Not emotionally, people really want to know how I logistically single parent seven children ages 10-4 months? They wonder how I work on top of it? They wonder how I do it and look so good all the time (still seeking the lucky man who gets to be the dad/husband of our home, so this Mama has to look good, haha!)!?!
I do not like feeling stressed so I work really hard to create an ecosystem that is peaceful, productive and sustainable. I work really hard to not live in chaos, I love kid chaos but I stress chaos is a whole other thing. That goal forces me into a juggling act that requires energy and when my energy is in short supply there are things that don’t look picture perfect. Here is a list of things not done by the book, we break the rules, we break the mold and sometimes we even cross the line into gross.
Bathing, let’s be real one bath a week is about all we manage. We recently got a family gym membership and I have to admit I love that I can now bulk “bathe” my children in the locker room. During bath time it is common to have a momentary guest dipped into your tub, drive thru convenience style, fast and efficient. Wet wipes are a nice alternative to actual bathing, they make an appearance often in our weeks. Dry shampoo is a game changer, I make my own using cocoa powder (for all you brunettes out there, it is equal parts cocoa powder and arrowroot/cornstarch) and I can get some mileage from it, plus my hair always smells like chocolate (hello future husband).
Sleep, I am a fan of sleep, we need sleep and I work hard to protect that. We have a no nonsense sleep routine. My crew can be ready and in bed in less than 5 minutes. We don’t always (rarely) read a bedtime story, there is not talking about our day (we do that at dinner), we brush teeth, get in pajamas, pick out clothes for the next day and get ourselves in bed. Once they are in bed I walk through kiss, tuck in and snuggle everyone, my crew knows that bedtime comes and we are tucked in for the day. My babies self soothe (within reason) and sleep great. My kids are trained from early on to be good sleepers, I work really hard in the first few weeks of someone joining our home to ensure that our sleep schedule is barely affected and they quickly sync up.
Teamwork, our family is a well oiled machine, we buddy up, big kids help little kids and everyone in our family plays a part. We do family cleaning hour, where we crank up the music and divide up tasks between even our smallest crew members. We dance and clean and get our chores done in a timely and fun manner. We hold hands, get cups and all set the table together, our home is successful because everyone plays a part. We talk about what a blessing it is to help others and we look for ways to serve one another, big siblings help out and little siblings learn thank you. We work as a unit and each person is taught how important their role is.
Tardiness, I literally got a call from our school district today asking me how they can help me get my children to school on time. Well, I am going to be honest, I have seven children and while being late is not okay and some people are actually offended by it, I do my best. We have been late less than twenty times this whole school year, 20 times out of 140 days or so?!? I feel like we are winning and when we are late it is never more than a few minutes. I very calmly told them, we would try harder. Which we will (and do) but between the trauma induced meltdowns, baby pukes, spilled milk, baby poops and forgotten items with eight of us trying to get out the door most days leaves me celebrating only being one minute late. I am not proud of it but I gotta pick my battles and this is not one I am willing to lose sleep over, I have learned and instituted lots of things that help us get out of the house with more success but some mornings the odds are against us.
Chores, our home is clean and I work hard to live in a non cluttered space. Everything has a place. Yet, if you were to walk through my home with a white glove, you would leave with a grey glove. My children and I do the housekeeping and so most of the jobs around the home are done with children who have a Norwex rags and spray bottle of essential oil cleaner. They are learning how to clean, so we celebrate the small successes, like the greasy hand print is gone from the glass but it was replaced with a smaller hand print of the child who scrubbed really hard to get rid of it. So things are not perfect, our corners have piles of beads and dog hair, our carpets have stains where blackberries were ground in and the surfaces are dusted to the height of a certain seven year old. Laundry, don’t even get me started one outfit change for my entire family is load of laundry, we re-wear and do the sniff test a lot. Just this week several of my children got dressed from the hamper. I am teaching them to be resourceful and that is a great skill to have.
The reality is through this all, I don’t feel alone because I have this beautiful community, that has surrounded us. My one wish is for more one on one time with my kiddos. Being a single parent of seven, that works, keeps a home in order and puts wholesome meals on the table means that unfortunately sometimes I have to say no to my kids. I work really hard to balance my "to dos" and my children, that is a never ending battle and mom guilt is real. At the end of the day my children win but I must say there are times where the dishes have to get done, dinner has to get cooked and work creeps into the night. Those days mean the baby sits in her bouncer a little longer than I wish or I have to say not right now to that story being read. That is where my community comes in, they come over hold babies, dye Easter eggs, play games and make recipes with my kiddos. It really does take a village and I am so thankful for mine.