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