4 Moms: Large Family Logistics linky, part 1

4 Moms 35 Kids answer questions about big families

This week we begin our 4 week long blog-through of Kim Brenneman’s book, Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing the Large Family.  If you don’t already own a copy, the promo code 4MOMS will get you a 40% discount through midnight tonight (August 4).

In a peculiarly appropriate display of why I need this book, I spent this morning reading through the first 125 pages so that I could write this post.  I should also mention that one of my own daughters bought the book for me.  In her defense (and my own), she knew that I was interested in the title and also bought me several other books at the same time.  Nonetheless, I confess that I can learn much from this book.

My own notes on Part 1, which consists of the first 17 chapters:

This portion of the book deals with mom’s attitude, heart issues, goals, definitions, and nearly everything but the day-to-day nitty gritty of how to get things done.  It very nearly could be a book in itself, and even though the author and I have roughly the same number of children I picked up plenty of new ideas and was reminded of some very good concepts that have gone by the wayside in our own household.

Every chapter has an important focus, of course, but these are the ones that made me stop and take note for the benefit of our own home:

1. The Wise Woman

A blow-by-blow breakdown of the legendary Proverbs 31 wife, and how her skills translate to us today.  God gave us a checklist, and we need to refer to it regularly.  With a little creativity and allowance for changes in technology, all of the qualities mentioned can be applied today just as well as they could 3,000 years ago.

2. Goals

Here I was reminded that if we aim at nothing, we hit it every time.  We need to know exactly what we want to accomplish and why.  This includes projects, but also should encompass other aspects of household management: hospitality (how much and how often?), meal planning, daily routines and scheduling, housekeeping, homeschooling.

When it comes to projects, we have many in the works in our house at any given time, but our list of finished projects is much shorter than I’d like to admit.  Not only do I need to keep the list in front of me and the children, I need to make sure Perry and I are on the same page about which items belong at the top of the list. Kim also reminds us that our husbands will want to dictate all the details of certain goals, while delegating the specifics of other goals to us.  Both are equally valid ways for our men to exercise their own role as head of household and we need to work graciously and self-consciously in both cases.

5. Attitude is Critical

This chapter addresses a variety of attitude issues on the parts of all family members, but the one that caught my attention is “I can’t.”  Rather than “I can’t,” her children are taught to say, “I’ll do my best.”  They learn that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Ph. 4:13)

Like the author, we don’t allow those words in our house, and we teach our children the same verse in Philippians.  She mentioned, however, that a friend overwhelmed with little ones once asked if she ever felt that way and the immediate response was a resounding “no.”

I received a very similar question just yesterday and my answer was a little different, though we both end up at the same place: I tell overwhelmed mothers that if you ever feel like you can do it all yourself, you’re about to get humbled by God.  As Kim says later in chapter 12, “…children are a blessing that drives us to Christ because we are incapable of parenting well without Him…”  Alone, you most certainly can’t. With Christ, you can do all things.

9. Give Your Children a Work Ethic

I love Kim’s tips on teaching children to work (“Feed the dog and empty the trash?  Scrape the hog floor didn’t make the list?”), but I also had a good giggle about her suggestion to have little ones carry folded laundry in a dishpan.  The Headmistress mentioned a multitude of uses for dishpans in her post on Frugal Hacks last week and a commentor asked who actually puts books in a dishpan.  Apparently it’s a big family/homeschooler thing.  I need to get more dishpans!

I also completely agree when she exhorts mothers to teach the older children well, because the older ones will help teach the younger ones attitude, character traits, and chores.  There is a trickle-down effect with children, so make sure you’re not polluting the waters upstream!

I have heard it said that “children should not be required to work because they will be working the rest of their lives”; that “childhood is the one time in life that they can just play and be children.”  If you embrace this perspective, you will set your children up for failure.  If children aren’t taught to work when they are young, then they will find it hard to work the rest of their life…

This chapter also contains a list of verses from Proverbs that deal with work.  I like Kim’s suggestion to write these on index cards and post them throughout the house.

10. Repeating Yourself?

We moms are busy people.  We’re great at multi-tasking.  But child discipline isn’t something that can be multi-tasked.  We need to stop and focus.  We need to train ourselves to hear ourselves.  It’s hard – no doubt about it.  But repeating ourselves is training our children to continue in disobedience.

11. Teaching a New Chore

I have written out the detailed steps to chores on a full piece of paper, inserted it in a page protector and hung it on the wall in the appropriate room, but wasn’t really happy with how it worked for us.  The page was so big I wanted to put it away when guests came over, and the instructions were so detailed that I found the ones who needed them most were a little overwhelmed.  I plan to use Kim’s suggestion to use index cards instead, taped near the job site.

17. Dress for Success

Among other things, this chapter has a long list of what works in clothes for a busy and what doesn’t.  I learned most of these lessons the hard way over the years, so young moms would do well to look the list over before the toddler yanks your wrap-around skirt wide open in the middle of the WalMart parking lot.

I was intrigued by Kim’s suggestion that moms might want to consider having an outfit (or 2 or 3) for each particular day of the week – Office Day, Kitchen Day, Town Day, etc.  Like a weekly menu, this would save time and ensure that choices are appropriate to the task at hand.  I’m not saying I’ll do it, but I’m not saying I won’t.  What do you think of the idea?

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If you have your own copy of Large Family Logistics you are invited to blog about Part 1 and join us with the linky below!

Please remember the linky rules:

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  2. Your post must include a link to at least one of the 4 Moms.
  3. The post you link to must be completely family friendly.

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Visit the other 3 4 Moms to see what they have to say about the first 17 chapters of Large Family Logistics.


Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

  • August 11 – Book blogging linky: Large Family Logistics, part 2 (chapters 18-27: planning your week)
  • August 18 - Book blogging linky: Large Family Logistics,  part 2b (chapters 28-47: the nitty gritty details)
  • August 25 – Book blogging linky: Large Family Logistics, appendices
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    Comments

    1. I have been slowly working through this book since the beginning of the year, and it has been so helpful! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and for the link-up!

      God Bless!

    2. Shannon Mallory says:

      Oy, the repeating myself! I did not think of it in that light, but right after I read that quote I popped on over to VF with my coupon code!

    3. Rachael in Australia says:

      Personally, I do not like the “Dress for Success” idea. When you have a large family, out of sheer necessity, so much of life is scheduled and regimented. I need some areas of life where there is a little creativity and spontaneity. My outfits aren’t that exciting but I’d still hate to know that “on Monday I’ll wear…….” etc

    4. Bekah Huet says:

      Thanks for the great coupon code, Kim! Just bought one.

    5. Repeating myself. Repeating myself. Oh, yes, I must remember to stop repeating myself in my instructions to my children all the time……

    6. Kim,

      I haven’t seen the book yet, nor do I have a large family (we have 3 children), but I imagine there would still be a lot of good in there to glean from.

      My question to you is, does this book address physical fitness at all, and if it does, is there much detail? The reason I would like to know is that years ago I read her blog and she would mention exercises. At the time I wasn’t really into a regimen, but I am now and I would be interested in what she recommends (if indeed she does). Knowing this might tip the scales for me in purchasing the book!

      Thanks!
      Krista

    7. I bought this book this year, though one of my 6 children is out of the home and two of them are 17 and 19 respectively. This is a wonderful book and I learned a lot from it and still am learning. I love her Proverbs 31 breakdown – excellent!

      Deanna

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