I can't count how many times people have said two things to me: "You sure have your hands full!" and "I don't know how you do it!" I thought I would explain some thoughts about how I do it (and what I just don't do!).
First of all, by the time Rufus was born, I learned the hard lesson that life is not all about me. A servant's heart is my key to happily being the mother of four little boys, staying home with them, teaching them and still liking them. Whenever I get focused on things or time I don't have - or what I have to do, life gets pretty miserable. Of course, this attitude can't be manufactured and maintained by me alone - it has to come from God and I am thankful that when I ask, He provides just what I need.
Secondly, four children seems like a lot to many people, but remember that they arrived into our family one at a time, and we live one day at a time. So luckily, it wasn't that we woke up one morning to a six year old, a four year old, a two year old and a newborn. I would likely not have the perspective I have now. We've grown with our children and as anyone does in any situation in life, we do what each day requires. I have friends who hesitate to ask me to babysit because they think, "you already have four of your own," but I think four is quite manageable because it is what I am used to.
I have always been a big supporter of having a schedule in our home to make our lives more predictable. Whether it's with little babies, or my first grader, when we know what a normal day looks like, it sure goes a lot more smoothly. Also, the schedule is always flexible so that if something comes up, we can adapt. Some things that are staples in our schedule right now are: laundry every weekend, Squirt's feeding and sleeping times, Hunter's school times, and rest and reading time for everyone in the afternoon. - not to mention bed time.
Homeschooling is a fairly new experience for me and I have realized that "something's gotta give." That something is having a clean house. I like to be tidy and keep up with it as much as we can, but I had a revelation one day that in about 15 years I will have all the time in the world to make sure my kitchen floor stays shiny. But I know that when I do have that time, I will sorely miss the little sweaty footprints that are so obvious in the sunlight. I made a decision that beyond the URGENT (pee outside the toilet bowl is big on my list), I would rather sit down and read a book to my boys, nurse my baby or play a heated game of war with my five year old, than worry about the dusty mantel above the fireplace.
The last thought I have to share right now is how important it is to seek out wisdom and encouragement from others. I have several friends that are in the same "season of life" that I am and when I reach a new challenge or feel discouraged, I regularly go to these women. One family in particular has twice the number of children that we have and on the outside, their children look perfect and problem free. Luckily, I am close enough to this family to know that they struggle just like we do, but they work on each issue as it comes up. Luckily, my friends share their successes and failures with me, and I have realized that most of the things that frustrate me with parenting are truly just a "season."