Friday, September 24, 2010

How Do I Do It?

When I sit down and put pen to paper and list all my responsibilities I can get overwhelmed just trying to remember them all. Aren't most of us that way, though? I guess that's why we don't do it very often! I had a brief thought to try to make a list here, but got overwhelmed just thinking about it!

My life is full and I love it! I have my marriage, 5 kids, church activities, school activities, sports activities, friends, and on and on. People ask me how I do it and I'm never sure how to answer that question, but I give it a shot if they really want to know!

One key thing to realize is that what works for one family doesn't work for every family. I remember looking at women who I thought were amazing and "had it all together" and wanting to be just like them. Over time I realized that "having it all together" is relative and is really an illusion a lot of the time. I also realized that I am not those women! I have to do what works best for me and my family. So, I should get to know them and learn from them and then take that information to heart and apply it in a way that works best for my home. Easier said than done, though!

Managing my home is more challenging during some times of the year than others. But on the average day, here are some things that help me:

--Prayer. It may sound like something people just say, but I mean it. My faith is important to me and carries me through.

--Saying no! If I am asked to do something that doesn't line up with what is best for my family, even if it is a good thing, I have to say no. This gets easier each time I do it.

--Simplify. My two year old does not need a room full of toys and my 7 year old does not need 30 outfits or 7 pairs of shoes (neither do I!). We keep what we need and give the rest to other people. (We love hand-me-downs and get them a lot!) This helps with clean up time and laundry. The less we have the less there is to clean up and wash. Please do not think that my children don't have any toys or clothes. They have plenty and we still have toys that aren't really played with other than to dump them on the floor. That's apparently a two year old thing! But simplifying our home has played a key role in getting on top of managing it.

--Limits. My children are limited to one "sport" per school year. We feel it is important to be at home as a family for supper reasonably often and that is nearly impossible if our children do more extra-curricular activities than this. My 10 year old boy and 7 year old girl will be playing soccer this year, and my 5 year old girl will be taking a ballet class. The 2 year old and 1 year old boys aren't old enough yet! As my children get older I realize this will get harder because of school clubs and other things, but we have set a precedent in our home that our kids understand. They may have to say no to some things. And, really, that's okay.

--Planning. I am a calendar person! When a note comes home from school that a function is coming up, it immediately goes on the calendar. I also keep a master shopping list and if a note comes home asking me to bring an item, it immediately goes on the list. The only problem with this is that I do my shopping once a week, so if it's needed more quickly than that I have to have my husband grab it on his way home from work. That doesn't happen often, though.

--Meal planning. Every Monday evening I sit down and plan all the meals through the next Monday evening so that I can have my shopping list ready to shop on Tuesday morning.

--Flexibility. My husband has a job where he can get called in last minute, so sometimes I have to improvise when it comes to getting everyone where they need to go. It stresses me out! But I have (sort of) learned to be flexible. Most of the time my husband will run the kids to their sports activities as much as possible so I can get supper cooked and the other children bathed.

--Willingness to change. If my life is a struggle and something we are doing isn't working, my husband and I figure out what can be done to fix it... and we do it. Waking up every day dreading what the day will bring is just not a way we are willing to live on a regular basis, so we do what we can to change it when that happens.

I could probably go on, but there is only one more thing I simply have to mention and most days is what determines what kind of day it will be... and that thing... is ATTITUDE. My attitude is key. For one thing, attitude appears to be contagious. If I have a rotten attitude it doesn't take long before my husband and kids share that attitude. Then the day tends to go downhill from there.

Confession time! Quite honestly, there are several things that trigger a bad attitude in me. Hopefully that's not just me! It is somewhat freeing to know what my triggers are so I can be on guard. My biggest trigger is being late. I can't stand to be late!!! If I think I'm going to be late I'll start yelling at the kids to hurry and getting all huffy and angry. It's not pretty. I'm improving a lot in this area, though! Mostly because I make sure I'm not late, but if something crazy happens and I will be late... well... I'm working on it! Other things that completely ruin my attitude are negative, complaining people and things like flat tires or the internet going out.

I am learning, though. I am learning that it is impossible to be a successful wife, mom, church member, or friend if I have a bad attitude. So, when things start to go downhill like it did today when I was almost late picking my kids up from school because my 2 year old had hidden my keys in his toy box... I take a deep breath, pray, and ask God to help me.

I am thankful for my full life! There is never a dull moment... that's for sure!

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