Part of the November series “30 Things I Know About Adoption.”
I am one of those mom’s that often hears, “I don’t know how you do it all.”
And that was before I added two more kids to our brood via adoption.
I’m what you would call a Type A personality. A “control enthusiast.” I’ve held down a full time job most of my life since 15, taking a few years off with the birth of #2.
I’m involved in ministry, kids school stuff, etc. etc.
I’m not great at delegating because I know that things will get done faster and done my way if I just do it. You’re right, this is not really a personality strength.
Years ago someone with 5 children once told me, “Going from 2 to 3 is hard. After 3 it pretty much doesn’t matter. It’s just controlled chaos.”
So what did we do? Decide to go from 2 to 4 and throw adoption in the mix.
Nothing like a little chaos to make you realize YOU ARE NOT A SUPERHERO!
For the first few months we were just getting through the adoption stuff – grief, sibling integration, language issues etc. Though I had pulled back on some activities, I was still working full time and held on to some crazy expectation that our home life would still be organized.
Insert wild, maniacal laughing here.
The biggest lesson? You have to ask for help. Actually ASK. Turns out my husband is not a mind-reader. Hm, who knew 🙂 Nor are my friends (well, sometimes they are – it’s a girl thing).
This goes for outside help too. Especially when you first bring your kids home. Want someone to bring you meals? Ask. Find a close friend and confide that it would be a huge help if some people brought meals the first week. Just like they would if you gave birth. You’ll usually find your friends are glad to help, they just may not have thought of it. Or may not have wanted to interfere. We had church friends bring meals for 2 weeks and it was wonderful. I had to sometimes make something different for Luke & Beza. But making pasta for 2 is way better than cooking for 6 when you are still on Africa time.
I had to accept our new reality, lower my expectations and learn to delegate. It didn’t come easy at first, but in truth, the earlier you start, the better.
I would love for my house to be picked up all the time. (I care more about picked up, than how often the floor is mopped.) But it’s not going to happen. I lowered my standards quite a bit for awhile, but now that the kids are older I’m getting a bit pickier. It’s easier because there aren’t as many toys. But generally while I’m fixing dinner I’ll ask for the kids to go around and pick up. Sometimes I assign rooms, sometimes not.
Here’s just a few things that work for us:
My kids all do their own laundry – in the washer, switch to dryer, fold, hang, put away. Their folding wouldn’t meet Army standards but it works for me. At least my boys will go off to college knowing how to wash clothes without turning their underwear pink.
Cleaning day – Assigned chores just don’t work for me. I’ve tried various systems and I just never stick with it. Instead, when it’s cleaning day I assign each child a job and when they’re done they come back for the next one. I try to evenly distribute the hard/easy ones and rotate around. Some children work really hard and zip through their jobs in an hour. Others lollygag and take 3 hours. (We do have a system for dishwasher duty.)
If I ask, you do it – When it comes to stuff like taking out the trash, feeding the dog etc. I just ask. If mom asks, child complies. Complaining equals you doing that job the next 3 times. I’m mean like that.
Dumping grounds – Otherwise known as controlled chaos. This is our backpack station. Kids come home and put backpacks on top of the shelf. Metal basket holds various items including things I find laying around. Bottom box holds library books. One basket on the end gets finished, graded school papers put in. About once a week or so the kids clean out their metal basket and return items to their proper place.
Pick your battles – Growing up my room was always the “messy” one. Clutter, clothes on the floor, etc. My mom would finally say “you have to clean your room this weekend.” It’s a strategy I’ve adopted with my kids as well. I don’t make them make their beds (I don’t make mine most days). I do ask that clothes be kept off the floor but other than that, it’s not a hill I’m going to die on. When it gets out of control, they clean up. I’m hoping, like was the case for me, that growing up in a organized, fairly clean household will rub off. Turns out the minute I went off to college I turned into a neat-freak.
The Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family by Mary Ostyn (affiliate link)
Works for Me Wednesday (A weekly blog share hosted by Kristen Welch. You can also get a book of 800+ tips by signing up for her newsletter)
When was the moment you realized you needed help?