4 Moms Q&A: Me time, and This is why we can’t have nice things

4 Moms 35 KidsFrom Elizabeth:

What do you ladies think of “me time”?  I know there are certain degrees to this idea from the necessity (take a shower, do a workout) to the frivolous (girl’s night out weekly.) My husband *wants* me to work out, lose weight, be healthy, but I really just don’t have the time, or ability to set aside 3 or more times a week just to work out. How do I support my husband as a helpmeet, put my goals as a Mother to my 4 blessings first, but still find the time to meet weight loss and health goals? We did consider a treadmill at one point, but there is no room in our cramped home.


If exercise is important to you and your husband, I don’t think it counts as “me time.”  This is not a case of wanting to pamper yourself; this is a matter of being a good steward of the body God has given you, one that bears His own image.  You are also honoring your husband’s wishes, and in encouraging you he is working to protect you and your health.  These are all good goals!

When it comes to making time for a workout, I know it’s hard, but sometimes you just have to do it.  I don’t always find time for the things I ought to do, but I usually find time for the things I really want to do.  That’s a harsh way to put it, and I hope you’ll understand that I’m saying it tongue in cheek, but it’s also true more often than I’d like to admit.

There are three actions that help me to fit something important into my schedule:

  1. As I said, just do it.  Other things will get pushed later than I wanted or put off until another day, but that often happens due to circumstances outside my control anyway.  At least in this case, it’s for a good reason.
  2. Take time to write it into my schedule.  I’m terrible at following a schedule, but I know I’ll never hit the target if I don’t even know where to aim.  A schedule shows me where I can plausibly fit a workout into my day, and gives me the freedom to do it without guilt even when I haven’t done everything else I should have done today.
  3. If I truly feel I can’t fit a workout into my day, I can talk to my husband about priorities.  Together we can decide where I can and should spend less time so that I have time to exercise.   Maybe I’m carrying a burden that isn’t important to my family, and I can free up some time by dropping another activity.

Another thing to consider is that exercise can include the kids, and it’s just as good for them as it is for you.  This may slow you down and make it more difficult to stick with a routine, but it may be the best you can do.  You do some great workouts using only your own bodyweight.  Babies and toddlers love to be hoisted instead of weights for many exercises, and my little ones can do a mean push-up!  When I had only little ones, I used to pile 3 in a double stroller, put the baby in a carrier, and take a walk.  Now that was a workout!

There are lots of options that require no extra money or equipment, and some of them keep your kids occupied while you exercise.

From Jessica:

How do you teach respect for personal property and others things? And how would you handle an older child who doesn’t show enough responsibility to play with age appropriate toys, but plays too rough and inappropriately with younger toys? We have a 7yo who we’ve been struggling with this for awhile…he is the oldest of four. He has scratched designs into his desk, his bunk bed and dresser with various objects, I found gum stuck in the back of the van where he sits, he used to have a car organizer in the van with activities to do but wouldn’t keep them picked up and put away so I removed it, just to mention a few things. His younger brothers are 3 and under so they play with toddler toys, which is what he usually ends up playing with too because he is soooo irresponsible with older kid toys like legos and marbles. He leaves them lying around when asked to pick them up and puts things in the wrong place when they are found later. I don’t think he is overprivileged and is hardly ever left unattended. Today I sat in the back of the van and found that he had colored with crayon on the back of the seat and wall!!!! He said “I didn’t think before I did it” We’ve talked numerous times about respecting other people’s property and taking care of the things that are yours….but honestly it seems like every word I say goes in one ear and out the other.


Have you ever heard the saying, “This is why we can’t have nice things”?  Well, that learning curve during the childrearing years is the reason.  Those people you birthed will be kids for a long time before they are adults, and the Bible says that foolishness is wrapped up in the heart of a child.

Seriously, teaching kids to respect property and take care of possessions is a long process, and most of the teachable moments come right after you discover another instance of wanton destruction.  I don’t think the examples you give are out of the ordinary for a 7yo, especially for an oldest child.  He doesn’t have the advantage of hearing you correct others for all the things that foolish little kids will do; he is the trailblazer, trying each new idea as it occurs to him.  His younger siblings might learn a little faster just because they have witnessed the aftermath as he tried all the dumb ideas himself.  Most of the problems you listed sound like immaturity, and it’s simply going to take time for your son to develop better judgment.  I’ve heard it often happens a little later for boys than girls.  In the meantime, God is building your patience.  🙂

You’re not alone in your frustration, waiting for your son to use the brain God gave him.  Bill Cosby observed a similar phenomenon.

I could add a few stories if it makes you feel better.  There’s the one about crayons in the back seat of the rental car…A child’s name scratched with a rock into the side of a mini-van…Helpful children knocking ice off Dad’s car with a hammer…unauthorized haircuts, clothing alterations, dangerous stunts that I have blocked from memory, etc.  Not every child will try everything, but if you have a large family you can bet they’ll do a fair job of covering all the bases over time.

I’m not excusing foolish behavior in children; I’m only saying that we shouldn’t despair.  We need to correct them gently but firmly, doing our best to differentiate  between sin and immaturity.  Sometimes they really do know better, and sometimes they really don’t – even though we think they should.


  1. Elizabeth, I hope you tell your husband he needs to work out/lose weight/be healthy too. That is a loaded thing to say to a woman. Too often our appearance/presentation before our husbands is made of paramount importance. He must look good too! I don’t think exercise counts as ‘me time’ unless you enjoy it. It’s important that you do something that recharges your energy and self to continue loving and serving your family.

  2. This summer, I’ve tried to include my kids in my workout and so far it has provided an added benefit – my mornings are pre-planned and rarely dull. At least four mornings a week, I load them up in any array of outdoor “kid haulers” and give each a bag of apple slices. You can add resistance and variety by changing up your route and your equipment. This morning was our wagon/ergo and a route with more hills than flat terrain. The kids love being outside and I take the opportunity to burn off some of their energy. If I play my cards right, they are wiped by the time we get home. I serve lunch, put everyone down for a nap/quiet play and fill in the gaps of my workout with hand weights/soup cans.

    On rainy days I try to wake up before everyone, set out a simple breakfast and work out at the YMCA. My husband cherishes these mornings, it gives him the opportunity to spend quality time with our four just as I do each day. I can workout and return in an hour and a half – without my children even realizing that I’m away. In the winter, I see these mornings happening more often than not.

  3. Life in a big family… sometimes things will get drawn on, broken, misused, cut, torn, smashed or squashed. Sometimes all in the same day. Children do childish things. It happens. There are consequences, but there’s a difference between childishness and disobedience or defiance.

  4. I am in full swing with both of these stages. Right now I get up at 5am to run as it’s to hot during the day. When it was cooler I’d run during the day and some of the kids join me on foot or bike. It use to bug me to have the kids with but now I love it…most of the time. If that’s the only way to get my workout in than so be it. I’ve learned to be happy just getting out there and moving. As for not having nice things…oh yeah! So there. 9 kids 12 and under, 6 of them boys. yep, no nice things. lol I know one day we’ll get “nice” things back so we don’t stress it anymore. Not to say we just let them go crazy drawing, cutting, and ripping up everything in sight but it’s a process. Great post!

  5. I have found that finding exercise time really does make me a better mom, especially when I run first thing in the morning. The difference in my energy level and patience is incredible! There are lots of good beginning training programs online such as Couch to 5K etc. One of the best things we can do for our children is model a healthy lifestyle.

  6. So, what kind of advice do you have for a mom (me), who only has visits with a 10y/o & 11y/o daughter who lives with their dad that doesn’t discipline, ever. My 10y/o wakes up in the middle of the night & eats raw sugar, and things that aren’t healthy. I’m on a fixed income, and do once a month shopping; basically when food budget is out, I’m done until it comes back around. She’s been gaining weight because she does it there too, and apparently he’s not correcting the situation. So, we deal with the anger, tempers from being corrected, disrespect, ect. I, I, I, taught her respect before the divorce with her dad. Her dad & family put my children threw such chaos, we’re trying to reteach her this. Any advice?

  7. Amanda Wells says:

    Just had to put my two cents in. After the Birth of my fifth child I have lost 60+ pounds over the past year and it was the first time I have lost weight without exercise (and this is my fourth time losing 20+ pounds in my lifetime). Kim, you have mentioned this before in regards to weight loss, how important it is to limit carbs, but I have been shocked at how easy it was to drop the weight once I let go of the idea that I needed to eat bread three times a day. I still have bread, but “demoted it from king to servant, ” a saying I got from the very helpful book Trim Healthy Mama, which I highly recommend. I do intend to get back to exercising, and go on short walks a couple of times a week, but all of my previous weight loss sessions required intense, frequent Taebo – ing 🙂 to be effective… Because of my high carbohydrate intake. Best wishes on your efforts!

  8. We follow the same rules as Vickie. You mentioned foolishness being bound in the heart of a child…remember that the rod of correction will drive it far from him. When our kids (once they are over about 5-yrs old) begin to misbehave in the car, if they do not straighten up with a warning, they will be sitting with their hands folded silently. This happens often after the “he’s hitting me..” episodes. As for exercise, I especially like walking, jogging first thing in the morning. Depending on your husband’s schedule, you might be able to do this before he goes to work. It allows for good prayer time and a quiet before the storm 🙂

  9. “Having a little trouble, huh, Son?”

    Oh, that made me laugh out loud, even though the baby is asleep beside me!

  10. 7 or 8 was when my bored daughter drew on the roof of the car above her seat, I got most of it off, but that is what happens when kids get bored, they figure out a way to amuse themselves and rarely thing about if it will get them into trouble.

  11. this makes me feel a little better..I have been getting frustrated with my three year old and my 20 mo. old boy for ripping books apart…even though I think at least my 3 year old knows better this makes me feel a little more relaxed. Does anybody have any tips for a 20 mo. old who is always throwing his food off the high chair?

    • I’ve found that when my little ones are throwing food, they think its a game. Supplying more food encourages the game. I don’t play that game. If your child is in the habit of doing this you may want to start him with a smaller amount of food, and give him more in small amounts IF he is eating it.

    • I’ve found that when my little ones are throwing food, they think its a game. Supplying more food encourages the game. I don’t play that game. If your child is in the habit of doing this you may want to start him with a smaller amount of food, and give him more in small amounts IF he is eating it.

    • Georganne says:

      A 20 month old is old enough to pick it up. Take him/her out of the chair immediately and have him/her pick it all up and put it in the trash. Since he/she must not be very hungry, he/she might not get a plate refill right away, either. Watching everyone else eat isn’t something most children enjoy.

  12. When my kids break a toy from misuse that is not theirs, they have to in turn give one of their “special” toys to the sibling/friend. I’ll know if it is special or whether they just found something at the bottom of their toy box.

    If they write on walls, they clean it up…the first time with my help, repeat offenders are on their own. Crayons / pencils / scissors / glue are only allowed at the table and put away when they are done. They are not allowed in the vehicles unless we are traveling and then it is colored pencils because they don’t melt.

    Since we own an auto body shop….the kids learn early on not to even rub their hands down the side of a vehicle because they know even that much can scratch a vehicle’s paint. At 7, his job could be to clean out the vehicles too 🙂

    Be consistent in rules and discipline…..sometimes that is the most difficult part of it all.

  13. I have been finding YouTube workout videos to be pretty helpful. My toddler likes to “workout” with mommy, so I can usually get in a little bit of a workout before she gets bored. Sometimes she goes off to play by herself, and sometimes she NEEDS MOMMY and wil sit there crying until I play with her (those are the days my workout is shorter). Now, I don’t know how this would work with three additional kids, but hopefully this helps!

  14. HeatherHH says:

    There’s a lot of evidence that it’s more effective to do high-intensity exercise in short bursts than to do longer 30 minute workouts at a milder pace. So, start with spending 5 minutes at a time doing over-the-head toddler lifts, squats, jumping jacks, lunges, jump rope (imaginary rope), wall pushups, etc. Go full force for that 5 minutes and then be done. You can manage to find 5 minutse. My little ones think it’s fun to watch and imitate. If you get a chance to do it again later in the day, then great!

  15. Thanks for the advice. I have definitely been thinking along the lines that workouts are something that don’t involve kids, and the few times I tried, I got discouraged by the results. I just need to do it, and manage from there. It was no picnic training our kids to sit through church (we began this when my oldest was 3-4, and our second oldest was 2-3, took us over a year to get into a manageable routine that they understood and participated in.) Having read this, I am (Sadly) convinced that my commitment was wanting. As you put it, it is much easier to find other things to do! And while I have enjoyed working out in the past, it was always pleasantly child free. Time to knuckle down and focus on the health aspect, not the selfish aspect! 4 must seem like “a nice start to a family!” to you. My Dad says that to me frequently, having raised 6 children himself… but I am beginning to realize as a Mama of many, that with each new child comes one more thing I must either compromise, give up altogether, or relearn. Time to relearn the exercise routine! 🙂

    • Elizabeth,
      For those of us with bigger families than yours, having 3 or 4 was difficult for us, as we are now blessed with some older children. A friend of mine and I were recently commenting about not being able to get anything accomplished all week while our oldest children were at camp a couple of weeks ago! Good luck with your scheduling!

  16. I had a hard time with my kids destroying things because I had a hard time making a good rule about how to treat things. I could only think of a million, little bity rules, and that would never work. And then I came up with two questions: 1) Is that yours? (or something that you’re supposed to use), and 2) Is it how it’s designed to be used?

    If the answer to either question is no, then don’t do it. If the answers to both question is yes and it breaks, then it was just one of those things.

    The key, of course, is that you have to discipline them when they break the rule even if nothing bad happens. If you only discipline them when something gets ruined, then they aren’t going to make following the rules a priority.

Don't just think it: say it!

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