Lists, Bins, Naps, or Jesus

I can never go more than a few days without the infamous question “So how exactly do you do it all? With 10 kids, 2 jobs outside the home in addition to our rental properties and my newest blogging adventure it does seem like quite a lot to be able to cover it all. And since we are in the season of magic, I am going to give you this ultimate secret to success.

But first, let me start by telling you what we don’t do.

We don’t get lost in the details once a day has been set in motion. We go with the flow once the flow is going…

We don’t expect anything more from anyone else than we would do ourselves. And this INCLUDES our children.

We don’t wait for the time to be right to go out to dinner, pick up the house, finish a project or to start something new altogether. We are well aware there will never be a better time.

We don’t even expect things to go as planned. There is always a margin of error on any given day. Bob and I know which one of us is “on call” so that the other one can focus on something already deemed higher on the priority list.

And really, we don’t worry about many common things that I often hear from other parents, colleagues and friends- because we simply just can’t. That’s not to say there isn’t an underlying concern regarding our kids, our finances, our houses, and our day to day lives… it is there and it is very real- and no, we don’t worry any less about our kids because there is 10 of them; we just don’t have time to live in that all-consuming place of our minds because what is going right is usually far more important than what could go wrong.

So here it is. The big answer.

Our life is handled with lists, bins, naps, or Jesus.

Luckily I am spreadsheet and to-do list junkie. I work in finance, spreadsheets feel like home to me. Whether it’s the monthly budget, a punch list for a house we are working on, a chore list for our fridge or our monthly kid-life calendar. I can’t get enough! And we couldn’t do it all without a serious undercurrent of organization and planning ahead. We usually know well in advance if something isn’t going to happen, but sometimes we don’t know until the last minute that we cant get to everything that was planned, and we decided to accept that long ago.

Also, radical organization calls for unorthodox measures. When shoe racks aren’t big enough, when toys cannot live all over the floors, when bike helmets pile on the porch by the dozen, there is a bin for that! If we get too crazy with a place for everything, nothing gets put away. BUT if we accept that a bin by the back door holds the boots, and baskets hold gloves and hats in the front room, and that helmets can’t be left in the yard, our cleanliness starts to take shape. It’s not a perfect science, but we don’t have one or two of anything so we aren’t going to get a nice look with some functional shelving. Let’s picture those helmets one more time. You would stack them? Hang them on the rails of 10 bikes? Store them in separate bedrooms never to be seen again? I know when to pick my battles and I’ll take my chances with the bins.

When we can’t plan it, organize or clean it we can sleep on it. Or at least the younger half can so we can breathe for a second. Naptime or early bedtime brings my sanity a little closer whenever I can make it happen. Sleeping on a hard decision, sleeping off a bad mood or starting bedtime early- you just can’t go wrong with a little time to rest. (Whether it’s us or them.)

And for the times that there isn’t any sleep in sight, the house is trashed, the finances leave much to be desired, the kids schedules are daunting, or the workloads at our jobs are pushing us to the brink –we have Jesus. There is a peace in knowing I don’t have to do it all, and Bob doesn’t have to do it all. Every time we just can’t- we give it back to God, and always, always, always…a way is made, a deadline extended, a friend stops in with milk (or wine). And we realize that we were never meant to do it all.

So we don’t.



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