“Wendy, could you share with me some of your strategies for how you are able to manage so many little ones? We don’t have the privilege of teenagers yet, so how do you manage?”
Good question! I have a few ideas, and I want to hear of yours. We moms of little ones need to support one another. Overwhelming feelings can settle in and ruin the great joys we have as moms.
I have to say first, though, that I enjoy staying at home. My kids do, too. Especially when my teens are off doing their tournaments or extracurricular activities, I stay at home with the little ones. I try not to plan outings or errands too much, and I’m fine with that. For me, home is heaven, even with a houseful of little ones running around.
In fact, this is interesting. When the teens leave, I am often reminded at how nice it is to have many little ones. It reminds me of the days when all I had were little ones. It’s easy to be blind to the joys of little children when the demands of life seems to bog you down. I remember feeling trapped or not able to “get out” at times, but those were times I had my blinders on and not able to see the great blessings I had all around me. Today, it isn’t until my teens are out of the house that I get to play with my little children, or do fun activities with just them. I’m reminded of how nice those times were.
Here are a few ideas that come to mind to avoid the feeling of being bogged down, overwhelmed.
1. Schedule time with the little ones.
Teens and adults aren’t the only ones that can be put into a schedule. Get the little guys on one, too! When the teens are gone, I have 9 children at home, 11 and under. I plan ahead for these times.
2. Have common supplies on hand.
I don’t want to have to run to the store when my built-in babysitters are gone. So, I have ample supplies of prepared meals, paper plates, diapers, etc. When I run out of these things, the hopeless feeling tends to settle in, so I like to remain fully stocked.
3. Make the things that must get done fun activities.
Being in the same room doing something for the whole family is a good use of time. Dinner, for example. Even my toddlers can do something. It may take 15 minutes to chop up one piece of celery with a butter knife, but they love participating. Even cleaning can be a fun activity. Our Two-Minute Cleanups are quite popular, and a lot of fun with little ones.
4. Plan for down time.
I have a definite “quiet time” of about two hours in the afternoon. This is when the very little ones take a nap and the others speak quietly, read or watch a video. The point is, everyone knows to be quiet. This does take practice but it pays off. This applies when the teens are home, too.
These are just a few ideas. In our book Love in the House, Chris and I talk about creativity being “an image of God trait,” and we definitely use a lot of creativity when managing many little ones. Any frustration — even frustrations with little blessings of children — sometimes take a little bit of creativity to work out.
I’d love to hear your ideas. Share them below!