Large Family Stress Reduction: Getting Ahead, Part 1

Are you constantly feeling like you are chasing one disaster after another, as if you are endlessly “running behind”? I know exactly what you mean…

Getting ahead 1

If you’ve never lived in a large family, it is probably hard to understand just how “dynamic” life can be! I grew up with only one sister, so things were fairly sedate and quiet in my home, although there were still crises and challenges.

But when there are loads of people who interact, especially when these people are tiny, there seems to be one crisis after another, some days with no lull time in-between. Sometimes it can feel so overwhelming that mothers simply give up and give in!

One dear woman wrote to me and explained the deplorable situation she was living in; her children had been snatched away at one time due to her lack of coping skills and her house and family were in such horrible disarray that basic human needs were going unmet. After her children had been returned she was still unable to handle everyday living and chose instead to lie in bed and hide from her responsibilities.

I don’t believe this dear sister started out as a rotten homemaker. She had the same ambitions we all have; she wanted to have a clean, peaceful, orderly home in which everyone’s needs were met and love flowed freely. Her steps into the dark abyss were taken slowly and steadily so that they all began to snowball. All of her “undones” began to work on her mind until she was actually physically ill at the thought of her many burdens, which left her without energy to tackle even one of them successfully.

To be sure, she felt as though she was chasing an unobtainable dream, always running behind, always thwarted, until she was unable to keep up and fell helpless in the dust.

Thankfully, this type of total failure is preventable. Life as the mother of many people has its challenges, but they do not have to be overwhelming. If we can keep certain keys in mind, we will finally be able to live productive, joyful, loving lives, no matter what circumstances we live under. These keys are:



Getting Ahead


At the end of the day, the difference between a woman who is haggard and overcome and the woman who is hopeful and ready for life is one thing: believing in a God who is there and who wants to bless His children. There is no way to overemphasize this one principle.

Our natures are dark, but God sent His Son, before we even cared to love God, He loved us. This is the secret of joy, of living near the pulse of the Maker; believing He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, of those who rely on Him and believe in Jesus.

Our reliance in faith makes all the difference, from the ways we respond to our children to the ways we keep our kitchens clean. There is so much to share here, but I fear that it would take a lifetime to explain it adequately, and there are others who have done a much better job than I ever could…

Getting Ahead:

Finally, we come to the heart of this post; being unprepared. This one factor has been the cause of much evil in the world. While it is one thing to be overcome by the unforeseen, it is another to live without prudence so that even simple events of life become crises.

Getting ahead means planning and preparing in advance. It means that I don’t have to run to the store every morning for breakfast food. It means that I am not constantly digging through piles of unwashed or unfolded laundry to find a work shirt for my husband. It means that I am not spending two hours looking for a pencil when it is time to homeschool my children. Of course, there are times when people are ill and the laundry piles up, but there are ways to keep from being totally overcome even in these times. Getting ahead means to think ahead and to do ahead.

think ahead do ahead


When you think ahead, you are putting your mind in gear and planning for contingencies.

For instance, I keep an inventory of objects that will be needed in case of minor injury or minor illness. This means that I have two small plastic cases filled with items for bandaging wounds, dealing with splinters and stingers and the like. I also have a small cache of remedies and devices for the minor aches and pains that come with living life on planet earth.

As for meals, I don’t purchase many “convenience foods,” but I try and keep a pantry stocked with raw materials which can be used to form frugal and delicious meals such as meats, flour, vegetables and spices. In this way I am rarely caught off-guard when it comes to food preparation. I also keep a running list of possible meal combinations based on what I have accumulated, always attempting to use perishable items first.

For homeschooling, I have drawers in my file cabinet in which I store school supplies. I purchase these at discounted prices during the back to school sales in late summer and then portion them out during the rest of the year. Included are pens, pencils, erasers, composition books, crayons, glue, scissors, chalk, wipe-off markers, markers, rulers, paper clips, index cards, etc.

Also, before I start a new project, I sit with a plain piece of paper and draw a sort of map of the whole idea, complete with notes and assignments. Having a plan on paper has saved my sanity many times, since I need to have a mind and heart free enough to pay attention to the people in my life and the issues they are experiencing without being otherwise distracted. I have found that, if I don’t have a written, concrete plan, my mind becomes so full of other things that I forget and lose all of my hard work! On the other hand, it is so refreshing to pull out a notebook and find my plans written plainly so that all I have to do is implement them!

Doing things ahead means having things in place before the “crunch” times.

What are “crunch” times? How about Church day, having a new baby, taking a trip, having guests over, when Daddy arrives home, holidays, and dinner time? Any and all of these situations don’t have to become stress-filled. Although one cannot totally eliminate challenges, they can be reduced.

One way I do this is by thinking about tomorrow the night before; I ask myself, “How many things can I accomplish before bedtime that will bless me when I awaken in the morning?”

Here are some that I can think of:

  • Clean the kitchen
  • Vacuum the floors
  • Pick up the bedrooms
  • Fold and put the laundry away
  • Set out the clothes for the next day
  • Plan the next-day’s meals, set out breakfast, prepare “lunch packs”
  • Fill up the coffee maker so that it will automatically start in the morning
  • Plan homeschooling for the next day

What are some that you can think of?

For more on this subject, be sure to be on the look out for Large family crisis reduction: getting ahead, part 2, in which we will discuss just how to begin to plan and do…


13 thoughts on “Large Family Stress Reduction: Getting Ahead, Part 1”

  1. This is where I am failing. I am such a “doer” (and the only adult doer in my home, my husband is not) that I feel as though I can’t take the time to plan. Because I need that precious time to DO. In reality though, when I actually take the time to formulate a plan (whether it be for meal-making, errand-running, homeschooling, housecleaning) the implementation is far easier and more efficient. And then it boosts my self-confidence, because I feel as though my life is evidence that “Yes, I can do this!”

    This is the first comment I’ve made, but I just wanted to say thank you for your blog. It is very encouraging.

    • I loved hearing from you, Jill. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I think you and I have something in common; I tend to be a “doer,” too! I was nodding my head at the scenarios you shared. Taking the time to sit and plan feels like running in place at the time, but it pays in real dividends. Making a habit of taking the last five or ten minutes of my day and jotting down a few notes has really helped 🙂


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