Thank you to reader Tracy for sharing her thriving at home tips.
What a great idea to share stories and ideas that can help mums who are feeling overwhelmed. I hope this series will be a blessing to those women who are up to their eyeballs doing incredibly important valuable work in their families.
What is Peak-Hour Parenting?
My kids are now 19, 17.5 and 15. We are more into the season where we manage our kids and their needs rather than direct every moment. But those early years are never far from memory. One of the pastors in our church calls that season “peak-hour parenting” and I think it is the most perfect description I’ve heard yet.
I remember, after having my third baby, and having three children at home that the days felt endless. They were so busy, yet I had little to show for my time. I simply couldn’t figure out where all my time was going, so one day I wrote down every single thing I did with the baby and how long it took. As I added it up I realised I had spent about 5 hours just dealing with him. And I had two other little people to care for as well. No wonder I was losing it!
It was at about this time that I also realised that the behaviour of my little people was not at a standard I was proud to claim. I sat myself down and really had a think about what I wanted for my kids, the kinds of people I wanted them to be and the kinds of behaviours I wanted them to embody. I didn’t know it then, but I was investing in something called “beginning with the end in mind”. I made a list of the characteristics and values that were important to me for how my kids would end up as adults, and spent some time thinking about how we would get there.
As a result of this reflection I was able to be more intentional and deliberate, as a mother. I finally knew what I wanted to achieve and I had begun to implement a bit of a plan to achieve it. I was less likely to lose the plot and more likely to provide my children with leadership and expectations to aspire to. I learnt to be less attached to their emotional up’s and down’s as I realised that I didn’t need to take on their emotions as my own. By taking that step back I could see their behaviour as a form of communication rather than taking it personally and doing it with them.
Some things that are still not-negotiables in our house and were implemented as the age and season was appropriate:
Kids help with the dishes – They have done this since early to middle primary and they are still allocated a job to do each night. This is not just about doing the dishes, it is helping them learn that when you are in community you get to enjoy the privileges of that community, but it also comes with responsibility. The responsibility is equally important in being a positive, contributing member of that community.
Defined bedtimes until 18yo – I have been told more than once that I am unreasonable on this issue. When they were small it was 7pm. Today, our 17yo has a bed time of 9.30-10.00pm. The 15yo is 9pm. Why so strict? We are teaching our children that our bodies require care and good lifestyle habits to keep us healthy. I have had parents of kids older than ours tell me teens will be up at all hours and eating food at odd times. This is not OK with me. We sleep better when we are not trying to digest food, and if people are in the kitchen at weird hours it disturbs everyone else. Again, community responsibility comes into play.
Note: I asked our facebook community about bedtimes you can read if members of our The Organised Housewife community create bedtimes and if so what age and time they have in place. Read here ~ Kat.
Engagement in Life Groups – We are people who are deeply invested in our faith. Because it is important, we have made attendance at fortnightly Life Groups compulsory until 18. This has not always been easy, but at this point all of our children understand why it is important to be connected to a faith community and grow their own individual faith, apart from us. All three of them are now independently involved in serving in Youth and Kids Church as something they chose to do besides. They do it out of the overflow of their hearts, with joy and commitment. I couldn’t ask for more.
Diligence with school work – We expect our children to do their work diligently, with integrity and to the best of their ability at all times. On different days this can standard can seem to change, but we expect their best, whatever that looks like on the day. We support them to be able to do this. We work hard to send them to a fee-paying independent school that is consistent with our worldview and we desire and expect them to take full advantage of the opportunity we are providing. This is a life lesson of work ethic and being found faithful and reliable. It is also about learning to be the kind of employee and citizen that contributes positively to the workplace and community.
With an end-in-mind perspective and deliberate not-negotiables for larger life lessons we have three teens (one adult!) who are doing so well. They are people to whom younger parents look to and comment “I want my children to grow up like that”. They are beautiful members of community at school, at home, at church and with our friends and wider family. They have hearts of compassion for others, and value good habits that serve them well.
That day, when I sat to really consider the kind of people I wanted to grow, was the best thing I could have ever done for my children and our family. And here they are – exactly as I dreamed. There are still challenging days because people are messy and get broken and wounded by life. But there are many more good days than not.
Please share your tips
Through the new series ‘Helping mums thrive at home‘ I will be sharing my stories and tips, but I would love to read and share yours as well, just like Kay’s. I am positive those who are feeling out of control at the moment will find some comfort and help reading how other mums have managed to get through these times, be it that you struggled too or you found one simple tip made a difference or you found a way to manage from the beginning. Your story and tips can make a big difference to another mum. Please email me your story or tips.
This post is a part of The Organised Housewife’s guide to help mums thrive at home series. You can view all other posts in the series here.