Life is full.
My heart is more than full.
But I’m not going to lie–it is also really challenging (aka = hard) with so many littles right now. We are in a sweet, sweet season. Full of finding missing lovies (very high priority on our list), discovering baking soda and then Colgate removes stains from American Girl doll faces, running carpool craziness from activity to activity and trying to slow down in between to just be together and listen to their hearts.
Today was one of those hard, crazy days. Flying solo with Rico Suave doing business. Guitar lessons for him. Piano lessons for her. Soccer for another him. Gymnastics for another. And then Awanas for all. I ran into the church–late (of course)–dropped them all off (minus Zeke of course who is permanently glued to my hip)…and I took a deep breath. I looked up to see other moms doing the same. Y’all. It’s not easy. No matter where you are–it’s hard…so good–but hard. (I often don’t write about the hard because I get the comment that I should just be thankful to have children–and I AM…but it is perfectly okay to voice the hard y’all.) And today–well, it was one of those days. I stood here in that hallway taking a deep breath. I had made it…through another day. And with Awanas–I had just over an hour with just me and Zeke tonight since Rico was out of town on business. Zeke squatted down–and as everything got quiet in the PEACE–he let one rip (aka – passed gas!). The other moms looked our way–he grinned, patted his bottom and said one of the 2 English words he knows—BUBBLES. Oh MY! I bursted into laughter…as did the other moms–and in my fatigue I was laughing reminded how SWEET this mommy journey really is!
Honestly, this momma NEEDS this time to refuel–which made me want to encourage YOU other moms to REFUEL as well. Homeschooling with 5 children ages 9 and under–there are definitely a few things that help us thrive…or some days SURVIVE. Some days you just have to get through!! Here are a few things that really have helped me reaching the thriving side:
1. Take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating healthy–3 meals a day and staying hydrated. This might sound silly to some–but if you have a bunch of littles…you know how 2pm can hit and you realize you haven’t even had breakfast yet. This is NOT good for your health, immune system or for your littles. Make SURE you are eating well–in the very least 3 meals a day.
Another component of taking care of yourself–find TIME TO YOURSELF. No matter what your personality type is–we ALL need time to unwind to ourselves! Make sure you are getting some QUITE DOWN TIME every day–even if it’s just 30 minutes. Nap when you have the opportunity. And if you don’t–give your little a book to read while you lay beside them and read too. Our kids have quiet time EVERY DAY. The babies and toddler nap while the bigs read…and mommy some times dozes off while reading too! It might just be for 30 minutes–but it is good to unwind and rest! ALSO be sure to take time ONCE a week to be KID FREE. Some times this isn’t always possible when you have a newborn or one newly home through adoption. (We are in that boat right now!) BUT–our kids go to Awanas one night a week–a program at our church. It’s the night we will go grab coffee together–or when Rico Suave is out of town–it offers me a breather and an hour and a half to do a Target run…some times just walking up and down the aisles looking at things and piddling is restoring to me. Find a way whether through a kids program or a babysitter to get time away at least once a week. (This might look different if you homeschool or have toddlers–just be sure you are getting time to yourself in some way…even if its during nap time–simply sitting on your back porch and breathing!)
2. Make time in His Word and pray Throughout the Day. Your quiet times will look very different as a mom and in different stages of life. You have to get creative. Right now, I keep a box of Bible verses and I’ll sort through them through the day. It’s a way for His Word to speak to my heart. In the middle of crazy some times I’ll just pick out 5 cards and read them…and it’s amazing how His Word speaks to you and calms. My prayer time as a mom looks vastly different than before I was a mom. I find myself talking to Him constantly–praying through out the day rather than waking an hour before littles rise. We often have long nights at our house with our new one–so this momma sleeps until the first bird wakes her. The Lord knows and sees me…El Roi–He is the God who sees us!! Right now in this season I might not can wake early or have extended daily prayer times–but I recognize my need for Him and pray throughout the day to Him. Oh how I need Him that is for sure!!
3. Unless your house is on the market–don’t clean it like it is. I always tell friends who come over to my MESSY house that my job is to make them feel better with my messy house;). When your littles are little–do not worry about keeping a perfectly clean house! With 5 children–I have to do a load of laundry a day–BUT I wait until the weekend to fold everything. It’s all clean by Friday. If they need something clean–they get to use their visual sensory skills to sort through the piles (it’s good for them;)–and on the weekend when Rico is there to help…I turn on some music (or enjoy the QUIET) and fold away. Sure my children do chores–but did you see their ages?? I have to remind them…I often have to help them…and if I wanted it to be perfect–I’d have to redo it for them too. But life is just too short to live that way–so I let them help, do their best and I try to rest after I put them all to bed.
4. Let the big kids help where they can. Never underestimate what children can do! I remember watching African children in Zambia at the ages of 5 and 6 carry siblings on their back and care for them ALL DAY LONG while their mom was gone! Now, I’m not saying you should put your 6 year old in charge of the others by any means;)…but they can definitely help more than you might think! Our 7 and 9 year olds help the 2 and 4 year olds with their breakfasts so this mom can shower in the MORNING instead of going all day without. I definitely couldn’t homeschool without the bigs taking turns helping with the littles while I teach the other big–so never underestimate what a child can help with! It’s amazing to watch them rise to the occasion and even how they grow when given a challenge.
5. Stay connected to your spouse. This is actually probably more like #1–but these are in now way ordered in number of importance:) The more littles you have–the harder this can be. COMMUNICATING WELL is probably the key component of this. Richard and I don’t go to bed angry. We voice the things that are hard–and we walk through how we could each possibly tweak things to help make them better. We have thrown out every idea of “who should do what”–and we both cook, we both clean, we both do laundry…as well as bed time, bath time, sports coaching and often even school work (although for the most part I’m done with that by the time he gets home from work). We bleed a TEAM mentality here–and talk through our day at the end of every day. And we pray together. The kids see us talking through things, being silly together and serving one another–and they are learning as they watch…how to do life with another. If I ever say I think we could use counseling to get back on track–Rico Suave doesn’t fuss…he just says LET’S DO IT!! We take our connection and time together seriously–and make sure we are agreeing and staying on the same page in every area concerning our family. This can be a lot of work at first–but once you get in your groove–it’s really so much fun and such a joy to have someone to run with!
So thankful for how the Lord has been caring for us these last few months…and things truly are really, really good. Last night Zeke even slept in his crib (in our room!) for the ENTIRE night without crying or needing to get through the other half of the night sandwiched between us! Each week seems to bring another connecting, secure milestone–and we are just trusting Him daily for strength. I’m not EVER looking into tomorrow–because tomorrow has enough of it’s own. We are just one day at a time over here!! We are having a lot of fun–learning a ton–and I hope our children in between all the lessons (lots of them in this season!) are feeling the LOVE more than anything else. For those of you who have been praying for us during this time of connecting with a new one–THANK YOU. We have felt your prayers…and we are thankful.
Tomorrow is a new day!! I’m excited to experience it…and can’t wait to live it to the fullest!