Large family stress management: ordering

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A mother who has a list of priorities and keeps them in order can save a family much grief, especially in times of great stress such as:

  • Moving
  • A new baby or other addition to the family
  • Job changes
  • Family emergencies, such as fire, flood, death or illness
  • Vacation and travel
  • Holidays
  • Schedule changes

Some of the things I do each day are unnecessary, others are essential. While changes and stresses can put a wrench in the best-laid plans, there are some areas that must not be neglected such as:

  1. Keeping in fellowship with God—Prayer, the Word and things like praise and worship are more important to me than eating!
  2. Keeping in touch with one’s spouse—No matter how many children I have, my relationship with my husband is still my most intimate, and it needs daily watering in order to stay healthy.
  3. Keeping in touch with one’s children—Even during times of rebellion or disobedience, my children need positive, personal input from their mother.
  4. Keeping everyone fed—While family members contribute from time-to time, the ultimate responsibility for feeding everyone is mine.
  5. Keeping everyone clean in a clean environment—Disorder and filth breeds depression, chaos, and disease.
  6. Dealing with health issues—Nutrition, remedies, medical attention and medicines must all be attended to.
  7. Taking care of business—Paying bills, maintaining appliances and household furnishings, maintaining communication with neighbors and relatives are all things that are important to the functioning of a family.
  8. Encouraging beauty and culture—Believe it or not, my family relies on me to add that little bit of “special” to each day, whether it be wildflowers in a vase, some classical music in the background, or a bit of sweetness at the end of a meal. Especially in times of distress, mothers need to keep a little bit of “sparkle” in the home. Of course, creating and atmosphere of praise and worship by playing and singing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs making melody in your hearts unto the Lord,” Ephesians 5:19, makes all the difference!

O worship the LORD in the beauty of

A real-life example:

There are those emergencies that crop up suddenly, and this is where a good manager must think quickly and clearly.

A number of years ago one of our children was seriously injured in our house before it was completely built. She had stepped into an open heater vent and managed to shave the flesh from the back of her foot!

While the situation was shocking and potentially dire, I had to keep my wits about me; becoming hysterical would have only added stress to the situation and caused the injured child more harm. I had to think fast, I had to have a plan. The children were upset, of course, and they looked to me for direction. There was, blessedly, a certain order with which I had learned over the years to tackle situations like these. Here it is in a nutshell:

Assess the situation.

Of course the first we heard of the incident was screaming, so there was no way of knowing what had actually taken place without gathering more information. After calming everyone down, I began to ask questions, and then I examined my daughter. Seeing the extent of the injury struck fear in my heart, but I did not react, I prayed, we all prayed at that moment and all along the rest of the way…I am certain that without walking daily with God I would not have been able to handle the situation with such reserve.

Formulate a plan.

With prayer and a clear mind, I was able to begin to have a plan of action; stop the bleeding, wrap the wound (the house was empty and it was summertime, so there was nothing to wrap the injured foot in but my slip, just like in an old-fashioned cowboy movie), get everyone calmed down and informed, and put everyone into the van so that we could head to the emergency room.

Gather resources and put the plan into place.

While on the way to the ER I started ordering how the situation would be handled; I assigned older children to younger children, decided who would be with me in the ER, decided what would be prepared for dinner and designated who would be cooking and cleaning.

At the time I had a five month old infant whom I was nursing and a toddler and other small children at home, which meant the situation was quite complicated; the infant was with me throughout the ordeal at the hospital, so it was vital that an older sibling stay with me to help with many of the logistical details there, and Daddy needed helpers at home so that things could go on smoothly for the other younger children. Everyone, even the older children with jobs and outside plans, was more than willing to drop everything and help.

After the long wait and subsequent surgery, our little girl only needed an overnight stay in the hospital for observation until she could return home. Thankfully, our oldest daughter (19 at the time) lovingly volunteered, and so the younger child was comforted and watched after so that I could return home to care for the other smaller children and keep the household going.

This happened during a time when we were trying to sell our house and were dealing with chickenpox—oh, and we had 12 children living with us at the time–can you imagine?

Believe it or not, our lives did not fall apart. By God’s grace everything went smoothly; our daughter healed, our old house sold, and within two months we moved into the home of our prayers, with twice the living space, bedrooms, and bathrooms as before!

our daughter today

Our daughter today

Throughout the whole ordeal ordering our lives according to priorities kept chaos and stress to a minimum and helped us to not only survive, but thrive as a family.

What sorts of testimonies of God’s help with priorities have you experienced?

You might also like these posts on facing it, getting ahead1, getting ahead 2, and streamlining.

 

 

Large family stress reduction: facing it!

COFFEE

In case you missed the other recent posts in this same vein, try Large family mtress reduction: streamlining, and Large family crisis reduction: getting ahead, part 1 and part 2

This post is not about looking one’s responsibilities straight in the eye, although that is a good subject to cover!

No, this post will be all about creating a “neat” out of a mess!

First, we will take a tour. Grab your coat, your purse, your umbrella, your diaper bag, just anything you need and come along….

Our first stop will be at a hotel lobby that is delightful, albeit a bit busy:

There is a lot of pattern here, which makes the room cozy and warm, and yet there is very little clutter. The furniture is arranged well, the surfaces are clear.

Next, we will look into a bedroom in a real home:

Although the picture is not of the highest quality, it is interesting to note how tidy things look, isn’t it? The books are neatly stacked, the tables are nearly clear, the bed is neatly made.

Here is an example of a neat child’s closet:

Don’t you want to breathe a sigh of relief when you view this photo? There is a place for everything, yet there is still room for more. Even the hangers are neatly spaced apart, and the clothes are hung according to length (you can learn more by visiting the blog this was taken from, Living Well Spending Less).

Lastly, we will visit a department store:

This photo is taken of a Fredmeyer store. It includes a sea of different aisles filled with a dizzying number of products, yet it is all very, very neat and organized.

And now we come to the end of the tour, and finally to the reason for the post!

When I was a young girl, I worked in a retail store in the shoes and men’s-wear departments. It was eye-opening to see just how quickly everything became messy, especially if there was a terrific sale going on. If men’s jeans were on sale, at the end of the night we would enter into the dressing room and find unwanted pants piled three feet high in some places! Of course, a big portion of my job was to keep things neat and tidy, because everyone knows that potential customers are turned off by chaos and mess. In fact, we were reminded to “face” the shelves and the racks on a regular basis throughout the day.

In case you don’t know what “facing” means, just read this from Wikipedia:

Facing (also known as blocking, zoning, straightening, or conditioning) is a common tool in the retail industry to create the look of a perfectly stocked store (even when it is not) by pulling all of the products on a display or shelf to the front, as well as down stacking all the canned and stacked items. It is also done to keep the store appearing neat and organized.

The workers who perform this task normally have jobs doing other things in the store such as customer service, stocking shelves, daytime cleaning, bagging and carry outs (in grocery stores), etc. In some stores, however, facing is done only by the stockers. Facing is generally done near closing time when there are fewer customers and also while the store is completely closed. In busier stores it may be done constantly.

In department stores it may be referred to as recovery, as in the store is recovering from the rush of customers that affect the model appearance the store wants to portray. Merchandise may be put in the wrong area, or customers may leave debris on the floor. Correcting these issues is a part of the recovery process.

Did you catch all of that? “Facing” keeps things “appearing neat and organized.” Retailers have always known that shoppers will come by more often, stay longer, and purchase more if stores are neat and clean. Families are just as important, if not more important, than store customers (the people we take care of are actually our “clients,” aren’t they?).

Just how does this apply to the large family home?

Well, for one thing, no matter how we try and keep a lid on clutter, large families still need a lot of “stuff” to survive each day. Minimalists may get away with keeping only one pair of shoes by the door, but maximalists (big families) need to have a number of pairs handy; in our home that currently means 11, and at one time it meant 15!

We have to have 11 glasses, 11 plates, 11 forks and spoons, for each dinner. We need 11 coats, 11 pairs of mittens, 11 caps whenever we want to go out. Our eight beds need sheets and pillowcases, blankets and pillows. There are 11 towels that are used daily for personal hygiene, 11 toothbrushes that are (hopefully) used.

So, even though it is important to get rid of unwanted items in order to simplify and create ease in cleaning and maintaining a home, mothers of many still have to find ways to deal with loads of important, even essential, items everyday in such a way that the family can still enjoy peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to keep all of the flotsam and jetsam of life in order:

  • Organize according to type
  • Organize according to color
  • Organize according to shape
  • Organize according to size
  • Organize according to “ease of use” (most used items in the front, on the top, etc. to keep everything from being disheveled every time someone has to rummage for something)

Things that need to be “faced”:

  • Toothbrushes and paste and other personal care items (such as brushes and combs, barrettes, make-up and perfumes, etc.)
  • Towels and linens
  • Shoes
  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Toys
  • Dishes
  • Canned and dry goods
  • Homeschool supplies

Of course, it is not just Mother who needs to keep things orderly, it is the job of the entire household. While it is wonderful to have children who automatically understand how to make things look “neat,” and I have actually had a few of those, every family has a few who were unable, or unwilling, to catch on. Just what do you do with a child (children) like this? Here are a few ideas:

  • Minimize the possible messy items for this person. Don’t allow him/her to keep four toothbrushes, or sixteen tubs of Lego’s. Be brutal and bring things to a minimum; it will mean a better relationship for the both of you!
  • Take the time and/or expense to have some cheap bins available which are  clearly labeled according to their expected contents, then make sure you inspect regularly to make sure they are placed correctly (nothing more disgusting than to find a molded apple or orange in the bin of socks!).
  • Take a closet or cupboard, organize and face it, then take a picture of it, print it out, and post it inside so that a young (or old) learner will see what it should look like.
  • Take a cue from retailers and have regular “facing” times, then offer a reward for neatness!
  • Have the children do a “general” job, then go in and finesse it yourself (I do this as therapy some days–I do not consider it a sickness!).

Some sites that will help and inspire:

Organize Junkie–this one is so much fun–I salivate just looking at the photos!
Among others, here is a very interesting post from iheart Organizing that discusses taking what you already have and making it look more appealing.

Here is a Pinterest page chock-full of amazing ideas and inspiration from all over the Blogosphere!

What sites inspire you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Large family crisis reduction: getting ahead {part2}

Get Ahead

In my last installment in this series, Large family crisis reduction: getting ahead {part 1}, we discussed the basic ideas behind doing things ahead, or, as Don Aslett puts it, creating a “frontlog” instead of a “backlog.”

Of course there are times when even the best of plans are interrupted, and this is where faith is exercised.

LFM, Caution sign

However, if we are in the habit of keeping ahead wherever possible, we have less trouble getting back on track when things return to “normal” (whatever that means!).

Really and truly, time is one of my most precious commodities, so I am constantly looking for ways to use it more wisely. Although it can seem as though the rest of the world, you know, the people who don’t have three in diapers at the same time, has loads of extra time, everyone is subject to the same encumbrances. I have learned not to become worried or frustrated that I don’t have huge spans of time to focus on just one task. I have learned to stay ahead by snatching moments that would otherwise be lost.

For instance, I carry paper and pencil in my apron pocket and write down ideas and plans as they come to my mind, usually while I am vacuuming! I sew on buttons and patch clothes while watching movies and cuddling children (a stitch in time…). If I am waiting in the car while running errands, I catch up on my reading and writing (my favorite place to study or write is in the car). I listen to sermons while cleaning around the house, and I listen to the concerns of my older children while folding clothing. Pregnancy insomnia and nursing infants has given me hours of time to do research and write over the years. Even a doctor appointment is either a time when I can connect with a family member or catch up on something like paperwork.

When I walk through the house I wipe surfaces, pick up items on the floor, put things back where they belong, wash and switch loads of clothing. I pick up the yard while I am gathering the children in, I clean up the bathroom while I am using it, and I clean up the desktop on my computer before I shut it down.

Being at the head of the race is such a lovely feeling. Of course, I am not perfect at this, and there are areas in which I could use improvement, but the old, procrastinating person I used to be has almost disappeared (anyone else come from a family line in which procrastination is considered a virtue?).

I know what many are thinking…

“This sounds wonderful, but I am so far behind that I don’t know where to start!”

Don’t despair! Just take one step at a time and decide you are not going to give in until you are able to overcome! It can be helpful if you sit and ask yourself a few simple questions:

Is my mind cluttered with worry?

This is very important. When we are worried, we are prone to confusion and fretting, which leads to anger and destructive behavior. If we don’t know the Savior, we have every reason to be fretful, because we don’t have a God who is near and dear and able to overcome every obstacle in and through us. If we do know the Savior and we are still worrying, we need to get back onto the side of faith, believing that God is working each and every circumstance for our good! (Romans 8:28) Remember, faith pleases God!

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

Every mother of many children experiences numerous trials, ranging from paying the bills to having clean underwear, but only the foolish ones try and carry the whole load. Prudent mega-moms learn early-on to cast their cares on the Lord:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

1 Peter 5:7

If you can cast your anxiety on the Lord, then your mind will be freed up so that you can plan and work ahead, otherwise you will run around in circles “like a chicken with her head cut off”, and will eventually run out of steam and give in to chaos.

When my own children were so tiny that they could not help there were very few I could reach out to, and it seemed as though relatives were the worst, since their helping hands came with wagging tongues. But I always had Jesus, and learning to roll everything onto His broad shoulders made my load lighter and my life brighter. Subsequently, many have marveled at how joy-filled I am! My mind is clear to work on tomorrow because I don’t fear it, I look forward to the blessings God will bring to me, even through the trials!

Am I inventing distractions to keep me from taking care of unpleasant tasks?

This is not just a question for mothers of many, it is something top-ranking businessmen ask themselves regularly. It is human nature; we run to take care of things that are fun or feed us, we run from those things that are simply no fun at all, such as cleaning out the freezer or going through old bills (it is amazing just how many ways I can keep myself busy so that I can keep from even looking at that ominous stack of papers in the office).

One dear woman decided that housework caused her stress and depression, but shopping made her feel good, so whenever it was time to do a sink of dishes or wash some clothing, she went shopping instead! She would feel so good at the store; everything was so neat, the people were all so friendly, and she enjoyed finding “bargains.” Unfortunately, when she returned home with her purchases, she was faced with a filthy kitchen and a pile of dirty clothing, so she would throw her bags somewhere in the corner and go out for dinner. This continued until her home was unlivable, her daughter was taken away, and her husband divorced her.

She is not the only one that has suffered in this way. Some of us get “activity-itis” and go all over the community helping others to avoid helping at home, or maybe we read novels or go surfing online for hours at a time. It takes more than soft hands and a warm heart to be a good mother; it takes self-discipline and self-sacrifice when no one is looking. How many times have I drug my sick, pregnant body out of bed to make sure my children had something to eat, that their clothing was clean and they knew there was security and love in the house? Except for the day after my babies were born, there have probably been only two days on record which I spent in bed while the household waking up. In fact, sleeping in makes me feel ill!

I had to learn many years ago that work is a good thing. Instead of avoiding it, I relish it! Did you know that it is the people who keep busy with work that last the longest and have the fewest illnesses? It is a blessing that I have a strong body, food that gives me energy, and many loved ones to care for! Those who live only for themselves are the ones to be pitied–every moment of my life is spent in wonderful PURPOSE!

Work is a good thing

 

But here is a little trick; don’t try and do everything yourself! We moms of many also have an extra ingredient other women don’t; TEAMWORK!

For instance, I had collected all of the memories of our family for the last 32 years into one huge plastic storage bucket, but it was barely organized. I recently spent one whole day going through the photos and arranging them in piles. The next day I handed a stack of photos to each of my oldest daughters and asked them to put them into books I had been saving for just such an application. Voila! Within a few hours I had four full photo albums ready and waiting for a trip down memory lane!

Just think about the potentials! Need the bathroom free of extra bottles of shampoo, etc.? Just have a boy in the family gather all of the bottles up and consolidate them by combining all of the half-used bottles together, and then placing the resulting full bottles in the bathrooms around the house. Even little children can gather up all of the shoes and match them so that you can easily separate the ones you want to keep from the ones you want to get rid of. Around here we find that folding laundry or getting the kitchen clean is a wonderful time to strike up some funny or interesting conversation, or even to practice our singing and harmonizing! (When the children were little we would clean while we sang words like, “Help Your Mama” adapted to familiar tunes such as the Beach Boys’ “Help me, Rhonda.”)

Here is another sneaky tip; when children are at least attempting to help, they are not running around and getting into trouble! When tiny ones are whining (or screaming) around the house, I have them “wash” a few dishes, or hand them  spray bottles of water and a rags and have them spray and wipe things. If the boys don’t work well together but egg each other on, I separate them. If there are children who try to sneak off, I put them in the center of the room or train them to sit next to me while they fold a few washcloths or wipe down some muddy shoes. I am not afraid to use some positive (or negative) reinforcement. I make sure my  children know that work is pleasant as well as important by working along-side them with a good attitude.

Remember that list of tasks I try to go through each night to get prepared for the next day? Why not have the children help? Have them put bowls upside-down on the table with spoons along-side for breakfast, or make orange juice and put it in the fridge, set out their clothing, set up the coffee, etc. Older children can get used to helping with meal planning, iron clothing, organize closets, make a short list for the store. Middle children can cut up vegetables and fruit to have in the refrigerator for meals and snacks, or they can bake cookies or even write thank-you notes. Smaller children can run errands around the house for the others, such as fetching shoes or putting away books and other items.

A hive of busy bees is much better than a cave full of people who are mind-numbed by entertainment or disgusted with their surroundings. Teaching children to help us get ahead and stay ahead will reap dividends, not only in the “now,” but even after our children are long grown and have their own lives.

 

 

 

Large family crisis reduction: getting ahead {part 1}

Get Ahead

Are you constantly feeling like you are chasing one disaster after another, as if you are constantly “running behind”? I know exactly what you mean…

If you’ve never lived in a large family, it is probably hard to understand just how “dynamic” life can be! I grew up with only one sister, so things were fairly sedate and quiet in my home, although there were still crises and challenges.

But when there are loads of people who interact, especially when these people are tiny, there seems to be one crisis after another, some days with no lull time in-between. Sometimes it can seem so overwhelming that mothers simply give up and give in!

One dear woman wrote to me and explained the deplorable situation she was living in; her children had been snatched away at one time due to her lack of coping skills and her house and family were in such horrible disarray that basic human needs were going unmet. After her children had been returned, she was still unable to handle everyday living, choosing instead to lie in bed and hide from her responsibilities.

I don’t believe this dear sister started out as a rotten homemaker. She had the same ambitions we all have; she wanted to have a clean, peaceful, orderly home in which everyone’s needs were met and love flowed freely. Her steps into the dark abyss were taken slowly and steadily so that they all began to snowball. All of her “undones” began to work on her mind until she was actually physically ill at the thought of her many burdens, which left her without energy to tackle even one of them successfully.

To be sure, she felt as though she was chasing an unobtainable dream, always running behind, always thwarted, until she was unable to keep up and fell helpless in the dust.

Life as the mother of many people has its challenges, but they do not have to be overwhelming. If we can keep certain keys in mind, we will finally be able to live productive, joyful, loving lives, no matter what circumstances we live under. These keys are:

Faith

and

Getting Ahead

Faith: At the end of the day, the difference between a woman who is haggard and overcome and the woman who is hopeful and ready for life is one thing: believing in a God who is there and who wants to bless His children. There is no way to overemphasize this one principle. Our natures are dark, but God sent His Son, before we even cared to love God, He loved us. This is the secret of joy, of living near the pulse of the Maker; believing He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, of those who rely on Him and believe in Jesus. Our reliance in faith makes all the difference, from the ways we respond to our children to the ways we keep our kitchens clean. There is so much to share here, but I fear that it would take a lifetime to explain it adequately, and there are others who have done a much better job than I ever could…

Getting Ahead: Finally we come to the heart of this post. Being unprepared has been the cause of much evil in the world. It is one thing to be overcome by the unforeseen, it is another to live without prudence so that even simple events of life become crises. Getting ahead means planning and preparing in advance. It means that I don’t have to run to the store every morning for breakfast food. It means that I am not constantly digging through piles of unwashed or unfolded laundry to find a work shirt for my husband. It means that I am not spending two hours looking for a pencil when it is time to homeschool my children. Of course, there are times when people are ill and the laundry piles up, but there are ways to keep from being totally overcome even in these times. Getting ahead means

Think ahead, do ahead

When you think ahead, you are putting your mind in gear and planning for contingencies.

For instance, I keep an inventory of objects that will be needed in case of minor injury or minor illness. This means that I have two small plastic cases filled with items for bandaging wounds, dealing with splinters and stingers and the like. I also have a small cache of remedies and devices for the minor aches and pains that come with living life on planet earth.

I don’t purchase many “convenience foods,” but I try and keep a pantry stocked with raw materials which can be used to form frugal and delicious meals such as meats, flour, vegetables and spices. In this way I am rarely caught off-guard when it comes to food preparation. I also keep a running list of possible meal combinations based on what I have accumulated, always attempting to use perishable items first.

I have a plastic crate in an upstairs closet in which I store school supplies. I purchase these at discounted prices during the back to school sales in late summer and then portion them out during the rest of the year. Included are pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, glue, scissors, chalk, wipe-off markers, markers, rulers, paper clips, index cards, etc.

Before I start a new project, I sit with a plain piece of paper and draw a sort of map of the whole idea, complete with notes and assignments. Having a plan on paper has saved my sanity many times, since I need to have a mind and heart free enough to pay attention to the people in my life and the issues they are experiencing without being otherwise distracted. I have found that, if I don’t have a written, concrete plan, my mind becomes so full of other things that I forget and lose all of my hard work! On the other hand, it is so refreshing to pull out a notebook and find my plans written plainly so that all I have to do is implement them!

Doing things ahead means having things in place before the “crunch” times.

What are “crunch” times? How about Church day, having a new baby, taking a trip, having guests over, when Daddy arrives home, holidays, and dinner time? Any and all of these situations don’t have to become stress-filled. Although one cannot totally eliminate challenges, they can be reduced.

One way I do this is by thinking about tomorrow the night before; I ask myself, “How many things can I accomplish before bedtime that will bless me when I awaken in the morning?”

Here are some that I can think of:

  • Clean the kitchen
  • Vacuum the floors
  • Pick up the bedrooms
  • Fold and put the laundry away
  • Set out the clothes for the next day
  • Plan the next-day’s meals, set out breakfast, prepare “lunch packs”
  • Fill up the coffee maker so that it will automatically start in the morning
  • Plan homeschooling for the next day

What are some that you can think of?

For more on this subject, be sure to be on the look out for Large family crisis reduction: getting ahead, part 2, in which we will discuss just how to begin to plan and do…

You may also like Large family mess reduction: streamlining.

Large family mess reduction: streamlining

StreamlineIt could be said that most of our time is spent dealing with all of our “stuff”–we have to shuffle it around, polish it, maintain it, categorize it, pick it up, stow it, etc. This is only exacerbated when your family has been multiplied by love!

There are days when it seems to take forever just to pick up the rooms, not to mention being able to move things around so that a deep cleaning can occur. Children and parents alike are carrying loads of stress, and they are not getting along well, and everyone is looking around for some deep spiritual or emotional reason when it may due to a single, heinous culprit; clutter!

Clutter is not just the row of figurines on a shelf or the stack of unread mail on the counter, it is also anything we have added to our lives that actually subtracts from them. This can include:

  • Craft supplies
  • Toys
  • Complicated machines
  • Complicated schedules
  • “Bells and whistles”
  • Electronic media
  • Entertainment
  • Furnishings
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Activities
  • People
  • Curriculum

Let’s face it; “extras” aren’t always extra. How many things do you find yourself sighing over, or stumbling over, or worrying over without thinking. Is it really necessary to keep every picture a child creates and placing it on the fridge? Who says our children must have five pairs of shoes a piece? Is it really wise to try and fit 8000 square feet of furniture into a 1000 square foot house? How many grocery bags do I really need to save? How many old toothbrushes will I really use to clean around the toilet? Will my children be stunted if we are not running from one activity to the other all week long? Will the church close its doors if we are not there every single meeting? Will we cease to exist if we do not have enough i-gadgets? Will our children really go crazy if we don’t allow them to play video games?

This is what this mom of many has learned over many, many years caring for many, many people; the direct route is usually the best route, so

KISS

Is the motto of my practical life!

Examples:

  • My washing machine has a control panel with more buttons than the space shuttle, but I only use two cycles. My refrigerator also has a control panel with more neon than Las Vegas at night, but I only pay attention to what kinds of ice I want; chipped or cubed!
  • My morning routine fits nicely into a zip-bag, my wardrobe consists of six shirts and six skirts (with a few outfits for special occasions), I wear one pair of shoes in the winter, one in the summer.
  • I have four tabs that I keep track of on my browser; the others I add or subtract as necessary. I keep up with only 5-6 blogs, I keep Facebook to no more than 20 minutes a day.
  • We have four breakfast choices, lunch is sandwiches, and there are about eight different dishes that I plan for dinner, and all of these are rotated as needed (as long as these bases are covered, we are free to add something special if we want to).
  • Outside activities are very few; only the ones where we are truly contributing and learning.
  • I floundered around for years homeschooling with different methods and materials until I discovered the most direct route: Eclectic Education materials (like the McGuffey readers, Ray’s Arithmetics, and Long’s Language), “living” books, and notebooking.
  • I love beautiful things, but even these can become burdens. I keep a few choice items set out, but I tend to think that a few fabulous decorations are much better than a horde of ticky-tacky curios and momentos.

Besides pairing life down, I am also a huge fan of purging (I call this having “pitch and burn” sessions). In fact, writing this post is reminding me of all of the things I need to go through very soon…

  • Glasses and dishes–you know, the ones that are chipped, or stained, or awkward, or simply ugly!
stack of dishes2

Our stack of dishes is too heavy for a top cabinet!

  • Shoes–the season change is a good time to go through and check the condition and sizes of shoes, then keep a list of who needs what for those spontaneous garage-sale times, etc.
  • Clothes–this also comes with the seasonal change. We pass our clothes down as much as possible, but there are times when things just wear out (or we have kept things that are awful looking in the hopes that hanging them in the closet will somehow improve them).
  • Papers–this is a big one for me, since I tend to hate detest abhor dislike going through piles of bills and the like, and filing seems like running in place.
  • Food–have you ever bought a can of lima beans thinking that somehow you would be able to sneak them into a pan of soup, but your children are too astute so that your plans are foiled, then you keep that can of lima beans in the cupboard for five years, always trying to bring it to the front so that you will be reminded to use it but push it to the side in favor of the green beans? Well, purging helps me come to grips with the fact that 1) spending money on food my family will not eat is wasteful, and 2) if I ever make a mistake and purchase something distasteful, I should have the sense to donate it before the “best by” date so that someone else can enjoy it!

In order to do a good job of purging, I have to get “in the mood,” so I actually have a playlist on YouTube which I have labeled “Cleanin’ Music,” which is lined up with “get going” tunes. I get containers and bags ready, and I even sit beforehand and write out a general plan, with assignments for all of my “volunteers”!

Some people say you can streamline in small snatches of time, but I tend to need a few days in which I dig in and don’t stop until I get to the bottom of it all (my poor husband reads the signs and finds a place to hide when I begin a deep-clean session).

It takes a lot of work to take one’s home apart and put it back in order, but the results are so astoundingly refreshing it gets me excited!

Off to change my little corner of the world…

 

When girls shop {printable}

It was snowing heavily, and a strong wind was rocking the family van as I sat inside, quietly nursing my two-week-old infant (she was my fourteenth child). We were sitting together in the parking lot of Walmart while my two daughters (aged 17 and 16) were grocery shopping for the whole family. It wasn’t long before they both came rolling out of store pushing and pulling three whole carts full of food.

Although some would have thought me crazy, I felt confident as I handed my daughters a detailed list and a stack of crisp, 100-dollar bills. After all, they had been trained by the best (yours truly); I had been taking them grocery shopping with me since before they were born.

In fact, my children always accompany me on my monthly “mega-shopping” trips. Since these are only taken once a month, we make a real event out of it! Here are some ways I prepare:

Want to read more? Just follow this link over to Raising Homemakers where I am sharing today!

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A wife like Della Street…

The perfect wife; just what does she look like?

Is she like June Cleaver?

Is she like Donna Reed?

Certainly these ladies were portrayed as loving, caring, capable helpmates to their husbands. But there is one choice that has been overlooked; she is savvy, she is efficient, she is intelligent, and she uses all of her faculties to make her “man” shine. The perfect “wife” is not a wife at all, but a secretary, Perry Mason’s secretary, to be exact.

The last few months we have been working through the original Perry Mason series, which was a television drama centered around the cases handled by a renown fictitious lawyer practicing in Los Angeles and was aired from 1957 to 1966. We enjoy this series because it is almost impossible to tell “who-dunn-it”–and the crimes are dealt with in a polite manner, without all of the gore and darkness that we have had to endure these days.

While Mason, played by Raymond Burr, was the genius of the show, each episode makes it very clear that Della made his conquests possible.

Barbara Hale does not play a doormat; she is not afraid to speak her mind, but she also knows when to keep her opinion to herself. She knows how to take directions, but she is not afraid to respectfully object when she is unsure about a situation. She knows that she serves a man with clay feet; nevertheless, she is in awe of him, and her high opinion is communicated in the way she looks at him, responds to his requests, and anticipates his needs.

One thing is for sure; no matter what the situation, her focus is on making Perry Mason’s job easier.

And Perry Mason is not rude, or demanding, or petty with her, either. He doesn’t talk to her as if she were his slave; he is respectful and polite, and even though he is a very serious fellow, he finds subtle ways to delight her and is even playful at the appropriate times.

As I have been watching Della Street perform her duties over these last few months, a scripture has come into my mind:

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Proverbs 31:10-12

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day gives a boost to homemakers

I just love receiving packages in the mail, don’t you? Well, the other day I received a wonderful gift from the makers of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day!

If there is one thing I like, it is cleaning and household supplies, but Mrs. Meyer’s products are not just the ho-hum type, they are the yummy-delicious type!

For instance, I was pleasantly surprised with these two large bottles of foaming hand soap.

Mrs

The problem now is keeping the children from using the soap just for the smell of watermelon and green apple!

If that weren’t enough of a blessing, I was also blessed with these safe, food-based fingerpaints (can anyone say, “win/win”?).

fingerpaints

I appreciate companies who don’t make homemakers feel like dinosaurs; who actually cater to and encourage women to keep their abodes clean, tidy, and smelling nice. I think it’s about time that corporate America recognized the huge population of women who are bucking the culture and concentrating on the most important job–keeping people happy at home.

Thank you, Mrs. Meyers and all of you that are interested in the lives of women throughout our country!

Mrs. Thelma A. Meyers

Mothering preschoolers: A walk of faith

mothering preschoolers

There should be a sisterhood for women who have had many young children close together. It would be much like those created for veterans of combat; we could sit up late at night and share war-stories, show our scars, laugh at our defeats and glory in our victories.

There are so many joys that come with tiny tots; they make life seem new and hopeful, and their antics bring hours of laughter! For instance, when our first three children, spaced 18 months apart, were tiny, we didn’t own a television, so for entertainment we would watch the children go round and round the living room!

If only we could sit and enjoy the little ones all day, but besides affection, love entails service and faithfulness. Every child needs to have delicious, wholesome food and a clean, safe environment. Mothers not only need to cuddle their babies, they have to make sure the dishes and clothes are washed and the floors scrubbed. There are also bills to be paid and business to be attended to. By the time I was 27 years old, I had six children to care for, the oldest eight years old, and each one as precious as the other. While their emotional needs were great, their physical needs were just as important. It seemed that every day more was being required from me, and I knew that there was no earthly way I was going to meet the demands of my family on my own.

There I was, just like the Israelites when they were being chased by the Egyptians; it seemed as though I was facing a raging sea, and I couldn’t envision a way that I could make it across–I wasn’t strong or smart or powerful enough to figure out how to get everything done, but I had everything I needed through Christ:

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

This is one of those instances where I had to exercise my faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

No matter how inept I felt, I believed, deep down in the recesses of my heart, that He could multiply my efforts, just like he had done with the loaves and fishes. All I had to do  was to put forth my greatest effort, but rely on His power and ability to work through me. In keeping with my faith, I did a few things:

  • I turned my “to do” lists into prayer lists. I included things as simple as “Empty the dishwasher,” and, “Fold the towels.” Once a day I wrote it out, and then I prayed and turned each item over to the Lord:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

1 Peter 5:7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

  • Next, I made sure that, no matter whether everything was done or not, I put my children down for “quiet time” and spent some time refreshing myself in the Lord and getting some needed rest.

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:1-2

Amazingly, my peace increased, and then my patience. Whenever I was tempted to become anxious, I would just roll my cares back on Him, with the assurance, the “knowing” that He was taking care of things. It is amazing just how much we can accomplish when we are not fretting. Sadly, it is worry and fear that lead mothers to feel overwhelmed. When we learn to turn everything over to the Lord, and that means e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, then peace clears our minds, as well as the other fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. So, when people tell me just how patient I must be, all I can do is to point to Jesus—He is the One who deserves the glory. Because of Him, I have truly been a joyful mother of many children.

He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 113:9

An Interview With a “Stay-at-home” Daughter

Nicole

In days gone by it was the custom for young ladies to be at home until they were able to marry. At home daughters could be protected and provided for, but these days this is all passe; young women are not considered “productive members of society” unless they are out on their own and asserting themselves.

While it is true we don’t want to encourage grown daughters to become human vegetables who sit around, eat junk food and “text” all day, we also don’t want to push our girls to go out and try and find their “feminist dreams.”

This wasn’t always the case in our home; for years we bought the worldly lie that young women needed to latch on to a “career track,” but experience has taught us a few things! As soon as we had reared our first four young women, we toned our career-mindedness down a number of notches, and began instead to concentrate on helping our daughters to think more about developing themselves, not for life as employees, but for life as wives and mothers.

Want to read more? Just click over to Raising Homemakers, where I am sharing today.

Raising Homemakers