On the Duggars and why their family size is none of your business

A friend of mine and I went to the McDonalds play place yesterday with our collective 11 children, ages 7 and under, in tow. It has already proven to be a long, cold winter, and our kids needed to burn off some pent up energy. 🙂 Before we entered the building, she sent me the text, “Ready for lots of looks?!” I had to chuckle because we are both so used to those looks.

source: snarkerati.com

source: snarkerati.com

And the comments, and the head counting, and the questions.  All are par for the course when you’re the mom to multiple little ones.

And I usually don’t mind.  I’m proud of my kids, and I want my kids to be proud to be a part of our family. I know that not everyone has had the ability to be part of a large family, so they generally don’t understand how much fun it is.

Recently, however, I have begun to notice a general “distaste” some people have for families with, what is perceived as, “a lot” of kids.  Most notably was when Jill (Duggar) Dillard and her new husband, Derick, announced their first pregnancy shortly after they said their “I do”s.  (If you aren’t familiar with the Duggars, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have 19 biological children and are open to having more.) The backlash, hateful words, rude judgements, and internet “eye rolls” came flooding in shortly after they made their public announcement.

Many were mad that she announced her pregnancy before her first trimester was over (but when Kate Middleton did the same thing shortly thereafter, no one even batted an eye). Others were counting the days to make sure that no “hanky panky” had happened before the wedding (don’t worry, guys… this baby is a welcomed, wanted honeymoon surprise).  And still others were frothing at the mouth in anger that the Duggar family is the single cause for global overpopulation, and how could they be so selfish, and carbon footprints, and haven’t they ever heard of birth control?!?!?!?!

Let me tell ya, it is extremely nauseating seeing this kind of hate over what should be a joyous occasion SPEWED all over the internet. Don’t believe me?  Just Google search “Jill Duggar pregnant” and see what comes up. My browser says 5.9 MILLION results, many of which, I’m assuming, are nothing but rude vitriol.

source: people.com

source: people.com

And now that Josh and Anna Duggar have announced their fourth baby is on the way, I think the crazy comments have really ramped up a notch. The heads are spinning and “the people” aren’t happy.

Listen, “people”, we live in the 21st century.  In the United States of America.  Where feminism is “all the rage”.  Where women viciously fought for the right to their reproductive choices.  Abortion, whether I like it or not, is legal here in our country.  A woman can legally dispose of her unborn baby at any time up until birth.  And no one had better try to stop her or they will come face to face with the most repulsive forms of feministic banter known to man kind.  They would undoubtedly be met with the “don’t like abortions, don’t have one” argument.

But when a man and a woman, in a loving, stable marriage decide to have a child (or multiple children, or children by the dozens), suddenly that woman’s reproductive rights are hauled out into broad daylight, ridiculed, shamed, and made fun of. Because she is allegedly selfish, and foolish, and stupid, and any other mean-spirited thing one can come up with in their narrow-minded mindset.  Obviously she should not be allowed a choice in this instance.

Anyone else see a problem with this line of thinking?

To them, I say this: “If you don’t like large families, don’t have one.”

The birth rate in the USA is actually on the decline,  and has been for the last six to seven years.  I, for one, am not the least bit worried about overpopulation anytime soon.  (And actually, that claim has been proven wrong  many, many, many times.)  (I am, actually, concerned about the future ramifications (less people paying in to taxes and social security, economical implications, etc.) of having a lower population.) (Wow, that’s a lot of parentheses.)

When we announced our last two pregnancies, we were met with an array of comments. Everything from the simple-yet-appropriate “Congrats”, to people making jokes (yes, we know what causes it; yes, we own a TV; and comparison to the Duggar family… because having six kids is really close to having 19 kids), to other people all out ignoring our announcement.  And while the positivity far outweighed the negative, the negative reactions are the ones that stuck with me the most.  Many of the naysayers are people that spend less than a few hours with me and/or my family each year.  So really, they don’t truly know us or our family and they had no right in making any sort of comment beyond “Congrats.”

Some people liken having a large family to having lots of little annoyances and inconveniences (aka children) running around.  Those people couldn’t be more wrong.  And so we have welcomed each new child into our family with the anticipation and excitement of seeing their little personalities grow and blossom, helping them become the people they are meant to be. Kids are human beings, not inconveniences that need to be managed.

source: raiseawesomekids.com

source: raiseawesomekids.com

We need to stop worrying about how many kids so-and-so is having, and stop letting this media-frenzied world feed us the news they want to sell.  The number of children someone has is between them and their spouse.  Yes, kids can be challenging and a lot of work.  But the effort you put in to raising decent human beings will pay dividends tenfold. The fact that the Duggars (and many other people) choose to have large families does not impact anyone in any way.  The fact that good people (like the Duggars) are raising up responsible, mindful, and respectful children-turned-adults should give us hope for our future generations. That is something we should care very much about. 🙂

And so, if you find yourself wanting to have more children than the national average of 2.1 kids per couple, talk to your spouse about it and come to a logical decision that works best for you and your family. Pay no attention to what everyone else says you should do because, at the end of the day, you are the one raising any current and future children. Not the internet hater across the country.

And if you find yourself on the opinion bandwagon, maybe you should use the advice of our forefathers: if you cant say something nice, don’t say anything at all!

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Evolution of Parenting

 

source: pinaquote.com

source: pinaquote.com

The parent I am now is NOT the parent I was when I first became a mom seven years ago.  Now that it is two against six or, during the work week, one against six, my mantra is “survival of the fittest”.  I’ve had to loosen the reigns to not only survive but because, quite frankly, some of my previous notions as a parent were kind of ridiculous. (Hindsight is always 20/20, right?)

First child: I can vividly remember saying (and, in case I forgot, my mother-in-law has been very helpful in reminding me, LOL) that my first child would never ever be allowed to sleep over at anyone’s house. It’s not that I didn’t trust our parents. I was more worried I would miss him and no one would know how to take care of him like I take care of him and he would be miserable without me. I didn’t let him sleep over anywhere without me for at least the first eight to ten months. Sixth child: Now? With baby #6? She has had at least three nights away from me in her four short months of life.  And my other kids can’t wait to spend time away from me (who they see all day every day). Seriously.  We pull into grandma and grandpa’s driveway and the kids are like, “See ya never!”  We live three hours from our families (aka our babysitters) and, honestly, I look forward to the few precious hours we can spend away from our kids when we go back home to visit.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, no?

First child: I was very diligent in filling out my first child’s baby book.  I even had a scrapbook of his first year of life.  I literally took THOUSANDS of pictures of him in his first year of life. Like, I’m pretty sure his first word was “cheese” because of how often I had that camera out.  I wanted to make sure I preserved every single memory possible. I  also made sure that I had recent pictures of him plastered all over our wall.  Sixth child: I own one of those fancy-shmancy cameras now.  And while I still love to take pictures, I don’t take nearly as many pictures now as I did then.  I don’t even have our updated family picture on the wall, or any pictures of our sixth baby printed out.  She does have a baby book.  That the hospital gave us. That has absolutely nothing in it except for her handprints and footprints from right after she was born.  That the nurses put in there for us. BUT each of our kids has a memory box full of different trinkets (coming-home-from-the-hospital outfits, first haircut trimmings, hospital bracelets, birthday cards, etc.), so I’m not too out of touch. 😉

First child: When it came to food, I swore up and down, left and right that my child would never eat sugar, or fast food. I found it alarming that some parents allowed their kids to eat *gasp* non-organic macaroni and cheese. I know, right? Sixth child: While I do try to feed my kids healthy and nutritious meals and snacks, I don’t lose sleep over my kids eating Happy Meals or sno-cones every once in a while. My mama-sanity sometimes depends on a trip through the drive-thru. Plus it gives me an excuse to order myself a caramel frappe. 😉

First child: My first baby never watched television. I used to be a naïve TV “snob” and couldn’t believe that some parents actually let their kids watch the electronic box.  I eventually tip-toed my way into the world of kids’ TV via Baby Einstein.  I mean, with a name like that it had to be worlds better than SpongeBob What’s-his-name. Sixth child: By the sixth baby, I have definitely become more lax with my TV censorship.  Typically I don’t like my kids to watch more than a couple of hours of television during the day.  But during the freezing cold winter months, and with having a newborn, and a crazy homeschool schedule, and kids that think 5:30 is an appropriate wake-up time… Sometimes we have the TV on more than I would like.  And that’s just how life is right now.  It won’t always be like this.  Remember… This is survival of the fittest, parenting-style.

First child: Whenever my first child’s pacifier fell to the ground, I would wash it off and, more often than not, sterilize it in boiling water. Any piece of food that fell to the floor would promptly be thrown away. Sixth child: I quickly inspect the pacifier and then pop it back in the baby’s mouth without a second thought. (Unless we are at a store or anywhere else in public.  I’m not that gross.)  Dropped food? No biggie.  We have the ten minute rule around here.  When my kids are scavenging for lost Cheerios in the couch, I take that as a signal that I probably need to feed them.

First child: My first child was held by either my husband or myself all. the. time.  I honestly don’t remember using the bouncy seat when he was a baby, and we didn’t own a bumbo. I even had a hard time letting family and friends hold him.  Ridiculous, right? Sixth child: I do have to say that our sixth child is also held the majority of the time.  But by her older siblings.  Seriously, they bicker about who gets to hold her, and there are plenty of “You are a baby hog” comments that are shouted out every day. So while I don’t hold my baby as much as I held my first one, she is still getting snuggled up and loved on pretty much every minute of the day.

First child: I vowed I would never, ever be angry with my sweet firstborn.  Looking at my tiny, innocent newborn, I not only thought, “My child will never ever do something naughty enough to provoke anger out of me,” but I also thought, “I will never, ever be mad at/frustrated with my child.” Famous last words. Er, thoughts. Sixth child: I’ve learned that, while my kids are angels, they are most certainly not perfect. They are humans and have a big learning curve.  On occasion they will need correction.  On occasion they will make me upset.  And that is okay.  That is life with kids. The good news is that, over the years, I’ve learned that consistency is key. And while my sixth child doesn’t have the capability to be “naughty” right now, I know that, at some point in the future, I will have to put my parenting skills to use.

First child: I remember holding my son for the first time, gazing at this tiny person who was fully dependent on me.  My heart literally grew three inches that day.  I couldn’t imagine loving anyone more than I loved my firstborn.  When I got pregnant with our second child when my first was only 9 months old, I remember worrying that I would never be able to love another baby as much as I loved my first. My mind couldn’t even fathom it. Sixth child: I think it is safe to say that a mother’s love is not divided but rather multiplied. I’m always amazed at the instant love I feel after the birth of each of our children.  I love our sixth baby as much as I loved our first.  And the love each of my kids have for each other is nothing short of heartwarming. It makes all of the times they argue and fight a little more bearable.

For those of you with kids, how has your parenting style changed over the years?  Are you more lax than you were at the beginning?

That time all my blog posts disappeared…

Imagine my surprise when I logged on to WordPress this morning to discover ALL of my blog posts had been deleted.

My stomach got sick immediately.  Granted, my blog isn’t anything special.  Nothing glitzy or heavily-trafficked like many of the bigger bloggers out there.  But still.  This is my tiny sliver of the Internet.  A place I feel like I am safe in talking about my life; a place I feel like I can somehow make a difference in the life of someone else.

Immediately I got defensive.  “Who did this??” I thought.  “Who in the world hacked into my blog and made this nightmare happen??”

Thankfully, I had all of my posts saved to my laptop hard drive.  But what a headache to go through and repost everything. Tears came to my eyes thinking about all of the time and energy I put into each post, only to have them all simply taken away by some devious person. I text messaged my best friend and told her what happened.  Why are people so bored and intent on making other people’s lives miserable? And for the sake of what??

But then, humility.  Oh yes, humility.  That seems to be the theme in my life lately.

On my blogger’s “dashboard” (which, for you non-bloggers, is the command center of all of our posting), under “posts”, I noticed “trash 51”.  Surely if someone had wanted to make my blogging life difficult, they wouldn’t have forgotten to empty the trash can of all of the posts they worked so hard to delete.

And then I remembered that yesterday I went through my post dashboard and decided to “clean up” my drafts that have been sitting for months.  Somehow I must’ve clicked the “select all” and subsequently “trashed” all of my posts.  All of them. And then busily went to attend to my son who woke up from his nap with a special “diaper surprise” for me….

No hacker.  Just me being incompetent and busy.

*sigh*

Isn’t that the way we all react in certain situations sometimes? We always think worst-case-scenario and automatically point the finger at someone else.  Because surly our current situation is not a direct result of our own choices.  Right?  Someone has to be to blame, and it certainly can’t be little ole me…

It is easier blaming someone else instead of realizing that when we point our finger we actually have three more fingers pointing back at ourselves.

source: aklimastra.blogspot.com

source: aklimastra.blogspot.com

And so today I am thankful that my blog posts are not all gone.  I apologize if you got a million and one notifications from my blog as I went through and re-published my old posts.  And next time I will be a little more careful when I am editing my dashboard. 😉

Hey you! Stop complaining about my complaining!

Source: meinlilapark.blogspot.com

Source: meinlilapark.blogspot.com

Sitting in bed, wide awake before my family gets up for the day, left alone with only my thoughts. This might come out as rambling, but it is something I want to share.

Being a mom is hard. It is the only occupation in the world that you can’t simply run away from and hide.  There is no “two week notice”, or moving up a corporate ladder, or transferring to a different department. You have to stare it down, right in the eyes, every. single. day.  Whether you want to or not.

Sure, there are moments that are bright and cheery, fun and colorful.  The first cry, every new milestone, discovering the world around them. It is pretty safe to say that motherhood is rewarding.

But overall, motherhood requires that we make sacrifices of our own wants, needs, and self.

Our bodies are not our own.  Our thoughts are not our own.  Our future plans are not our own.  Sometimes our very menial choices of the day (what to eat, what to wear) are not our own.

And you know what?  In the American society there exists a stigma that says we don’t have a right to complain about the hard-ness of motherhood.  Because we chose this role in life, we are entitled to exactly ZERO complaints.  There was a viral blog post about this not too long ago (although pertaining to SAHMs, it can also be drawn out for all moms in general).  You can read it HERE.

I’m here to call out whoever thinks that way.

I’m sorry, but not really.  Mothering is hard.  Complaining about, talking about, discussing what we are going through is not akin to hating where we are at in life. Not talking about it does not make that fact disappear.

In any other occupation in the world, there are certain levels of challenge.  Co-worker drama, over-powering bosses, heavy workloads, overtime, etc.  In any of these cases it would seem socially acceptable to complain to friends and family.  To blow off steam.  Or to find solutions to better our situation (transfer, apply elsewhere, etc.).

But in motherhood, we are made to bite the silent bullet, because we made our bed and need to lay in it.  Because raising kids isn’t supposed to seem hard. Because this is what we chose so of course it must be endured with smiles on our glowing faces. Because if we complain we will somehow turn our kids into bitter, resentful adults.

Wrong.

Choice does not equal easiness. Stress does not equal discontentedness. The challenge of today does not equal regret in choosing our path in motherhood.

Sometimes we have hard days, plain and simple.  Sometimes the ages and stages of our children are not easy.  Sometimes we need to voice our struggles to find others who are going through the same thing.  Or to hear from the “alumni” of this stage of life, that “this too shall pass”.

Complaining about the events of the day/week/month does not mean we love our children any less.  It simply means we are human and are having a hard time.  As any other human being on the planet can attest to. Sometimes the darkness of the hard days can make us blind to the brightness of the future.

And so we vent.  And that is okay.  Until you’ve walked a mile in that person’s shoes, you really have no right to tell them how to behave or think.

And so we can all mommy on, taking comfort in the fact that the hard days will pass. And when we are in the thralls of it, it is ok to talk about it.  No stones will be cast from me.  You aren’t alone!

To the Mom Who Is Having A Hard Day

source: laurajul.dk

source: laurajul.dk

Hi, friend.

I see you standing there, your tear-filled eyes looking lost and empty. You’re having a bad day, a tough day, a hard day. Maybe this is the first hard day in a long time, or maybe it is yet another hard day in what seems to be a reoccurring theme in your life.  You wish to be anywhere but right here at this very moment. You wonder what you did wrong to make all of the good days seem like a very distant memory. You pray that this day would just. be. done.

I get it.

Maybe your husband works long, late hours, leaving you and your kids at home, alone, day-in and day-out.  Or maybe your husband is serving our country, spending weeks, months, years away from your family. The brief moments of adult conversation seem to pale in comparison to the busy, noisy toddler-chatter that fills your ears from sun-up to sun-down. Everyone else seems so busy with their own lives to even notice. Solitude amidst a tribe of your little ones; it is deafening. Missing what life was like before these little blessings entered your world.  Missing friends and family, and wondering if being a mom will always feel this lonely.

I get it.  I promise you aren’t alone.  I know those moments when you feel like you just can’t have one more conversation about Legos, or Sesame Street, or bodily functions.  But I promise those conversations, while repetitive, are important. They are building a bond between you and your child that nothing can separate. Hang on to those times when you get to have adult time, and don’t be afraid to reach out to other moms in your area.  Chances are they need a friend just like you.

Maybe you were up all night with a sick baby. The luxury of napping during the day is no longer an option with a toddler and preschooler running around.  Catching up on sleep seems near impossible, and you are feeling run-down.  Your tank is near-empty. Days when there are more hours than energy left before bedtime. Where did the energy you used to have disappear to? Will life always be this hard?

I get it.  I so, so get it. Sometimes it seems like there isn’t enough caffeine in the world. But look at that sweet baby that only you can bring comfort to.  The baby who loves you and needs you and silently thanks you for your self-less, sacrificial love through the late-night hours. Find the strength to make it through the day and pray for peaceful sleep tonight.

Maybe you have been struggling with behavior problems.  The kids that you love more than life itself are driving you up the proverbial wall.  Whining, bickering, temper tantrum-ing, fighting.  You bounce between refereeing and feeling like you have somehow failed your children.  Your mind is swimming: Where did they pick up this bad behavior? Will they ever get along? Am I cut out for this mom stuff? You want. to. quit.

I get it. But, remember that your kids are human beings and not puppets: they make their own decisions and sometimes that means making bad decisions. What matters most is teaching them forgiveness and unconditional love. Be thankful for the opportunity to teach your kids under the shelter of your love. You are just what your kids need right now. Find the courage inside to say, “I am enough for my kids.”

Maybe you’re having a day where you are stretched thin. A day where you barely have time to breathe between all of the errands (doctor appointments, story time at the library, play group, grocery shopping, school pick up). A day where there just aren’t enough hours to get your ever-growing to-do list done. A day where you feel like you just can’t juggle anything else.  You’re afraid to let anyone down, but you are the one who suffers in the end.

I get it. I have days where I want to shut down “mom’s taxi service” and lock us all in at home. I’m here to tell you to not be afraid to say no. Don’t worry about disappointing your kids if you cut down on the rat-race schedule. These moments you have making memories with your kids can happen anywhere. It’s okay to say no.  It’s okay to skip a swimming lesson every once in a while. It’s not okay for you to be so rushed and run ragged that you can’t enjoy this one life you have to live.

Maybe you are fighting depression.  The long days seem like a struggle, the minutes ticking by ever-slowly.  The simplest, smallest interruptions that often accompany kid-life (spilled milk, forgotten homework, whining) trigger a fire deep inside of you, erupting in anger. Or maybe you just can’t find a reason to smile amidst the antics and folly of your kids. Instant regret and mom-guilt follow.  How many times have you had days where you just want to lay in bed all day, buried beneath the blankets in total darkness? Will there ever be joy in life again? Why am I so down when I have so much to be thankful for?

I get it. I’m right there with you. But every day you press on and push forward, every day you say “I can do it” over and over, every day you refuse to give up: you are a warrior momma!  Tomorrow is a new day.  Hang on to the hope that tomorrow will be better.  One step at a time. Make a list of all your blessings and hold it close for hard days like today. Don’t let the pain and sadness of the moment have victory over your life.

Maybe you are having financial problems and you just don’t know how the bills will be paid. Or maybe you’re battling health issues, trying to deal with chronic pain, or awaiting a diagnosis. Or maybe you’re struggling through marital problems and you feel like you don’t know when things will turn the corner. Or maybe you are grieving the loss of a loved one that you would give anything to see again. Or maybe you are dealing with anxiety, trying to curb the worries and troubles in your mind. The list could go on.

You aren’t alone, friend. Our challenges may be different, and the roads we are walking may not look the same, but we are all foraging through the wildness of this life together.  Sometimes when all you can see is the darkness and fog around you, you just need someone to tell you that breakthrough is just around the corner.  Hope is just around corner.  Maybe not today or tomorrow, but I promise you that the days won’t always be this hard.

bad day

source: pinterest.com

 

Reasons You Shouldn’t Be A Stay-At-Home Mom

feet

This may come as a surprise to you, but being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) has become a hot-button issue lately.  I know. Shocking, right?

I’ve (unfortunately) both participated in and witnessed one of the biggest mom-war topics: working mom vs. SAHM. I have faced criticism by family and friends for my husband’s and my decision for what we decided is best for our family. I’ve also witnessed other moms being shamed for doing what they want to/need to do in regards to working or not working.

I have been a SAHM for over five years and I can attest to the difficulty it is to be at home, with your kids, day-in and day-out, with little to no adult socialization most days. Add in the element of homeschooling and some days I really do wonder if I’ve fallen off my rocker.  I’ve also been a working mom and I know that is no walk in the park, either.

This is one of those issues that is pretty black and white. Both sides will vehemently state their case as to why or how they have it “harder”/”better” in the grand scheme of the parenting world. Mud has been slung from both parties. The rift between the two sects driven deeper with the verbal banter.

And it is a sad thing to watch. Mom tearing down mom.

This post will not be about that.  Instead, this post is going to focus on countering all of the reasons people have given me as to why they would “never in a million years” be a SAHM.  I kid you not, these are real things real people have told me over the years. It is my hope to help encourage any moms who may want to become a SAHM, but may have their own questions and doubts in their minds as to whether or not they should.

“I can’t be a SAHM because the house would be too messy all the time.”
~Ok, this one is kind of true.  Yes, being in the house 24/7 with two-legged tornadoes going through, destroying everything in their path just after you cleaned it up, is extremely frustrating. But, being home 24/7 also gives me the opportunity to teach my kids how to better take care of their things and to clean up the messes as they happen.  We are still working on that one, but as my kids get older I can already see this habit forming!  Also, being home all day every day gives you the opportunity to stream-line processes and help your home run more efficiently.  When something needs my attention I can attend to it quickly rather than put it off until later.

“What if your husband leaves you? You have no current job skills and no economic security.”
~When people tell me this one, I usually have no idea what to respond.  Ummmm… Nope.  My husband and I are a team.  We are in this together.  When we said our marriage vows, we really meant the whole “’til death” part.  We communicate openly and rely on each other in all aspects of parenting. Now, in a more likely scenario than the one painted above, if something were to happen to my husband or I (not to get all morbid on you), we have adequate life insurance in place and a strong network of family and friends that would come alongside our family and walk through the loss with our kids and the surviving spouse.  Being a SAHM has also given me skills that I wouldn’t be able to attain in most occupations. I jokingly refer to myself as a domestic engineer and, while that isn’t really a job title, it does a good job giving a snapshot as to what a SAHM does.  SAHMs generally have highly developed organizational, leadership and interpersonal skills that many employers are looking for.  I am not going to let an employment gap stop me from doing what is my current calling in life.

“My kids drive me crazy! There is no way I could be home with them all day every day.”
~ When you’re at home all day with your kids, and you feel like you just can’t handle one more episode of Caillou, remember this: chocolate and a closet that locks from the inside can do wonders. I kid, I kid. I’m so sad that parents feel like they can’t tolerate being at home all day with their kids!  Yes, kids can be a handful and even annoying at times. (Can’t we all?)  But they are in no way an inconvenience that I purposely try to avoid for the majority of the day. I’ve had to find ways to cope with irritating behaviors.  I’ve also had the privilege of seeing my kids grow and mature out of certain phases, blossoming into the beautiful little people they are today! 🙂 No matter what setting you find yourself in (even at a job outside the home), you will more than likely find yourself in the company of others who “drive you crazy” in one way or another. For me, I think it’s nice being able to pick who I spend my days with.

“There is no way we could make it living on one income.”
~This one is tricky to counter because it honestly can be tough figuring out if you can survive on one income. My first suggestion is to make a list of your monthly expenditures.  Next, split that list into “wants” and “needs”.  You’ll quickly see that a lot of your items can be categorized as wants (Starbucks coffee, weekly pedicures, etc.), many of which can be eliminated.  If you truly want to stay at home with your kids, any of the materialistic sacrifices will be well worth it in the end.  Look at the things you have listed as necessities.  Do you see anything you can trim down? Maybe instead of the fancy, expensive contract cell phone plan you’re currently on, you can switch to one of the prepaid services like StraightTalk.  We did that and ended up saving over $60 each month. You can also save money on things like clothing and vehicles by buying used.  Paying cash for things you need instead of charging it on a credit card can save your budget, too.  I wrote this post earlier this year.  Check it out for more ideas!  If we can do it, you can do it, too!

“Don’t you get bored? I need adult interaction!”
~Yes. I do get bored.  I’m not going to lie, our days can become mundane and repetitive.  Wake up, eat, play, school, eat, nap, school, play, eat, play, sleep, repeat.  Day in and day out.  This is an area that I still struggle with. There are many days that the only adult conversation I have is with my husband late at night when the kids are finally asleep. Unless, of course, the UPS guy makes a delivery and I can lasso him in to a conversation about the weather. (Poor guy!)  And the only time I typically get out of the house is when I go grocery shopping or have a mom’s night out with the ladies in my MOPS group. And even then, the time away from home feels too short in comparison to the monogamous ritual known as our daily lives. But, I keep reminding myself that this is only for a season.  My kids are only little and needy for a short time, even when the days feel unending. But every day they are one day older and one day closer to not relying on me for their every need. And I can bet that there will come a day that I miss this stage of life. (Or so I’m told!)

“By working outside the home, I’m setting a good example for my daughters/kids on what real work looks like.”
~Ouch. Not gonna lie, this one hurts a little.  I understand that having a job that requires a daily commute outside the four walls of your home is not easy (and I can imagine having a work-from-home job would be equally difficult).  I’ve been there as a working mom.  It is hard leaving your kids every day to go make an income to provide for your family. But, being a SAHM requires a level of self-sacrifice and work as well.  Every day I wake up I make the choice to serve my family first, inside these four walls.  I work hard making sure my kids are fed, clothed, mentally stimulated, emotionally filled, and physically challenged. I work hard at keeping our home running efficiently (although some days not as efficiently as I want).  Sure, I don’t have the pressures of wearing a uniform, being somewhere at a certain time, or being held responsible by upper management (well, I do suppose my hubby is technically the CEO of our family ;)) but I set goals and I work towards them.  My kids are my “co-workers” and we work together to make our house a home.  I am a teacher to my kids as we tread through the somewhat-new waters of homeschooling.  I don’t get a paycheck for all that I do, but that’s ok.  I am glad I have the option and ability to be able to be at home with my kids all day every day.  They are learning from me and their dad what teamwork is. What self-sacrifice is. What it means to do the best we can with what we have.  I don’t think I’m a better mom than the other SAHMs or the working moms of the world.

I think, when it comes down to it, we are all making the best decisions we can with the resources and knowledge we have available because we love our kids.  My kids know I love them.  Your kids know you love them.  They are our driving forces in life. The reason we work so stinkin’ hard day-in and day-out.

Parenting is hard.  Period.  Let’s be kind to each other and realize that none of us have it all figured out in life.  Our unique situations and life circumstances are just that: unique.  What works for one person may not work or even be possible for another. Instead of exchanging hurtful words, let’s extend each other some grace!

I hope I’ve been able to encourage some of you who may be riding the fence on whether or not to give being a SAHM a shot!  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain if that is what your heart truly wants! 🙂

a-million-ways-to-be-a-good-mother

Life: Simple

 

Image found via Google image search

Image found via Google image search

Ever feel like life is just too full?

Everything in life is moving in hyper-drive, vying for my attention, emotions, energy. I try my hardest to keep up with the housework, schoolwork, child-rearing, and wife duties, but, more often than not, something has to give. Generally speaking, that “something” is, 9-times-out-of-10, housework.

I wouldn’t consider myself a slob in any way, shape or form.  But, I’m busy.  So it isn’t unusual to see dishes on the counter or a pile of clean laundry waiting (ever so patiently) to be folded.

While I absolutely hate that my house is rarely Pinterest perfect, I have also come to realize that this is just the stage of life we are in and it won’t always be this way.

We had a guest speaker at my MOPS group this past week.  I absolutely love listening to other moms share their heart, their drive, their passion because, more often than not, I can totally relate to some aspect. This speaker was no different. The topic? Home organization.

The speaker was very real and her topic so extremely relevant. She is a mom to 6 kids (all born within eight years, which is so similar to my six in seven) who has found a way to avoid the stress and chaos that comes from having so many children (who in turn have so much “stuff”).

Live simply.

I have been on a mission lately to trim down our possessions and try to live a more “minimalist” lifestyle.  When you have eight people living in a 1400 square foot house, less is always better! So I could really relate to what the speaker was saying. And something she said really resonated with me: when our homes are so cluttered and unorganized, our minds will not be 100% present with our kids, even though we are physically present.

Wow!  The more I think about this, the more I realize how right she is. When my house is a disaster-zone, my mind goes 100 miles per hour, racing through to-do lists of things that need to be cleaned, items that need to be put away, chores that need to be accomplished. It is so hard to be totally focused on my sweet kiddos when there is so much chaos around us.

And then there is the ripple effect: I become short with my kids and blow up over the smallest things that happen. The kids ask me to play/read/cuddle with them, but I’m so pre-occupied that I say “no” more often than I’d like. Someone spills something accidentally while I’m attending to something else, and my emotional thermometer erupts and overflows ugliness all over an innocent situation.

Those mind-consuming things can actually rob us of our emotions and energy.

On the flip side, when my home is orderly, peace follows.  I don’t feel the constant nagging, reminding me of everything that I have to do.  Instead, I can relax and truly enjoy my family.

Now, how can I ever get to the point where my house feels more peaceful and less… not?

Talking things over with my husband (who tends to be the idea-shaper in our relationship) we decided that we have too. much. stuff.  Sure, I had made strides in clearing out some of the clutter, but if I were to be honest with myself, there are many other things I could part with.  Having less “stuff” will mean less cleaning, tidying, organizing of said “stuff”. I need to get to the point where we are living more simply so life doesn’t seem so overwhelming. So I can focus more on what truly matters (my family) and spend less time and energy putting out the “fires” of life (the daily demands).

Live life simply so you can love more extravagantly.

That is my new mantra in life.  I want to be more present with my kids and, in order to do that, I’m going to cut out any unnecessary distractions life may throw my way.  And that includes extra “stuff”.

When you have six kids, you multiply that by six birthdays, and six sets of gifts at every holiday.  It gets to be a LOT!  Our toy room and the kids’ closet is out. of. control!

I’m kind of ashamed to say this, but here goes: I am waaaaaay behind on folding and putting away laundry.  (Again.) I’m not even exaggerating when I say I have ten loads of clean laundry sitting on my bedroom floor, waiting to be folded and put away.  There are also approximately four loads of dirty laundry waiting to be washed. PLUS our closets are all completely filled with clothing.  Something is wrong with this picture.  We obviously have WAY more clothing than any eight people would need. And I’m stressing out because, every day, I go into my room and see the clothes that need to be folded and put away, plus the clothes waiting to be laundered.  It is ridiculous!

And then the toys. OHHHHHH, the toys.  We have one small room dedicated as the “toy room” (although a more accurate description would be “toy dumping ground”). Two toy boxes, plus a dress up box, plus a large play barn.  Then in the boys’ room are the Legos, K’Nex and other building toys.  In the girls’ room are all of the baby toys, pretend toys, and stuffed animals.  And lastly is the kids’ closet.  Toys covering every available inch of shelving (Duplos, Lincoln logs, Weebles, Barbies, etc.). Trying to keep the toys organized and in their place takes an act of God most days because my kids are quite the professional mess-makers.  It is EXTREMELY stressful because there are so many sets and totes and pieces and oh. my. word.  Just thinking about it makes my head spin.

I’m done. This is insanity! My stress level is up and my patience level is low. So I’m making it my goal to eliminate 50% of our stuff.  I want to live more simply so we can love more extravagantly!

The less time I spend cleaning and fixing and organizing means the more time I can love on my kiddos. This isn’t going to be easy but I’m committing to this not only for my sanity but to bring peace to my home. (Before and after pictures to come!!)

What about you?  Are there any areas of your life you can pare down so you can focus more on what truly matters?