Month: February 2017

Finding a Routine that Works for You

As you would probably imagine with a large family, there is a lot of structure to our daily lives.  Yes, at times, it’s more like controlled chaos, but still some kind of routine is necessary if for no other reason but mom’s sanity.  I know that having all the meal planners and house cleaning schedules and extra detailed planners works for many moms, but I am just simply not one of them.  I do like lists, but our lives need to be a little more flexible than that.  If a baby is teething and fussy all day, or I forgot to get a much needed item at the grocery store, or Daddy has to stay late at work, our schedule rolls right along with it.  So, like a lot of other things we try to do around here, I schedule “with grace.”

This is something I’ve had to learn over the course of having a few kids, to be honest.  I remember with my first, I would freak out if I didn’t get her down for a nap at just the right moment or if meals weren’t at the same exact time every day.  But when you have a houseful, you learn to relax with the little things and focus on the bigger things that actually matter.  And I personally feel like I’m in some ways a better example for my kids, being a little more flexible when life happens.  

With all of that said, though, I still believe that kids do well with a routine… at least I know mine do.  So we’ve found something that works for us.  We may not start our breakfast or school time at the exact same minute each day, but it is around the same time and each child knows what is going to happen next.  Assuming they don’t forget.  That happens too, probably more often in my house than you’d ever imagine.  

If you aren’t a planner by nature, but feel a little more structure would help your family, maybe something a little more relaxed like how we’ve set up our daily routine would work better for you?  You can still put in time frames if it works for you. Or maybe you prefer bullet points.  If you want to try out a daily routine, I’d suggest you start with the things in your schedule that aren’t flexible (i.e. sports practice,  school pick up time, etc…) and then fill in around it as best you can.  If something takes less or more time than expected, then just proceed with the next thing on the list when you’re done.  Here’s what mine looks like currently….

With six kids in the house, four of which are homeschooled, you can imagine that I need to keep things organized so I don’t forget what needs to be done.  But believe me, there are days that they take forever eating a meal or doing their morning chores, or whatever it may be and we just keep moving through our day.  Occasionally I do need to sit down and rework it if my timing is way off or if something big in our days have changed, like recently my youngest son quitting naps.  

Sort of…

For me, it’s been freeing to be able to still have some kind of structure in our house without worrying about perfection, which just isn’t real life.  I believe I’m actually more productive most of the time by having some kind of plan written out too.  I just have this routine stuck on my refrigerator and a basic wall calendar for other notable events.  For me, keeping a structure, while keeping it simple, has been a good fit for us.  

Kids are truly amazing, but kids are very much still learning; and sometimes how they get things done may not be in the same way or in the same time as we would do things.  Providing a framework and helping them to succeed by having a plan is important, but having grace in the process I believe is as well.  Are you a planner?  I’d love to hear planning tips you’ve found that work for you!

How do I do it all?

I get asked often, by friends, family, and even sometimes complete strangers, “How do you do it all?”  I’m sure the thought of meals and laundry and school and everything else for so many kids seems completely overwhelming to most.  Honestly, it can be some days.

Here’s my secret:  I don’t.  We live in a world where everyone sees the best moments of our life, but rarely sees the real part of it.  Yes, my kids are very well behaved in public, but that’s definitely not always the case at home.  Who wants to see a picture on social media of my kids arguing?  Of course you’ll see the ones with them smiling and playing together.  Those are real moments too.  My house is almost always picked up, but rarely truly clean.  It’s my reality right now, and I’m ok with that.  So, now that you know I don’t “do it all,” here are are a few things that do help me to accomplish whatever it is I actually do in my home.

I have help.  I may have a lot more messes with so many little ones around, but that also means I have a lot more hands to help.  Starting while they’re young, I’ve tried to instill some sense of responsibility in my kids.  My four oldest, including my three year old, have job cards with their tasks to be done after breakfast each morning, including simple things such as making their beds and picking up toys, but also things like sweeping the kitchen floor and emptying the dishwasher, with each task assigned according to the child’s abilities.  And of course, when my husband isn’t working, he’s a great help with things too.  I may do well keeping up with the mountain of laundry most of the time, but I’m awful at keeping the sink free of dishes.  He’s the absolute best at helping out with that!


I make compromises I’m comfortable with.  For me, messes all over the place all the time make me crazy, so we try to enforce the “clean up your mess before you make a new one” rule around our house; but I’m way more relaxed when it comes to something like mopping the floors.  Sadly, not sure I remember when I did that last.  Most days, lunch is served on a disposable plate.  I hate to be wasteful, but it saves my sanity a little with the dishes and also makes it easier for the kids to help with cleanup.  It’s what works for us in this season of life.  I believe that letting a few little things be done with less than perfection helps you accomplish more of what really matters.

I’ve got plenty of Jesus… and coffee.  I probably should’ve mentioned this one first, because for me, it’s the most important.  I cannot get through my crazy days with the enormous responsibility I have of teaching and raising up my children, among other things, without my faith.  There is a noticeable difference in my days when I don’t start my day with some Jesus… and continue it with Him.  He brings a peace to my home and myself that nothing else can, as well as countless times the strength I need to get through the bumpy moments.  Coffee is of less importance, as you would imagine, but still… it helps!  Besides keeping me warm in the winter, it’s one of few things that are just for me so I do cherish it… even if I sometimes have to dump and refill it because I don’t often get to sit and drink it while it’s still hot.

Paleo Chili your Kids will Love

A few years ago after some medical issues with my now five year old, our family switched to a (mostly) Paleo diet.  For those of you not familiar with that lifestyle, it’s basically just eating meat, fruits and veggies, and some nuts.  We don’t do dairy, legumes, or grains.  If you can’t read the ingredients, it doesn’t go in the grocery cart.  We’re not crazy strict because honestly, we couldn’t afford to be with the size of our family.  And the husband and I have slacked off and had way too many “treats” lately, but are trying to get a little more on track these days. We’re hoping to teach our kids to have a better relationship with food than we do, seeing food as fuel.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious either.

Tonight’s dinner was my own personal chili recipe I came up with.  It’s not too spicy, so a couple of my kids really like it.  I served it on baked sweet potatoes, and for the ones who wanted a little cheese, added some shreds of Kerrygold on it for them.  The babies and the picky three year old just ate sweet potatoes pretty much.  Our house rule is to try a bite.  I don’t make different meals for everyone, but I do try to be sensitive to foods they might not like and adjust if needed.

Case in point:  chili next to the sweet potatoes “in case it might be too spicy.”

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it out:

3 lbs beef (I use about 2 lbs of ground beef and 1 lb of stew meat.  Any combination works fine.)

1 medium onion diced

1 green pepper diced

1 red pepper diced

1/2 c canned pumpkin

1 can of original Rotel

1 can of diced tomatoes

2 1/2 Tbsp chili powder

1 1/2 Tbsp cumin

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp basil

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne

Brown beef and drain.  Throw all ingredients into crockpot and stir.  Cook on low 3-4 hrs.

I think it was a hit!

Full of Blessings and Boogers

Our life is so full!  Unbelievably full of blessings… six beautiful healthy children I have the opportunity to raise and teach and spend my days with, a fun-loving, hard-working husband of over twelve years, a home and yard more than large enough for us all to live and enjoy life together, and countless other moments, days, and gifts with which God has so richly blessed us.

At the same time, our life is full of boogers… with a house full of little ones, I do mean that quite literally.  Seriously moms, you know what I mean.  It’s a constant struggle in my house to get all the kids to remember to grab a tissue when they need one.  And I’m also, of course, referring to the not always fabulous, real parts of life.  The days when you just feel like a hamster spinning in a wheel, working so hard to keep it all together, but it seems like nothing is actually getting accomplished.  The days that you were a total grumpy mom and just now realized why your kids were acting the way they were.  The days that you are counting the minutes until bedtime because you just aren’t sure you can deal with one more sibling argument, crying little one, or complaint about the food you cooked for dinner.

Its real life.  Full of both great moments and tough moments, and everything in between.  I sure don’t have it all figured out, but I know the One who does and continue to seek His wisdom, and to be honest, quite often fumble along the way.  My hope is that by sharing our family’s triumphs and real life moments, I will be able to encourage other parents out there to see that they’re not alone, that life can be amazing even on the crazy days, and hopefully see how full their own life is and can be.


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