“How do you do it all?”
People ask me this question often about how I balance the needs of a bigger family (5 kids, 2 adults) in today’s modern world. We aren’t a huge family but bigger than is typical these days. My honest reply is ” Some days I have no idea.” It is by the work of the Holy Spirit that any good is accomplished in my life.
With that in mind, here is a look at some ways I keep the Borgstede ship afloat (or at least bobbing along).
Ways to Organize a Big Family
1. I don’t do it all. All the kids help with chores. In the summer that’s daily, during the school year mostly on Saturdays. We have times we have a family meeting and assign chores and we all work together for one hour. For housework I try to follow the delegation rule, “What can only I do?” Budget, bills, chores involving sharp objects that could be used as weapons, only Mike or I can do. Dusting is a kid job.
2. We don’t do it all. We are not in every activity under the sun and don’t attempt to be. Our kids are not in competitive soccer and ballerinas and mini pro football players and take art lessons and horseback riding. We do some of that, but we don’t even try to do all of it. We treasure downtime and even with this goal, still don’t get enough of it.
3. Freezer cooking once a month. I’ve been freezing cooking (cooking a month’s worth of dinners at once) for about 7 years and it’s a huge help. Sometimes I do a modified version (yesterday I cooked 2 chickens and made 2 pots of chicken and noodles, 2 meals of chicken and rice casserole – 4 meals in one day) and sometimes I do 15-18 meals over 1-2 days. (Check out this recipe for Ground Beef Mixture 6 Ways. It’s one of our favorites.) Those days really stink but then I’m done for awhile! Zack’s metabolic condition requires he eat a highly specialized low protein diet, so we often do a separate batch of meals for him. If you haven’t tried it before, I highly recommend Once a Month Meals website. They have allll the prep work done for you, and you can adjust recipes by number in your family, preferences, etc. They have freezer meal plans for Paleo, Traditional, Instant Pot, and more.
4. Start laundry twice a week. Laundry, oh curse you, laundry! It’s never-ending and my least favorite chore. I would rather clean toilets. (Speaking of cleaning toilets, I really like this spinning brush cleaner. Laugh if you will, but I can actually get my kids to clean with this thing.) What I have found helpful is the tip to start laundry twice a week. I do Mondays and Thursdays. Ideally the goal is to start and finish the loads on those days so you are only doing laundry two days per week, but that almost never happens in this house (unless my mother or mother-in-law is visiting), but at least this keeps the pile-up from getting too ridiculous. This picture is seven people’s worth of laundry just on a Thursday. Yep:
5. Calendar review once a week. Mike and I meet to go over calendars every Sunday. We go day by day and talk about each of our schedules and the kids activities and appointments. I write in all my workouts for the week and circle them so I can see them at a glance. If I’m training for a race or event this is especially important to me and I can see if I’m getting in 1-2 swim, bike, and run training sessions as needed. Our goal is to include a date time for the two of us once a week, too. Mike’s parents bought me this Erin Condren calendar for Christmas and I love it. I’m totally into technology for most everything, but for some reason I’m still old school when it comes to my personal calendar. The other option for calendars I love is the DaySpring Agenda Planner, which is similar to Erin Condren but with a faith focus.
6. Prayer as often as possible. I ask God to guide me as I walk throughout my day. I fall down on this all the time (relying on myself instead of asking God for help), but when I pray I feel peace and clarity of purpose. My prayers are usually simple, maybe you could even say boring, but for me they work. Guide me through this day. Help me be a good mom. Protect my kids. Be with my husband as he goes about his work. Help me choose what best to work on today. Thank you for these blessings. Sometimes it’s just the names of my family members are friends, nothing more, as my way of asking God to bless and protect them in the way He sees best. Amen and amen.