If you make it through this, you deserve a prize!!
Mindi asked "...have you ever felt worthless as a parent? Unable to cope with the task, and not sure of what to do when faced with a given situation?"
There have been many, many moments of motherhood where I've sat on the stairs and just cried. Or taken a long drive bawling my eyes out. Or hidden in the shower so that I could pray and be alone. Being a mom is an incredible responsibility that is just to much to shoulder sometimes. I'm usually at my lowest in the first six months after having a baby or after a change of some kind.
There are days when I work hard for my kids and then lay in bed at night wondering if they know that I love them, because my actions and tone that day didn't testify to that fact. I've actually gone in a woken them up just so that they can (hopefully) remember one nice moment from me that day.
I can't think of one task in particular that I was unsure of- it's more like, "Can I get up tomorrow and do this again?"
Now that they are getting older, I'm dealing with a lot of emotions coming from all directions. Sadness. Frustration. Anger. Hormones. This is an entirely different story. It's one thing to train and discipline a little one. But it's another thing to learn to be a good listener and not react to what I'm seeing and hearing. Aaahhh! That's hard. I've got so much yet to learn!!
Thankfully, most days I can hold it together until the kids go to bed and then I get some encouragement and feedback from Sean. And then taking Sunday as a day of rest really is the spark that keeps me going from week to week. To actually sit under the teaching of Scripture, worship and pull away from all the pressure, is God's grace to this Mom.
Catherine was thinking along the same lines, "...are you the kind of person who has just always had it all together, or is that a skill you learned as you went along?"
In truth, I don't consider myself as having it all together. I do tend to not become easily rattled so I think that is in my favor at this point. And I have this expression that those who love me call "the blank expression". It is neither happy nor sad. I'm just watching.
My children would probably tell you that I can never find the phone or my keys. I have to work HARD to be organized and I lack consistency. I do love spontaneity and am often secretly excited when plans change. I don't like to be bound by the daily lists that make life run smoothly.
I also live with the most patient, laid back man on earth and he has rubbed off quite a bit. And I don't want to make him look bad by freaking out all of the time.
Mary asked, "What parenting books have been most effective for you as you raise your kids?"
Years ago when our oldest were 2 and 3 we went through the course "Growing Kids God's Way". It didn't change our lives or anything, but they did give us a lot of things to discuss and encouraged us to think seriously about what characteristics we wanted to define our family.
At our church a few years later we did the "Shepherding your Child's Heart" video series. This gave us some very practical instruction that we've used.
We read a lot of the Lamplighter books which are classic fiction Christian/moral literature. Some of the characters in these books have provided us incredible inspiration and examples of Godly parenting.
"How do you manage alone time with each child on some sort of regular basis?"
We don't have an official system or calendar set up. The kids can "earn" a date by reading 25 books on their own. These are special outings like rollerskating or shopping or going out to eat.
But we encourage them to ask for individual time they need if they feel they are not getting it. This takes many forms like talking on the couch when the other kids are in bed. Playing a game together before going to sleep. Reading together. Working on a project. Building Legos. Scrapbooking or stamping. Cooking or baking. Going for a walk. Going on an errand. Getting to sit in the front seat to talk.
It can be hard to give individual time while at home because others want to join in. But they are pretty respectful of leaving us be alone knowing that next time it could be them:)
Alaina asked, "What kind of chores do you have your kids do? When (as in time of day, days of the week etc.? What age do you start? "
Being that I am not very consistent I struggle in this area. Everyone has "morning chores". These are things like get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, find shoes and socks (even if we aren't going anywhere that moment), put away PJs, clean up after breakfast.
Then as the day goes on each child has to do three chores of my choice. This is usually based on what needs to be done and our schedule. Normally, they do chores right before dinner.
Once a week (Fridays) we clean the upstairs and their rooms well. You wouldn't be able to tell that if you visit on Monday, however:)
I'm always amazed at how the smaller kids are eager to help with chores. The best advise I was ever given in this regards is this: Never ask an older child to do what a younger one is able to do. I try to remember that in order to not burden Hannah and Lydia with too much.
Baby and up- pick up toys and trash
3 and up- clean windows, wipe off table, help in kitchen, gather laundry, carry/put away groceries, hold the "scooper" (dust pan)
5 and up- vacuum, sweep, clean bathrooms, make own breakfast (scrambled eggs included and microwave use), dust
7 and up- Take trash out to curb, clean own room unsupervised, load dishwasher, mop, wash pans by hand, fold and put away laundry, bathe and clothe little ones.
Do you give an allowance to your older kids or have a way for them to earn money?
We don't have an allowance system in place. I go back and forth. Where is the line between working to serve your family and being compensated for work well done? I don't know.
As you know my children are obsessed with coins:) so I let them keep whatever they find when they are working.
The older girls will tell me about what they want to buy or how much money they need and then ask for a special job to earn it. I usually ask for an hour of their free time and pay them that way. There's always plenty of things to do around here!