Every once in a while, I get emails from my readers that pose specific questions. Today I’m going to do something a little different and answer a few of those questions (and some that I wish people would ask) by conducting an interview with myself.
You are about to learn some fantastic things about the inner workings of my mind and my life. Ready? Let’s dive in!
1. What is the hardest thing for you in the realm of motherhood?
When my kids were young, the most difficult part about motherhood was finding the energy and patience to deal with the daily struggles of raising strong-willed young children. I had little time to myself and, as an introvert, that was more draining than I expected.
Now that my kids are older, my biggest challenge is learning how to connect with my teenagers in a way that keeps communication lines open.
With five children whose personalities are all over the board, I naturally relate to some of them better than others. Quite honestly, it feels like I rarely see eye to eye with certain individuals in my family. That frequently causes conflict, and some kids are in trouble far more often than others. I worry a lot about that.
I feel like the most important thing I can do for my kids (especially the teens) is to create a home where they feel safe, loved, and understood. I’m trying hard to make that happen, but I make mistakes every. single. day.
2. Do your older children want to share your values? If so, why might that be?
That is a fabulous question. I am going to address it in the realm of spiritual values because that is the first thing that came to my mind.
At this point, all of my kids seem to be on board with their religious upbringing. The gospel values that we have taught them in our home have become so much a part of our family culture that they have become almost second nature.
High school can be brutal when we are talking about values, though. I don’t even know that I understand the full extent of what my teens see on a daily basis in the halls of their schools. I do know, however, that they have stood in defense of their beliefs to their teachers and friends who believe differently. I know that because they have told me about some instances and I have witnessed others.
Some of my kids are further along the path to personal conversion than others, but I see all of them making steps in the right direction at this stage in the game. I believe that is in part because we utilize these six strategies.
And, lest we take all the credit, I am a firm believer that kids are born ready to accept principles of faith. We, as parents, would do well to capitalize on that and nurture their faith from the time that they are tiny.
3. Are you a minimalist?
Yes and No.
I don’t do well with clutter. It stresses me out and makes me want to scream, and sometimes I do just that. My kids think that “Pick up your crap” is the phrase that most defines me, and that is probably true. (But maybe I should choose a word other than crap, so it doesn’t end up on my headstone someday…I am open to suggestions.)
Getting rid of stuff and creating white space makes me happy. Jubilant, even.
But my family does not feel the same way.
Only one of my offspring shares my love of clean and clutter-free spaces. The other four plus my husband are just fine with piles of stuff on every surface. Carson, who is eight, recently showed me an essay he wrote for school about why he should be able to have a messy room because it is good for creativity.
I am fighting a losing battle if converting my family to minimalism is my goal. I am lucky if I can get them to pick up after themselves.
I know there is a lot of hype in the media about owning less. It speaks to my heart on many levels, but I had to take a step away from that idyllic world so that I could find joy in my reality, which is a little (or a lot) messier.
But I still throw things away (or donate them) every chance I get.
4. How do you manage your busy schedule with five kids?
I recently realized that trying to live too slowly makes me incredibly restless. But too much busyness stresses me out in a hurry. So I try to keep things in the sweet spot somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
Now that I have three teenagers, I don’t have quite as much control over their schedules as I used to. They are BUSY, which means that I am just as busy trying to keep up with them, if not more so.
There are times when the running feels heavy. I often feel like I have too many balls up in the air, and sometimes I drop one or two (or many) of them.
There are days when I wonder if I have early onset dementia because I cannot seem to keep my ducks in a row. There is A LOT to remember when meshing seven schedules, and my brain doesn’t always keep up.
I don’t glory in the busyness. It doesn’t define me, and I don’t wear it like a badge of honor. But it is my reality and will be for the next few years.
However, reality also tells me that two of my five kids will be out of the house by next fall, and the other three will follow in short order.
Yes, we are entrenched in a busy season of life, but I am not going to complain about that because it will soon be over, leaving a quiet house and an open schedule in its wake.
5. Why don’t you write many how-to posts?
I’m so glad you asked because I have quite a bit to say about this one.
When I started this blog, I wondered why people would even want to listen to me because I am not an expert in any way, shape, or form. I am a simple woman who is doing her best to raise good kids and keep her life together in a busy, noisy world.
Truthfully, I have no idea how I did specific things when my kids were little. When people ask me questions about how to manage toddlers, how to get your baby to sleep through the night, how to teach a strong-willed child to behave, or a variety of other how-to questions relating to young children, I can only tell them that I managed the best I could when those things were an issue.
Translation: I was in survival mode. I winged it.
Now that my kids are older, I am trying to figure out how to manage tweens and teens. I do not have a magic bullet. I do not have a step-by-step plan. It is trial and error, friends.
I work with the end result in mind and make small daily decisions and course corrections based on that big picture. And that, once again, means that I do not have it all figured out. Not in the slightest. It is a growing, evolving process that lives and breathes and looks differently from one child to another and from one year to another.
Consequently, I do not like to tell people how to do things. I prefer to talk about principles – the why – and let each individual figure out how to apply those things in a way that makes sense to them.
I want this blog to feel like a comfortable, down-to-earth conversation with a friend, not a lesson from an expert.
There you have it, friends. I hope I have answered some of the questions that you have been dying to ask. What other questions do you have for me? Leave them in the comments section below.