I'm doing my little Friday Q & A a little late because weird stuff is happening with Blogger. I'm sitting at a hotel in Oklahoma City getting ready to head over to Time Out for Women in a minute (my Mom and I are speaking this weekend).
This is the land I crossed over today:
FLAT stretching out as far as you can see.
I've never been to Oklahoma before and man oh man it is pretty! (At least the part I saw from out my airplane window and on the way to the hotel.) (Note to self: Google what's up with the round fields.)
Anyway, here's one in-depth question for today:
Can you share a post on "how you manage the house"? I really think I need some tips...and my girls are only 6 and 3! :-) Between activities, school, meals and cleaning the house I feel out of my mind some days.
and from another reader on the same topic:
How on earth do you manage all of your childrens' schedules? Like how do you manage to fit everything in? Just from what you shared about Max, Elle, and Grace's piano times looks complicated enough...Thanks! (hmmmm...that would be a good podcast discussion question...I'm sure there are so many people with great ideas on this out there.)
A little disclaimer here before I start with my answer: If you have been reading this blog long, you may realize that I am actually the one who needs the tips on managing a household. I'm the one who forgets dentist appointments on a regular basis and is late to performances. There is SO much to manage in a house full of kids... but I really try. And I have to say that I thank my lucky stars every day that I am married to the best household manager on the planet. He evens me out a little bit. He's the one behind the schedules and routines in our family and I'm so thankful for that.
Here are some of the things that help us in our family:
1) I think the first thing to come to grips with when you are a mother of small children is that you need to prioritize planning time. During our family home evening we always have a minute for "Family Business" where we all talk about what is coming up the next week. Ideally it would be great to have a humongous calendar for everyone to write stuff on, or a way at least for my husband and I to sync up our electronic calendars (anyone know how to do that?) but conducting "Family Business" together sure helps. That way we get to hear what's important coming up for everyone in the family, whether it's a test at school someone is worried about or "Jury Duty" for dad. Whatever it is, it feels good to all be on the same page and know what's coming up.
It also helps so much to steal some time away on Sundays to do your own planning as a mother. I am not so good at this (I always feel like I have children suction-cupped to my legs and can't seem to pry myself away to lock myself in my bedroom), but I am making an effort to try a little harder. Even if it's just a half hour of time alone on Sunday to go over the schedule would help so much so I'm not feeling frantic and frazzled all the time :) My Mom is a wonderful example of this and I attribute much of how amazing she is to this little time she reserves to plan on Sundays to plan and prioritize.
2) Set high (and CLEAR) expectations and train well. Our kids know that they have to have their rooms clean and beds made before they go to school. The natural consequence when they don't is that they don't get to hang out with their friends next time they ask (the thought of not being with friends happens to terrify our kids). This has been a rule since they were little so it's become a habit. They know what's expected and generally they do it. They are also expected to practice and do their after dinner jobs which are clearly outlined for them. They have their lists of Saturday Jobs every Saturday which Dave never tires of making a priority (and so I do to...I love it). Dave and I work alongside them so in general they have been trained well in each thing they're supposed to do. They know that we all do our part to help out in our family.
I'm making it sound like we've got this down-pat and we definitely do not. We mess up all the time. But I love having guidelines and structure to work with.
My Dad has written a book on Lifebalance (and is one of the most balanced people I know), and April, my sister's business partner at Power of Moms has an amazing "Mind Organization for Moms" program. I'm so thankful for the influence of both in my life.
But the bottom line that I'm trying to tell myself daily is this, "DON'T COMMIT TO SO MUCH STUFF!" I just tend to say yes to too many things. We all do, don't you think? We have to draw boundaries around our little families and put the most important things first: It helps so much when Dave and I prioritize family dinner time. We prioritize Family Home Evening. We often re-evaluate what we consent to sign our kids up for. And we remember that our schedule has to be re-made often. That just happens in a big family. We are not perfect by any means, but when we continually emphasize keeping the first things first, things work out.
I could go on and on...there are so many different facets to household management, but I'll end there for now since I've got to run. I'd love to hear input on what others do to run a household.