I have been asked alot how I get things done while having the children around. I dont know that there is one magic answer. Although there was one thing that I decided long ago and that was that having children would not keep me from doing the things that I needed to do. If you think about it woman of old had to go out catch a chicken butcher it (which is a time consuming and messy thing to do;-) They had to carry their clothing down to the river or carry water up from the river or well to do there washing. There were always time consuming things that HAD to be done just for survival. So I guess I just made a decision that I would not live my life according to my children, but that I would include the children into my life and duties.
Now there are practical ways of doing that and it will differ from family to family. When I had three small boys and was pregnant with my 4th I cleaned our 20,000+ sq ft church with no help. As you can imagine I had to take my children with me. There were many things that I would do to complete my duties. We had a nursery and if I was in that side of the church cleaning, I would leave them all in the room (that was very safe, and had a half door that locked from the outside) and Devon was in charge. They had plenty of toys to play with and they were in ear shot of me. They certainly new that I expected only the best behavior possible and I got it most of the time. I would take them with me into the sanctuary while I dusted and vacuumed and they knew what was expected of them.
Babies are even easier. If you have a walker or bouncy seat you can keep them in one place, safe and do what you need to do. I will let a baby (6mo to toddlarhood, I think infants should always be tended to when they are upset) cry for 20-30 minutes if I have something I have to get done. It has not made any of them insecure, and I can bet you that if you were to walk into a home from days of old you probably at some point would hear a baby crying while mom was kneading dough or cleaning game for a meal. Luckily I have not had any that just would cry until I came back for them...they usually got the message that I wasnt coming and would decide to make the best of it and play. Lastly dont forget nap time, that is the best time to get things done that require nonstop action, like painting and the like.
Life is much easier these days as I have 'BIG KIDS" that are a true blessing. For example while I was painting and grouting the other day, I did it in shifts. The first shift was painting. The baby was in the hallway off of were I was working, in her stationary walker, playing. The second oldest was in charge of Eve and making sure she didnt get into markers and color all over the house. The only two that need to be watched on a constant basis are the little girls. The boys all know what is and isnt allowed and boys just seem to be able to occupy themselves so well. If I do have a boy that has decided he is going to have a bad day than he is my helper and stays with me until he gets his act in shape.
So if I had to break it down into a few key things I would say:
- realize that children should not dictate what you do but that they complement your duties with whatever they can do to help, even if helping is just being on their best behavior and letting mom finish her work.
- get creative in keeping them busy.
- older children need to be given responsibility in watching the younger ones and not coming to mom for every problem. I have told my boys on occasion, do not interrupt me unless someone is on fire (they know that means only if it is really serious, and not just to tell me that someone looked at them funny;-)
- realize your limitations, only schedule what makes sense, I always fall short on this part and dive right in, but thats just my personality...if I see that something needs to be done I do it, sometimes getting halfway through and then realizing I had bit off a big bite of that elephant.
- Children 4 and above in my opinion should be able to get along without you for an hour or so, as they play in a room beside you while you work, without interrupting every 10 minutes. If they cant than perhaps they have been catered to a little to much ;-) Ducking for cover!!