family marriage parenting self-care

Balancing Act: Juggling Parenting, Marriage, and Self-Care with a Large Family

I love being a mom and a wife. They are just two of the hats I wear that bring a lot of joy into my life. My large family of eight can bring a lot of love, laughter, and (yes) chaos. I would be less than honest if I said that I don’t occasionally feel the need to reset and attempt to balance my life in times of chaos. Today, I want to share a few things that have worked for me in raising the littles, trying to strengthen my marriage, and seeking the e self-care while juggling the responsibilities of family life.

Prioritize Effective Communication

One of the most important lessons I have learned as a wife and mom of six is that effective communication can either make or break your relationship. If you communicate effectively, you’ll definitely succeed in managing the dynamics of a large family. Miss out or don’t ask clarifying questions and you will most certainly fail.

It’s important to connect with your spouse regularly. In a family of constant movement, something as simple as a daily check-in can make a world of difference. More important than just communicating is communicating honestly. Let me share an example. I was recently overwhelmed with several appointments and tasks that I needed to do for the family. True to my “it’ll get done somehow” nature, I didn’t ask for help and ended up becoming short-tempered and snappy with my husband. That wasn’t fair to him and it didn’t change the fact that things needed to get done. After a bit of time, we had a sit-down and communicated how we were feeling. It wasn’t an easy conversation, but it was an open and honest one that helped us to come up with a new way of looking at things and a new strategy for getting those things done. In my experience, those open and honest (often raw) conversations are often the ones that strengthen our marriage and familial ties, provides resolution to our conflicts, and reminds us that we are on the same team.

Teamwork makes the Dream Work

“I don’t want to grow old with you. I want to GROW WITH you.

-S

My husband has a saying that has come up time and time again in our relationship. He is fond of saying that he doesn’t want to just grow old together. It wouldn’t be enough to just grow grow older. Instead, he says that we should grow together up to and inclusive of getting older. We should grow better together, being better than we were the day, week, month, and year(s) before. He’s absolutely right and one of the ways to make sure this happens is to practice teamwork.

With so many people in the household, there are plenty of opportunities for assistance in the household. Make sure to involve the littles in age-appropriate chores and responsibilities. Our school-aged children know to “reset” when they come home from school. That means emptying school bags, washing and emptying lunch boxes, hanging up coats, and placing backpacks on hooks. All children have appropriate chores for after dinner including sweeping, cleaning their area, and wiping down the table. My husband and I have our chores as well. Cooking, cleaning, scheduling are all done together and help to make the house run a lot more efficiently.

Embrace Quality Time

In a previous post, I shared how one of my children’s love languages is Quality Time. He is a lover of spending time together and conversing just to pass the time. Quality Time isn’t just important to him. In the management of our family, quality time is both important to marriage and self-care. One of the things I recommend (and am trying hard to re-implement) are regular date nights for your spouse. Whether it’s a nice dinner out on the town or a cozy evening at home, spending intentional time with your spouse solidifies physical, emotional, and mental bonds necessary for a strong and positive relationship. It also showcases those things for your children. Quality time isn’t just for your spouse, either.

Find a schedule that works for borth of you. One of the things my husband and I have done when I have had to travel for business is FaceTime calls. We agree on a time that I or he will call, and the entire family talks on the phone together. We discuss the school day, the little’s home day, dinner, and current events. We then wish each other a great night and sweet dreams and the call is ended with everyone feeling loved and seen. Quality time doesn’t have to be expensive! Don’t forget to carve out some time for your littles as well–collectively and individually.

close up photo of two person s holding hands
Photo by Git Stephen Gitau on Pexels.com

Strengthen those Individual Connections

In a large family, it’s pretty easy to get lost in the family chaos. There are a tons of activities and schedules that need to be met. Sometimes, an individual can feel left out in the midst of all activities. One of the things I try to do is make a conscious effort to nurture the invididual interests of my children and spouse.

My oldest daughter has a passion for dance. It is always my preference to pick up and drop her off alone so that we can have Mommy-daughter time and conversation. That isn’t always possible, but when it is, I make sure to stop at the local coffee shop for a cake pop and hot chocolate. We park the car or ride home discussing the day’s activities and things that are of concern to her. It’s one of her favorite times.

I have started doing the same for all of the littles. One child has a love of Ninja Turtles, so I’m on the ground playing Leonardo to Donatello. Another is developing a love of cooking, so we are in the kitchen creating new recipes and meals. My husband has a love of education. He will tell you that he has a love of learning and is always in a posture of knowledge. I try to find opportunities support his educational goals and show my support of those goals.

Practice Grace

If you remember earlier this year, I shared that my theme for 2024 is “The Year of Grace“. I’ve been trying very hard to share and showcase the grace that Jesus shows me daily. I recommend activating grace in all aspects of your life. One thing our large family has taught me is that the unexpected will occur. Best-laid plans will sometimes go awry. How we handle those unexpected occurrences is going to determine how well we function as a family. “Grace” allows us the chance to be flexible, to recognize that things aren’t always in our control and that it is okay to admit that. Flexibility in routines and expectations are to be expected in large families. Extending grace in those circumstances is what will help you navigate life with resiliency.

Self-care isn’t selfish

I learned the hard way that trying to be a Superwoman is kryptonite to family relationships when you don’t take care of yourself. Something as simple as a hot shower followed by smooth jazz and a glass of chilled wine (or hot tea) is a perfect way to unwind after a long day. The saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup” is true. If you don’t take the time to refill and recharge, you are going to do yourself and your family a huge disservice. Make sure you spend time on self-care today.

Hopefully this helps…

So there you have it, a few examples and suggestions for balancing motherhood, marriage, and self-care in an often chaotic environment. Make sure to prioritize your quality time, manage that teamwork, embrace those individual hobbies, and keep effective communications paramount in your household to keep things running much more smoothly.

Happy Prioritizing!

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