We live in a age where the parenting books are abounding and everyone has an opinion of how things should be done. And you are shunned if you don't do it the way others think it should be done.
I remember when I was pregnant with my first child, I absorbed those parenting books. Researching every nook and cranny of how to labor and birth a baby and then how to take care of that baby.
Now, 5 babies in, and I have finally realized the secret sauce.
It will all come naturally.
When I think of the headaches and sleepless nights I could have avoided if I would have just listened to my own natural God-given instincts instead of trying every other process that others told me. If I just would have relied on God's wisdom instead of the nay-sayers, I could have had a few more smoother transitions. If I could have taken some advice and ignored the rest, I would have sailed on some calmer waters.
I'm not saying to not take advice. No. I love advice. I love hearing what other people did and what worked for them. I think its amazing to be in a community with fellow mothers and with mentors and LEARN from eachother.
And in the same breath, not all moms are the same and not all kids are the same, so what works for some may not work for others. That doesn't make one wrong and one right, just different.
This is all to say that there have been 2 major things in our family that we have switched up and it has REALLY made a difference in our daily life.
Let's first set the stage.
There are 7 of us.
In the area of food, it's a lot of mouths to feed. And feeding seven people, three times a day is a lot of groceries but really just a lot of work. To get food out, prepare, serve, eat, and clean up for all us... it just gets exhausting and repetitive. Then one day, I realized I didn't have to do it that way.
No, no, no. I'm not saying we stopped eating. Or that I got lazy. I just thought to myself, who said we have to have three huge meals each day. I didn't even mention that most of the time, all the kids want something different then eachother and usually don't even want what I'm making. And I ain't no short order cook. So, it ended up just being a struggle to get them all to eat most of the time.
Why torture yourself? Why add more complications to your already hectic life?
My family cherishes suppertime together. Every single night of the week, when daddy gets home from work, we all sit down to a hot meal together. We talk about our days and we all share our highs and lows. We pray for eachother and laugh together. It's a special time.
But let me tell you... the whole rest of the day is a whole other ballgame. I stopped doing breakfast and lunch.
You may not agree with me, and that is fine. But DANG, it has been a breath of fresh air in our home.
We graze now. We are grazers.
We wake up and when we feel like eating, we grab something to eat. We haven't had cereal in our home for maybe two years now and my children tend to be quite picky with food but I don't give them anything to eat until they ask. And then they have some oatmeal, or a granola bar or a piece of fruit. And it works so fantastic.
The stress of mealtime is gone. When we are hungry, we eat. And when we are not hungry, we do not eat. And we end up just having small healthy snacks throughout the day until around 3/3:30 in the afternoon when we stop to prepare for suppertime.
I don't have to force the kids to eat what I'm making. I don't have to make five different variations of sandwiches. Just grazing. It's just lovely.
And it works for us. And maybe it won't always work for us. And when it doesn't anymore, we will switch it up, but I'm learning to just go against the grain and do our own thing. And I encourage you to the do the same for you.
Second big parenting decision we made in our home is that all five of our kids share one bedroom. (The baby still sleeps with me but all his stuff in in the kids room.) We have two bunk beds (one with a trundle underneath) set up in there and not one bed belongs to one person. They are all open game beds and each child can pick a new bed each night. It has saved us LOADS of arguments and fights.
Because one kid always wants to a have a sleepover and the other doesn't. And then one is sad and one wants to sleep in this bed or that bed with that person. It got exhausting. So we said, "AWAY WITH BEDS!"
So, we no longer had "Makkedah's bed" and "Shiloh's bed" but we let the kids come up with names for each of the five beds in the room: Monkey bed, Sun bed, Sugar bed, Narnia bed and Aslan bed. Every night the kids can pick a bed to sleep in and bring their pillow to it. Most nights, two to three children pick the same bed and there are only two of the five beds in use at all times.
It has been an awesome system. Not only fun for the kids to make up names for the beds but it switches things up and I feel it makes for a very memorable childhood.
Again, this works for us right now. It might not always be that way and we can change it up when/if that time comes.
I just remember hearing so many people say how the kids need their own space and we will need a huge house with siz bedrooms so everyone has their own room and space. That is how we felt is HAD to be. But it never felt right for us. We actually never want our kids to go hide away in their rooms. We understand the need for alone time and for breathing room. And they can have that when needed. But we don't need a huge house with tons of room for that to happen.
In our home, the rooms are for sleeping in and dressing in. And all other time is spent together in the common areas of the house. So for us, the rooms hold the beds and dressers (and a few toys.)
We realized that WE get to create the culture of our home, no one else does. And so yah, we are a family of seven that uses two bedrooms. And we totally love it.
I want to encourage you to GO AGAINST THE GRAIN.
You don't have to follow the ways of the world. You don't have to do what everyone else is doing. Create your life as you desire and make the most of it.
Go ahead and take the advice from other trusted people and then filter it how you choose. Try new things and do what works for you. Who cares what anyone else says. At the end of the day, its your choice.
We don't eat breakfast or lunch and we have tons of unused mattresses. And it works for us. I think I'm starting to like this anti-grain movement.