4 Moms take questions from the audience

Welcome to this edition of 4 Moms, 35 Kids. For the 4th Thursday of every month we’ll be answering questions from our readers.  Fortunately I have a big backlog of unanswered questions to kick it off.

Check out the other moms’ Q&A sessions here:

  • DeputyHeadmistress @ The Common Room
  • [email protected] Olives
  • Connie @ Smockity Frocks
  • Big Family FAQ

    1. How do you deal with picky eaters?

    I don’t believe in picky eaters.  Like fairies, if you don’t believe in them they cease to exist.  Well, maybe it’s not quite that straightforward.  I blogged about how we trained our children to graciously eat what is put before them: 10 Ways to Avoid Raising a Picky Eater.

    2. Susanna Wesley threw her apron over her head. What do you do to get a quiet minute?

    I announce that I need some quiet time.  If others are feeling the same way, we turn off the music, put the little ones down for a nap, and have some household quiet time.  Anyone who is not sleepy can sit and read silently.

    If that’s not practical at the moment, I go to my room and close the door, sometimes accompanied by one young child or a hungry infant.  This is how I often do my Bible reading – the young’un knows that he/she must sit and listen quietly (I’ll read aloud for their sake) or get the boot.

    Since the children don’t have the luxury of escaping alone to their bedroom, my room is often used by others for the same purpose.  We live on 5 acres in the country so obviously there are other quiet places, but it’s not uncommon for one or more older children to do their math or Bible reading in my room or simply slip in there for a quiet reading place during their free time.

    3. What skills and character traits you would have worked harder to develop in your single years if you knew then what you know now?

    Oh my!  There’s a good question!  I feel that I was well prepared in the basic mechanics of running a house: I could cook and clean, change a diaper, and balance a checkbook.

    There are many areas in which I fall short, but one in particular comes to mind: I think I was (and am) weak on the idea of service.  My mom modeled a servant’s heart – I don’t want to impugn her example – but I was slow to pick up on the lesson, and I still have a hard time seeing the needs around me.  I do my job – my own job, and expect the same of others.

    If others help me, I am grateful but oh-so-slow to return the favor because I haven’t learned yet to see the opportunities around me.  It’s not that I don’t want to help, but I simply don’t think to offer and can’t think of what to offer.

    I wish I had learned this skill earlier in life, because service to others is an important part of the Proverbs 31 wife.  It’s one way we show our love for God: by loving the people bearing His image.

    4. At some point if you had any fears about having more, how did God allay those fears? Any specifics, or did the fear just sort of go away?

    The hardest time for me was when we had 4 children, 4yo and under.  I was struggling from day to day, just trying to keep them fed and dressed.  They couldn’t even find their own shoes, let alone tie them!  They couldn’t brush their hair, or make a PB&J.  Perry was working and gone very long hours, and I had to do it all.

    I simply couldn’t imagine how we could add another child to the mix.

    Finally I had a light bulb moment.  If and when God gave us another child, assuming she arrived on schedule with the standard 19 month spacing we were experiencing, we wouldn’t be adding another child to the current mix.  We wouldn’t have 5 children, 4yo and under.

    By the time that next baby arrived, everyone would have moved up a notch.  We would have 5 children, 6yo and under.  We would have our current mix plus a 6yo.  This was the tipping point.  This was when things would begin to get better!

    Of course there were other considerations. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.  We know that God will never try us beyond what we can bear. I knew these things, but somehow I found it heartening in this circumstance to realize that I wasn’t waiting on mysterious strength to appear within my quivering frame.  I could see and understand how God would help me.  My children would grow and mature, and I would be reaping some fruit from our orchard by then.  There was a light at the end of tunnel, and I could see it.

    5. How much time does your mind/soul/body require “away” from the kids? And do you ever feel burnt out? – Have you noticed a pattern (i.e. being at a certain stage of pregnancy, or babyhood, or potty training, or schooling…to cause this)

    Do I ever feel burnt out?  Yes.  I sometimes find myself feeling stressed by everyday life, neverending commotion, syrup spilled in the cabinet again. Who left the sugar bowl where the baby could get it?!   I am gradually learning what triggers these feelings for me:

    1. Selfishness.  It’s a strange fact of life that the more time I get to myself, the more I want.  If I begin to feel smothered, stressed or overwhelmed, I have found that it’s time to take a hard look at how much free time I’ve had lately and how I’m using my time.  If I self-consciously bury myself in my role as wife and mother, I often find that I quickly feel better.
    2. Neglect. That may sound harsh, but 2 things that make me feel burnt out, stressed out and generally overwhelmed are a messy house and children that are needy and unruly.  When my house is a mess and my children are misbehaving or otherwise demanding my attention, there’s a good chance that I’ve been neglecting my duties.
    3. Pregnancy.  Like the nesting instinct that drives some of us to clean frantically, I feel a need for some quiet and solitude during my third trimester.  I don’t know if this is a good thing, but I do know that I tend to spend much more time in my room during the last weeks of pregnancy and it’s not just because I need the rest.
    4. Stress. Stress from any source tends to make me more prone to stress in my role at home.  Sick family member, hubby having trouble at work, car trouble, money trouble, too many outside obligations…they all conspire to ruin my attitude.  When troubles surround me, I need to remember to rely on God rather than fretting over problems that are not mine to solve.

    6. Do you have any tips on making it through morning sickness?

    I had severe morning sickness for my first 5 pregnancies and occasionally for the later ones.  I found that I had to prioritize and let certain standards slide: Mac-n-cheese from a box for dinner for 4 nights/week won’t kill anybody (at least not right away).  Kids don’t need baths every night, especially if they play in the hose or pool all day.  School doesn’t have to be formal every day – there are many ways that children can learn.

    Most common remedies took the edge off my nausea, while others had no discernible effect.  The ones that did seem to help lost their efficacy after a few weeks so I had to keep trying new things.  Lemon juice straight from the bottle helped, as did cinnamon altoids.  Small frequent protein snacks sometimes helped and sometimes came right back up.

    One remedy that worked like magic for me, though I’ve only tried it with my most recent pregnancy, is beans.  Yes, beans cured my morning sickness.  I know it sounds gross, but try it.  Anything that stays down begins to sound much better than you might expect.

    If all else fails, time is on your side.  Morning sickness can’t last more than 9 months, and is usually much less.  Like the pains of labor and childbirth, it’s a small price to pay in the scope of eternity.

    I’d love to hear your take on any or all of these questions.  Speak up in the comments, or post your answers on your blog and leave a link here.

    If you have a question that you’d like me to consider for a future post like this, leave it in the comments.

    Next week’s 4 Moms topic: How we find individual time with our husbands without spending money


    1. I really enjoyed reading your answers- especially about stress. I’m trying to find that balance in not being selfish but also allowing myself to receive what I need as well as giving to my family. I have found, like you said, that when I immerse myself in doing my responsibilities well, that I usually feel better if I am discouraged or stressed out. Thanks for sharing- great post!

    2. I’m 30 weeks pregnant with our 7th child, and our eldest will be 11 in a few months. I totally agree with the “earlier years” being the hardest. We had 4 under 5 at one point. Now that we have older children, life really is a lot easier. We also had 3 miscarriages between #6 and this baby, which will result in 3+ years between #6 and #7 (for the first six children, we were around 18 months between babies.) I think when you are in trenches, it is so easy to forget that this time will not last forever and indeed the body may stop being able to carry babies to term. This baby I’m carrying seems like a miracle baby after all our losses.

    3. thank you so much for the #5 answer…I soooo needed that! The Lord sure planted your blog right in my sight!

    4. Kim, great answers! I enjoyed reading your responses. I especially liked your insight about needing more alone time during your third trimester of pregnancies. I never realized that this is true of me, too. I am more introspective during those final weeks of pregnancy and often just want to read a lot of really thick books.

      I am 11 weeks pregnant with # 8 and I read on your blog to try the “bean cure”. Well, it did work for me for the first week or so of my morning sickness. Then, the thought of a bean was enough to start me gagging. I can’t even swallow one! I know if I could just get some down, I would feel better, but I just can’t anymore! How did you have the stomach to keep eating beans? know time is on my side and as this first trimester approaches its end, the sickness is already abating. I am just riding it out.

      By the way, I met you at the Baby Conference this summer! 🙂

      In Christ, Laura

      • Laura,
        Thanks for saying hi at the conference! Will you be back for the film festival next month? It’s our favorite event of the year!
        Even after I was sick and tired of beans, they didn’t bother me – maybe because they actually made me feel better? At any rate, I noticed that when I started feeling better I would forget to eat beans (or decide that I didn’t need them any more), then the nausea would come back in full force and I would find that beans were the only thing that helped. It probably helps that we tend to eat them a lot anyway, and it only takes a few bites every couple of hours to make a difference in how you feel. At least, that’s how it worked for me. I often just ate a spoon or two right from the container, thinking of them as medicine. It didn’t matter if they sounded good, they made me feel better and that made them worth swallowing.

    5. I stumbled on your blog a few months ago and it’s become one of my favorite! One thing I’ve been wondering, is how you have the “anatomy” discussion now that you have added boys to your family. I have 3 young girls (under 5), so we haven’t had to have the boy / girl anatomy talk – yet 😉

    6. I have had terrible morning sickness with all of my successful pregnancies.
      I have never heard of the bean cure! I don’t have a gall bladder and have always wondered about the bile connection, so what you wrote really makes sense!
      If I am blessed again with another pregnancy, I am going to try this simple solution.
      We love beans, and like you, make them very often.
      Thank you so much for this suggestion!

    7. For morning sickness with my last pregnancy I got prescription at six months that finally made it stop but it did last 9 months. If it is really a bad case of morning sickness as your healthcare provider and take the help. That’s my two cents:)

    8. Kim,

      Thank you for your honest, gracious, and insightful replies to these questions. I especially appreciate answers to 3 and 5.
      I am pregnant with our seventh and while I absolutely believe that children are a blessing, I had been hoping for a bit more time between babies this time. Our gaps are between 18 and 23 months. That 23 month gap was only because we lost a little one in between.
      My oldest is 9.
      Anyway, I am working harder than usual to embrace the honor of conception and privilege of pregnancy, to see through the haze of confusion that morning sickness and homeschool and daily living bring, and to remember that my life is not my own and every day is an act of worship! Whew! It’s a workout!
      I am humbled by the Lord’s blessing, and glad He has taken me past the end of my resources because at some point I actually thought I was doing a pretty good job 😉 Now I see that it was His grace all along, and today… well today there is simply no way to take credit for any good thing that is accomplished. If it weren’t for the strength of the Lord and His daily mercies I’d be sunk.
      Now truly, this sounds ungrateful and I am always thrilled to meet the next tiny one; I have children who are ecstatic; and a husband who Loves Jesus more than himself.
      Alas, it is a breath of fresh air to get a glimpse of the inner workings in the homes of others. At least the things that are lovely or successful 😀
      Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your heart – it has touched mine.

      Many hugs,

    9. I just found your blog–heard from a friend about the “4 moms, 35 kids” series. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂 I look forward to reading more!

    10. Oh Kim,
      Thank you, thank you for this post. I actually have tears right now, after reading this. You just described my feelings and my situation to a tee! I have been struggling very badly from encouragement from moms who know what I experience on a day to day basis, and I think I just found it. Thank you!
      angela fontenot
      mom of ten

      and the part about free time begetting the need for more free time- SO TRUE!

    11. Kim, thank you, thank you, thank you! This post was such a blessing to me. Your couple of sentences about selfishness and neglect perfectly articulated some things God has been trying to impress on me, and possibly had more of an impact on my housekeeping motivation than 5 years of half-following FLYlady has 🙂 (Seriously, I was about to settle in for a half-hour or so of internet play time when I skim read this post and then went and tidied up my house for a half hour instead… of course, I am back now…)

      Also, I have also recently had the ah-ha! moment of realizing you add an x-year-old and not an infant. My oldest is 6 now. We had been going along at a nice every-18-months clip until now when the Lord has seen fit to give us a gap (our “baby” (girl #4) will be 19 months on Saturday), which we will, Lord willing, be using to adopt internationally. But I digress.

      I mostly just wanted to thank you for just being a consistent source of encouragement, but while I’m writing a novel anyway, I do have one burning (and totally unrelated to this post) question I’ve been wanting to ask. Have you shared in a previous post or would you mind sharing what has led you to wear “mostly skirts most of the time”? Being an all-girl (except for Daddy) family, I do feel drawn to the skirts-only mentality. My girls wear skirts more often than not, though I’m still in jeans most of the time. But just I don’t see a scriptural call for it clear enough to overcome practicalities like the fact that we thrive on hand-me-downs from other not-always-skirt-wearing girls from church. I also don’t want to take that leap just because it seems like so many families I admire are doing it. I’m not sure what my motives would be, except that I think skirts are super cute and easier in some ways and my girls love to wear them anyway. So… convince me? Or is it just a preference thing?

      And really, thank you again 🙂

    12. I appreciate your honesty and I thank you. There are so many kernals in your words, and they make me pause to think. I am glad for that. Even though we really don’t have that much in common, you make me think.

    13. Kim, Thanks for all the good encouragement. I agree with your ‘me time’ assessment.

    14. I like what you said about not believing in picky eaters. I feel the same way about sickness too.

    15. Thank you, Kim, for the encouragement today! I only have one kiddo [thus far] and feel the very same way and canNOT imagine having more and not having a breakdown of some sort. I was an only child and I’m totally making up this parenting thing as I go…ha ha. I praise the Lord for a church full of large families with Godly women who I can look to for insight and ideas (and for blogs like yours)!

      I have been reading for a few weeks and thought I would say hello (this is only my second comment). I love your blog – it is such an encouragement and your sense of humor and your honesty draw me to keep reading. I married this crazy man who was one of six and desires a big family and couldn’t help myself but to marry him…of course, I have no idea what I’m getting myself into! A little background, since I’ve noticed you like to know who is reading your blog: we’ve been married 4.5 years…we live in North Pole, Alaska and it has yet to get above freezing today, but in just a few weeks it will dip below zero and not come back up until sometime next year…we are Reformed in our faith, but have yet to find a suitable church up here…we have a 14-month-old boy…annnnnnd…umm…

      Thank you, too, for the picky eater link – I see my little one headed that direction (unless it comes from Daddy’s plate…then it doesn’t matter) and I have strong convictions to not ALLOW it…but I’ll be praying for patience in the meantime…ha ha.

    16. I tend to be the same way when it comes to service- I love to help but don’t always see what needs to be done. I also have a hard time asking for help, I am a work in progress. Thanks for #5 it really hits home right now.
      God bless

    17. I also was saying to myself, “That is SO true!” concerning your comment about selfishness and neglect, especially the neglect. Whenever I find myself spending too much time on the computer…so much gets neglected on my part and then I freak out over my 8 kids who are running amuck…and then I have the audacity to wonder WHY I didn’t get anything done that day! 🙂 And, yes, when I invest my time in my kids and my duties, I’m much happier throughout the whole day. I think it would help if I had “scheduled” computer time each day, rather than jumping on whenever I felt like it (like right now). 🙂 Thanks for your honesty, Kim.

    18. So true about the “me” time. I find the best “me” time is reading to the kids. They are quieter and we all get to experience the story together.

      Picky eaters..ha.. if you don’t like something with this many kids it’s a safe bet someone else does. I cook for my husband. If ya wanna eat too, fine.

    19. Kim I think we could be related you name my faults in detail. I am working on them thanks for the encouragement. I had to laugh when you mentioned beans as curing your morning sickness. I was very sick with all of my pregnancies but by the fifth I finally figured out a pretty good cure. Bushes Baked Beans. I did not have a microwave so I bought the huge can put them in a tupperware container and ate them out of the fridge whenever I felt queasy. I always two or three children begging for a taste too! It staved off the sickness so i could get something more in my tummy and so prevented full out sickness. Not fun but the babies make it all worth it!

    20. We’re thinking about adopting 6 siblings and in addition to our current family it would bring us to ten. I’m really interested to hear what your grocery budget is!

    21. When you said, that the more time you get to yourself, the more you want. That is exactly how I am! I have never spoke to anyone that felt that same thing. I felt like I was crazy or something. I am the best mother when I spend as much time with my children as possible. I think mothers sometimes feel that way, but don’t recognize it. I have friends that are work away from home mothers and it seems like they don’t want to do anything with their children. They get a day off and they still take their children to their parents so they “can get some things done.”

    22. The two things you said about selfishness and neglect ring so TRUE. I even see these tendencies with my oldest daughter–and have, since an early age. If she gets “special time”, all she does is crave, even demand, MORE.
      Amazing how I as a grown woman who should know better, often act like a brat too, given the opportunity.
      The answer is serving my family as unto the Lord.
      Thanks for sharing this!

    Don't just think it: say it!

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