Monday, May 14, 2012

Making it work

Look at the picture below:

Can you believe this?  My afternoon chore today was to take down the books of these ledges in our entrance way and put away that which we were done with and also dust the ledges.  I took down one of the large picture books and low and behold, these were found crumpled behind.  I won't say who they belong to, but (humph) they are on the highest shelf.  And to add insult to parental injury, the dirty clothes basket is all of 6 feet from this location.  My, oh my.  There are no words for this.  (LOL)

So, the question is, how does a large family survive?  How do we get it all done stay sane?  Is 5 children really all that different from say, 2 or 3?  Opinions may vary here, but as for me and my house, 5 is definitely a lot more work than 2 or 3.  2 or 3-those were the easy breezy days.  Only us moms with 5 or more can fully understand this.  But where the work is magnified and multiplied, the joy and the love is as well.  It is all completely and utterly worth it-each precious child-a gift.

But back to practicalities-let's get real!  This is hard work!  It definitely keeps me humble-keeps me aware that I'm a sinner needing a Savior-that thank goodness God is gracious and way more powerful than me and has a plan that He'll accomplish even in and through my weakness.  I had one of those monthly moments recently, and the tears began to trickle out and then they were unleashed in a torrential down poor-along with lots of words of despair, fears and failures.  I won't forget Steve's words:

"But right now and in all those things, we have a Savior, Jesus, and he is praying for us."

And all of a sudden it all seemed okay again.  I felt His love wrapped around me and I knew, because He loves me, because he is praying for me, we will all be okay.

And now down to the nitty-gritty, here are a few of the details of how I'm trying to manage, maintain and nurture my family.

I often feel in the many moments that come throughout the day, the moments where children are complaining, bickering, arguing, etc., these things that really need shaping, disciplining, and discipling, are often overlooked or handled rashly.   I'm usually so consumed with all the other needs surrounding me that the heart conversations and the thoughtful discipline doesn't occur.  It's just the run of the mill, "Stop complaining!"  or "Quit arguing and just do what I said!"  This method of parenting weighs on my heart, because I know, it is utterly insufficient.  What my children have is a deep down, sin problem.  Just like me.  And there is ONE ultimate solution.  Jesus-and his forgiveness.  And when they get that-when they get that their sin is paid for, as in, "It is Finished.", than they will have the freedom and joy of heart that I'm growing to have as I come to realize this more and more.  But I also know that they will have no awareness of sin, apart from the law.  So, I have to continually bring to their awareness God's law, and pray that they will see that they are transgressors, and then always share with them the Savior and his plan of redemption.

And how this all meshes with also just teaching them plain old, good habits, I'm not quite sure.  I just know that is my responsibility as well.  Give em' the law, give em' Jesus, give em' training, I think.  I don't have it all figured out!  Again, thank goodness, His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  (2 Cor.12:9)

So these file folders that I taped to the doors have sheets in them with different items to do, and in the above pictured folder, they all have to do with complaining.  So if Micah is complaining, (which happens soooooo amazingly frequently!) I can direct him to go get a sheet and do whatever it says and then he can come back to me and we can use that sheet as a point of discussion and hopefully discipleship will occur!  There are verses on them to copy, some have verses to memorize, etc.  Some just have a Bible story for him to just read and then come to me and we'll talk about it.  I used a book called, On Instruction in Righteousness, for ideas on what verses to use.  It is a topical guide that has lots of different sin struggles with corresponding Bible verses that address those particular issues.  I find the book to be rather legalistic and a lot of their suggestions for discipline I would not use, but I do find it helpful as far as finding verses that correspond with certain issues.  The authors attitude towards sin seems more punitive, rather than restorative and pointing our kids to a loving Savior.  But at any rate, it is helpful.

With Andrew, who is younger, I can't direct him to take one of these sheets and work through it on his own, because he can't read, but we can go get one together and read it and pray about it.  This is meant to be a guide and a help to me-because often times, I need help to refocus me on God's word during these training opportunities.

I've gone back and forth with formal scheduling, and here we are, with a  printed and posted schedule again.  I have used "Managers of Their Homes" as a tool for helping me plan a schedule in the past.  This one I just pretty much came up with on my own.  I used Microsoft Word and inserted a table and I included myself, and my 3 oldest children on the schedule.  I scheduled Monday through Thursday.  These are the days we homeschool so they are the days that most need managing.

I really am a person that likes to be spontaneous and the thought of my children running free through open fields, picking flowers, catching lizards and making mud pies sounds so idealistic to me-BUT-there is no way   that could possibly work for us.  There is a lot to get done around her and I am in over my head.  I cannot accomplish it all by myself.

As well, if the children have too much free time, without direction, they tend towards trouble.  And unstructured time leads to chaos, and chaos leads to more chaos-and then I, mom, crumble under what feels like a million pounds of pressure.  So this schedule, while not followed precisely, acts a guide.  If I don't plan things, and put it on paper, it doesn't happen.  Because, plain and simply, I can't remember what I'm supposed to be doing, or what I'm aiming to accomplish.  The tyranny of the urgent takes over.

I highlighted in yellow activities that are chore related, I highlighted school time in brown, and the blue is free time.  Now of course, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are much more relaxed, but the boys still do their after meal chores those days, they help with house work or yard work if needed, and the older boys are often helping with the babies.  We function as an interconnected unit-almost like one body!-and we all need each other to perform optimally.

I just love this picture.  During chore time Benjamin noticed a lizard outside and was trying to point it out to his brothers.  He doesn't have any chores yet, but he probably will this year.  He loves being a "helper" and he would love to have chores now.  I just haven't had the time to help him do them!

This picture is totally random-but I just think it is so cute how Samuel sits with his feet stuck up under the tray of his seat!  He always does this!

It's amazing how the house is all cleaned up once they are all done!  And it doesn't take long-30 minutes or so!  That old saying is so true, "Many hands make light work!"  They do their afternoon chores at 3:30 and when they are done they go out and play until dinner.  About 30 minutes or so before dinner I have them come in and get showered and then they come in the kitchen and see how they can help get dinner to the table.

Here's another one of our survival techniques:  To remind ourselves of the truth we have verses posted throughout the house.  My sister and I were talking today about how we have finally let go of a decorated home.  I used to hate having papers or anything unsightly up on the walls or cabinets.  Now you'll see, I am using my cabinets and doors, and walls to my advantage for things far more important than decor!

Here I've posted a copy of  Micah's spelling words for the week.  There is never an excuse for not getting his spelling words read to him.  Now I have them easily accessible so I can be cleaning the counters or working in the kitchen while I read them to him.  No more excuses!

I'm making my own kefir now so as I learn, I just posted the instructions on the cabinet!  Ugly-but so helpful!

And last but not least, my mother-in-law several years ago, helped me organize my kitchen.  She suggested I put all my baking supplies together in one cabinet and on one counter.  So this is my baking cabinet and on the inside of the door I have taped up our favorite and most used recipes on index cards.  This is so very, very handy.

Well, it is off to bed with me.

I'll leave you with this...

Hebrews 7:23-26

 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.


amy in peru said...

yep! lots in common! ;) 5 kids, MOTH, hanging on by grace...

absolutely :)

Esther Plaster said...

I found your blog through Ginny's blog Small Things (a daily read for me). I loved this post. I am a mother of four under 8 now and so I still have two at home with me. I am gearing up for a possible move this summer (we are in the navy and this will be our tenth move in ten years of marriage!) I have been finding a lot of difficulty with my attitude, my training of the children, self-motivation (it could all be related to this dreaded move) and found your post so encouraging!! I know that this is what I need to do to help my kids. A lot of times I just assume they know what to do with a chore. What I forget to do is to teach. So your resources here are going to be very handy hopefully I can implement some cheerful guidelines for shaping their hearts and running the home. Also the hymns were gorgeous. I almost found myself tearing up - b/c this was exactly what I needed to read this morning!!! Thank you for your humility and the beautiful way in which you mother your boys.

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