Ink Slingers

Moving with Little Ones

While I wish this was a post about getting exercise with children, it’s not. (Although maybe someday, I’ll write about that.) For now, I literally mean packing up everything and moving to a new home. And did I mention with an almost three year old and nine month old?

Here, I am going to outline eight practical tips for moving with children.

  1. It seems so obvious, but sometimes we forget to do it when it comes to events that aren’t religious, per say. Entrust your move to St. Joseph and Mother Mary. They had to flee to Egypt right after Jesus was born so they know how to move on a dime. Ask them to take care of the details; to help keep peace during this time and to let God be glorified through it all. Wouldn’t it be amazing if at the end of the move day, you could say, “Wow, God, that was wonderful. Thank you!” Let us ask St. Paul to intercede for us so we can give thanks in everything.
  2. Get movers. We live in an age of DIY and yes, you can rent a UHaul and yes, you can summon family and friends to help you, but having movers eliminates many worries. Especially with little ones because one parent still has to be all hands on deck, so that leaves one parent doing most of the physical work. Moving is exhausting. Parenting little children is exhausting. Get the movers. You can still be cost-efficient by being prepared and have everything packed so you only have to use them for the minimum time.
  3. Make a packing schedule and list, and start earlier than you think you need to. You can start with the non-essentials and do one box a day. As moving day gets closer, check your schedule often so that you stay on track. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that can take the longest––for example, taking down curtains and curtain rods. A seemingly 20-minute project can be an hour plus once you wash the curtains because in taking them down you realize they were quite dusty! Gradual packing is like spiritual life in that we need to be working on it daily as to not be rushing at the end.
  4. Accept help. If family and friends offer to watch your kids so you can pack before or on the move day, say yes. It’s amazing how much you can pack in one hour uninterrupted as opposed to two hours interrupted. If a friend from church wants to help with a couple boxes, let them. Sometimes we try to keep people away when we don’t feel our home is presentable or that we ourselves aren’t presentable, but it’s humbling to let people see us when we’re less than our best. Let go of the pride and let people in.
  5. As you pack things up, think about if you really use it, want it, or need it. Moving is a good opportunity to declutter and simplify. Do you really use that panini press? Is that second hand coffee table really practical with children? Make the time for deciding now, because we think we’ll have more time once we move, but the truth is that we’ll be getting settled and we won’t want to be deciding about our things then. We’ll end up putting them in the attic and dealing with it later. We all know that later could be in 10 years, at which point we’ll donate or discard them. So save the hassle of moving them and the mental space of keeping of them. Only keep the things you use, want or need.
  6. Lower your expectations. Not to get confused with getting rid of expectations altogether, because that’d be chaos! Lowering expectations is about accepting that things won’t go as you planned, but they’ll still go. Frozen meals for a couple nights will be fine. Boxes overflowing into the living spaces add character to the rooms. Running out of clothes because you sold your washer and dryer makes you thankful for the one you’ll have in the new home. Having lower expectations lets you accept the present state with joy even though it might seem disastrous!
  7. Take pictures. This move is part of your family story. In the future you might have more kids who won’t realize you lived in a different home. They’ll want to know what it was like. They’ll want to see what you were doing before they were born. Pictures always serve as a great record-keeper.
  8. Give tasks to your kids. They like to help and they like to be included. Maybe it’s giving them a marker to label a box with their own writing. Or asking them to hold the tape down as you pull it across the box. They like to see the changes happening around them too. Moving is a family effort and there is something for everyone to do (except the babies, of course), but even they can “supervise” from their high chair.

If you’re moving, you probably want this to end here so you can get started on your packing schedule, but I have just one more thing to add. Moving reminds us that we are pilgrims in this life. Our true home is in Heaven. The home we are moving to won’t be perfect, but we’re thankful nonetheless for what God has provided. May our move be an opportunity to reflect on our eternal dwelling place with the Lord. May it stir in us a deeper desire for Heaven and the things of Heaven.

Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for those of us moving.

Amy M. Motherhood Parenting Vocations

Decluttering and Organizing – My Soul

I’m on a mission this year.  THIS will be the year that we organize the house – a place for everything and everything in its place.  No more clutter, no more waste.  Sound familiar?  Yeah, to me too.  I think I say that every year.  As this calendar year dawns, I feel extra motivated and ready to make it a reality this time.  Now, where to start?  Hmm, that’s what seems to trip me up each time – paralyzed with indecision, I fall back into old habits and routines, treading water in the ocean of daily activities, homework, housework, etc.

My spiritual life can fall into the same trap at times.  I WANT to spend quiet, quality time with the Lord each morning, rising before the rest of the family in order to start my day full of grace and patience.  What actually happens?  I wake up when my son’s alarm rings at 6AM (usually having fallen into bed after working until midnight), work with the children to get ready for school and head out the door by 7AM with five little ones.  Then it is back home where sometimes the littles will play quietly for a while so that I can read my devotions and have that prayer time I’m longing for.  Sometimes…  Other times, they want more breakfast and a snack and a book read to them or a game played – you get the idea.  My oldest child is eleven years old.  In many ways, he is no longer my “little” boy (not the least of which is that he stands as tall as I do).  I know how quickly times passes.  I understand the importance of reading that book and playing that game and treasure the time I have with my “littles.”  It doesn’t quell the longing for quiet time with my Lord though.

How do we find that balance?  How do we find quiet, daily devotion time with our Lord while balancing our life’s vocation of marriage and motherhood?  I haven’t found that answer yet.  A couple ideas come to mind as I type.  One is that I can aim for 15 minutes a day – I know there must be at least that much time “wasted” throughout my day.  If my 15 minutes come in 5-minute increments, that is ok – I am still spending  time with the Lord, who will recharge me and send me the grace I need to get through to the next opportunity.  If the time I have with the Lord isn’t first thing in the morning, it doesn’t mean all is lost and I might as well just give up until the children are older.  Sometimes the chance will be in the middle of the day during an unexpected nap time or in the evening when the children are doing their chores or homework or even after they are in bed for the night.  Sometimes that chance comes in the middle of night if I’m awakened by a child who needs cuddles or the pressure of the little one I’m carrying on my bladder J.  The second thought is one of my favorite bible verses, “Rejoice always.  Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)  We do pray as a family  together and separately – before meals, on the way to school, before any activity, before bed.  Years ago, Father gave me wonderful advice in the confessional.  He said that when things seem to be spinning out of control to stop, say a quick prayer, “God, please help me to intentionally accept the grace You are pouring into my soul.” God is always ready and waiting and here with us.  It is up to us to recognize His presence.

As this new calendar year begins, what is God calling us to do in the coming year to grow closer to Him both individually and as a family?  How can we “organize” our prayer life to help us achieve God’s will for us?  What other parts of our lives need to be simplified in order for God’s will to be clearer to us?

The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.  In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me;  he restores my soul.  He guides me along right paths* for the sake of his name.  Psalm 23:1-3


If we listen for God’s calling, even amid the hustle and bustle of our family life, He will lead us, replenish us, and guide us home.

Lord, you know when I sit and when I stand.  Please guide me and my family into this new calendar year along Your path.  Help us to follow You ever more closely.  Fill us with Your Grace and send the Holy Spirit to renew us even when the hustle and bustle keep us from having perfectly quiet devotion time with You.  Help us to remember that the hustle and bustle is our vocation and our calling in this season of our lives.  We give it all to You.  We ask and offer all this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.