4 Moms Q&A

4moms35kids 4 Moms Q&A

Happy Thursday, friends and moms.  We have an announcement to share: We’re going to change the format of our posts to weekly Q&A’s.  You are invited to post your questions on the 4 Moms 35 Kids facebook page every Wednesday – just watch for the announcement and be sure to post your question under it so we don’t miss you!

The current plan is that once each month we will continue to have a topical post in which all of us answer the same question in more depth than our Q&A posts – unless the toddler, preschooler and 4 other children conspire to sabotage somebody’s computer time.  In that case, you’re lucky there are 4 of us Moms.

Here are the questions I chose from this week’s list, mainly because some sort of answer immediately popped into my head when I read them.  I hope you won’t mind that I skipped the ones which elicited a blank stare while I thought to myself, “I have no idea what helpful advice I could possibly offer that poor soul.”

How did you guys handle late pregnancy/postpartum when you had all littles? Expecting no. 4 any day now, and currently have all littles, 6, 4, 2. I froze a few meals ahead of time, but the housecleaning is already suffering. Did you guys just plod through the season, knowing it would be over soon? Or make some sort of action plan?  ~Elizabeth

 Elizabeth, the short answer is, yes, I plodded through.  I planned ahead when I was able, but sometimes I just felt rotten at the end of pregnancy, and it’s actually easier for me to take things a day at a time than to try to plan everything ahead.

One thing I do consider to be a priority before the baby arrives is child training.  Make sure you consistently require first-time obedience, because they will test all the boundaries as soon as you sit down to nurse a crying newborn.  While you’re thinking, “Don’t make me put this baby down!” they have to know that you are absolutely ready to do exactly that.

How do you handle your personal fitness and health? ~Celina

 Celina, my activities change all the time, but here is what I do now:

  1. I try to do a few quick exercises every morning.  While getting dressed, I often do a set of push-ups and/or kettle bell swings.  I often do longer, slower exercises in my room during my morning Bible reading: planks, leg lifts, bridges, etc.
  2. A couple of times/week, Perry and I go work out at a nearby gym.  This is new for us, but before we moved into town we used to walk or jog as often as we found time, which was rarely as often as we should have but better than nothing.  🙂

I’m still carrying a little extra weight from the last few pregnancies, but I’m feeling better all the time and enjoying a more active lifestyle than most of the past 10 years.

What do you do to make mornings smooth? Mine are crazy & we homeschool. I need a good transition from breakfast to chores to school. ~Claire

 Claire, I”m glad I’m not the only mom who struggles with that!  I can’t tell you how often I look at the clock and realize we spent the entire morning on food and chores!  I don’t have the secret to smooth mornings, but I have learned a few things that help move our mornings along:

  • Have a fixed order for doing things: My mantra is jobs, Bible, school.   Breakfast happens when it happens.  You might like to start with Bible, but I find it hard to focus on what I’m reading when there is a mess around me.
  • Clean up before bed to minimize morning chore time.  I love it when we go to bed in a clean house so we can get right to Bible in the morning.  
  • Make sure your kids understand the standard.  Our new rule is that bedrooms must be clean before breakfast.  If you sit down to breakfast, you are telling me that your bedroom is clean.  You’d better not be lying.
  • Be vigilant to avoid distractions – even “good” ones, in yourself and the children.  That closet may be sorely in need of cleaning, but don’t do it in the morning.  Don’t let your kids spend 30 minutes culling their clothes in the morning when they should be making the bed and heading downstairs.
  • Prioritize.  Don’t feel like a failure if you don’t get it all done…again.  Start with the things you consider most important and work your way down the list.  School works better for our older ones in the afternoon when the little ones are having naps and quiet time.  School for little ones doesn’t have to happen every day, and it doesn’t have to take long.
  • Try again tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next.

Do you use the “buddy system” like I’ve seen on the Duggars? And if so, at what age do you pair up an older with a younger? And what duties does the older buddy do for the younger and what do you not give the responsibility for? Our oldest is 6 1/2, youngest is 6 months, (3 others in between) and we’re considering having the oldest and youngest pair up in another year or so and having the oldest help with carseat in and out, serving/cutting food, help getting dressed, brushing teeth etc. And then any future babies, if God gives them, would be paired up with the next oldest child. Any thoughts on “buddies”?  ~Jaclyn

 Jaclyn, we have used a system like that on and off over the years, and I keep telling myself we should go back to it.  There are no hard, fast rules; just do what works best for you and your kids.  What you suggest sounds reasonable if your oldest is mature enough and is excited about helping.  I usually don’t have them change dirty diapers or help with baths until much older, but a 7yo can be a capable and enthusiastic helper in countless other ways.  It sounds to me like you’re on the right track with your ideas.

What are your favorite dinner recipes that your families like?  ~Debbie

 We’re working to cut our food budget, so right now we’re experimenting with what we light heartedly call “peasant food.”  We recently tried and enjoyed Greek fakes, Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, and often have homemade chicken pot pie (light on the chicken, with lots of veggies) or dinner quiche.  We’re having fun with new ethnic foods, and I want to try my hand at Ratatouille soon.  We also eat a lot of homemade artisan bread and challah bread.


My 11-year-old daughter is growing up FAST physically…I’m curious how you handle “leg shaving” – like what age do you start that?  ~Jamie

 Strangely enough, I’ve never had to “handle” leg shaving.  We don’t object to our girls shaving when they are old enough to become self-conscious about the hair on their legs, and they have all started at what I consider to be a reasonable age, somewhere during puberty – often without my knowledge, because it simply hasn’t been a big deal.  Of course I’ve also been asked by 7 and 8yo’s, but they’re just asking for fun and they easily take no for an answer.

When watching a movie as a family, how do you keep all the questions,comments, needless talking down? We are a family of four right now and I am constantly saying “sshhhh”. Do you have a no talking rule during the movie?  ~Stacey

 This question makes me giggle, and I hardly know why.  I think this is one of those things that drives some people insane and others hardly think about it.  I go from one extreme to the other, but subtitles keep me sane.

We do allow quiet, courteous talking that is not disruptive or overly distracting, but it often gets out of hand.  If someone initiates a serious discussion about the movie, we sometimes pause the movie and engage the topic.  Who wants to miss a teachable moment like that?  But if there is just too much chitchat, we either turn on the subtitles and pity the non-readers, or tell them to shush – and when we say it, we mean it.  An unrepentant chatterbox might be invited to leave the room or go to bed, since he or she obviously finds the movie uninteresting.  We’re heartless like that.  😉

Do you keep all hand-me-downs? If you do how do you keep them organized?  ~Tonya

 I have learned to never turn down an offer of hand-me-downs.  I want people to keep sending them our way, so we accept them gladly and pass along the ones we don’t need.  For teens and adults, we keep almost nothing that we won’t wear right away.  For younger ones, I try not to keep anything that is more than a couple of years away from fitting.  For example, I am getting rid of 4yo Bethany’s clothes as she outgrows them because even if our next baby is a girl it will be at least 5 years before she can wear Bethany’s things.  I tend to stockpile a little more for the boys than the girls because boys are harder on clothes.  No surprises there!

I keep clothes that aren’t currently being worn in containers labelled by size, one smallish rubbermaid-type tote for each gender/size in storage (remember, these are just for the little ones).    If it doesn’t fit in the tote, we either pass it on or thin the contents of the tote to make room.

Did I answer your question?  Maybe one of the other moms did:


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  1. “Even if our next baby is a girl” Is there something you are not sharing?? 🙂

    • Diana, not yet, but both my mom and my mother-in-law had children in their 40’s. It seems safe to think that God might bless us again before it’s all said and done. 🙂

      • I just found out today that we are expecting #4!! 🙂 Any ideas on a cute way to announce it to the other children? The girls are 4 and 8 and would get it but our boy is 2 so he might not 🙂

  2. Heh, we are heartless like that about relentless chatterboxes during movies, too. I’ve even come close to sending my oldest girl’s young sister-in-law off to bed when she is here.=)

  3. Thanks for the answer! If there is one thing suffering in this house, it is child training, and I do notice a difference. Time to re-group! I needed that reminder of what it is like after baby comes… When you don’t just want first time obedience, in many cases you NEED it! 🙂 I know where to focus my efforts now! 😀

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