The most-asked question our larger-than-average family gets is this: "How do you handle all those kids AND homeschool?"
Well, to be completely honest, we probably get the "How many kids do you plan on having anyway?" one even more often, but you'll have to ask God for the answer to that one. :) I, however, will attempt to explain how we do all that we do with 9 kids (one, a young adult), all while keeping the peace and order in our humble abode! So, here we go!
Mark and I have 9 blessings on earth so far (and 7 in Heaven), ages: 19, 12, 10, 9, 7, 6, 4, 2 and 8 months. Below is our usual schedule, but with a baby and a toddler and life in general this can all change at a moments notice. Overall, I like having a schedule so that the kids know what to expect and when, but I do NOT let it rule me. It's just a guide. It helps tremendously that we school year-round! It allows for extended holiday breaks and breaks throughout the year when I feel "burnout" coming. :) I am also a firm believer that just because a schedule works well for one family it might not work well for another, so keep that in mind when trying to create one of your own!
7:00 - wake-up, make bed, tidy up rooms, put away night clothes and eat
7:45 - kitchen chores completed and teeth brushed
8:00 - Devotions/Scripture Memory and then the Preschool! The older kids teach younger ones preschool (it is really neat to have the older ones learn to teach their siblings...it develops their abilities in so many ways!)
8:15 - Seatwork (kids sit at kitchen table and do math/English/spelling/geography/typing - different requirements on different days). Annalise (19) blogs, Facebooks, workd on her ministry, keeps an eye on kids or bakes.
10:00 - Eva (8 months) naps.
12:00 - Everyone has finished school USUALLY. Eva is awake.
12:00 or 12:30 - Lunch
After lunch - outside play time/educational games/reading/educational DVD's or YouTube unit studies (this varies according to my whim...ha)
3:00 - Eva naps
4:00 - Kids are inside. Afternoon chores (usually it's a pretty light workload). Reading time.
5:00 - Get ready for Daddy's homecoming (vacuum, set table, ready dinner, etc.) and wake Eva 6:00 - Dinner
Kitchen Cleanup by kids while Mark and I discuss our days (this is GREAT therapy for Mommy) or read to Judah
7:30 - Family Worship
When do you feel as though you've actually ACCOMPLISHED all that you need to accomplish?
I would say that I feel as though I have accomplished everything I needed to accomplish if I have homeschooled the kids, done at least 1 load of laundry, done some everyday chores (dusting, vacuuming, counter tops, general upkeep, etc.), prepared a good meal, had the kids learn life skills of some kind, and I have basically "worked at home" all day. It varies so greatly what I do each day that I would say that if I felt as though I have been a worker at home, according to Titus 2. I am to be loving my husband, loving my children and being busy at home. If I've done that to the best of my ability, then I've accomplished a lot. However, it can get monotonous and it can feel as though I haven't accomplished much, BUT drudgery is part of motherhood and that's all part of God's perfect plan. See this post! The Proverbs 31 is an ideal woman, accomplishing A LOT. I don't believe that any woman could accomplish all that she did every day, and we need to keep that in mind or we'll drive ourselves crazy! BUT Proverbs 31 is a GREAT outline to use overall!
Any organizing tips or secrets?
1. Never leave a room empty-handed. Always return something to its proper place.
2. 30 second rule....If it takes less than 30 seconds to put away, do it immediately!
3. Have pick up time before Daddy gets home and before lunch time!
4. Teach kids to do chores and to pick up as they go (30 second rule with them, as well)
Any tips on how to get the kids to clean up after themselves?
As I've mentioned time and time again, we are big on "chore training". My kids all have chores. We use this age appropriate chore list as a guide. Our kids have chores as soon as they can crawl and they will pass them on to a younger sibling when the younger sibling is ready. The younger sibling will become the "apprentice" and the older becomes the "master or teacher". The younger will watch the older do the chore between 2 and 5 times before they attempt it themselves. Then they move onto doing the chore themselves, with the older one watching and instructing PROPERLY (no bossing allowed...Mommy's listening in). After about 2-5 times of the younger doing the chore under the older's supervision and instruction, the younger will do that chore on their own. From that point on, Mommy checks up on them randomly to see if it was completed properly. If it was not, then Mommy instructs the younger on how to correct it. Of course, age is always factored in.....I don't expect my two year old to wipe the table the way I would. BUT, they should be doing it to the best of their ability. How old should a child be when they begin having chores? Our kids start chores as soon as they can crawl, and although it's tedious to Mommy in the beginning, I've found that it pays off BIG TIME in the long run!!! What does God think about chores?
Shouldn't kids just be kids?
Unfortunately, today's society has taught us that life should be easy, kids should be kids, take the easy way out in life, but in all reality I can't find where it says any of that in Scripture. In fact, Scripture says that LEADERS and SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE will work hard! Shouldn't we be training up the future leaders of tomorrow's familys and world?
Using the below Scriptures when teaching children about chores and hard work will mold their spirits now and train them for their futures! This is why we believe that children should regularly contribute to household maintenance.
*Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and never succeed. Proverbs 12:24
*He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. Proverbs 12:11
*All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23
*Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:22-24
What are the consequences for not completing chores?
IF chores are not completed with a good attitude and without being asked/reminded, they will either have reading/play time deducted or be given extra chores. This system has worked really well and, honestly, we rarely have an issue with attitudes or chore completion. They know that Daddy and I mean business. They also are used to having chores, because they start doing chores as soon as they can walk. In fact, the older ones are so used to doing their chores and do them with a proper attitude that the younger ones CAN'T WAIT to go into an "apprenticeship" under the older ones to learn the chores! Now, yes, chores get repetitious, but they do get done with correct attitudes and without being told (the majority of the time, anyway - no one's perfect).
I hope this was of some help and an encouragement to you! May you all be WORKERS AT HOME and follow God and His Word in all you do!