom up." "Micah, since you're 4, go find four toys in the Living Room and put them away....WHERE THEY BELONG!" "Josie, go pick up (name specific item) and put it away...WHERE IT BELONGS....and NEATLY." (can you tell what certain kids struggle with? hehe) Having them do little jobs not only gets the house looking a little neater, but it also keeps them out of mischief when we are trying to leave at a certain time.

Find little things like that, that work for your family, and put them in to action. It helps the kids learn to keep things neater, to work hard, to be helpful, its helpful to you as the Mama, and it directs their energy in a good way. More importantly - it helps you (mostly) keep your sanity. :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

My Menu Plan is Completed!

*sweet sigh of relief* I finished up November's Menu Plan yesterday and this afternoon I put it all on my calendar. Feels soooo good to have it finished!! I'm about 11 weeks along, so I'm starting to come out of the first trimester blahness and I'm determined to stick to my menu plan....yupp. Thats the plan. :)

I have a master basic menu plan in my Home Management Book that is fairly simple and budget friendly. I know that I will probably still have days of tiredness and not feeling well, so I went even simpler for this month. I chose about 15 super easy meals and we are doing them each twice.

Once I had my dinner meals figured out, I then wrote down some super simple lunch ideas, along with breakfasts, snacks and a couple desserts. We rarely do desserts, but I like to have stuff in the house in case we want something fun one day.

November is quite the busy month for us. We have two birthdays now - our oldest is turning 10 on the 16th and our youngest is turning 1 on the 3rd. This year we are having a joint family birthday get together for them on the 8th. We have the tradition that the birthday person gets to choose their birthday meals....within reason and with mama's approval. :) Sophie, the youngest, won't care one bit, so I won't have to worry about that this year. And Abby, our oldest, has known for weeks what she wants to have. :) We have a church potluck, company one Sunday, Thanksgiving, and we are taking a three day vacation. We don't normally have this many extra activities going on, so it made it more interesting planning for this month. :)

I like to swap it up in how I go about planning my monthly menu. Sometimes I'll just copy the previous months menu, adjusting as needed for days and events. Sometimes I'll make my calendar up, take out my Home Management Book and start filling in days. And this time I wrote the dates on a lined piece of paper (1-30), the abbreviation of the day of the week next to that, took my list of super simple meals and started with the days that had events going on, then went on from there adding in meals that were good for those days. It was good I did it this way this time, because I forgot a couple of events and had to scribble out, rewrite, add notes, and fix. :)

My Tools
Someone from our church gave us a number of those big desk calendars and I use those to make my monthly menu. Works great!! I also have a ruler, a highlighter, sharpies, a pen, my hole punch, and this time I also used sticky notes.

I like to use different colors, so fun sharpies are a must. :) I used the orange sticky notes on the calendar to add on little notes to the days I needed more info on. The green up top are my breakfast ideas for the month, the orange up top are my lunch ideas, and the pink are my snack and dessert options for this month. I haven't done the sticky note thing yet, but I like the extra colors. :D 

I know not everyone does well with planning for a month and I've done it many different ways. Right now this way works really, really well for us. (And now that I've said it, it probably won't work anymore. hehe) If I don't have a menu plan, chaos would reign and I would end up spending a TON of money. I've always loved making lists and planning, so it comes a little easier to me than some. Its still taken me work to get really good at it. And its something I'll need to change up and learn how to get even better at as our needs change and our family grows. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Planning - Its A Must

I've always loved making lists. Always. It was such a good thing though for our wedding. Planning a wedding is right up a list makers alley! I loved that!! We paid for our own wedding, so planning was very important. And I loved every second of it. :) Now, having been blessed with a largerish family, its a very good thing to know how to plan and make lists.

Even a simple thing like going to the grocery store takes planning. I know that I need to start getting everyone ready at least 20 minutes before I want to be walking out the door. 30 minutes is better, but I'm not always on my game and get a late start. oops.

For longer trips I need an hour. If I'll need a meal or snack while out, I need to make that ahead of time, know how I'm going to serve it on the go, have cups of water ready, the diaper bag stocked.....then there is just the actual getting ready. Everyone have clothes on that are good to be worn in public (matching, not huge stains or holes, fits correctly), clean faces and hands, hair done (I have four girls so far and right now it takes me about 6-12 minutes to do their hair, depending on the hair style), socks and shoes found and then put on. And then I have to get ready too.

If we are having a busy weekend, I need to think through each days meals and know exactly what I will be doing for every meal. I think ahead to Sunday and if I'll need meat thawed, I make sure its in the fridge to thaw days before so that its ready for me to cook when I'm ready. I figure out if I need to get anything from the store so that I don't have to go Saturday evening when we are trying to finish preparing for the LORD's Day. We live about 30 minutes from the church so we just pack for the day and stay there. It works really well. But I have to do the packing. So if its a busy weekend, I need to do some of the packing ahead of time and get start making the list for Sunday.

No matter whats going on, planning is very, very important for a large or largerish family like us. If you don't plan, it can be stressful. It will usually cost more money. You will probably be late or maybe on time, but not in the best mood.

The LORD gives us many verses about planning and being ready. Our favorite verse is Proverbs 6:6 - 'Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.' Even teeny, tiny ants prepare. They know winter is coming and they work to have food. We should be like that! Working hard. Planning. Preparing. Know what is coming up. I don't mean telling the future, just knowing what events will be happening and being prepared for them.

I've gotten better and better at it over the years. When we were first married and had no kids, we would be late for Sunday School quite often. I still can't believe that. Then we had one child and I had to be more prepared. I can remember several Sunday's being late because I had to nurse the baby and I still had to get ready to go. Instead of preparing stuff the night before and getting up earlier so that I was ready to go when it was time for Baby to nurse, I just took it as it came. I didn't plan. I finally figured it out thankfully!

Then the LORD gave us several more kids in a row. I had to really figure it out. Quick! My husband was a pastor by this time, so we HAD to be out the door at a certain time. No ifs, ands, or buts. We only had one car, so if I was running really late for some reason, I had to stay home. I think that only happened a few times during a first trimester when I was sick and needing to run to the bathroom. :)

Our week revolves around Sunday. Mostly because my husband is the pastor of our church, but also because we think that the LORD's Day should be front and center. We want to teach our kids that going to church comes first, before anything else. We often have to forego family activities because they happen on Saturday and most of the family lives 1.5 hours away. *Sometimes* we do things on Saturday's with them, but its not often at all. We wouldn't get home until later in the day and we still needed to do our normal house stuff, as well as getting ready for Sunday. Thats a choice we have made. And sometimes its hard to stick by it. I feel like we miss out on a lot. But then Sunday comes, we are well rested, well prepared and we are so blessed. That makes it all worth it. I'm not saying you shouldn't do stuff on Saturday's, just be prepared. If you can handle it, great!! It just doesn't work for our family.

If you're not good at planning, I encourage you to work on it. Its very rewarding! It takes quite a bit of work at first, but once you have it makes life sooooo super easy!.....or maybe easier. :) If you are good at planning, keep it up!!! If you're just starting down the road of planning, don't give up. Find resources that suit your needs and help you. Rely on your husband's wisdom and ask him for advice when things seem to get really rough or when you get in a rut.

Be like the ant. Work. Plan. Be prepared.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Making the Effort

Do you struggle with getting to church on time? Or even just getting out the door at the time you want? Do you struggle with being prepared? Having Sunday morning go smoothly?

I do.

Some weeks it goes so smoothly. We all have good attitudes. The van is loaded by a good time. No one is missing anything. The kids are all buckled in the van several minutes before its time to leave, allowing me to finish gathering up the last few items, turning off lights, doing a quick clean up of the kitchen getting those last couple of food items in the fridge that were missed. Its just awesome.

And then there are those other Sunday's. The ones I try to block from my memory. The ones that happen too often. The ones that make me glad no one is around to see. There is chaos. Everyone (read, me) has a bad attitude. There is complaining. A missing shoe. The van doesn't get loaded until the time we are supposed to be pulling out the driveway.

But there are also those other Sunday's that....honestly....I'd rather just stay home. *hangs head in shame* Yes. I feel that way. This past Sunday was one of those Sunday's.

Saturday's, from about 4pm till late, is spent getting ready for Sunday. Laying out clothes, finding shoes, preparing food, packing the diaper bag, getting everyone bathed, doing a little extra cleaning so the house is in good shape.....but this last Saturday it didn't happen. I'm about 9 weeks along with our sweet Blessing #6 and I felt sooo sick. It was terrible. I just wanted to lay in bed. Maybe have a pity party for a while. And sleep. I wanted sleep so bad. I laid out clothes, started packing extra clothes, made my list....and that was about as far as I got.

We live about 30 minutes from church, so we stay there all day. Which means we take our pillows, blankets to make beds on the nursery floor, our lunch, snacks, extra clothes, and other junk, I mean stuff! I told my husband that I just needed to go to bed, that hopefully I would sleep good and be able to finish up in the morning. Otherwise he could leave at 9am by himself and we would follow as soon as we could. I could tell he wasn't happy about that, but he also knew how sick I was feeling. I started getting for bed and realized I was being selfish. That I was kinda hoping I would end up just needing to stay home. I needed to change my heart attitude and make the decision that I was going to be ready on time. No if's, and's, or but's about it.

And I did it! I was up at 7:15, grabbed a quick shower and by 7:40 was dressed and mostly ready for the day. I made the kids their usual Sunday Morning Breakfast - scrambled eggs. Its quick, fast, easy clean up, and full of protein to help them make it through the morning. While they were eating, I started collecting pillows, blankets, food and such. After they were done, I sent the older kids to dress while I dressed the younger ones and got them ready to walk out the door. At 8:30ish, I was loading the van up. At 8:45 I (almost) always start assigning small chores - put these clothes in the dirty basket, put those books away, feed and water the dog and put him up, straighten that chair.....just little things to make the house look neater when we come! it keep the kids busy and out of trouble. :)

We were pulling out of the driveway at our usual 9:03. I have no idea. That just always ends up being the time we actually leave. Weird, I know. :)

When I make the effort to have a good attitude, the LORD blesses me. When I make the effort to be prepared for the LORD's Day, I always leave feeling grateful and blessed. When I make the effort to be pleasant, the kids enjoy church more and are generally more well behaved (not always though).

I'd encourage you to really look at your Sunday mornings. Do you need to do more work Saturday to be more prepared and have the morning to be more smooth? Ask your husband how he feels Sunday mornings go. Does he want to see something different happen? Have a short time of Family Worship to prepare for Worshipping at church? Make a list of things that you/he want to see happen or be different about Sunday mornings, then brainstorm how to make that happen.

The LORD will bless you for making the effort to be ready to worship Him.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ramblings on Feeling Overwhelmed

We've had a super busy 4-5 days! A bridal shower an hour and a half away, church on Sunday (we live 30 minutes away, so we just stay all day at the church and the kids nap, I rest and my husband - who is the pastor - works), Monday the kids and I spent the morning taking soup to a couple people and then got to have an un-planned lunch with Daddy and Tuesday I did my monthly shopping trip to Sams Club for bulk items. I'm normally not that busy, especially in a row like that.

I felt like I couldn't keep up with anything! I would do dishes, turn around, and I'd have a sink full. The laundry wasn't getting done. There were small messes everywhere. And even though I was working and the kids were doing their chores, I didn't seem to be making any headway.

Not sleeping well for a couple of nights, all the extra activities and raising five kids was making for one exhausted mama! Yesterday I was texting my mom and sister about feeling so overwhelmed. I ended my text with "one thing at a thing at a time". I was attempting to do that, but it wasn't going well. After "saying it out loud", it was easier to actually do that.

I looked around and saw a gazillion things that needed to be done - laundry started, laundry folded, dishes needed washing, floors that needed to be swept, rooms needed to be straightened, bathrooms needed cleaning and five kids that needed my supervision and training. I would start a job, need to stop to disciple or discipline a child, get distracted by another job then realize I never finished the first job I started!

Nap time rolled around and I felt like I hadn't done anything!! Once I got all the kids settled, I went into the kitchen and was determined I wouldn't do another job till the kitchen was completely done. Dinner went into the crockpot, dishes were put away, another load washed and left to dry. The floor was swept. Counters were found and wiped down. Bit by bit I saw progress and boy! did that feel good!!

At some point I turned on Pandora to my Keith & Kristyn Getty station. I love having music playing. After I conquered the kitchen, I moved into the dining room. I found my table AND all the chairs (it wasn't all that bad, but feeling so overwhelmed made it look much worse than it was), wiped them all down, swept the floor, folded a load of clothes on the table and left them there since I had a couple more loads coming.

Next up was the living room. It got straightened, pillows set to rights, swept and looked so nice and cozy! I was feeling so much better! I felt like I could breath! The house was feeling somewhat normal again......and then kids woke up....and we ate dinner......and I was back to square one.

Today went better.

A bit.

At the beginning of each month I do a bulk trip to Sams Club, one to Publix and one to Walmart to get items for the best price. I was going to do my Walmart trip this morning, but decided for my sanity I should postpone till tomorrow.

Keeping things in perspective, working on one thing at a time, and remembering that my kids souls are the most important thing. If I stay behind for a while or even not get a single thing done during the day because my kids need training and counseling, then so be it.

I need to remember that while my goal should be to have an orderly home, teaching them GOD's truths need to come first. A lot of my getting-so-behind this week was in part due to doing extra activities, but also in part in doing training with my kids.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Littles Memorizing?? It can be done!!

Each summer our Presbytery holds a week long camp for our churches. Its unusual in that its open to ages 5-college! The kids are divided up into four teams and each team has a even amount of littles, middles and bigs. They spend the week working, playing, and learning together as a team. Each team earns points throughout the week, so its a competition to see who can win. :) I've seen older teen boys sit patiently with little ones, helping them memorize verses and review sermons partly (or maybe mostly haha) to earn points, but also to teach them truths about their Saviour. Its an amazing thing!

Anywho, to get to the point of this post, :) the men of the Presbytery chooses 1-2 passages of Scripture that will be taught on all week. The kids are encouraged to memorize it and most of them do! I haven't been for several years now because I didn't have any kids who could participate. This year though, our oldest gets to join in! So, we've been memorizing I Corinthians 13 in school, as its one of the chosen passages.

If you think littles can't memorize, I'm here to tell you its not true!! I have my 9, 5, 3, & 2 year old memorizing this chapter. And guess what?! The 3 & 2 year old are doing an amazing job!!! I knew they knew bits and pieces, but Micah (3) just totally amazed me yesterday. Josie (2) kept repeating something to me and at first I couldn't figure it out, then I began to wonder if she was saying part of a  verse. Micah steps in and says "I told Josie that! 'If I speak, in the tongues, of men and angels'". I got so excited!! They had had a conversation involving scripture!! A three year old and a two year old!!

VERY excitedly I asked what came next, and with only a few prompts, he quoted I Corinthians 13:1-6. I was ecstatic!!! We've learned verses before in school and he and Josie have done a great job of memorizing them, but they were individual verses. This was a passage and I didn't think he would be able to do it all like that.

Its so important to teach our kids the Truths of GOD's Word. Especially at a young age. Their minds are like sponges. Take the time to teach them. The dishes will still be there, so will the laundry and the hundred other things you have to do today. Our mission is to raise warriors for Christ and we must start now. Take up this amazing challenge of raising warriors and keep training them! Don't grow weary, Mama!!