Thursday, August 4, 2011

Life with Littles

A few months ago, a sweet, sweet friend and reader surprised me by sending me a copy of the book, Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman. The book is AWESOME, folks! I would say it is worth the price for the appendix alone! If you have one child or 10 children, you will benefit from this book and its Godly perspective on being a mother and manager of your home.

The famous Four Moms are doing a link up today on the first section of the book
and I'm excited to chime in. The only problem is, the first section of the book is 17 CHAPTERS!! Now some of the chapters are short, but it is seriously a LOT of material to cover and I don't think I can do it justice in a single post. I decided yesterday that I would pick my favorite chapter for a post. But this is so hard to do! There are so many favorites! *sigh*

If you are not familiar with the book, Connie at Smockity Frocks does a nice job summarizing each chapter.

I love that this book is practical and that this is a mom that really gets it. I feel like I am reading a letter from a wonderful friend and she is sharing tips on when to take a shower (pg. 89) because there are times when even sneaking in a 10 minute shower seems impossible. She shares how to select modest clothing that is suited to the job of being a mother (ch. 17), how to avoid looking frumpy, and how to organize your clothing when you go through five different sizes in one year. She encourages me to keep denying self and to look to God for strength when my load becomes too heavy. I continue to be blessed by the Bible-based wisdom in this book.

Since I can't decide upon a favorite, I'll share the chapter that seems most fitting for me right now - Chapter 13, Life with Littles.

How Little is Little?
Mrs. Brenneman says it depends upon your family and how you are training them. I like the Deputy Headmistress' definition: a child that still needs supervision to use the toilet. :) Mine are definitely little!

Children don't instantly become helpful when they hit a certain age; it is a result of the developmental training process that you employ at each age. Make work fun, do it with the right attitude, as unto the Lord, and as children grow, they will gradually pick up new skills and slowly become more helpful.

I am big on having my Littles help me around the house. They LOVE to work! Even the baby is so proud to toddle over to the drawer to put away a potholder for me. We work together, we learn together, we play together, and sometimes it is difficult to tell which one we are doing. This is discussed in even greater detail in chapter 9, but I love how she encourages us to work with our little ones. She emphasizes that "Little children can learn to work more easily if their day follows a routine" and encourages developing good habits and routines for self-care and cleaning up. Personally, I really need to work harder at strengthening our daily routine. The day goes so much smoother with that routine, and the Littles appreciate the predictability. Part of the problem is that I need to work on my own self-discipline for self-care and cleaning up! :/ Thankfully, she covers that in chapter 4.

Ease into Homeschooling
I think it is a major temptation of mothers who are eager to homeschool to jump in too hard, too fast, and too soon. Mrs. Brenneman encourages mothers to ease into it, simply adding on bits and pieces at a time to an already structured day.

Do you have a time of day when you read to the children? Tack on a few minutes of phonics... While reading aloud, have the children narrate back to you a little bit at a time... Do you play outside? Get down and find a bug, and then look it up and read about it.
That is the way I do pre-school!

Content Yourself with Healthy Brain Food
Mrs. Brenneman recognizes the physically taxing aspect of life with littles and the fact that there is a need for mental stimulation. She warns us about the seductive nature of the internet in regards to wasting time and the temptation of online gossip.

If you sow into your mind things that promote discontent... then you will reap discontent in your life... Do not allow yourself to be discontent, but look at all things with thanksgiving and challenge yourself to overcome trials with biblical responses. Look at the long physically hard days as the blessing that they are. This is the school of sanctification. God is growing in you.

Hide God's Word in Your Heart
The best "healthy brain food" is God's word! She recommends working daily on memorizing Bible verses with the Littles and singing hymns while you work, hiding God's word in their hearts, as well as your own. When we do this, we receive strength from the Lord.

We learn to rest in God and depend on Him for the strength we need for each day. We learn to seek Him for wisdom in how to handle all the things that wear on us. We learn to pray without ceasing and make Him our best friend in the lonely days of little adult interaction.

I Can't Get Anything Done!
Do you ever feel like you are just spinning your wheels. *sigh* Some days are like that, but if every day is like that, then it may be time to make some changes. Maybe you need to stay home more and focus on your children, your home, and your routine? Maybe you need to do a better job meeting the needs of your Littles before the meltdowns begin? Maybe something in the routine needs adjusting (earlier lunch or naps, a snack added in, etc...)? Maybe some of your Littles need some intensive work on obedience? I think I have had problems with all of these at one time or another. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut, running and running like a hamster in a wheel. Mrs. Brenneman wisely advises that if this is the case, we take a day or two studying the problem and working on solutions that will make our home life more pleasing.

Less is More
I use all of the strategies recommended in this book to keep toys under control, such as -
  • limiting toys
  • keeping only high quality, open ended, imaginative toys
  • keeping toys where I work
  • keeping toys out of the bedrooms
  • rotating toys in and out of storage
  • doing a "10 minute tidy" before naps and bedtime
But it requires constant vigilance! It seems like keeping the toys under control is a never-ending process. Cleaning out toys is on my to-do list right now because things are starting to get out of hand again. Mrs. Brenneman recommends the rule of thumb that if it takes longer than 10 minutes to clean up, it's time to de-clutter again.

What are your strategies for thriving while living in a house full of Littles? Which chapter in Part One was your favorite?

Older posts about Large Family Logistics can be found here - Large Family Logistics and here - The Children's Hour.


  1. I obviously need to read this book! 4 little ones and summer has thrown us off of what I thought was a good working system. Today I've learned a lesson in letting some things go. 4 year old starts pre-k tomorrow and I was worried about getting his little nap time quilt done tonight. But we're getting over a stomach bug and it's ok if I send an old afghan with him for the first day. Better to spend my evening cleaning up the accumulated filth of our sick week and work on the quilt next week when it will be a pleasure and not a chore.

  2. I love what you have taken away from the book. It was a blessing to read today. We have many of the same goals....


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