Yes They Are All Ours

I share glimpses into my somewhat crazy life as a home-schooling mother of ten children, while seeking to encourage other women to find joy and fulfillment in embracing their high calling as wives, mothers, and keepers of their homes.

Elizabeth is a winner of Top 25 Moms With Big Families - 2013

What has having a big family taught you about motherhood?

Having a big family has taught me so much about motherhood! I like to say that I started off with ten theories about child rearing and no children. Now I have ten children and no theories! :)

One of the most obvious things I've learned from having a large family is that no two children are alike! Parenting strategies that worked for one child don't necessarily work for another child! As a mother, I've had to learn to look at each child as an individual and parent them accordingly. Some children require strong discipline to turn from disobedience and foolishness, while others only require a word of admonition and correction.

Another surprising aspect of motherhood is that you should not treat all of your children exactly the same. That's because of my first observation above. Some will require more firmness than others. Some need pushed and some need reigned in. One size fits all mothering usually doesn't fit anyone very well.

Another thing I've learned is that children don't quit needing their mothers when they reach their teen years! Young adults need a mother who is involved and willing to spend time listening and helping them figure out who they are, what they believe, and where they are headed. A wise mother will make time to listen and encourage and "coach" her young adults and find ways to enjoy them and have fun together.

In one word, mothering requires TIME.

What tips do you have for meal planning?

I've tried lots of meal planning strategies. The most effective method seems to be to assign a category to each night of the week and select meals from each category. This can be done weekly or monthly. For example, one night might be Mexican night, one might might be Italian, one might be soup or stew, etc. You can also use categories based on type of meat, such as ground beef meals, chicken meals, meatless meals, etc. Once you've identified the categories, it is easy to plug in your favorites.

How do you get your children involved with chores? Please share what age these tips are appropriate for.

I want my children to consider themselves part of our family team. Everyone on the team must do his or her part if we want to have a winning team! :)

Most young children enjoy working and emulating Mom and Dad or older brothers and sisters. However, parents often think they are too young to help and send them out to play. Then, when parents are ready to make their children work, the children are no longer interested in helping. So, the secret to success is to start training children how to work and contribute to the family when they are still very young.

For very young children, make the jobs fun. You can make a game out of who picks up the most toys first. It is also fun for all ages to try to beat the timer! We used to dance around and sing our silly We Beat the Timer Dance! :)

As children get older, it works best to assign them whole jobs or whole areas of responsibility. We call these Jurisdictions. When you give a child jurisdiction over the bathroom or the living room, they will take pride in that room and do a better job. It also teaches them to look around the room and notice each individual job that needs to be done, instead of only being assigned one component of a job.

Also, it is important to work WITH children. Children can resent being given your dirty work so you can go read a book or "play" on the computer. But when everyone works hard together, the work gets accomplished quickly and leaves time for everyone to pursue leisure activities. Also, hearts are most easily shared during times of working together! Don't waste these precious opportunities!