Nine essential parenting tips from a masterful Seattle mom

Matina Fresenius is a super, single mom of five children. She’s featured in this month’s magazine in a story about big families. Fresenius writes about her parenting adventures on her blog and shares some tips and thoughts about mothering a big family:

1. Write your own story: It is so easy to get tangled in other people's parenting stories of what could be, or should be, but your story will be your own miracle of little bodies, minds and spirits.

2. Children are great 'employees': In a large family, it is imperative to let go of control of household tasks and put up with a few weeks of 'training'. Before you know it, you'll have kids that can dress themselves, cook, pack lunches and organize their own days.

3. Get a floor robot vacuum: The best game in the world is "Ok kids, let's pick up everything off the floor so we can push the button on the vacuum and sit on the couch and giggle while it cleans". Worth. Every. Penny.

4. Build your community now: Embrace the well-meaning people that ask if they can help. Yes, they can. Invite other people over and let the kids prepare for the playdate by cleaning and preparing snacks, while you and other parents sit and drink coffee.

5. Lower the bar on expectations: Just put the bar on the floor and jump over it. In my world, this means letting dishes pile up and losing shoes in order to get to the playground in time to run laps before school. No one in my house has ever worn matching socks, nor do I. Buy all white socks for everyone so no one will notice –that’s great advice from an in-law. Life is colorful and doesn't always match. That is ok.

6. Get out of the house: Welcome the outside environment, the smiles and sometimes annoying comments of strangers. A walk around the block, a stroll through Target (carts there buckle up to 3 kids and let the bigger kid/s push) or a long peaceful drive for car naps. 

7. Prioritize childcare and self-care time: Book it in advance and use it. Ask for cash for childcare funds. Get a second mortgage if you need to, factor it in to every holiday gift request. The kids do not need toys more than you and/or a significant other need a few hours out together every week to reconnect. Instead of paying for xyz toy or event, tell the kids they are having a special playdate/soccer lesson/art day etc. with a babysitter. 

8. Get superhero t-shirts: Buy them for yourself and wear them in public. And a cape, too, if you are the outgoing type. It takes the edge off the "You must be Supermom" comments. Why, yes, I am. You are, too.

9. Welcome the chaos: And feel the love.  

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