Being a Wife When the Kids Take All Your Energy

The day started with a bang.  Literally.  My glass mixing bowl in pieces all over the tile floor.  Next came a whiny child who was certain the multiplication tables were trying to kill her.  Then came the brothers who couldn’t seem to stop jumping off the furniture and knocking each other down in the process.  My teens needed a couple of hours of heart-to-hearts with me, and my newborn needed to be changed and fed.  And the toddler?  Oh no?!  Where was the toddler?!

I know I looked bedraggled when my husband walked through the door.  I couldn’t help it.  It had been a day.  It seems like it is ALWAYS “a day.”

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to be there for him, but there was no way I could be.  I had spent the entire day in damage control, and there were still several more hours of it to go. Not a chance was my husband going to make my priority list that day.

Sound familiar?

wife graphic

Thankfully, I don’t make a habit of this, but many women do.  Not because they mean to push their husbands to the backburner, but because they are barely surviving their own lives day in and day out, to the point they absolutely cannot see a way to grab a big enough break to spend time with their spouse.

They don’t have enough time to be a wife because it took everything they had to be a mom.

How to be a Wife When Your Kids Take All Your Energy | RaisingArrows.netWhen you have a house full of obligations 4 1/2 feet and under, life is hard.  You often lose sight of how these little people got here in the first place!  But I firmly believe a strong marriage will actually HELP your ability to mother these little ones, so let’s talk…

Keep in touch via phone, text, or email throughout the day.  Keeping in touch with your husband is the key to keeping your marriage at the forefront of your mind.  In this day and age, nearly every wife has instantaneous access to her husband via some form of digital communication.  Try to stay connected during your day and you will find it easier to stay connected when he is home because both of you are aware of what has gone on in your respective domains throughout the day.

Try to knock out the big stuff before he gets home.  Sometimes I have a major blog post I want to write or I need to go shopping sans children, but I try not to take up “our time” with projects.  If you do need to do a big project, try to do it together (or at the very least, in each other’s presence.)  An example of this would be going grocery shopping together.

Take a nap – if you can.  Yes, I know – a mom of many littles is probably not going to get a nap.  This is one of those things that comes and goes, but is such a blessing if you can manage it.  I’ve had some seasons where I’ve been able to successfully implement a Rest Time for everyone in the house, so you might try that first.  You are WAY more refreshed when your husband comes home.  But, if you cannot manage something of that scale, try to get a decent night’s sleep and try to find some time shortly before he comes home to unwind.  Find a place to take a break and prepare your heart and mind for your husband’s return.

Establish a bedtime (or rest time).  We are a Routine Family.  Our life doesn’t fit neatly into rectangles on a spreadsheet, but I do try to have a round-about bedtime set for the kids, and most of the time, we adhere to it.

I will tell you that having bigger kids has made having a bedtime MUCH harder.  Big kids don’t like to go to bed at 8 pm.  What we ask of our bigger kids is that they respect “our time” and take that time to rest or relax.  Yes, they would certainly LOVE to watch the movie we are watching, but they understand that isn’t always feasible.

Have a ritual or tradition that is just for you and your husband.  For us, it has become coffee on the front porch before Ty heads to work.  No one is allowed out there with us.  I have to admit, the younger ones like to call to us through the windows giving their nine million reasons why they NEED to come out there.  (You know, things like they are just checking the weather or they thought they heard us call them out there.)  So, our coffee time isn’t always peaceful, but child training is occurring, and our children are well aware of how important that Mommy-Daddy time is.

Traditions and rituals are signposts for a marriage.  They tell our story.  They keep us connected.  They create memories – not only for us, but for our children who see how important this thing called marriage is.

Make the Fruit of the Spirit the fruit of your marriage.  Ty and I have been talking a lot lately about the Fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.  A lot may divide marriages (and Christians, for that matter), but if our lives, marriages, and homes are characterized by these Fruits, little else matters.

Want to learn more about characterizing the Fruits of the Spirit as an entire family?  The Mom Bundle in this week’s Homeschool Curriculum Sale, has a wonderful resource entitled, Fruit of the Spirit – Learning to Speak Life.
2015 Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale Mom Bundle

For more great ideas to keeping your marriage a priority, check out these posts:

Frugal Date Nights

How to Make the Most of a Day Out with Your Husband

Marriage-Centered Family – my guest post on To Love Honor and Vacuum

Follow Amy Roberts {Raising Arrows}’s board Marriage on Pinterest.

My New At-A-Glance Schedule {2015}

Make your day run smoother by using an At-A-Glance Schedule! | RaisingArrows.net

For those of you new to Raising Arrows, let me quickly explain what an At-A-Glance schedule is…

An At-A-Glance Schedule is a rough sketch of your day.  It is not a schedule for the entire family.  It is Mom’s Master List.  It isn’t super structured or binding.  It is a bare-bones approach that keeps you on track without making you feel guilty.

I was looking back at my old At-A-Glance schedule and realized how very outdated it was.  We haven’t had piano lessons on Wednesdays in well over a year!  Ideally, an At-A-Glance schedule would be re-assessed as circumstances change, or at the very least, every year.  It may not need to be changed every year because remember, it isn’t a tight schedule, so you won’t have things like “Baby’s Nap” on there or other things that change often.

This past weekend, I quickly worked through my old schedule to create one I believe will be a good fit for this year.  By the way, when I say “year”, I mean “school year.”  About this time of year, I am going through all of my homeschool materials and resources to see what I need for the upcoming school year, and figure out what that school year should look like.  (I like to be able to share with my readers what the intricacies of our homeschool looks like, so expect upcoming posts that highlight the changes for the 2015-16 year!)

It really is very easy to revamp an old At-A-Glance Schedule once you have the template of your day, so if you can find the time to put together your first one, any that follow will be very simple to make!

{affiliate links included}

Here is a quick guide to creating your first AAG:

1.  Write down the natural rhythm of your day.  If you get up at 8 am, don’t write down a wake up time of 7 am.  If you start school at 10 am, don’t write down 9 am.  This is the REAL routine you follow.  There will be time later to decide if you need to change your routine.

2.  Make a list of the things you would like to do in a day that are not on your “natural rhythm schedule”.  Don’t get crazy, but do get it all out.  This is a good exercise in realizing what things you THINK you should be doing, and the actuality of what can be FIT in to your schedule.  This list is there to help you work through what’s in your brain and start releasing the guilt you have for not doing EVERYTHING.

3.  Prioritize, Plug In, and Cull.  Sometimes all it takes is being purposeful and plugging it in.  Sometimes you have to have the sense to just let it go.  By writing out the things you WISH you had time for and comparing them to the natural rhythm schedule you wrote down in #1, you can see if you really do have the time for those things.  For instance, I would love to get back to sewing, but this isn’t the season for that because there are other things that NEED to be in the schedule.  I can let go of the guilt of not sewing because I know the things I have plugged in are PRIORITIES.

When you have a list of things that truly NEED to be on the schedule, then you can think about where they go.  Again, your AAG is NOT a full-blown schedule, so you are not looking for a place to plug in every single thing, but rather you are making sure there is enough MARGIN in your day to accommodate the things that are truly important.

Margin by Richard Swenson is a good book to help you understand the WHY and HOW of margin in your day.

4.  Write it out, type it out, post it.  I always write a rough sketch, go over it in my head, go over it with my older children and my husband, and make sure it is doable and everyone who has a choice is on board with it.  Then, I type it out, laminate it (with this laminator) and post it.

I always make more than one copy.  One copy is near my “office”, one is on the refrigerator, and one is with my homeschool materials.  (In the new house, my “office” is separate of my homeschool materials.  You’ll notice in this post, my office and homeschool area are the same.)  The reason for this is so that you truly can see the schedule AT A GLANCE!  It’s everywhere you are when you might need a little EXTRA focus.

5.  Tweak as needed.  I know, I know – I ALWAYS say this, but it’s true.  I was an English major – every paper was a rough draft!  Every SCHEDULE is a rough draft!  This gives you permission to change something.  HOWEVER, just because your AAG didn’t work the first or second, or even third time you tried it, does NOT mean it isn’t the “right” schedule for you.  It simply means it is NEW.  If after a week or two of really trying, it still doesn’t work, THEN tweak.

You will find that your day RARELY goes the way you plan, but having an At-A-Glance Schedule will help keep you on a track that moves forward and makes sense.  It is never meant to tie you down or stress you out!

Would you like to take a peek at my new AAG?  You will notice a couple of things:

1.  We are late risers.

2.  I sometimes (not always) rely on audio and video to keep the younger crowd occupied during a section of school that requires me to stay focused on the older crowd (I just put it on the schedule as an option).

I’m also including some links at the bottom of this post that I’ve written about specific items mentioned in the At A Glance Schedule.   These will help you understand more about how our day runs and what I mean by certain sections on the schedule.

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY AAG!

Helpful Links:
Morning Chores
Quiet Time with Small Children
Another Take on Quiet Time
Christian Mom’s Guide to Blogging
Table Chores
Schooling the Little First
Easy Homeschool Lunches
Laundry Ideas
Special School
Art & Artist Time
Special Night

Making Lunch Easy

It only took me 12 years of homeschooling and 9 kids to figure out how to make lunch easy.

Gah!  Why did I wait so long?

I finally figured out how to make lunch easy! | RaisingArrows.net

To be completely honest with you, what finally forced me to simplify our lunches was this new job/new house/new baby thing that all took place right around the holidays.  We did just about every major life change all in a matter of 6 weeks!  Go big or go home!

I was really struggling after Aspen’s birth (that’s another post) and needed to make life as simple as I could until I was back on my feet and fully present.  I made a list of all the things that were causing me stress, and one weekend I took some time away to pray and work through as many things on that list as I could.

Lunch was on that list, and the solution came in the form of 3 S’s:

Soup ~ Salad ~ Sandwiches

Make Lunch Easy with the 3's - Soup, Salad, Sandwiches | RaisingArrows.net

Soup

Last week, I told you about our Kitchen Sink Soup.  This is our go-to soup.  We make it a couple of times a week to finish off any random leftovers in the refrigerator.  I don’t really plan any soups besides this one.  When I originally made the 3S Plan, I was going to add in some “original” soups as well, but implementing that proved to be more work than I cared to do.

I try to keep a loaf of bread on hand to go with our soup.  I prefer it to be homemade, but will often grab some sort of specialty loaf from Aldi just in case I don’t get around to making something.  Sourdough or French bread are favorites here, as well as our homemade whole wheat buns.

Salad

Before I had Aspen, I ate salad almost every day for lunch, but rarely had the kids eat it.  Now, if I’m eating it, so are they!  The two salads we make most often are Taco Salad and Chicken Fajita Salad.  For the Fajita Salad, I buy chicken fajita strips at Aldi in the freezer case, warm them up and throw them in with salad greens and cheese.  Corn chips add filler to both of these salads.

Sandwiches

Because I need things to be as simple as possible, I purchase a couple of loaves of bread a week and keep sliced cheese and deli meat, peanut butter and jelly on hand at all times (although, I’ve never eaten a peanut butter & jelly sandwich myself, most of my kids like it).  If we have homemade bread, great, but if not, I know we can still throw together sandwiches with the store-bought loaves.  We will have the occasional deviation from these two types of sandwiches with something like my son’s fried egg sandwiches or my daughter’s grilled cheese or bagel sandwiches, but that is fairly rare.

This plan makes shopping for lunches super simple too!  My weekly list will always have these things on it:

Chicken broth
Shredded Cheese
Salad greens
Fajita Chicken
Chili Beans
Corn Chips
Peanut Butter
Jelly
Deli Meat & Cheese
Bread

I keep us stocked with those items so I always have what I need to make lunch easy!

**Huge sigh of relief!**

How have you simplified lunch at your house?  Or maybe you’ve learned to simplify another meal.  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Preparing for Peaceful Christmas – Week 10

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 10 - Meal Making & Decorating Week | RaisingArrows.net

Follow along with the series!
CLICK HERE

How did you do with the Week 9 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 10!

(affiliate links included)

Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner. Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!

CLICK HERE TO ORDER!

This week we will be getting some freezer cooking, holiday baking, and some decorating done! Fun!


Note from Amy:  This is a very fun week!  Try to get at least one freezer meal prepared (check out my Freezer Meals Pinterest Board for ideas).  This is also a great time to put together cookie trays to share with neighbors and send to work with your husband.  And of course, we can’t forget the decorating!  Make it special with a Decorating Party!


Week 10: Meal Making & Decorating Week

[ ] Prepare Some Freezer Meals! Prepare some favorite meals to put in the freezer for the hectic days ahead. Turn to your Freezer Meals list & Recipe Cards (filed under the Holiday Menus & Recipes section) and use it to check off as you complete dishes and put them in the freezer. Keep this list handy so you know what dishes you have in the freezer. Cross them off as you use them during the holiday season.

[ ] Holiday Baking! Turn to your List of Baked Items to Share/Give Away and the Holiday Baking Recipes (filed under the Holiday Baking section) and use to check off as you complete baked goods and put them in the freezer. Note: You already had one Holiday Baking Day, so take note of what you have in the freezer already! You may not want all your baked goods to go in the freezer now. Make sure you do some holiday baking for your own family to enjoy, as well as finishing up baking for others.

[ ] Decorate for Christmas! Involve children in memory making! Use the calendar page provided to plan some special things to do with your children this week. See my list for some ideas!

Accountability:

Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!

How One Reader is Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas

Preparing for a Peaceful Advent & a Joyful Christmas {guest post on RaisingArrows.net}

Today, Rebecca from Real Mama Joy is sharing how she is
Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas!


It seems as though time keeps melding the days, seasons and years together, slipping by at a faster and faster pace, doesn’t it? Sometimes this is a comforting phenomenon; when one fun event passes, it won’t be too long until the next one. Also, each challenge is only a phase that will transform with the color of the leaves. However, for many of us moms, the quick pace of time can be overwhelming, with too much to do and not enough time to do it. Halloween has passed and Thanksgiving is practically upon us.

Just beyond the turkey dinner lies the Christmas season! Each year, it seems to sneak up on me sooner.

As many of you know, in October Amy at Raising Arrows shared about the 12 Week Christmas Planner {affiliate}, discussing how she will be using it this year and suggesting her readers to do the same. I was immediately intrigued. I admire Amy, and if a homeschooling mama of a large family gives me a tip on how she does it all, I€™m going to take it! I have never begun planning for Christmas in October, but the idea of getting a head start sounded wonderful.

We have all heard that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” and of course that is true. However, that phrase can easily become a cliché lost in the midst of receipts, groceries, silver bells, cookie recipes and tinsel.

20141104_185807I yearn for a peaceful Advent;
full of time reading and praying with my husband and children;
full of candles lit around the Advent wreath while we enjoy a hot dinner together;
full of snuggling on the couch and singing Christmas carols.
I long for an Advent that isn’t so full.

 

In order to create a more peaceful Advent, planning earlier has been immensely helpful. By the end of October, I had wrapped my first Christmas present, ordered Christmas cards, designed and ordered photo gifts, bought my craft supplies (I was actually going to have time for some Christmas crafts!), planned my four children’s holiday outfits, ordered a few other gifts, made my Advent wreath, and found the recipes for several things I wanted to bake! In past years, each of these tasks would have been completed in November and December, some not at all. What an improvement!

With this improvement comes the temptation to fill December with more. It’s easy to begin thinking,

Since I’ve gotten so much done,
I can now create every Christmas craft on Pinterest!

I have to remind myself that I am trying to SIMPLIFY December in order to have a more peaceful Advent and joyful Christmas, keeping my heart on Jesus.

I have not been able to follow the 12 Week Christmas Planner exactly the way it is outlined. Because I purchased it about a week late, I had to try and make up for that. Also, life goes on and is quite full without early Christmas planning! October and November have been busy months, with out-of-town guests, an ongoing remodel, a special weekend with my husband without children (yay!), and then all of the regular homeschooling, laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc, etc. Preparing for Christmas amidst all of this has been a challenge!20141029_181236

But it has been SO worth it.

While precisely following the 12 Week Christmas Planner has not been realistic for me, I am still leaps and bounds better off than I would be without the planner. Furthermore, next year will be even more organized! All of the forms I have filled out will be there for reference in upcoming years, streamlining the preparation process even more.

If you haven’t started preparing for Christmas, I encourage you to begin as soon as you can. The sooner you get each task done, the less chaos you will have this Advent. Imagine a Christmas without stress! It is definitely worth the organization you could be doing now. Begin checking items off of your Christmas to-do list. It would still be worthwhile to buy the planner, even though there are only five weeks left before Christmas. Did you hear that? Only five weeks!

CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE POST IN THE SERIES!

At Real Mama Joy, I€™m all about being real and I€™m all about joy. I strive to discover and choose joy amidst the everyday chaos of motherhood. We all want to live our lives joyfully for our children, especially during the Christmas season. Being more prepared and planning ahead of time will reduce your stress this Christmas season, allowing you to experience and share more joy.

Once your planning is underway, you can enjoy your Advent! Drink hot cocoa with your kids. Read the story of the Nativity with them. Make paper snowflakes together. Bake cookies. Hold them and cherish them.

Your children are the joy of Christmas come to life!

May your Advent be full of peace and your Christmas full of joy!

Real Mama Joy Portrait ImageRebecca is a writer at her blog, Real Mama Joy, where she focuses on discovering joy in motherhood, homeschooling and everyday life with the help of her Catholic faith. She is a homeschooling mother of four children. She believes that most often in the everyday life of motherhood, joy is a choice. With diapers and boogers and whining and disobedience and the hundredth spill in one day, that choice can be hard! It is Rebecca€™s hope and prayer that by sharing her journey with readers, she will help to spread Jesus€™ message of joy to other moms.

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas – Week 2

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas:  Week 2 - Browse Week | RaisingArrows.netHow did you do with the Week 1 To Do List? Hopefully all the items have been completed and you are now ready for Week 2!

Just a quick reminder before we get started: These Weekly To Do lists are directly from The 12-Week Holiday Planner. (affiliate link)  Those of you who have purchased The Holiday Planner will have all the forms that go along with the To Do Lists. If you have not purchased the planner, then you will need to make your own forms or buy your own copy!

This week’s list is short, but it is very important! You will be making lists of gifts that you want to buy or make yourself, as well as jotting down some decorating ideas. You may be tempted to skip over these this week, but don’t!  Remember, baby steps each week will make for a much more peaceful Christmas later!

Week 2: Browse Week

[ ] Develop gift ideas! Turn to your Christmas Gift Shopping List and Gift Making Checklist that are filed under the Christmas Gifts section. Develop and record ideas for gifts that you want to buy and gifts that you want to make yourself. We have included a wealth of gift ideas for you to choose from to get you started (in the Holiday Planner). You can also find some great gift ideas in Sheri’s Homemade for the Holidays series on Sheri’s blog or check out her Gifts Kids Can Make Pinterest board or Amy’s post on Meaningful Christmas Gifts.

Note from Amy:  If you are feeling a little stumped this early in the season, use an extra Gift List to write down each name and a brainstorming list of their interests, passions, goals, etc to help you think in the direction of what they might like or need as a gift.

[ ] Brainstorm decoration ideas! Using the Decoration Ideas form provided, begin to jot down decoration ideas for each room of your home, along with supplies that you will need. File this form under the Holiday Decorations section when completed.

Note from Amy:  I really love the Decorating Ideas print out!  I print one for Fall Decor and one for Christmas Decor.  I am able to look back from year to year to see how I decorated in previous years.  I even include a note about where we put the Christmas tree.

Accountability:

Once you have completed this list, come back here and tell us about it! Let’s encourage each other to plug away at these “to do’s” now so that our holidays can be less stressful and more focused on Jesus!

CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE POSTS IN THIS SERIES!

Preparing for a Peaceful Christmas - a 12 week series from RaisingArrows.net and SheriGraham.com