How do you do it?
This is, undoubtedly, the question I hear the most. It is usually accompanied by any of the following statements:
You must really have your hands full.
Better you than me.
I don't know how you do it.
You're done now right?
Is your TV broken?
So I guess you're not going to be training for a big race this year now that you have another baby.
Are they all yours?
I've been asked the "how do you do it" question probably hundreds of times, and ya know what? I never have a good answer. I've been thinking about this a lot. How DO we do it? I should know right? I mean, they're are tons of blogs out there written by other parents of large families, with the sole purpose of answering that very question. They detail their schedules, routines, and habits. They have household tips and tricks. They have crafts, recipes, and potions for homemade everything. Certainly they are very aware of exactly how they do it.
The more I've read, the more I realize that our methods of raising 6 kids, managing a home, training for races, running a business, being faithful in ministry, might not really be blog-worthy. In fact, when it comes down to it, the askers of the inevitable question might not really want to know the answer. In my mind, when I sit down to write a post detailing how we do it, the post will come out looking like some type of Martha Stewart, Runners World, Food Network hybrid. It doesn't. At all. I'm not the kind of mom that gives household advice... I'm the type of mom that usually needs household advice.
As I step back and assess myself, I can't help but notice that the things that make my life work are sometimes all the wrong things! They are things I know I shouldn't do but I do anyway! Things I should totally do, but don't! So are you ready? Are you really ready to witness the ugly truth? Well if so, here are just a few of my "large family confessions":
1. We don't go to the gym- Ok, this is only specific to the fact that we are big into distance running, and might not interest you if you are a non-runner. We don't go to the gym. To quote one of my favorite movies, "That crap is for rich people who hate themselves." (Kidding) kind of. Find a type of exercise that makes you happy. When your fitness activity feeds your heart instead of just your weight loss plan, you will stick with it. I love running and yoga. I hate weights and lifting. I don't have time or energy to do something that makes me miserable. And that might be totally wrong from a physical fitness perspective, but it's the truth.
2. I run the dishwasher half full- Do not send me angry emails. I am aware that this is not the most planet friendly household practice. But when all my bottles, sippycups, and forks are dirty at the same time and I know I'm going to have to feed/water several little mouths in the next hour and a half, I run it, full or not. Could I stand at my sink and handwash them all? Sure, but I'm not gonna.
3. We don't home-school- Now, only 2 of our children are school aged, I only bring this one up because in my "research"(that consisted of creeping around on the blogs of other large families) it appears that we are the only bloggers with half a dozen children who don't educate their kids at home. Seriously, I could not find one family of 8 or more who happily ship their kids off to school each day. Not that we have anything against it, its just not for us at this point in our lives.
4. Are you ready for this one? This one's REALLY bad. So bad that I should probably type it in a teeny-tiny font so my mother can't see it. I don't sort laundry. What's that you say? Ok, ok! I said I don't sort laundry!- I know, this goes against everything everyone's mother ever taught them. I wish I could tell you that it was just a "sometimes" laundry solution, but nope, I actually really never sort laundry. If we need compression socks, soccer socks, onsies, sports bras, and school uniforms, that's what gets washed. Other blogs have full tabs devoted to solving the laundry problem that a large family creates. They have charts, color coded basket systems, half of their kids make up the laundry task force. I just can't do it. My system goes like this: throw dirty laundry down the chute. put clean laundry away when (and if) it arrives in your room. Four of our children are 3 and under so step 2 only applies to 1/3 of the population.
There are many (many) more things that fall into the "ugly truth" category, but they make our life functional and keep me sane. Things like, my Christmas tree is still up. (It's FEBRUARY!). We sometimes eat in the car. We don't always (or often) wake up before the kids. I wash things in the dishwasher that definitely aren't dishwasher safe... that aren't even dishes in fact.... like an entire container of mega blocks. I order pizza for the kids at least once a week during our business's busy season. When we are going on a trip, I buy new baby/toddler socks instead of hunting for matches. I have used a Swiffer to scrub my walls. I change diapers wherever is easiest, I have never owned a changing table. I don't garden, can, or sew (truth be told, I can barely sew a button on a shirt). I have more DVDs out of their cases than in them. I often grocery shop several times a week, for no other reason than because long grocery trips stress me out. So does spending large amounts of money in one trip that doesn't involve buying shoes.
Is is always pretty? No. Is Real Simple magazine going to call me anytime soon for an interview? No. Is it the truth? Yep. So the next time someone asks "how do you do it" I'm gonna smile sweetly, tip my head to one side, and whisper incoherently i don't sort laundry.