Well, I'm typing this up on Holy Thursday because we are about to have a family technology fast for the Triduum. I think this will be our first Easter to be away from our family in Houston, so there will be a lot of time to hang out together and just live these holy days with our little family. We hope to make some beach visits and make it to Confession and the other services at church. And hopefully it will include some good lessons for all of us as we are "unplugged" from the technology that threatens our family on so many levels.
I have learned some good lessons this Lent. I think my main lesson has been how to grow as a mother. I think I have a vision for how I will succeed at it now. It seems daunting, and I know I can only do it by the grace of God. I've read a book about Back Talk, am reading one called Siblings Without Rivalry, and have pulled out Simplicity Parenting again. I also have Mitten Strings for God on order. Hopefully I will make a dent in these this weekend.
The overriding lesson to me is...less is more (as pertains "things" and outside activities), and I must be WITH the children in the midst of our days. I need to let them cook with me, I need to sit with them throughout school time, and we need to clean up and do chores together. I have a tendency to send them away so that I can do my chores and care for the baby without small people on top of me. But that is where they want to be, and my kind heart towards them is what they need.
My speech is another main problem that I need to correct. Words of affirmation, kindness, smiles...these are all things that have gotten harder with the number of children we have. But these are all things that set the tone for our family and the way they treat each other. If I'm snapping at them and always critical, that's the way they will treat their siblings.
We are at the point where I have some very good helpers. The girls can cook, clean, and care for the baby. I had a very long night with the baby last night. Steven took her early this morning as he got up for work around 6am and then put Mary Clare in charge of her. I woke back up at 7:30, a little frantic about where the baby was! The girls were taking care of her and I was able to go back to sleep until 9:00! What a gift. My workload has decreased, so now I need to step up in my emotional offerings to the family.
I think we also need to come up with some goals for how our home works. We have this tendency to hang out in the master bedroom, where the computer is, but it is very overwhelming for me and I don't think a healthy habit. I want to work at spending more time "living" in the living areas together and encouraging play with them in the playroom too. The boys hardly play upstairs at all, because they don't like being there alone. Outdoor time with them is another major goal, which we have done pretty well with in the evenings. One night this week we took a nice family walk together which I'd like to continue.
I put some alarms on my phone for daily prayer...a Morning Offering at 9am, the Angelus at noon, and the Chaplet (abbreviated) at 3pm. Night prayer together is an area where we always need growth. Really our whole nighttime routine needs work. We tend to just send the kids to bed, which doesn't work with the boys and they end up in our room and sometimes (peeing) in our bed! These are all good goals, but we must work in baby steps to get to them!
So here is my list of goals, and hopefully I can revisit it every few months, even adding progress to my Monday Motivation lists...
-Continue reading these parenting books
-Little prayers throughout the day
-Do work and chores WITH the children
-Start days in living room together with lots of reading, then move to schoolroom.
-More time in kitchen, living room, and playroom together
-Night prayers as a family
-Night routine (baths, prayers, books, tuck them in)
-Less technology (keep phone away most of the day, no computer time until schoolwork and chores are done)
-Better chore plan for the family
-More consistency with discipline, especially backtalk and violent outbursts (hitting, etc)
I'm hopeful that having a vision will help us to reach these goals. And I'm also realistic that they will be very hard and I cannot reach them without relying on God in prayer. With a large, homeschooling family, we have many more emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. I always wanted many children but didn't realize the work it would take. I'm grateful for this season of Lent where I could reflect on the issues that were plaguing our family. May this upcoming Easter season be filled with joy and with the resolve to be a better mother every day!