Are you a mother (or father!) of a big crowd of spunky, unique, and larger-than-life kiddos? Do you feel overwhelmed at times, wonder how other parents out there do it? Do you wonder how to you keep things fun at home, while still maintaining the devotion your spouse needs to keep your marriage strong? Then this is the post for you!
I met the McMasters family a few years ago as the fun-loving bunch where mom was a bridesmaid, the boys were ring bearers, and the girls were flower girls. A week ago, I caught up again with the super cute crew for some amazing family photos at the beautiful Blue Spruce Park in Indiana, PA. Angela, the lovely mom, had some awesome style, (everyone in Chuck Taylors!) and I was delighted that besides cute chucks and super-hero outfits, I also had the family's toy t-rex Greeny and their chocolate lab Blue to work with!! Ang was also sweet enough to take the time to answer some parenting questions that I hope will inspire and bless you!
HOW DO YOU KEEP THINGS FUN AT HOME?
This is a juggling act for sure! We are pretty routine throughout the week with school and evening activities, but we still find time for fun. It’s important to us for the kids to use their imaginations, so we limit screen-time and gaming consoles to short windows over the weekends. We build forts, have Nerf gun battles, rock out to our favorite songs in the living room, read stories, and the list goes on. We also have some not-so-fun evenings depending on how everyone cooperates with each other, which is okay, too. We certainly aren’t perfect!
Friday and Saturday evenings we usually try to add in something extra fun, like family game or movie night. We’ve set up camp in the living room and slept on the floor. It’s enjoyable for all of us to unwind as a family.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE PARENTING AND MARRIAGE?
This has been a HUGE challenge for us. Jeremy and I have been married for 11 years. Our oldest is 10, so we weren’t a family of two for long. Both of us have demanding jobs (Jeremy is a director of network engineering for a cable company and I’m a part-time school psychologist) and four beautiful, busy children. It doesn’t leave much time for us to spend together. For many years, we were often two ships passing in the night, dividing and conquering kids’ needs only to crash in bed day after exhausting day.
There came a time when we both realized that we needed to rebuild the foundation of our family. If we weren’t strong together and in our faith, we were all going to fall apart. So...we started scheduling time together (as if we needed one more schedule to follow...lol). It has been the BEST investment ever. Three nights a week we start bedtime a little bit earlier so we can have a couple of hours to ourselves catching up on the day-to-day, binge-watching our favorite Netflix shows, or playing a few hands of cards. I thank God everyday for this discovery. For a while, I thought I was losing my best friend, but he was there all along.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR KIDS?
I love the magic in Finley’s eyes when she discovers something new. We watch bumble bees on flowers, caterpillars on leaves, and butterflies bouncing through the air. She also has the most contagious laugh.
I love Declan’s zest for life. He lives everything in a big and loud way. For a little guy, he’s quite the comedian. I also melt when he tells me he “just needs mommy loves.” I’ll take those little chubby arms wrapped around my neck any day.
I love how Brennan catches me off-guard with his sweet and loving nature. He always asks for “up hugs.” I will miss the day I can no longer lift him into my arms. I pray I am strong enough to give “up hugs” for at least a few more years...
I love that Makenna lives with such a huge heart. She is the epitome of kindness and wise beyond her years. I find her caring for me when I am struggling to care for myself. Four kids, a dog, and let’s be honest, a husband, can do that do you :)
BEST ADVICE FOR OTHER PARENTS?
The best piece of advice I have for parents of large families, or any family for that matter, is to love, love, love, each and every precious moment...the joy, the laughter, the tears, the tantrums. I’ve learned to be thankful for messes and spills and meltdowns just as much as I am for the happy times. Be present. Offer and accept grace. Ask for forgiveness when needed. These are some of the best gifts you can give your children.