Friday, July 02, 2010

How Do You Do It?

When I roll with my posse*, the second most frequently asked question after, “Are they all yours?” is “How do you do it?”

In the interest of public service, I shall now answer that question. I’m not entirely sure what people mean when they ask this question, so I’m going to define it as meaning how do I feed, clothe and nurture all six children, keep the house clean and presentable, stay on top of the laundry and have my pantry fully stocked.

The answer to the question is...

I don’t.

I don’t do it all.

My house is far from perfect.
My children are wearing clean and presentable clothing only by the grace of God.
I’m perpetually four loads behind in laundry and will be until shortly before I die.
I run to the store for forgotten groceries so often that if I owned stock in Stop n Shop, I’d be fabulously wealthy by now (Real House Wives of Rhode Island? Anyone? Anyone?)

Here’s what I do to keep the authorities from knocking on my door.

1. Relax the standards
I’m not in a season of life where I can have lit candles gracing my glass coffee table. I do not have potted plants. Instead, there are toys on the floor. Two minutes after having the kids pick up the house, there are still toys on the floor. One day I will be able to walk through my living room and not step on toys; but not any time in the next few years. I’m ok with that. If you visit my house, you will have to be, too.

2. Delegate!
One of the best pieces of parenting advice I got from a fellow mom is, “If the child can take it out, then he can put it back!” If your four year old can figure out how to climb up on a dresser, find the baby powder and dump it all over his clothes, then he can do a load of wash. Seriously. I’ve had my four year old vacuum the kitchen. And you know what? Since it involves power tools, he loves it. The kids have chores that include taking out the garbage, doing the laundry, cleaning the bathroom, changing the baby, doing the dishes and cooking. So I don’t do it all. Literally. The added bonus is that these kids are learning skills and gaining self confidence that will keep them from living with me when they’re 30.

3. Say No
There’s lots of things that clamor for your attention. Volunteer opportunities, work related stuff, crafts, hobbies, activities and extracurricular stuff for the kids. The list is endless of what you can fill your time with. But we have a limited amount of hours in a day and if I fill my day with hobbies, volunteer work or lots of activities for the kids, then something else in my family life will lose out. I’m not saying to totally sacrifice your life on the altar of mothering, but some sacrifice at this time is required. So right now I blog, I bake and I knit BUT I’m not quilting, I’m not doing book clubs, I’m not involved in this ministry or that and I’m careful of how much I volunteer for.

4. Teamwork
Look at your spouse and say, “You are not the enemy.” If you invest time in your marriage, you will work as a team and many hands make light work. I treat my husband with respect and dignity and in return I get a man who does more than his fair share round these parts before and after putting in a full day at the office.

So that’s the long, preachy answer to the question, “How do you do it?”
Any others? Ask now while I still know it all....

*appear anywhere with my six kids

1 comment:

Grace said...

I happened upon your blog at the home schooling facebook site. I love it. Thanks for sharing.