Another post in which I attempt to answer some more of your questions. By the way, questions are wonderful because 1.) they prove that someone is reading the blog, 2.) it means that you are thinking about what you read, 3.) it gives me great post ideas. So if you have questions ask away!
Amberlyn asked, “Did you always want to have more children than the average family, or is it something that you felt the Lord led you to?”
The answer is both. When I was very young I desired to have 12 children, my mother is the youngest of 10 and my parents would have loved to have had more, but God over ruled when my mother was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 35, so the concept was not foreign to me. Mark also wanted to have a large family. Then when we were engaged the pastor who did our pre-marital counseling introduced us to the idea of allowing God to plan our family and we were convinced.
Edited to add: As I read over this I wanted to clarify that although we both wanted to have several children, I think the point is not that we wanted a “larger than average family”, but that ultimately we wanted to believe God and accept His blessing of children. I hope and pray that we would have been content even if He had not given us any children. It is not so much about the number of children, each child is an amazing gift and God calls some to be the parents of 1 and some to be parents of 18. We must be willing to accept God’s plan for our life and to embrace His gift of children if He deigns to give it. So whether we have no children or 9 we should be content and happy with what He has given and be willing to accept the gifts that He sends.
It has not always been easy, when our first 3 children came in 2 1/2 years we “knew” we needed a break, but God showed us that He really does know best (read about our fourth child Alyssa ) and gave us our sunshine child just 14 months later, so we ended up with 4 children, 3 years old and younger and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Rebecca read our chore list and wondered, “Do you rotate who does which chores (age appropriate, of course) once a month or anything, just to give the children exposure to doing different tasks?”
No. 🙂 We switch chores around as little ones and middle ones get old enough to take on more responsibility and during those times of “restructuring” we try to rotate the children so that they get experience with different tasks.
Our idea is that we would rather have them doing the same chore each day, week, month, so that they are good at doing it and we know that they know how to do it, so our standards can be pretty high. Whenever we switch chores it takes a while for everyone to learn their new duties and takes training to teach them, so for us it is just easier to keep things the same
Helen said, “I’d like to know…if you’re up at 5 am, what time are you in bed?”
I really like to be in bed by 9:30, but that often doesn’t happen.
Tristan had a few questions about our schedule:
“What age children are woken up at 6AM?”
When our children are old enough to start memorizing the catechism (around age 2), they get up at 6 with everyone else. We do not purposely wake the babies. However, since our children share two bedrooms, the little ones often wake up when the big kids do. I posted about our early bedtimes and explained that we rarely need to wake the children, most of them wake naturally at 6 when we have been consistent about getting to bed on time.
“Do you have any children who are not naturally morning people/early risers?”
Some of our children are not naturally early risers. However, in our home it’s not an option. Most employment and even school requires semi-early rising, so we look at this as good training in self-discipline. We do not think that children must get up early to be taught self-discipline. Wake up time is a decision for individual families to make. In our house wake up time is 6.
Here are some things that we do to help our children get enough sleep.
- Early bedtime
- Nap – If our children are slow to get up in the morning, we allow them to take a nap during the day. The baby (15 months) still takes 2 long naps each day and our 4 and 2 year old still nap daily, while the 5 and 7 year old will usually nap once or twice a week.
Our goal is that our children wake up on their own at 6 and the majority of the time that happens.
Tristan also wondered about slowness and lack of cheerfulness in the morning.
Their first 30 minutes of being awake is spent either, snuggled up on the couch reading their Bible OR snuggled up with Daddy going over their catechism questions, so slowness is not much of an issue. Cheerfulness in the morning is a matter of self-control. We do not expect them to be bouncing off of the walls, but we do expect them to be pleasant. On the other hand, for our early birds, we ask that they give their siblings space if they desire it. (Proverbs 27:14)
“What would you do differently if your husband was not home in the mornings?”
I would have the big kids get out of bed quietly to read their Bibles and allow the little ones to sleep until 6:30. If the little ones get up before or during my shower the big kids are old enough to manage until I’m finished or the little ones just come and play in my bedroom until I’m done.
JenT had this collection of queries: “I was wondering some more about character training. How do you do it? Is there set times or just when something comes up that you feel needs attention? Do you have some posts already written about that?”
I spoke a little bit about character training in my first Q & A post. Here is another example of some of character training in action with pictures. As far as scheduling character training, it is our primary goal and so (ideally) whatever we are doing and whenever we are doing it character issues get addressed. Sometimes that means that we don’t get everything accomplished that we had hoped, but we try to make the decision to deal with each issue, everytime that they present.
There are times when we need to stop school completely and have a few days focused on hard work and character training and there are times when we get to go do extra, fun things because everyone has been cheerfully obedient and helpful, even above what we ask of them.
Feel free to ask more about this if I didn’t get to the heart of the matter.
Amber wondered, “Do you get enough alone time?”
My short answer is, yes. I have time in the morning before the children get up, I have an hour, give or take, in the afternoon, when things are quiet, and the children usually go to bed around 7 or 8. There have been times that I had a lot less alone time, but my bottom line answer is that since we believe that God has called us to homeschool, I know that He will provide everything that I need as I strive to be faithful to Him.
I am often reminded of this verse in Luke 17.
Whosoever shall seek to gain his life shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
Many would say that having 9 children requires more than they are willing to give, many would say that homeschooling can cause you to lose yourself and many think that if you stay home with your children you need to regularly get out and have some “me time”. I’ve found that in accepting the 9 children that God has graciously sent I have been given much more than has been required of me, I have found fulfillment in being with and learning from my children everyday, and by staying home with the children I have received a gift much more beautiful, lovely and wonderful than some “me time” at the park or mall. When I attempt to explain the blessing and joy of my life to those who do not understand I’m reminded that “God chooses the weak and foolish things of this world” and that is what I am, completely incapable of expressing what I wish to express.
I am not trying to say that I have learned how to lay down my life. I haven’t and I struggle with selfishness daily. If you could be a fly on the wall in our house you would be appalled at times by how unkind or impatient I can be. I am saying that God has blessed our little tiny bit of very imperfect obedience abundantly more than we could ever have asked or thought.
And two of my sweet real-life friends from back home commented on this post wondering if my exhaustion was an indication that their was another Olive on the way.
Now first let me say, that they have reason to wonder. We’ve never had a baby turn 1 without another blessing scheduled to arrive, and they have both known us long enough to know that an “announcement” when our baby is around 9 months is considered a nice, long space between children. I also want to mention that even though I left them hanging for more than a week, they both have my mother’s phone number so they weren’t really left completely in the dark.
In God’s good providence the answer is no, it’s just plain old, staying-up-to-late-and-still-getting-up-early tiredness. That is a bit anti-climactic, isn’t it?
More questions? Feel free to ask by leaving a comment or using my contact page. If you would prefer that I not publish your name, please just let me know!