Category Archives: Tips

Managing Spring Fever

7 Spencer kids

I have no scientific studies to cite, but I assure you by the authority of a mom, spring fever is real. My kids all go a little nuts each May. There is just more life in their little bodies than they know what to do with. While I do love for all of us to come out of our winter hibernation, it can feel like I’m dancing with hungry bears. Sure, it’s thrilling fun, but they could actually eat me alive, so here are a few of my successful strategies to keep the children from turning feral. I’d love to hear a few of yours!

  1. Spring cleaning. With all the extra energy, we take time off school for good physical labor. There are tons of jobs even little kids can do. Weed gardens, pick up sticks in the yard, wash their own toys, anything to covert some of that energy into productivity.
  2. Remain predictable. With all that extra energy buzzing through their limbs, the last thing kids need is to feel out of control, like they never know what will happen next. I’m not a strict routine person by any stretch of the imagination, but I do try to keep the order of the day fairly predictable. We have morning meeting every day after breakfast where we have a short Bible reading and prayer time, then we discuss the day ahead and what to expect.
  3. Change it up! I just said to be predictable, but change is in keeping with the spirit of the season. We rotate chores, change up our morning Bible story book, rearrange furniture, go on field trips, paint a room. Just like the Lord brings new leaves to old trees in the spring, it’s a great time to bring new life to old routines.
  4. Practice sitting still for a few minute intervals throughout the day. Before we have any instruction time, we try to first sit still and quiet to get under control, usually for 1-2 minutes. I think the din can become so familiar, that we all forget the peace that comes from quiet. They need to taste it again and again. We try to focus on one sound all together, like the birds outside or the humming of the fan, sometimes Chris gives them a scene to imagine. Have them close their eyes if it helps. Just one minute seems to remind all of us what a blessing quiet can be, and it becomes something they want more of.
  5. Rest time. Very similar to the reasons for short intervals of mandated quiet, each day we spend at least 30 minutes alone either reading or playing with a quiet toy for non-readers. A little absence from each other does make the heart grow fonder.
  6. Give them plenty of opportunities to live like children. Don’t despise the way the God has made them. Let them run, laugh, yell, wiggle, get dirty and wet, build, jump, roll, and hang upside down. You don’t have to have a lot or make it as orderly as you think. If you don’t believe me, E. Nesbit might convince you (which reminds me, read good books out loud!):

But the children were wiser, for once. It was not really a pretty house at all; it was quite ordinary, and mother thought it was rather inconvenient, and was quite annoyed at there being no shelves, to speak of, and hardly a cupboard in the place. Father used to say that the ironwork on the roof and coping was like an architect’s nightmare. But the house was deep in the country, with no other house in sight, and the children had been in London for two years, without so much as once going to the seaside even for a day by an excursion train, and so the White House seemed to them a sort of Fairy Palace set down in an Earthly Paradise. For London is like prison for children, especially if their relations are not rich.

Of course there are the shops and the theatres, and Maskelyne and Cook’s, and things, but if your people are rather poor you don’t get taken to the theatres, and you can’t buy things out of the shops; and London has none of those nice things that children may play with without hurting the things or themselves – such as trees and sand and woods and waters. And nearly everything in London is the wrong sort of shape – all straight lines and flat streets, instead of being all sorts of odd shapes, like things are in the country. Trees are all different, as you know, and I am sure some tiresome person must have told you that there are no two blades of grass exactly alike. But in streets, where the blades of grass don’t grow, everything is like everything else. This is why so many children who live in towns are so extremely naughty. They do not know what is the matter with them, and no more do their fathers and mothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, tutors, governesses, and nurses; but I know. And so do you now. Children in the country are naughty sometimes, too, but that is for quite different reasons.

-from Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Contained Imaginations

Synonymous phrase for a long road trip with 9 people in one car, 5 of whom are 5 and under: Try , death by whining, agoraphobia, I feel like i’m taking crazy pills…
No matter. In as much as it is up to me and the dollar store we’re going to succeed this year. I’ve come up with these little self-contained imaginary lands to pull out, along with pipe cleaners, new dolls, bingo, and wall decals to play with on the car windows. Any other ideas?







Nursery in a Closet

DSC_0388I know Alice doesn’t exactly need this, but it makes me feel better that the 7th child isn’t getting the shaft.  I’ve spent the last 2 days, but $0.00, creating a little nursery area out of part of my closet.

DSC_0377I made the mobile out of rope, card stock, a strand of old Christmas beads that I broke apart, and a wire rim from a broken lampshade.  The sign is construction paper, sharpie, black foam, and same beads with white nails through the holes.  The verse on it is from Phil 2:3, “… in humility, count others more significant than yourselves.”  That’s for me in the middle of the night to remember my place:  One served by Christ who can now serve helpless babies and not be mad about missing sleep.  It’s a real fight.

DSC_0379The clock was the cheap target brand that has been sitting in my basement for a while.  Again with the Christmas beads, I added some detail with hot glue.  A few aluminum roofing nails into a scrap piece of wood for some hooks, and the bins were just holding junk in the basement, so I’m going to use them for outgrown clothes, and next size up clothes.

I’m satisfied.  (Although after 2 days, the rest of my house is another story. And not a picture worthy one. 🙂

Getting Excited To Meet The New Girl

emandtwinsBy number 7, you’d think I could care for newborns in my sleep.  (Come to think of it,  that would be a pretty sweet skill.)  But the tiny phase  is short and my memory even shorter so that I need a refresher every time around.  It usually starts with some sort of midnight panic at the thought that I am responsible for keeping yet another person alive and a  helpless one at that.   Chris reminds me of my own helpless dependency on the One who created both me and the baby He’s blessed us with.   We pray.  Then I go through a little mental dry-run of my plan based on what has worked and failed in the past, and fall asleep to have weird pregnancy dreams about being a 6-foot tall volleyball player with a flat tummy that can jump really high.

There are about as many methods to caring for babies as there are mothers to care for them.  These tips are just a few that I’ve found helpful:

1. I’m in charge of the routine.  I’m all about flexible schedules for my babies.  When every sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound  is brand new to a person, routine is very comforting.  That said, I don’t really worry myself about it for the first few weeks.  I nurse on demand and basically practice reactionary parenting for a very short amount of time.  This little allowance has helped me to calm way down in those first few postpartumjack weeks.

2. “Self-regard is not always the same as selfishness.”  Wise word from my pastor’s wife that I’ve held on to over the years.  This topic could be it’s own post sometime.  For now, suffice it to say that the world’s push for moms’ me-time is not the same as recognizing your created status and resting when it is appropriate.  I came across a great blog post from a mom of 9: Postpartum Rest and Recovery Tips (from a mom who learned the hard way).   I plan to rest this time around.

3. The new person is part of a whole family.  There are times when different members of the family need more attention.  Being brand new is one of those times, but even then we make try to make decisions with everyone in mind.   When optimizing a baby’s schedule, we take into account someone’s violin lessons, another person’s co-op,  date nights, an early morning meeting, and bottle feeding.   We are all serving each other, even the new guy has a part to play.

4. Plan ahead.  So far I’ve pre-cooked and frozen meat for 14 dinners.  Yes, it was a bit of extra work on a Saturday, but the pay-off will be worth it.  I’ve avoided committing to any events several weeks on either side of my due date.  Currently I’m working on some activity packets for the little people to pull out when everyone is desperate for a change up.  And I’m changing chores around to work better with our lowered standards.  I don’t do the same things every time, instead I try to think about what preparations will help most in the current climate.

magandbethany5. Enjoy this time!  Ugh. I hate to think back about all the time I wasted with my first kids worrying, fretting, angry, and selfish.  But the Lord is faithful to forgive and change our hearts.  Babies are amazing!  Marvel at their little tiny hands and feet, at their first smiles, at their coos and cries.  Be amazed at how fast they grow and change and learn.  Be perplexed at how food comes out of the ground, into your body, is made into food perfect for them, they get fat, and you get skinny.  Think about it! It’s crazy!    Give praise to the Lord for his wondrously bizarre works to the children of man.

Sermon Wordsearch – Ezra

This has nothing to do with the post. Just remembering how much my Em has grown! AHHH!

Friday is my “planning period.”  This morning I worked for a bit on a wordsearch for this week’s sermon.  We love having our kids sit with us under great preaching and learning to worship with their covenant family (in this context, for us, that means people older than 3).   Recognizing that they are kids we are trying some strategies to help them along the way.  One idea I’ve recently had is to create a wordsearch with words that relate to the passage of Scripture being exposited.   Just thought I’d share it with anyone else who might benefit.  It’s nothing fancy.   Ezra Wordsearch (1)