It was within the first week of David and Graces’ arrival when the reality of having a family of six hit me smack in the face!
I found myself facing mounds of laundry that I swear was multiplying on its own and covering the hallway that led to my laundry room. To make things worse, I found myself facing an empty refrigerator which had been raided by four growing children and I didn’t have the courage or strength to tow four hungry children through Kroger. Not to mention the house was in total disarray and the thought of CPS or the State popping up to just check in didn’t help my nerves much.
It doesn’t take much to increase my anxiety level. I knew I had to get control of my ship before it continued to sink with a house fully of stinky laundry and an empty refrigerator.
I look back now and wish I could have had a crash course on how to handle an instant family of six which happened overnight and the twister that apparently touched down in my house. I knew I couldn’t stay up until 2 a.m. every night like I did trying to get things in order and then be able to function at work. It was time I had my crewmen (kids) help and I needed a steady course!
A few tips that I have learned along the way which has helped our ship stay afloat (thus far!)
• Each kid has a chore appropriate to their age that they do every day. This allows each child to contribute to the family and earn an allowance. Each child tithes 10 percent to church each Sunday for the allowance and is taught to save their money for that special toy they want.
• We have designated laundry day for each kid. This is the day where they literally dump their entire laundry basket into the washing machine. This means no more sorting and resorting.
• Grocery shopping is done late at night when everyone is in bed sleeping. I find this time actually somewhat relaxing (I know that sounds sad!) where I can walk the aisle of Kroger at 10:30 p.m. and not feel like I am on the TV episode of the Supermarket Sweep.
• Each kid has a shower/bath time (morning or evening). This has eliminated cold showers!
• Reading is so important to us and we want our children to have the many benefits of reading. However, the time between arriving from school and bedtime can be hectic. Each night, they go to bed at 8 pm sharp and they all read for 30 minutes. This time also helps them unwind from a busy day.
• Creating a weekly menu has helped me plan ahead and help reduce the stress of figuring out what is going to be prepared for our next meal. It has also stopped the constant question, what are we eating that I often listen to which was starting to sound like a broken record. Each child has the chance to help plan out a meal each week. Once we have our meals planned, it’s written and placed where everyone can see what meals are planned for the week.
• Last but not least, assigned seats in the car. This has avoided so many conflicts because they can argue over the simplest things such as who sits by the window or who is in the back row.
We find ourselves constantly readjusting our sails so to speak because nothing is perfect. As simple as a chore chart sounds, we adjusted it about five times and there were times I thought I had lost my battle with chore chart.
In the end, I have learned that I can live with a few dishes in the sink, a couple mounds of laundry, and a few dust bunnies and it’s OK.
Christy Benson is the director of Clinical Informatics Analysis & Measurement for
Texas Health Resources, Mom to two boys, and Foster Mom.