One of my favorite reads from last year was "Loving the Little Years" by Rachel Jankovic. In it, she talks about The Bulk Effect.
The "Bulk Effect" occurs when you have lots of kids, especially little kids. Endless demands, one after the other, can overwhelm you and cause you to snap over something very minor.
Although all of my children are wonderful blessings and have various gifts and ways that they enrich my life, they all have different struggles too. One kid struggles with complaining and discontentment. Another tries to argue with me and is a world-class tattler. Another wants constant attention and help with everything. Another is always getting hurt and screaming many times a day.
(The boys in their usual summer hang-out spot)
It's all too easy for me to get overwhelmed by the continual demands for training/attention/love/time and their endless energy and noise and just snap. "GO OUTSIDE! I CAN'T TAKE ANOTHER MINUTE WITH A KID OR ANYONE'S DEMANDS!"
This chapter, and others in the book about knowing and treating your kids as individuals even when you have several of them, helps me remember to stop and consider whether or not The Bulk Effect is taking over the situation of the moment in my own parenting. It's helpful to put myself in their little shoes, so to speak, as well. To remember what it's like to be a kid, dependent on others for everything, with few choices and need of training.
When we were gone on our anniversary trip, my folks took care of the kids. My dad was mostly gone during the days they watched them but he did spend one day with them and my mom camping. I called him from the road on our way home to ask how things had gone with the kids. He talked about Justus' astounding energy levels (3 hours of non-stop racing a wheelbarrow through the dirt stirring up dust clouds one night!) and suggested we should consider public school and soccer for that little whirlwind. He mentioned that the kids sure do "ding at you" all day long. He said, "They sure are cute kids but that doesn't diminish the demanding factor."
(The girls playing "fancy ladies.")
My mom enjoyed the kids but she did say that they didn't have a moment to talk as a couple and watching the kids really helped them to see just how desperately we need time as a couple to talk. From now on they want to volunteer to watch the kids one evening a month so we can do a date night....HURRAY!
Being a mom of many little ones is hard.
There are few days off.
If you have sick kids or infants, you work both days AND nights.
You end every day emotionally drained.
While there is no formula or cure for easy or perfect parenting and no one is doing this job just right at all times, these things are helpful to me in parenting my many, young children:
Getting enough sleep
Having a routine
Rising before the kids for some quiet time before the chaos hits
Time in the Word
Enforcing a quiet time/rest time every afternoon
Taking the kids on individual Mommy & Me dates every month or two
Support of other godly women in Bible Study and strong friendships
Being honest with my husband about my need for help or a break from the kids
Teaching the kids to be more self-sufficient
Pretending that the child needing something from me is an only child
Having the kids spend a little time away from me during the week (biking with Daddy, at playdates, clubs, or classes, helping Grammy in the garden, etc.)
Vitamin smoothies, good nutrition, and regular exercise
Being careful not to get over-committed with activities and playdates
Having a fenced-in backyard
Movies or kids' shows on Amazon Prime (Veggie Tales/Garfield/Dora)
Making some time for my own hobbies (Book Club, photography, reading, crafts, blogging, etc.)
Blessings to all of the tired mamas out there with little ones!