I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are ready for another busy week preparing for New Year’s Festivities!
Dave and I were SO excited to be in our new home for the holidays and are still busy unpacking the last of our boxes in the effort to create a little more organization around here!
So…the following is a guest post from Kelly Morris of TheMorrisTribe.com. She is one of my favorite bloggers; partially because she blogs about “Creating Balance for Busy Moms” but also because she’s an amazing mom to NINE children! Somehow she manages to run her family, her home, and her blog all without breaking a sweat…or going crazy! She is one amazing lady!
AND, if that wasn’t enough, she also just published a FREE eBook entitled, “Just Get ’em Fed”. This eBook is a great resource for any home and I would highly recommend reading it…and forwarding it to anyone you know!
People often ask me how I manage to accomplish what I do each day with such a large family to take care of. As a mother to nine great kids, life definitely presents its share of challenges on a daily basis!
With children ranging from age 4-24 years old, the span of issues my husband and I deal with vary greatly. Whether it’s my college-aged and newly engaged daughter dealing with grown-up problems, or one of my 3 teenagers dealing with high school issues and peer pressure, our days are filled with middle school homework and decision-making skills, elementary reading/writing skills, pre-school training along with faith and character development for all.
Tangible needs for all nine children can be breathtaking as well, in terms of scheduling, housing, food, and clothing. Yet, we consider it an honor and privilege to raise this family of ours. Balance and simplicity are the keys to not just surviving, but thriving with what God has given us to do.
Simplicity is the Mother of Balance
Everything I do in my role as mother and wife is filtered through a mind that insists on simplicity as much as possible. I crave simplicity, especially since I realize how it sets me free. Yet, our culture thrives on busy, over-committed, and chaotic. How can our home life be reconciled with the culture we live in? It many ways, it cannot. Counter-cultural thinking must accompany any mom who desires balance in her home. Let me show you a few of the ways I strive to create simplicity and balance in our home.
I have discussed this at length on my blog, because it’s an area of life that so many moms struggle with. Women tend to struggle with the word “no” and easily get caught up in “people pleasing”. Much of this is due to how God naturally wired us; we are nurturing and loving creatures. However, this wonderful quality can easily lead us to over-commitment if we aren’t mindful of our tendency toward it.
Moms tend to set the pace for the family, in terms of scheduling things like school activities, sports, outings with friends, etc. At the Morris Tribe, all activities must be approved through Mom or Dad. The kids know to give us something on paper, whether it’s a birthday party invitation or an upcoming sporting event schedule, everything must be considered through eyes of “what’s best for all”. There are times, many times, when the answer is “no”. Popularity as a parent isn’t my goal necessarily, I must guard the pace and sanity of the family by counting the cost of each activity. Obviously, a birthday party brings less commitment than playing football. Then again, playing football has been a tremendous tool for developing character and discipline in our sons. We aren’t against long-term commitments, by any means. My point is that you can only have so many at any one given time.
Creating a home that speaks of simplicity, yet incorporates a sense of style is a priority for me. Lest you think I have white walls with tile floors, think again. I love color and style! My walls are rich with varying coordination’s of color that reflect my personality and desire for warmth. Leather and botanicals would describe my décor, which is fairly free of knick-knacks. I organize toys and books with richly colored baskets that I find at garage sales, which add another dimension of style to a very busy household full of kids. Bringing color into your home is so simple and inexpensive to do with paint! Blinds and inexpensive fabric can bring life to your windows. Meaningful art can also portray your beliefs and priorities on your walls.
Streamlining my décor keeps me from having to dust and clean more than I have time to deal with – it also allows me to function in a smaller home. Clutter is quickly dealt with, mail and magazines are read and pitched within the day and a Goodwill bag is always going to collect out-grown clothing and get it out of the house. Toys are the biggest challenge with a large family. Rather than continue to bring toys into the home, we look for ways to build upon good quality toys we already own. Rubbermaid boxes also accompany toys we purchase so that they immediately have a place to be stored. We also buy toys that several children would be able to enjoy and play with together.
Feeding the Tribe:
Feeding a large family is a full-time job in and of itself. Budgeting for food, as well as storage options, cooking, baking, school lunches, and snacks are all part of the job.
Shopping takes place weekly and I patronize Aldi, Walmart, and Meijer on varying weeks. Kroger is usually where I buy my meat. Couponing isn’t something I obsess over; however, I do clip coupons for products I use regularly. My priorities when feeding my family are nutrition, taste and cost. Recipes remain simple and meal-planning is “thematic” rather than specific recipes. “Thematic” cooking (i.e. Monday – Casseroles, Tuesday – Mexican, Wednesday – Pasta, etc.) allows me to use leftovers effectively as well as take advantage of seasonal foods that are usually less expensive.
Andrea’s Note: Don’t forget, Kelly’s FREE eBook “Just Get ’em Fed” is available here!
Clothing is another large part of my job description. Simplicity is a must here as well. Excessive clothes makes organization impossible, ever try to organize excess? Feels like you’re raking leaves in a windstorm! My school attending children need a few more outfits than my homeschooled kids, but overall, kids seem to wear their favorite outfits over and over again. Getting past the fear of running out of clothing gave me the confidence to only buy what I needed. After years of keeping a grandiose storage system of children’s clothing, I am now comfortable with keeping what will be worn within the next 12 months, and pass the rest along. With this ‘open hands’ philosophy, God always brings back to me just what I need. Being the recipient of used clothing from friends and church family is a wonderful thing, be sure to reciprocate as much as possible to continue the ‘trading’ relationship.
Time for Mom
You might be wondering how I take care of myself and my needs while raising a large family. My definition of what I need has changed over the years. I tend to be an introvert and need time alone to heal. My husband is great to make sure I get some ‘alone’ time every week to re-group for an hour or two.
Exercise in my life would be best defined as “opportunistic”, from working around the house/garden and property to parking as far out as possible to allow a brisk walk into a store. My obligations to the family just don’t allow for huge fitness commitments like working out at a gym. As a blogger and aspiring author, writing is incredibly therapeutic for me. Large blocks of time just aren’t available, yet I can accomplish a lot in just 15-minute blocks here and there. I read entire books just waiting at appointments and in the car, a little bit at a time. I keep a notebook with me all the time, to jot down ideas that come to my mind. That little notebook holds some of my most innovative ideas that I would otherwise forget about just a few minutes after I thought of them, had I not written them down.
It’s so important to understand yourself, what you enjoy and what energizes you. “No” is a word I am terribly comfortable with now. False guilt has no place in a mom’s life. Discovering your gifts and talents allows you to do what you’re good at and leave the rest to others.
Kelly Morris is a wife and mother to 9 children, 6 biological and 3 adopted, living in small town Ohio. She can often be found blogging, writing, reading, cooking, gardening, digital scrapbooking, and drinking good coffee. Kelly authors “The Morristribe: Creating Balance for Busy Moms” and the FREE eBook “Just Get ’em Fed”. She loves helping other moms find balance in their lives.
Thanks so much Kelly! What timely advice for such a busy time of year!
I know I have been guilty of saying “yes” too often, even when I don’t have time. Saying “No” is one thing I constantly work to get better at… AND, as of January 1, I’m quiting three different committees I previously said “Yes” to. I guess that’s a start!