Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"I Don't Know How You Do It!"

My husband and I are often asked, "How do you two do it?  How exactly do you manage to get everything done with such a large family?"

We attempt to keep life simple and have found the following tips have worked for our family.

1. Empower the Kids- We really encourage the kids to be as independent as possible and allow them to meet their own needs whenever possible.  If they can use a stool to get something to drink or grab a snack, that is exactly what we want.  We have taught them to make a few kid-friendly food items such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Ramen noodles.   We also instill in them the importance of assisting each other as often as possible.  Having this level of independence definitely helps when we are involved in other tasks that require our full attention.

Josiah enjoys cleaning the tables.
2. Keep them Engaged-We expect the kids to help around the house. We tell them that we are a team and that we need to work together to keep the house maintained.  From the youngest to the eldest, they all have roles.  Josiah, our two year old, knows how to wipe off tables with paper towels, while Nina (4) assists with clearing the table, vacuuming and putting away the silverware once it has been washed and dried.  Hannah, age 6, likes to vacuum as well and also helps put up dishes and wipes down the fridge and microwave. Our 4th grader, Joshua cleans the stove, the countertops and helps wash the dishes. Azaan and Amali, our teens, when they are home, offer overall leadership for their younger siblings.  Ultimately, the teens make certain everything is done before bedtime.

Additional responsibilities the kids have include: taking out the trash, making their own beds and cleaning their bathrooms. Nina actually enjoys cleaning the toilet with the little toilet brush.  Hannah cleans the bathroom countertops and floors while Joshua is responsible for the bathtub and the mirrors.

Typically my husband does most of the work and oversight of cleaning our home but keeping the kids engaged helps offload some of those routine activities.

Nina Sophia adding a little personality to chore time.

Hannah J is busy cleaning off the fridge.

The boys are tackling the dishes.

Big brother Azaan offers tips to his younger siblings.

Older sister Amali is adding some dramatic flair to "shutting down the kitchen."

Josiah is determined to showcase his sweeping skills.

3. It's OK-Both as a mother and as a woman, I sometimes have to tell myself "It's OK."  It is OK if the floor is not perfectly cleaned or the kids' blankets on their beds are not absolutely taut.  It is OK if the vacuum lines in the carpet are not perfectly straight.

There are times, however, when it's not OK and at those times, it is important to articulate expectations and reinforce acceptable outcomes.  With the kids involved in household tasks, there are of course varying levels of ability.  Therefore, I have to be careful not to crush their efforts- "Hey kid, you suck at making your bed."  That would be bad, very bad.  So, sometimes it is simply okay.

The goal is to have a functioning household with happy well-adjusted kids versus a house focused on perfection. And as long as the kids are trying to do their best, there is always room for grace.  It is OK not to be perfect. It is also OK to recognize when you just need a break.  A quick nap can make a world of difference!

4. Have Fun-Our family likes to have fun. Sometimes we put on music, "traveling music" as I call it, when we're doing chores. We let the kids let loose sometimes. For example, I recently learned my husband allows the kids to stand on one of our low coffee tables as a performance stage.  After my initial response of surprise, I reminded myself of my previous paragraph-it's okay!  It is absolutely important for our kids to see balance; structure and responsibilities coupled with fun and letting loose.  Check out our video of us having fun on a Wednesday night!

By empowering the kids, keeping them engaged, and realizing that everything does not have to be perfect while having fun is how we manage to keep our sanity and enjoy our large family.  #TeamReese

Shatanese Reese is a blogger and author of future books who resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband and their six children. She enjoys walks on the beach and colorful sunrises. Shatanese’s goal is to find the extraordinary in every day moments.

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