Play parties: When large families have friends over

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Oh the chaos. Oh the noise.  This mumma duck is still getting used to the size of her family.

We had a play date today.  Can you call it a play date when you already have so many kids? I think not. I’m officially renaming play dates in our family, Play Parties! Seriously, you add an extra child or two to my five kids and there is so much extra noise, chaos, and fun, it feels like a kids party.  When the friends left this afternoon, I needed a nap.

I’m having fun wading through the big family waters, although I know especially in the Middle East, 5 kids isn’t really that big.  As a teacher, 5 kids is manageable, but for me, it’s the noise that kills me.  Some days, I wonder whether I’m the one with Sensory Processing Disorder, and not my child. The excessive amounts of noise coming from kids with shocking volume control makes me stressed! It makes me want to hide in a corner with my hands over my ears and rock.  Yes, yes, it does.  This is one of the big skills I am still to learn as a mum of lots of kids, how do I stop the noise from causing stress? It’s not fair on the kids that I get stressed and grumpy with them.  They didn’t choose to have a big family so it’s no way fair to get cross with them.  As part of my new year (as mentioned in my previous post), I’m trying really hard to have a heart of gratitude. I want to find more joy this year and to do this I’m working hard in having gratitude in every moment. Having thankfulness in all situations, is changing my attitude and renewing my joy every day.  I guess this is why I’m feeling so proud of my big tribe.  I’ve been working through the things that are stressing me out, and finding joy in those moments.  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds (James 1:2). I love the book of James, but I was finding it way too challenging to find joy in tough situations that would arise.  By focussing on gratitude and looking for the positive in challenging moments, I’m having way more success. For instance, rather than getting down and frustrated at the noise, I try to smile and thank God for my awesome tribe of mini Thorpes, or the particular clown causing the chaos.  I find I smile more and frown less throughout my days. Nobody is perfect, so there will be days that I forget to try and find gratitude, and end up in a stressed, frazzled mess.  For those days, I think I need ear plugs!

Does the noise of your large family cause you stress or is it just me?

Happy New Year: Pressing stop and restarting the year.

I don’t normally write the title first, but as I was reaching for my IPad to write this post, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the year ahead.  It indeed feels like a new year.

The past 18mths has been the hardest yet of my expat adventures.  I thought leaving behind Jerusalem was a brilliant idea.  It was.  Living in Jordan has been like a vacation in terms of the change of countries.  We definitely left behind intensity, insecurity and uncertainty in our day to day living, for a place of peace and hospitality.  But I also left behind some very dear friends who I miss so much.  I didn’t really take into account having to make new friendships and a new life.  Not sure why I didn’t, but I didn’t.  With a hardworking husband travelling most of this year for work, it has left me utterly burnt out.  Trying to homeschool an extremely defiant, aggressive kid whilst taming my awesome toddler and other two lads, whilst pregnant, had drained my inner being.  What’s worst? I haven’t made a close nit group of friends.  To be honest, trying to homeschool and just survive, I haven’t had a huge opportunity to get out there and make friends.  This made me feel pretty lonely and down at some points and resentful of husband at times, even if he was going out for work dinners.  I wanted in too!

It’s nice being able to type this in reflective mode, knowing that a massive change is coming through, hence the beginning of a new year, or new season.  I feel light, enthusiastic and happy.  My homeschooler has gotten a place in our top school of choice.  He is sooo happy there, in fact, thriving.  Homeschooling him was an important time.  It was a time of growth for him, particularly in his love for learning, and confidence as a learner.  It’s nice to be able to send him back off into the world knowing that he is thriving.   Considering school used to be a high stress point for him. This homeschooling time wasn’t light and fluffy though, oh no, no, it wasn’t.  Trying to teach a defiant child was sometimes like hell.  I had many inward and outward tantrums, many of which I’m not proud of.  But, some of the battles he put up were beyond ridiculous!  Homeschooling really did put a strain on our relationship.  We needed the space from each other, it was way too intense. School is the perfect breath of fresh air that we needed.

Anyway, we have a newborn in the house again.  Three kids have started back at school and a toddler at home. The world is my oyster, so they say.  I’ve started arranging play dates, Bible Study, and in a few months will begin playing sport again.  I’m thrilled to have a piece of me back that was missing for so long.  Not to mention, my hardworking husband has got a new position which has barely any travel too.  See why I call this a new year?  It sure feels like it. It’s time to thrive rather than barely survive.  It’s time to laugh and smile again, rather than frown and cry.  It’s time to press ‘go’, moving forward to a place of joy and contentment with where we are and where we are going in God’s grand plan.