Our oldest and youngest :)
(Timothy- age 11 & Eliseo- age 1 week)
Benjamin (age 7) was the first one up and dressed so he could help mommy with the baby this morning.
Proud to be a big sister for the second time
(Susannah- age 2 and Eliseo)
Sweet dreams :)
We had quite a few people comment or email with basically the same question. It is a question that I get asked a lot, as well as a question that I remember wondering myself when the Lord first began blessing us with little ones.
Question- Annonymous asked- "I homeschool but I have 3 children and find it hard sometimes to "fit" everything in. HOW do you do it?"
Jennifer asked- "I have the same question. I have three children and can't seem to find enough hours in the day to get everything done!!! How do you do it????? "
Laura asked- "i'm agreeing with the other ladies! how do you do it all? any books that you would recommend. i have three as well- (5, 2, 8mo.) any tips on teaching with toddlers in tow?"
Answer: I remember going to the grocery store with my then 3 little ones in tow and a pregnant belly between me and my cart and wondering how would I ever go shopping with everyone once the new baby arrived. I remember when our 6th little one was born and my oldest was still 5 year old~ my hands were very full and I often thought it would be nice if I could grow another hand :) I couldn't imagine how I would manage it all once the next one arrived.
I answer these questions as one who is still learning and growing myself; I have cried out to the Lord so many times myself asking for help. Praise the Lord, He is so faithful even when we are not! I will share some of the things He's taught me in my life as He's given me the wonderful joy of being a wife and mommy.
Over the years, the Lord has so graciously and patiently and lovingly taught me many things. First and foremost, His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). What a wonderful God we have! His strength is made perfect in our weakness. When I had 2 or 3 or 4 children, I did not need to worry about how I would take care of 5 or 6 or 7. The Lord gives me the grace I need to care for and accomplish just what He's given me.
Secondly and equally important is that my strength is renewed by waiting on the Lord (Isaiah 40:31). Starting and ending my days with the Lord through reading His precious Word and in prayer is so vital. Giving my burdens daily to my Savior, asking Him for the wisdom I need as I train my children, asking for forgiveness where I've failed and claiming the precious promises in His Word...it is these things that bless my day and give me strength, rest, and encouragement.
Finally, as I'm sure you can imagine, I must be organized! One book that has been very helpful and encouraging to me in the past years is Managers of Their Homes (MOTH) by Steve and Teri Maxwell (http://titus2.com). It is a wonderful resource which is written especially for homeschooling moms to help them accomplish what the need to each day. We have a daily schedule we follow each day...each child and mommy too has their day broken up into various time increments and so everyone knows just what they should be doing at any given time. When the day is done, we know that we've accomplished just what we needed to simply by following our schedule.
Before I read the Maxwell's book (I think I got it when I was pregnant with my 7th), I was very organized. I made lists, scheduled and the like to keep everything on track. But through reading the MOTH book, the Lord taught me two principles that changed me and ultimately our home.
The first thing was to spend time asking the Lord just what he wants you and your children to accomplish during the year. Often times we as moms feel that we just can't get it "all" done. But that is just the problem...we aren't suppose to get it "all" done. We only need to do what the Lord wants us to do. There are many, many "good" things that we can undertake, but we should only be doing those things that the Lord has directed us. When I make me schedule each year (we make 2 schedules a year...one for the school year and another for the summer), I make a list of everything I think I need to do each day...my goals, chores, activities, ect... including things that are set (meals, sleep, family devotions ect...) I do the same thing for each child as well. Then I take my lists to Daniel (my hubby) and ask him what he thinks. Is there anything that he does not feel we need to focus on right now or rather is there something that he would like to see us do. Then, as my lists usually tend to have more on them than we can do each day, I spend time in prayer and ask the Lord to give me wisdom as to what is truly important. With a little bit of work and listening to the Spirt's leading, I have our schedule done within just a week or so and though we have days when don't follow it (we're out of town, baby being born, sickness ect..) overall, we do and each day we are making progress toward the goals we have for our family.
The second thing I learned really changed the amount of things we were able to accomplish. I use to not undertake many projects because I was so busy I never had enough time to sit down and do a big undertaking. But I learned that doing just a little bit each day adds up so quickly that I am amazed at how much we get done in those minutes that were otherwise wasted. Here's some practical examples: Just 10 minutes a day working with my preschoolers on their alphabet flashcards, they learned all their letters and sounds in about 8 weeks. Phillippians chapter 1, Proverbs 31:10-31, Psalms 1- Those are the passages my 11, 10, 8, 7, 6, and 5 year olds learned by just spending about 5 minutes each morning learning a new verse and reviewing the others. Many, many, many household projects were accomplished over the course of a few days by spending just 30 minutes of "project time" a day on them (organizing closets, sewing projects, organizing kitchen cabinets, ect...).
A couple last minute thoughts...though my children are still young (ages 11 and under), they are getting bigger each day. A couple years ago, we began to "pair" them up. Each older child has a younger partner whom they help out throughout the day as needed (help them get dressed, make their bed, with their hair and teeth, get them a drink as needed, ect...). When they were all really little, "mommy" had to do most everything (though they loved to help me); now, our mornings for example, I nurse, change, and dress Eliseo. I get Nehemiah up for hugs and kisses and cuddles, change him, and then Rebekah gets him dressed; Abigail dresses Susannah, Timothy dresses Noah, Elijah helps with Josiah, and Benjamin helps Isaiah as needed.
Another key is CHORES! Chores, not only get done the necessary household work, but they help produce truly joyful children. From the time my little ones are walking, they LOVE to help. Usually, for the first couple of years, they are largely "in the way" and making more mess than they are helping, but I let them do it anyways. They learn to love to work with mommy. As they get older and we continue to teach them, they really are big helpers! Mommy comes in to check their chore and they are grinning ear to ear as I tell them what a great job they did and how very helpful they are to mommy and daddy.
I could go on and on sharing how the Lord has used others and His Word to help me become the wife and mother He wants me to be. The exciting thing is that though I know I still have so much to learn, He never tires of patiently working in my heart. What a wonderful, blessed Savior!