Because I get this question so much it got me thinking that maybe people really do want to know how I do it. So here we go....
My hubby works a lot. He runs his own company (*insert shameless plug* anyone need an house built or kitchen remodeled?). He leaves early and gets home late. He always works 5, but usually 6 days a week. Because he's gone most of the time, that leaves me with the kids on my own the majority of the week. It is my job to run our home while he provides for us. If I wanted to get anything done or have any fun, then I had to learn to live life with my kids. Here are a few of the things I do to make our lives function and have fun at the same time.
Lots and lots of prayer. I believe in a mighty God. One who cares about the big picture as well as the small details. He can help if you are in a bad mood or in a funk that you can not seem to break. He knows it's hard. Ask him for help and guidance. But the key is to have a willing heart. Ask him to change your mood and then get your heart in the right place so he can!
Do I wish my hubby was home more- sure! Do I wish I could get a pedicure or go for a run- of course! But I realize what an important job I have in manging our home and training our kids. I am grateful that my husband realizes what I do is important as well. I get to stay home with my kids. No rushing to get everyone ready to drop them off at daycare just so I can rush to work. No rushing to pick them up just so I can rush home to make dinner. I get to do life with them. I get to stay home and create a schedule that works for us! I will be honest, there are mornings when I think 'I just don't want to do it today!' Those are the days that I remind myself of how very grateful I am to be doing what I am doing, and I also make sure I pray, a lot!
Recognize the Importance of a Schedule /Sleep
Little bodies need sleep and rest. Mommies of little bodies need rest and down time. Life runs so much smother if the kids are rested and mommy gets a little break too. We nap/ have quiet time every day and the same time. Because it is part of their everyday schedule they come to expect it. The only reason my kids miss nap time is for church on Sundays (this is only because we recognize that we need Jesus even more then we need rest!). The younger 3 sleep and the older one has 'quiet time'. This gives me 30 minutes to rest- no answering why for 30 minuets gets me back in the game for the rest of the day!! Our kids also go to bed everyday at about the same time. This means we miss out on stuff. We haven't watched fireworks on the 4th of July in 3 years. But, I am OK with that. When they are older they will be able to handle a later bed time, for right now, they need sleep!
When in Doubt, Feed the Mouth
I take snacks with me every where I go. They get to munch on crackers or a banana in the car, in the store, at grandmas house. Little ones are not good at being able to recognize hunger. When they get hungry it is expressed as a temper tantrum. If your little one starts to throw a fit- feed them- it almost always helps!
Plan for the Melt Down
Where kids are, meltdowns will fallow. Don't leave your home thinking everything will go smoothly. Some days it will, but most days one or all of your kids will melt down while your out. Plan for it, expect it but don't let it frustrate you. See the disobedience or fit for what it is- a chance to help them learn. Correct the disobedience and move on. Also, do not let it embarrass you. I use to get so upset when my kids acted up when we were out. Now I realize that it does not matter what the other moms think of me or my kids, what matters is that my kids are getting real life experiences and learning from them. (Plus the other moms are probably not judging me, but more thinking that shes has been there!)
The Pep Talk
I give the pep talk where ever we go. If we are headed into the store it looks like this,
"We are going to go shopping for food. This means mommy needs everyone to behave. That means Madison needs to walk right with mommy and not wander off. For the twins it means you two need to sit in the cart and not throw a fit. If you can not listen and obey then you will be disciplined. Does everyone understand?"
Que and course of "Yes ma'am"s.
I recently took all 4 kids to our local fair by myself. This pep talk looked a bit different.
"We are headed to the fair! It is going to be so fun! But, everyone needs to stay right with mommy. Do not wander off or you might get lost! If you do get lost then you need to find a police officer or another mommy with kids and tell her you are lost. Remember listen and obey mommy at all times. Does everyone understand?
Que "Yes ma'am."
The key is to give the pep talk as you are walking into the store (or fair) so that it is fresh in their minds.
Have a Support Person
I have a good friend that I talk to almost every morning. It is usually only 30 minutes and while I am washing the morning dishes. She gets me. She understands me and I understand her. She is the one I go to with the big issues that I need help with. On the days we don't talk, I miss it! I have a better day knowing I have another mommy on my ledge who can talk me down if I need it!
Regular Play Dates
This same mommy is the one I have regular play dates with. Our kids love to play together, but it is more for us. We get to have adult conversation and spend a little time face to face. Find one other mom with kids about the same age as your kids and get to know each other. As moms we are super busy and can not invest in every ones life, but we can make time for a few spacial people other then our family! It is worth it.
This is something I just started doing. I have 3 small ones that can go in 3 different directions- and fast! When I am out on my own in a crowded place (like the fair) I dress them in the same color. It really helps. Then, if someone got away, you can scan the crowd and look for the color, not the kid. I don't dress them alike for regular trips like the grocery store- although when the 4th starts walking I might need to!
For the trip to the fair I also added a "If lost please call" sign to the back of their shirts. I though that I might catch a little flack from some of the other moms at the fair for it, but most everyone laughed!
I have a regular cleaning schedule for our house. This is one extra thing on top of the everyday things I do. Monday is bathroom day. That means every Monday the bathroom gets cleaned. If I miss a Monday, then I do not stress about it and just do it next week. It works great because I am not spending the whole day cleaning plus I don't have to question when the last time I cleaned it was!
Hope these little tips can help your family!