12 Tried and True Productivity Hacks for Busy Families

productivity hacks for busy families

I recently ranted about the distinct lack of useful productivity hacks in an article that teased that offering in the title, and I didn’t want to leave y’all hanging like I had been–so I thought I would offer some of my own strategies for keeping the domestic life on track.

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countering “the patriarchy” (we need good men)

countering the patriarchy

As Alabama and Ohio are passing legislation effectively banning abortions in their respective states this week, the online “conversation” (if you can even call it that) on the topic has reached a fever pitch. This is a cause that I care deeply about and have invested my own time, money, energy, and tears over, so I understand the passion that America is feeling right now. Wherever you are on the spectrum of opinion about abortion, I can almost guarantee that you have a personal story to support your position…and these stories are not easy ones. They are full of fear, regret, and pain. Some of the heartache is thrust upon us, some of it is our own making. All of it is the product of sin, the original wayward step towards our own autonomy.

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Three Things I Recommend: for Homeschooling Littles

three things homeschooling littles

Hi friends!

After some discussion on my favorite social media platform about what was working for our new homeschool journey, I thought I’d share a few things (literally items) that we’ve found useful. We’re still so new to this life that I’ll defer the heavy duty advice to the seasoned mamas out there 😉

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Coming Home

coming home

What is it about coming home, about making a life in the place you’ve grown up, that turns you inside out, so brazenly and cool? Without batting an eye, the town that reared you also reveals you, the real you, the old and new you. She holds up the kind of mirror that shines a reflection so accurate that all you can say is, yep, that’s true.

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The Gospel Power of Family

gospel power of family

When my mid-twenties brought the kind of failure that no one really plans for or considers is even possible for their own life (sure, maybe other people, *those people* over there, but never yourself), I found myself right smack in the middle of my own real-life churchy cliche…the prodigal son. Or, in my case, the prodigal daughter with tattoos and pink hair and a stubborn streak.

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Ears to Hear, Hearts that Obey (a prayer)

ears to hear

Let me set the scene for you. It’s the afternoon of the first day of our hashtag homeschool journey for this academic year. I’m enjoying a peaceful and tidy home with a cup of fresh coffee in hand, a slice of orange pound cake next to me, and my laptop fired up and ready to go. Where are my precious children, you ask? Why is the house silent? Ah, that. Well, this morning was a little…insane.

The two older boys woke up grumpy and asked if they could play Nintendo first thing. Ignoring that request, I proceeded to *actually* cook them a hot breakfast (fried eggs and toast) and they left the eggs on their plates almost perfectly in tact. And the morning just went downhill from there: outright defiance, angry outbursts, a few tears, a baby that only napped for 30 min, a frazzled mama who only snapped two times. Lord, help us! Literally, that was my prayer. Lord, please help us.

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Cultivating Family Devotion: A Few Thoughts

cultivating family devotion

Recently, over a plate stacked high with thick waffles and crispy fried chicken, a dear friend asked me an unexpected question. She referenced seeing photos on social media of my extended family, all seven (now grown) siblings -plus spouses and children- and my parents, and she asked how we maintained such close relationships now into our adulthood. I paused for a moment and considered her question. Did we actually have close relationships? If so, what (or who) do we attribute them to? 

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Steadfast

steadfast.png

Last week was difficult. One of our boys had a stomach virus and then the other one did. The youngest was teething tiny baby tooth #5 and wanted to be in my arms all of the time, literally. Michael and I missed out on a potential date night. I was sleep deprived, stretched thin, verging on hopeless. And it was like, one thousand degrees of Southern humidity all week with no respite.

My legs would travel from room to room, hands would wipe down a counter, arms move to dump another load of laundry in to the machine. My eyes burned from weariness. All of my strength was spent in keeping the ship on course, keeping the rhythm of our days steady. Yet my heart and mind were struggling to stay afloat. A prayer would rise to my lips, simple and desperate, “Lord help me.” 

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Hello, We Are New at Homeschooling!

Hello we are new at homeschooling

I wanted to give an update and share about how we are preparing for our first “real” year of homeschooling. If you’re curious about why we decided to try homeschooling our children (Judah, age 6 and Cedar, age 4) then start reading here! I’m saying it that way (“real”) only because we are following a combination of the Charlotte Mason method and Classical home-education method, which both emphasize an approach in early childhood that encourages the student to simply be curious and enjoy learning (whether that be a walk outside searching for frogs or reading aloud a classic like Charlotte’s Web), so as to build a solid foundation for later and a more systematic- style of learning. Already, we’ve been unknowingly doing this since they were able to pay attention to a book, so we will continue in this vein and help the curiosity to grow.  I’ve always encouraged the asking of “why” (even if it comes at a less-than-desirable time!) because it’s probably my favorite question, too.

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Lessons from the Third Child

Lessons

Here are some things I’ve learned since having my third child:

  • Organic teething wafers will allow you to (almost) enjoy a meal without interruption (almost.) One pack at home, two for a restaurant meal. Just go ahead and work that cost into the overall price of your bill. It’s worth it.

 

  • You don’t need *all the baby gear* -somewhere for them to sleep, a way to help you carry them easier (I love a sling for infants, Ergo for big baby), a few simple onesies and footie pj’s, a car seat, and eventually one baby spoon and one cup. I’m a convert to minimal baby items. Don’t need that extra stress of trying to match the correct lid to cup and there’s like, 20 options to sift through. Just…no.

 

  • How to add an extra punch of protein to any meal. It’s amazing how much more energy your body needs to care for three children and yourself. Actually, scratch that. It’s amazing that we can do that, period. (Hint: add nuts to everything.)

 

  • If you have help, even for an hour, use it. I’m sure that thousands of years ago, mothers would be like, “Hey, sister-wife? I need to go, uh, rustle up some herbs for this stew here so, can you watch the kids for a sec? Thaaaaanks. BRB.” The  baby will not remember if you take a walk by yourself or go mindlessly browse Ross for 45 minutes. Get a fancy coffee or a milkshake. Listen to a podcast that has nothing to do with babies or parenting. Breathe. Don’t try to have complicated conversation with anyone. Small talk with the barista is all you need right now. Remember that you are a person, and now also a mother. Again.

 

  • And finally, This Too Shall Pass. Teething, growth spurs/sleep regression, spitting up fits, dirty diaper fests, doctors visits. But also- first belly laughs, two-teeth smiles, baby chatter and squeals, early morning snuggles. Savor the moments that make your insides fill up with light and hope. Either way, in the sweet and in the difficult, just take a deep breath and open your hands. The sun spins so much faster third time around.