Monday, 3 August 2015

I couldn't do what you do...

"I couldn't do what you do!"

I hear this surprisingly often, and, no doubt, for a whole variety of reasons. It's hard to know how to respond. The thing is, most of the time I'm thinking, "I can't do it either!"

Sometimes people have said, with great honesty, that they don't think that they could cope with being with their children all day, every day.

How do I manage being around our children all the time? Do I find it easier than other parents? Of course not!

I get overwhelmed.

I feel like I need my space and can't face another conversation about dragons ever, never mind right now.

Sometimes I find it frustrating.

Often I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water with the housework - and having four children around all the time means the house is more heavily used, and I have children around whenever I'm trying to get stuff done.

These are some of the ways that I manage:

1) Conviction. I am convinced that quantity of time (as well as quality) with my children is important. We can instruct our children at unexpected moments. In particular, I can be there to pray with them when they are afraid, to instruct them in godliness when they don't know how to act, to rebuke them when they sin. I can listen to them and share their enthusiasms. I can take every opportunity to point them to Jesus. Just because it isn't always easy or fun or noticed or paid doesn't mean it isn't good.

2) Habit. I am used to it! My expectations are different, so having my children with me feels entirely normal.

3) Practice. It gets easier as time goes on. The children are better at occupying themselves when I need to get on with stuff. I am better at running our home now, as I have been trying new ways of organising my week for a few years. What we do now works well for us (at the moment!).

4) Outdoors. Getting out of the house helps. Waiting for four children to appear out of some undergrowth (and having a mental break) is surprisingly restful.

5) Joy. It is actually fun sometimes! A child may say something funny, or start a conversation about something interesting. I get to watch my children be excited when they master a new skill. I see them grow in character, or demonstrate a growth in their faith in Jesus.

6) Planning. Housework is well planned, and the children help out in various ways - both to make the house run smoother and to give them opportunities to serve in the family. I meal plan for the month ahead. I plan the children's work termly and weekly so we all know what we are supposed to be doing. This means that I am still able to get necessary chores done even when we have a busy house.

7) Rest. I do get out on my own from time to time; a trip to the park with a book and my thermos mug full of tea once in a while is hugely refreshing. My mum also babysits for us every few weeks so I can go out with my husband. These chances to escape the busy home help me to go back and serve my family with renewed energy.

8) Quiet Time. All the children spend a while after lunch on their own. The older two read, my 6 year old listens to an audio book while doing craft, and my 3 year old plays on her own. It gives us all a rest and a chance to get a bit of space.

Above all, I need to keep Jesus central. When I am focussed on serving him, and serving my family out of love for Jesus, this encourages me to keep going, even if it is hard work and overwhelming at times.

Fun in the woods.


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