Large Family Logistics – My Take Away

So it’s summer, my normal season for serious reading.  I feel like this year painting has taken the place of reading, but I’ve been able to do a fair amount, just the same.  Today I want to share about a book that I started at the beginning of the year and just finished in May or early June.  It was very inspirational and full of good, even if not personally applicable, ideas.  The book is Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing the Large Family by Kim Brenneman.  I will preface by saying that when judged by the size of my husband’s family or my father’s family, I in no way feel like we have a “large” family.  I do know, however, that by societal standards, we do, and that there are some real logistics that go in to making our home and lives run smoothly and I’m always looking for ways to make it run more efficiently.

I first saw this book at a friend’s house and was intrigued by it.  The cover is lovely and the layout makes it very readable.

The author begins by discussing the Wise Woman of Proverbs and the blessing she is to her husband and household.  “It is difficult to underestimate the value of the encouragement we bring when we speak kind words to our family.  Be Christ to your family and others.  Praise them for the good things they do.  Bless them with uplifting words.  Show His love through the kindness of your tongue.” (p. 34)  Also, “When we look at our work, we need to see it for what it is:  serving the Lord, our husbands, our children, and all those who visit our home.  Caring for others is an awesome responsibility.  There is beauty in the necessary mechanics, and we need not look at them as something to just endure so that we  can move on to the next thing.  By all means, make your work efficient, but while you do what you have to do, learn to embrace it as work done unto the Lord that will impact generations for eternity!” (p. 36)

She then moves on to Goals, Systems, and Self-Discipline where she says, “If we want our home to be characterized by order and tranquility, we must lead by example.” (p. 53)

In the chapter on attitude, she addresses the phrase “I can’t” – not only when it comes from discouraged children, but when it comes from discouraged moms.  She says, “I can’t is something we don’t say.  I can’t gets replaced by praying without ceasing.” (p. 58)

She talks about making a plan and submitting that plan to God.  “Plans are a guide, not a master.  A plan serves you.  You do not serve the plan.  A plan gives you confidence. You know how to plan ahead and you know how to recover from an event.”  (p. 66)  This is a good reminder for this task-driven home maker – the plan is a tool, not a task-master.  “An interrupted day is God’s plan for the life of a mother (see Proverbs 16:1-9).  We cannot know what He wills for us and for our children ahead of time.  But when interruptions come, we can say with confidence, ‘This is God’s will.  He must have something to teach me, or the children, or maybe He is blessing me and the children with this.’ Or ‘Somehow, God is being glorified in this event.  I need to live obediently and not grump about it or fight it.’ Being upset about interrupted plans is, in essence, fighting with God.” (p.66)

She talks about teaching children to work and redeeming the time we have alone, instructing a child in a new chore, and life with little children.  In this practical section of the book, she gives tips on how to most efficiently clean a room, a house, and how to involve the children in the process.  She divides her week up into days, and while I think this is a wonderful idea, it does not apply well to us personally.  But it is a good spring board for having our own routine of “days”, even if they have to be shuffled around from week to week.  A “baking day”, a “grocery day”, a “computer day”, etc.

One thing she advocates is a “Laundry Day”.  Again, this one doesn’t work for us personally in this season of life.  But within the chapter on laundry she talks about “Four Loads by Four”, wherein you want to complete four loads of laundry by 4 p.m.  I really liked that little phrase and changed it to “Three Loads by Three”, since I rarely do four loads in one day.  It does help me stay on track!

She goes on to discuss morning and evening routines, as well as mealtime management, afternoon chore time, and the blessed Quiet Hour.  I love the quiet hour.  We’ve done this since the beginning of time and cannot imagine life without it.

As a mama who does not always possess a gentle tongue, the author’s words on page 307 were encouraging, “Every single time you talk to them (your children), force yourself to smile.  ‘Fake it ’til you make it.’  When you speak while you’re smiling, your tone of voice changes, and you will find that the words that come out of your mouth are more gracious.”

Large Family Logistics has been a great blessing to me, not only for the practical tips offered in managing my home, but for the encouragement provided by a seasoned mother in the areas of being a wife, mother, home maker, and home educator.

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