I was reading another blog and felt moved to share my own thoughts. I will apologize in advance for being long winded. She has good answers. She also doesn't cook much, hires help for general house stuff (laundry, dishes, mopping, I'm guessing), currently has a live-in MIL who is doing her laundry and generally helping out, and hires a regular babysitter so she can do errands without all in tow. Not everyone has that luxury. Nor does that diminish her mothering skills or abilities. It just helps her keep sane, I would think. But the thing that most got me motivated to write were the comments she was getting. The negative ones. The ones ppl didn't bother to read correctly, or had their own (misguided IMO) opinion on her method or value. I was surprised by them, actually. For such a young mom, she has a lot of good advice. Is she perfect? No. Does she claim to be? No. Did she ask for your opinion? Not really. :D
One of the strangest things about having four children, to me, is the fact that everyone else seems to think that that 4 a HUGE GINORMOUS family. It's not, really. (And for the record, I don't think MckMama does either, but everyone else does.) Four children is just one more than three, which is not considered a large family. It's considered average, the norm. Having eight kids is a big family. Four is not. But the world seems to think it's this amazing thing. Now, when they are all under a certain age, I get that the task seems all that much more daunting. And rightly so. It is. With eight children, I would think that some things would actually be easier. Ya know, the built in slave labor factor. (I'm joking there. My neighbor has 8, and they're lovely. And very convenient babysitters for me.) Plus, a mom of 8 has had much more practice... at making things work, I mean. **wink wink**
Another odd things about being a mom of 4 small children are the comments. The "are they all yours" (No. they're the Dalai Lama's. I just kidnapped them), "wow, you must be busy" (well, that's stating the obvious. But isn't everyone these days?) and "I don't know how you do it." Then there's always the looming, "are you going to have any more," which I always head off before they even get to that one. Yes, it's my last. #3 was my last. This one is really my last. I made sure. Only my mother doesn't believe me, but that's another conversation.
So back to "I don't know how you do it." Well, neither do I. You just do. I don't have much choice. When a hurricane blows in, do you pretend it doesn't exist? Or do you get up off your derriere and do what needs to be done? (I can tell you from experience that ignoring "it" does not make it go away :). A child, that is. Well, a hurricane too. Not that a child is devastating like a hurricane. A child may leave a hurricane-like trail, but they are
I found that the hardest transition for me was from two kids to three. But with each welcome addition, you learn more tricks, hone your skills more, find better ways to cope. Because you have to, you need to. Mostly it's by accident. Trial and error are good for that too (lots and lots of error). I am a much better housekeeper than I was before I got married. It's amazing how much my efficiency has improved. And yet... I still have a ways to go before reaching perfection. But then again, that's not my objective.
- So you master the art of multi-tasking. And when not to multi-task. (Ask my hubby about my bbq-ing "skills")
- You figure out better methods of organizing your madness. A system.
- You learn to clean the bathroom while the kids in the bathtub.
- That other mom blogger shared that this is also a good time for learning... captive audience. Bible stories, ABC's, colors, etc.
- You teach your children (as you should) how to pick up after themselves (a loooonng process), and dress themselves. General independence. I don't teach my children this. They come by it naturally (who me?? :D). Mine are more independent than I like, actually.
- You buy a dishwasher, which I didn't have until the day before #4 was born (no, not slave labor. Whirlpool.). So instead of spending 2 hrs doing dishes, I waste it online reading blogs. :p
- Deal, don't dump. The mail, school papers, doctors forms, wet clothes, coats/ shoes/ boots/ mittens. All that stuff that comes in the door. Piles form way too easily in my house. As evident by all the piles.
- Remove any offending items. (Also called child-proofing) If the kids are gonna get into it, and that will be disastrous or make you angry, move it. That's not everyone's philosophy. It has worked the best for me. And they still find things to get into. Even when I hide them.
- Give up the idea of perfection. Because as soon as everyone wakes up, it will be shattered.
- Pick your battles. For me that includes picky eaters, crazy dressers. Kids will eat when they are hungry, and there's always PBJ. Plus I'm not going to force them to eat something I KNOW they won't like. I've tried. It doesn't work. And as long as all the necessary parts are covered, and the clothing is "appropriate" (Hubba Hubba would freak if B-Boy wore a Barbie shirt), it's OK if it doesn't match.
- Don't sweat the small stuff - which goes along with pick your battles.
- And, I think, you need to have a plan. This is one I'm still working on. Formulating a plan, and, this is where I get stuck, setting it into action. A schedule or routine. Parenting goals. Disciplinary tactics/methods. Then the answer or solution is already set up. Saves you time and energy wondering. Can also save you some screaming.
- You learn SLEEP is of the UTMOST IMPORTANCE.
- Laughter is the next thing of utmost importance.
You might learn to be patient, you might not. I have a hard time with that one, with not getting angry at messes or disobedience, with things not going my way, with disruption. But God's not done, so I'm in good shape.
One thing that seems to be a rather challenging task is finding time for yourself, to take care of you, recharging your batteries. Some people have spouses that bend over backwards to help make that possible. Some don't. I have had to assert myself, to myself if that's possible, to get that accomplished. So if it doesn't work with Hubba's work schedule, I choose to afford hiring a babysitter. If it does work for his schedule, I try to not let guilty feelings get in the way. He can handle it. Even when he doesn't want to. :D
Some people would be aghast at what I "allow" my children to do. Like not dressing them. No clothes on, no clothes dirtied. Cheeks (#3) will just take off her clothes anyway, and put on everyone else's clothes, clean or dirty. So I wait til we have to leave the house to dress her. And if they run around in diapers/ underwear / pajamas all day, hey, that's less laundry I have to do. Yippee! If they want to be dressed, then that gives them the opportunity to learn independence in choosing and putting on their clothes. I "allow" them more independence outside that many other's feel comfortable with. If they break the rules, they lose the privilege. I "allow" them the opportunity to make mistakes, under my watchful eye. If they fall, well, then hopefully they'll know better next time. Do I let them make mistakes that are dangerous to where they could lose limbs or break them? No. That would be irresponsible. Too often, IMO, parents are so overly cautious or sheltering, that when left to their own devices, the kids go berserk.
One last thing that I found interesting about the comments in MckMama's blog was about how she placed putting her husband first of great importance, and that many people didn't agree with that... saying that marriage is a partnership. Well, it is... kinda. But God calls us to respect our husband, he is head of the household, and to be submissive. That does not mean or imply that he is the King of the castle, whip in hand, ready to beat us down. Sometimes other things will come first, out of necessity. It does not mean that there are never marital "discussions" or disagreements. But sometimes you have to "allow" him to 'be the man' and get out of the way. Also, "putting him first" doesn't mean neglecting everyone else. It means placing importance on your husband, instead of placing him last, after everything else is done, dealt with, and asleep, and you, consequently, have no energy left. So the phrase "if mama ain't happy, ain't no one happy" does have some truth. But for mama to be happy, she would serve herself well to make sure her man is happy. He is much more likely to make sure she is happy, then, too. If you don't believe it, try it.
The Lord is certainly stretching me, with each step of life. Child rearing is no different than any other obstacle we may face. Health issues, marital discord, natural disasters, financial woes. But the great part is that He is there for us when we fall, fail, flop. He forgives. And forgets. And we learn and grow. God is good!