Spring is here.
For our family, a busy season like this means a lot of preparation. We have seasonal allergies, Hurricane Andrew PTSD, social teenagers and active littles. We are consistently checking the weather and the sports schedules (high school, middle school, and travel ball). One thing the Bright family is not… idle. When we hit busy seasons like this, my Super Type A and introverted personality kicks into high gear. I need to make sure everything runs smooth and find time to reenergize. Not enough alone time makes for a grumpy mama.
Wherever we go, especially the ball field, we get “How do you do it?”
The answer: God’s grace… and serious skills with preparation and logistics.
When we head into a busy season, seven things really help things go smoothly.
1. Use Collapsible Storage Bins
When Baby Mac was born, we sold our Ford Flex and got an Odyssey. A 2005 Odyssey with 140,000 miles on her. Talk about tried and true. And every time I get a “new” vehicle, I vow that I’ll keep it clean. (We won’t talk about how long I’m actually able to do that).
We have a couple of collapsible storage bins from Target that we keep in the van. Whenever the bin is empty, we can collapse it and keep it put away. Almost all the time though, we have our seasonal needs stowed away. During winter, we keep a hat, gloves, and coat in it. Now as we head into baseball season and long hours at the park, we keep sunscreen for everyone, specifically all my pasty babies and Mr. B.
2. Learn to Delegate
Sometimes it is difficult to delegate responsibility as a Super Type A Personality. And by sometimes, I mean all the time. I know what I want and how I want it done but the saying in our house is “You can tell me what to do or you can tell me how something should be done but you can’t do both.” I’m actually surprised they aren’t in our wedding vows somewhere.
As a mama of 5 kiddos, I’ve had to learn to delegate. Pride has no place in a large family during a busy season. I choose wisely who I ask to complete a task and let go of the need to have it done my way.
3. Meal Planning
I’ve noticed something with my kids. No matter how often I feed them they always want to eat again. Sheesh.
And they don’t want to eat leftovers. Ever. My little darlings also have different tastes so finding meals that everyone enjoys has proven difficult over the years.
We experiment a lot in our house and found a few favorites, like the pork tenderloin I make in the cast-iron skillet. I try to have about 10 – 15 rotating recipes so we don’t always have the same thing each week. During the winter, I substitute in a few soups to add variety. Lately, Kroger ClickList and Instacart at Aldi have become my best friends. I don’t even care that I have to pay $5 as a service fee for ClickList (or $10 plus for Instacart).
Sometimes I’d rather walk a mile on Legos than go grocery shopping with the littles. That one time Munchkin had a complete meltdown completely has me gunshy now.
To show you the level of craziness of my planning, I always add a spot for our evening activities as well as the weather – because who wants to eat chili when it’s 75 degrees outside? And what if the night I plan to make my awesome cast iron pork tenderloin is the same night Bubba has an activity but I’m already in the middle of cooking and I don’t want to abandon it but I also don’t want to leave it cooking and come home to my house up in flames. What the heck is a busy mom to do!
Sister. Spend the time to plan out your week along with your meals. You will be so glad you did.
4. Have a Routine
During busy seasons, the calendar is key. We realized long ago that having a calendar on our phones (Team Google!) helps us keep everything organized and on time. In addition, I have found that creating a to-do list (with checkboxes included for super satisfaction) keeps mama happy. Because “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Amiright?
And notice that I didn’t say schedule. We do have schedules as well. There are just some things that have to be done at a certain time. But having a routine provides flexibility.
Let me explain. We bring Bubba to school every morning. He has to be there by 9am. Some mornings I get school done with Munchkin before that but sometimes I don’t. What does happen is a particular order to things but not necessarily the time of day they get done. We do breakfast, clean up, school and then playtime. Not always at the same time of day but always in that order. Find a routine that works for you and you will find that your day will begin moving more smoothly because the expectation and habit has been formed.
5. Have Thick-Skin
With a busy season and a busy schedule, everyone tends to get irritable, including mama. Sometimes the kiddos get a little testy. It’s understandable. When they get a little snippy or standoffish, it’s easy to think that they are taking it out on you because you have done something wrong. Don’t stress. Just give them some time and a big ol’ hug. Sometimes that is the best way to de-escalate the situation.
6. Maintain a Sense of Humor
Having a sense of humor is another great way to de-escalate situations. When kids start to get disrespectful, it is so easy to command respect and get into a power struggle. That’s my tendency anyway. I have found, especially with my strong-willed children (and we have several), humor is a great way to de-escalate and keep us from going into a downward power struggle that can ripple throughout the day. Humor and hugs work wonders during busy seasons.
7. Receive God’s Grace
The most important thing we can do during busy seasons is open our arms wide and receive God’s grace. For Super Type A Personality mamas like myself, it is easy to be so near-sighted regarding the things that need to be done that we forget to focus on what is most important. And then begins the cycle of mom guilt and mom shame. Don’t receive that, sister! Open your arms and call on the love of your heavenly Father. Remember that He loves your children even more than you do. He will help you through this busy season.
All in all, you just need to try things out and find what works for you and your family. I see collapsible wagons at the ball field all the time. Get a weather app that notifies you of upcoming severe weather. Whatever you find yourself needing regularly during a particular season in your life, find a way to keep it close to you. And when I say the most important thing is receiving God’s grace, I’m not kidding. Your relationship with your family will last way beyond this busy season. Take a few breaths and recognize that God is walking this journey right along with you. He won’t let you down.
Time to make sure those folding chairs are in the back of the van. We have a tournament this weekend.