I was at the dentist yesterday so I had the typical deja vu experience of having conversations that seem original, but are played out anytime I go anywhere new. As soon as it’s discovered that I have 6 kids, the story is always the same.
“Wow! You look really great for having 6 kids!”
Thank you! I think? Is this some sort of backhanded compliment? No, they’re being friendly. Ok. Thank you!
Then comes the inevitable, “I don’t know how you do it!”
I laugh and smile and be polite. It’s really not so hard, but I have done my homework.
Here’s how I do it in 5 quick bullets. It doesn’t always work out pretty and different seasons have looked different, but this is how it works in our household.
- We have a routine – It’s not always followed strictly, but there’s a sense of what comes first and what comes next. Breakfast is generally at 8am, everyday, for years. You must come to breakfast dressed, boys don’t like to sleep in shirts and I don’t want to see your chest. Dressed. No exceptions. Breakfast, chores, school.
- Kids do chores – They begin having strict chores at the age of 4. We start small and train with an older child, but they do chores, they expect to do chores. Those systems where mom gobbles up your things? I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with those. The house has been divided up in chores and chore times and they get done. Many hands make the work light!
- Speak principle – Ok, this is silly, but I do like to say teaching phrases over and over. “Always be honest.” “Work hard, play hard,” “Many hands make the work light,” “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” They’re silly, but I know they’ll come into the minds of my children when they have a decision to make. There’s nothing more powerful than strategically playing Jedi mind tricks with your kids by getting into their heads.
- Stay home – We miss out on a lot of really great opportunities by not jumping on every one. We jump on very few. Ask any close friend of mine, not only do I not answer my phone, but I don’t go to places I don’t want to go. This is my normal nature, but this is also very intentional. We live a busy life, we need to be ready and available to live that life and we won’t have energy to live well if we’re maxed out.
- Be flexible – How do I do it? By God’s grace! Every child, every situation, every season of life requires much prayer and much flexibility. I have children that I have to watch and monitor their level of stress and their needs to have time alone, if I miss the cues and we break the threshold of tolerance, we pay! There have been seasons where nothing is how I would like things to run, but it’s for the good of the household at the time so we went with it. Pray!
That’s how I do it. As the kids are getting older, I’m learning to rest and sit more, but I don’t’ have a lot of down time. Such is life. God has always been faithful and gracious to guide us each step of the way.