6 Secrets to Staying Sane With Kids -- From a Mom of 16
by Jeanne Sager
Being a one and done mom, sometimes I look at my friends who have a bunch of kids and I just watch with an open mouth. I say this with 100 percent sincerity: these women amaze me. Things that make me frantic with just one kid don't seem to faze them at all, and I always wonder if they're privy to some great secret of the universe open only to people who have several kids.
I want to know that secret!
Fortunately, some of these moms are willing to share. Take Kathy Bessmer, a mother of 16 (SIXTEEN!) kids, who recently did an interview with Omaha.com about how her family functions.
Most of us don't have 16 kids, would never have 16 kids (Bessmer herself admits she wanted a big family but never planned on 16 ... it just kind of happened thanks in part to the adoption of three of her brood).
But after reading the article (check it out to see photos of all the kids and how flat this woman's stomach is!), I think I may have a handle on at least a few things those of us with fewer kids should/could be implementing to make life less frenetic. These are my favorites from the Bessmer home:
1. Give kids their own space, and make THEM responsible for it. The basement in the Bessmer home belongs to the kids, and THEY have to care for it. They also have to make their own beds; she refuses to touch them. Technically, my kid has a playroom (shared with my office) and a bedroom, and she's responsible for cleaning each, but I'll admit sometimes I get fed up and just do it for her. I need to stop that! If Kathy Bessmer can, I can too.
2. Don't be afraid to get help. Bessmer is blessed with the gift of music, and she teaches her kids how to play instruments ... but only to a point. The family pays for music teachers as the kids get older. Lesson in there? Just because you CAN do something for your kids doesn't mean you HAVE to. It's OK to farm some of these things out to give yourself breathing room.
3. Make time for yourself. Would you believe a mother of 16 still goes to the gym pretty much every day? I have one kid, and I never get to the gym.
4. Teach them how to do things themselves. I suppose this goes hand-in-hand with the aforementioned "give them a space and make them responsible," but I was impressed to read that Bessmer's 16-year-old is called "Mom" by her friends because of her aptitude at sewing, baking, and balancing a checkbook. Sometimes we forget that our kids COULD do more for themselves, if someone just got them started.
5. Watch your finances but take a vacation. The Bessmers have 16 kids. They make their own laundry detergent at home to save money. But they STILL sock money away every month to take a family vacation.
6. Write things down. Most of us don't need a color-coordinated schedule like Kathy Bessmer (this thing is a work of art!), but to be a mother is to know that your brain is not quite what it used to be pre-kids. Don't be ashamed of the need to put it all down on paper. It may just save your sanity!
Check out this awesome mom in action:
Soooo, do you think you could handle these tips from a mom of 16?