Friday, January 13, 2012

some family questions & answers

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{Our real Christmas card picture.}

Finally back to answering questions from this post.  There were a few questions about family life, so I thought I would put them together to answer.  

-How do you have time to spend with Blake with that many kids? 

Well, one thing Blake and I aren't scared to do is put our kids to bed early.  We sleep trained our kids early on, so they have always been great sleepers.  We also taught them early on that once we put them to bed, that is where they stay (unless they are sick or in special cases).  Because of that, the three younger kids go to bed at seven on school nights and Riley reads by herself until eight.  That leaves Blake and I with most nights to ourselves.  We aren't necessarily intentional about hanging out together every night, but most nights we do sit on the couch and talk about the day and then either work, read, play Settlers of Catan, or watch tv or a football game together.  I'm really thankful that we have always protected our time together at night.  It really helped during all of the years when our kids were young and wore us out.  And now with most of our kids in school, I can also go to Krochet Kids with Blake and spend time with him there.  That's been a huge blessing of having older kids!

-You mentioned you do a date night with each of your kids...how does that work or how do you pull that off? What does that look like?

We started doing date nights with our kids about two years ago.  It had sunk in that we had four kids and therefore needed to be intentional about spending time alone with each.  Every Tuesday night is date night and we protect those nights.  Usually the only reason we don't have date night is because of visitors from out of town.  For everything else, we make sure to schedule it on a different night.  We rotate through the kids, although Tyler has not yet been added to the rotation.  She has a lot of one-on-one time with me during the day, plus she's not quite old enough to understand what we're doing.  

For date nights, we keep it simple.  Our budget for date nights is 20 bucks.  We eat at a fast food joint, grab some ice cream, and then each kid has different things he or she likes to do.  Riley likes to just sit and talk.  The boys like to go to an arcade and play a few games.  Ford likes to go to Starbucks and read together.  I think date nights with our kids is one of the most important things we do with them.  Riley always opens up and tells us a lot of what is on her heart which I think is laying a crucial foundation of honesty and openness as she heads into her teen years.  The boys start talking about their dates a week out because they are always so excited.  There are plenty of nights where Blake and I just don't feel like taking a kid out.  Days are long and by the time six o'clock rolls around, the last thing we want to is go out again with one of our kids.  But it is always worth it and I always want our kids to be able to count on having that time with us.

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{Blake and Riley on a date.}

-What Godly counsel could you offer us mamas out there struggling to create a peaceful balance in our homes?

Ok, I really don't have a great answer for this one.  If there is any area I don't feel qualified to give advice in right now it would be parenting.  I've been a pretty huge failure as a mother this past year.  I have buckled under the pressure of living in a new country and, unfortunately, my family has suffered the most because of it.  We don't have a very peaceful balance in our home right now.  Yes, there are times of peace, but it has also been a rough year and everyone has been a little on edge.  Our kids have never fought as much as they have this year.  The bottom line is we are a bunch of selfish people all trying to live together and do life together.  

I have been doing a lot of soul searching recently as I reflect on the past year.  One theme that has come up for me a lot in those times is that I do want things to be more peaceful in our home this year.  I know that I have a lot of issues to work through to help make that happen.  I know that I need to be praying more (not out of guilt, but because I know that to be what is most powerful).  I know that I need to use my time when the kids are in school wisely, so that when they come home I am refreshed and ready to be with them.  And that's all that I've got right now!  Since I really have no great advice, anyone else want to chime in?  I could obviously use the counsel myself.

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{Other picture from our Christmas card.}

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