So many times I hear, “How do you do it?”
“How do you manage it all?”
I don’t know how you do it; my two drive me crazy.”
First we’ll define some key words just so we’re clear.
It: being mom to 7, homeschooling, managing, living,surviving. Monkeys: all these little people.
Let me start by clearing the air. I don’t. There, I said it. I fail every day at making it all work, at managing all these monkeys. Some days are much less of a failure than others, but lots of days, it can get pretty ugly. I get angry and impatient, frustrated and sarcastic. Some days I don’t know how we made it to the end. Some days, it’s moment by moment. That’s just the truth of it. But, we have figured out how things currently work best for us, managing with all these monkeys.
Snippets of our days
In order to make things work and work even remotely well, we have to work together. We are a team. There’s no possible way that I could do everything that needs doing on a daily basis if it were just me running the show.
A quick rundown:
- get all those monkeys motivated each morning and unwound each evening
- plan & cook 3 meals a day (yes, 3 since 8 of us are here all day, every day)
- grocery shop for said planned meals
- do laundry – an average of 10 loads a week for our family of 9
- nurse the baby
- homeschool the 4 oldest, keeping while the 3 youngest from jumping on the bed (couldn’t resist)
- keep the house at least somewhat clean
- squeeze in exercise
- spend time reading my Bible because all this falls flat if I don’t
- blog, which takes prayer and lots of time 😉
I realize that many of you do the same things. every.single.day! Some of you have more children, some don’t homeschool, some might not meal plan, and some probably work outside the home (you are amazing, working moms!) but all in all, we do the same things day in and day out.
Routines ~ A must when managing with all these monkeys
Routines are not optional. They are necessary to managing our days. Personally, I’m not a schedule kind of girl. I’ve tried, and failed, but I have realized that while still dictating our day, routines give me much more wiggle room.
Mornings are for school. We have a morning routine that I’ll spare you the details of, but it involves getting ourselves ready for our day. We split up, putting JBear down for his first nap; Nan off to her room to get working; HR, BB, and E at the table with me. HR and BB finish school by lunch time (most days), and the bigs are back at it after lunch while the littles are down for rest time.
Rest time. It changes so much as they grow, but right now a movie or legos or a game on the kindle, or sometimes even a nap (they are still little, ya know). I work; the bigs work. I help them with school, as needed.
After rest time, we have free time. Well, those who are finished with school at that point. And then I start supper around 5:00. If we don’t eat early, our evening gets away with us really quickly, and that’s no fun! We eat by 6:00 most days, but as the days get warmer and longer, that’s much more difficult.
After supper, the rat race really begins. All the kids except JBear have chores, so they all attend to those, often with
serious gentle prompting. Then’s there’s baths and bedtime routines.
At the end of it all, I’m pretty wiped out, but I cherish the time I get to spend with my most favorite person in the world, my hubby.
Making it work
Maybe that doesn’t sound like much. Maybe you are making do just fine, but I get bogged down in the crazy of it all. And friends, it does get crazy. Here are a few things that make me not so crazy or at least help the insanity level.
- I meal plan. It can be tricky to manage, no doubt, because I have tried and failed time and time again. For now, it’s working, and working great.
- We pick up toys, books, blankets, and whatever else is in the floor before rest time (most of the time) and before bedtime. With everything picked up, it feels clean even if it’s not actually spotless (which it’s mostly not).
- My big kids are mostly independent in their school work. And they help me grade papers.
- The bigs also help with the littles, especially Jbear, by helping me keep tabs on them in our big ole yard.
- They help with chores, too, in a big way!
- I fold laundry as I go. No letting it pile up.
- And the key…we make those littles and middles be in bed by 7:30 with the bigs following at 9:15. They don’t have to have lights out, but be in the rooms by then so that mama and daddy can chill and chat for a bit.
So, how do I make it work? *I* don’t, at least not by myself. There have been many tears and frustrations that sent me searching for answers in God’s Word, books on managing it all, mommy blogs, large family blogs, and mama friends. My husband has heard more grumbling than any one person should ever have to endure. We have made many changes, some good, some not so good. We are figuring it out as we go. You know the how the saying goes, “we do what we have to (or want to) do.” This is my have to and my want to.
As the kids get older, I feel like I am finally doing more than merely breathing, showering, feeding babies. That’s a good feeling! How about you? Are you managing with all your monkeys just fine, or do you struggle like I do? I know the answer for us: grace. We have to give ourselves grace and just keep on keeping on.