I had to take everybody to Walmart the other day and I really didn't have any choice. I took a picture because, well, I had six kids in Walmart....we made it out alive though :) My oldest son is too funny in this picture, he is hitting that pre-teen age where everything embarrasses him. I had the three little girls in the first shopping cart, and the three older kids walking, with my oldest pushing a second cart full of groceries. It was nuts. I was constantly fussing at the little ones to sit down and to not fight, while the 7 and 8 year-olds chased each other in circles around my shopping cart.
I am taking the opportunity this summer to really crack down on our whole family. I HAVE to. We will not make it through this if I don't.
We have instituted new rules. It's been a long time coming, but I'm finally enforcing the "only eating in the kitchen" rule. Everything in my living room area is wipeable, so I've always let them eat on the couch and watch TV for lunch and snacks (not dinner)....the problem with that is they always manage to sneak off with food into the bedrooms and we all know what kind of problem that creates. It just adds to the chaos as well. I am being super hard core about chores. My boys have to do a whole bunch of chores each day in order to have one precious hour on their beloved Xbox. I am also really working hard to not repeat myself when I am dealing with my little girls. It's hard, but I'm trying to make sure I punish them immediately if they don't listen to me the first time. We are going to be working hard on consistent exercise and diet as a family....stuff like that.
I also have a pretty tight schedule that we are going to follow. I thought I would share it with you guys.
It starts at 7:00 am (I'm still working on getting up this early...I'm still sort of rolling out of bed at 7:30 when the kids I watch get here). Ideally, I would get up at 7:00, start a load of laundry, do my morning walk through (mentioned here), make breakfast and get dressed before they get here.
7:30: Kids arrive and I get all of the kids to sit down to breakfast, (I usually make mine at this point too). Unload the dishwasher and wipe the counters down after breakfast....maybe start laundry at some point in the day (gotta get better about this!)
8:30: Get the kids ready and head out the door! (the gym is 5 minutes away...it takes the rest of the time just getting in the car)
9:00: We all go to the gym....ahhhh, time to myself :) My gym allows me to bring kids I babysit, so this helps a lot. They also have a pool, so we are going to rotate one kid per day getting to come swim with me for a little one on one pool time/swim lesson.
11:00: Head home, kids do chores and play while I make lunch. I'm going to make up a big chore chart soon...but for now, they just do what I tell them to do. We also make sure to pick up all toys that have been pulled out before lunch at this time too.
12:30: Eat lunch, clean up after lunch...do some dinner prep (crock pot) or maybe make cookies or granola bars with the kids.
1:00: Quiet time. The only child I have that takes a nap is the youngest. I lucked out and she is a super heavy sleeper....so I just put her down on the couch and have the rest of the kids line up and sit on the couch with her. I put her to sleep with the TV blaring, so the other kids don't wake her up with their inevitable noises. It works like a charm! The older kids don't need a nap anymore, but they definitely require some down time. I put the little girls on the couch with a movie and I let the older boys go up to their bedroom and play on the Xbox (because they worked so hard to earn this time earlier doing all those chores) The boys each get 1 hour on the Xbox and the girls have to sit quietly for at least an hour, and then they can play quietly until the little one gets up. I use this time to sweep the floors, do any other small chores that need to be done and then log some computer time.
Quiet time :)
2:30: Quiet time is essentially over at this time and the kids just play until 3:00 when the girls I babysits' mom comes to get them. (that was an awkward sentence to write)
3:00: Take a huge sigh of relief because we have gone from 6 kids back to four. There is nothing like adding two more kids all day to make it seem like the ones you have aren't that much work. We usually just do whatever we want for a little bit. The kids get snacks. I will blog, or work on projects. The kids play or watch TV. I will have my oldest watch the little girls and I will go take a shower (at this point, I'm still all sweaty from the gym). Sometimes we will run errands or play outside....whatever...it all seems like a break at this point.
5:00: Start preparing dinner
6:00: Sit down to dinner.
After dinner, the little girls clear the table and scrape food into the trash, my oldest scrubs all of the dinner dishes and loads the dishwasher and my second oldest does a walk through of the main living areas and picks up toys, etc. Everybody makes sure their bedrooms are clean.
7:00: The boys go off to take showers, we give the girls a bath (realistically, we usually alternate boys one night, girls the next, unless someone is exceptionally dirty).
7:30: Read scriptures as a family, family prayers, kids brush teeth, put little girls in bed.
8:00: Little girls are asleep by now and we send the boys off to their room.
8:30: Start dishwasher, Collapse on the couch and have a nightly chat session with the hubby and watch our TV shows.
11:00: If I haven't sacked out on the couch already, we go to bed!
If I can stick to this schedule, I can handle everything. If I veer away, things fall apart and I become an overwhelmed crazy person.
We also have lots of fun things planned for this summer as well. I started a play group with a bunch of friends, so we will be doing a different fun thing with friends every Tuesday (instead of the gym), and I figured we make sure to plan at least one other outing per week as well. We have plans to go to the beach a few times and for my older boys to have "movie nights" with their friends and we just took a bunch of them to the arcade last night. I think it will be a good summer. Funny thing is, the fact that I have so many kids to watch is what is going to force me to make sure this will be a fun summer instead of years past where we would spend day after day in our jammies.
Well, guys, wish me luck!
What kind of summer will you be having?