Nesting… I remember nesting with some of my first kiddos. It was fun to set up nursery areas, bassinets, setting out blankets, diapers, etc. and picturing the baby occupying all these places. Well, now we’re down to logistics. How in the world are we going to add a sixth baby to the family?!?! How are the other 5 going to be taken care of during the initial post-partum period? I’ve got some things nailed down now with it being the sixth but at the same time it doesn’t matter if it’s #2 or #6 it’s still a change to the family and an addition and all the other kiddos are at different stages and need different things. My primary focus in this last month of pregnancy as I “nest” and prepare for baby to come is how to help the other 5 kids become as independent as possible once baby comes : ) Meal planning, homeschool help, chore charts, etc. I must say these are some challenges I do enjoy battling as I learn from others and research ideas (thank you Pinterest!) on how to manage these areas. This post-partum period will also be different as my mom is not able to come for a couple of weeks to help out. This is a bummer as she usually cooks and cleans on top of entertaining the kiddos and she’s done it now enough they’ve all got a good feel for what it’s like when she comes. We will have my mother-in-law come stay with the kiddos while I stay in the hospital then it’ll be dada duty for 1 week, then sister-in-law duty for 5 days, then our favorite babysitter who moved away : ( duty for another 5 days then we’re on our own!!! So I’ve been planning and organizing to make it easier for them to manage the household while I’m resting and for my sanity when everyone leaves.
My first area to battle: MEAL PLANNING
I have been learning all about this new concept of meal prep and non-sandwich lunchbox ideas. I saw the idea awhile back with my favorite large family homeschool mom’s blog adopting the lunchbox idea and stating how much of a lifesaver it is to prepare lunches in advance so there is not as big of an interruption in their homeschool day. I had not adopted the idea but am planning to implement it now : ) So the gist is I purchased these “bento boxes” from Amazon and researched on Pinterest all of the pins about kids lunch box ideas and created my own list from their ideas as well as what we already like to eat. My list is broken up by: main dish, dairy, fruit, veggie, filler. Instead of matching them all up I just listed them out and then I will print it out and put it on my fridge for reference. I plan to start this next week with spending one night and setting up the boxes in the fridge so the next day or two we can just pull out the lunch box for lunch and it’s all set up and prepared. I will pick from the categories based on what I have on hand. If they’re a hot main dish then we can just scoop them out to reheat or reheat in the container if there’s not anything else in the small sections that need to stay cold. We’ve already started this week and so far it’s been going great!
Breakfast has been a slightly new thing and all I’m doing to prepare is moving cereal containers and bowls to a lower shelf and making sure my freezer is stocked with our normal stock of banana bread, zucchini muffins and baked oatmeal muffins among a few other breakfast recipes. I have added breakfast items to the lunch list I will print out and post on the fridge for our helpers to know what we have available for the kids to eat.
The other portion of meal planning has been breakfast and dinners. The dinners I’ve got down pat with a list of freezer meals I’ve used in the past as well as easy to cook dinners. I did want to mention in my research I learned not to take frozen chicken, unthaw it, cook it and refreeze it for your meals. If you’re going to use chicken to make in your freezer meals it should be fresh chicken.
- Easy to cook dinners:
- Fish Stick Tacos
- Shredded Chicken Quesadillas
- Baked Chicken Taquitos
- Broiled Chicken (I cut some up to add to my salads for a meal and kept some as breasts to eat on their own or add to something later on)
- Crockpot Dump Recipes (I’ve never done these before but keep seeing them on my Pinterest feed and thought they looked perfect to try for welcoming this new baby):
- Prepared Casseroles (this is my normal method for freezer cooking – when I make a loved casserole dish I double it and throw one in the freezer for a couple months down the road):
My second area to battle: CHORE CHARTS
We have used the same chore charts for awhile now but I do tend to get a little lazy with the monitoring required and we end up backing off for awhile and then after I get a little overwhelmed with some things around the house I want to pick it up again. I also had started reading Managers of Their Chores and haven’t finished it yet but was wanting to implement some of their ideas. I found at this point I’m just going to stick with what we’ve got since it does work well when we’re on top of it and hope for the best. I don’t want to ask for too much change right before the baby comes. Our chore charts are a simple Word graph that has the day of the week on the left side and the chore on the top. We print it out each week and tape it to the fridge and the kiddos add stickers to each chore they complete for that day. I also use it as a reminder for some things that don’t get done if we don’t have school that day (i.e. practice Awana verses, read for 20 mins., etc.). At the end of the week we add up all the stickers and the kiddos get a penny per sticker for chore chart money. I have also added some 25 cent chores, some are required and some are extra help if they’re trying to save up for something. Some of these examples are empty dishwasher, empty shoe box, sweep, etc. I assigned the older kiddos a day to set the table and clean up from breakfast or lunch. I am hoping this will help when other people are here for the baby and I can just quickly remind the kids or they can remind them to do their morning chores or it’s their day to clean up from meals, etc. Our biggest challenge is going back to the charts and putting the stickers on so they can get their money at the end of the week. I started telling them when they’ve completed a chore to immediately go put their sticker on and by the end of the night they should finish their bedtime routine with going downstairs and putting their remaining stickers on and if this does not get done they won’t get the credit for that day. We’ll see how it goes!
My third area to battle: HOMESCHOOL
Now I can find an excuse every month it seems as to why we’re falling behind in homeschool. Which, what is falling behind really? Are the kids learning and growing in their knowledge appropriate to their age stages? Is it my to-do list I’ve created which usually is too lengthy for all the kids anyways that is not getting completed daily and that’s the dictator of falling behind? Either way since we just are coming off of a break for Christmas I am not wanting them to sit out for the next 3-6 weeks or however long it may be and not do school entirely. BUT, it would be challenging to ask my husband, MIL, SIL and nanny for the first 3 weeks to pick up where we left off and continue on our curriculum. So… I am trying to create a basic list much like some of the summer homeschool lists I’ve seen out there for the kids to work through each day with some assistance from whoever is around. Amelia, Josh and Lydia can easily have someone help them accomplish 1-2 pages from their math workbooks each day. In fact we have some Comprehensive Curriculum books laying around from last summer that never got completed and I have been working on tearing out the incompleted pages and moving them to a 3 prong notebook and flagging the different sections for each kiddo to do 1-2 pages of each day. That covers math, phonics, critical thinking and handwriting. Then someone (even myself for that matter) can sit and read with Amelia and Josh each day for 20 mins. to get some reading practice in. I always try to complicate things but have been praying for God to show me how to simplify and still get things accomplished.
That about sums it up! Those 3 areas have been my main focus of nesting as we prepare these next 3 weeks for the baby to come. I am so excited to meet this little one and I have high hopes that instead of just taking some weeks off and letting the kids run around the house wild with no direction that with this planning and preparation we can maintain a fairly new normal life and all be happy! We’ll see how it goes!