In this week's edition of "How Does She Do It" we are catching up with Jessica Roberts, mama of 6 and self-described, Christ follower, cancer survivor (how amazing!) home school mom and lover of ice-cream. Like many of us mamas, she is learning patience and balance along the way and we love her honesty in sharing how that is going! We know you will love getting to know Jessica as much has we did--so read on mamas!
Tell us about yourself: Where do you live, age, marital status, number of kids and business.
Hi! My name is Jessica and I am 29 years old. I live in the St. Louis area with my husband (of nearly 10 years) and our 6 children, Liam (8.5), Kai (7), Kingston (5.5), Evangeline (4), Desmond (almost 2), and Clementine (8 months.) I have the great privilege to be able to stay home with my children full time.
Describe a day in the life of you.
Thanks to the early sunrises this spring, my day has been beginning bright and early when a few select kids think it's okay to wake up with the sun. The big kids know that they aren't allowed to come out of their rooms and downstairs for breakfast until 8 am (I made this rule for my sanity.) However, lately they have been banishing their youngest brother, Desmond, because he cries until they let him out of the room, therefore defeating that rule altogether. After breakfast, the little kids play while I try to get homeschooling done with the older boys. A lot of their work can be done independently so I usually try to get some cleaning done during that time as well, as long as the baby and toddler allow me to. Depending on the weather, we usually try to get outside to play for a little bit because the fresh air makes everyone happier. My toddler takes a nap from about 11-4 or 5 (!!! I know!) so this is my most productive or relaxing time of the day. Our days usually vary depending on my husband's schedule but on his evenings off, we try to do something fun together or we let the kids have special game time/screen time. On my husband's weekends, we usually try to get out and find something fun to do in the city.
Do you have help? A nanny or housekeeper? Family?
For the most part, no. If it was for something big, like when I'm at the hospital giving birth, then yes, we have a few people we could call. But honestly, 6 kids is a lot for others to take care of. So I never like to burden anyone else unless it's an emergency. And honestly, I'm okay with that. Although it would be nice to have someone come clean my house ;)
How do you manage to have “me” time?
After realizing that our kids woke up early no matter how late they went to bed, we started putting them to bed at 8 pm every night. When my husband is gone for his evening shifts, I have a couple hours that I am able to just relax and scroll through Instagram or watch a Netflix show. My husband is also very wonderful and stays home with all the kids while I get out and run errands (and usually pop in to Target and/or thrift stores) or the rare occasions when I'm able to spend a little time with friends.
How do you manage to make time to stay in shape? Do you workout? Diet?
The timing of this question is funny to me because as I'm writing this, I'm currently doing Whole 30. I know it's not technically a diet but it is a means to getting into shape and teaching me to make better food decisions. Working out is very hit or miss lately. I try to exercise with YouTube videos but that's very hard to squeeze in most days so sometimes we try to take walks around our subdivision instead.
Do you get ready every day? Makeup, hair and curated outfits? If so, how do you do it with children?
If we're not leaving the house and no one is coming over, I am in my "comfy clothes" (which currently means a t-shirt and shorts), hair in a messy bun, and no makeup. I wish I was one of those people who felt motivated to get ready every day but since it takes time, and time is hard to come by around here, I just don't bother. On the days that I do get ready, I usually just try to go quickly but I still end up with a bunch of interruptions. Let's just say that those days when we have plans in the mornings, things can get pretty chaotic.
Has your style changed after motherhood?
That's difficult to answer because I've been a mother for nearly 9 years now (Ahh! How did that happen so quickly?!?) so my style has changed throughout the years, not because of motherhood, but because of changing trends. However, I have noticed that I am gravitating more towards looser fitting clothes that don't hug my mom stomach and I would definitely contribute that change to motherhood.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Without a doubt, ice cream. And donuts. And while we're at it, I'll have some chocolate, gooey butter cake, and brownies. Oh yeah, and burgers, fries, and pizza. So basically, junk food. And that's a big reason why I decided to do Whole 30. The struggle is real.
If you breastfeed, how do you schedule your day around feedings and outings?
I have tried to breastfeed 6 children now. And out of all 6 times, the longest I exclusively breastfed was 5 weeks, with my first baby. He would scream and scream all the time and was still way below birth weight at 5 weeks old. That's when we realized I didn't produce enough milk. I felt like a failure, not being able to provide the nourishment that my body was "supposed" to be able to produce. But as we started supplementing and I saw how much more content he was, I was so thankful that I was able to provide my baby with food, even if it was the formula I had worked so hard to avoid. I have tried with each child since then and start supplementing when I can't keep up with their demand. But I have to make a confession, after all these struggles, I actually really, really prefer bottle feeding. Obviously I would breastfeed if I was able, but I never felt that bond that so many people say they experience with it. It gave me anxiety and caused so much stress. I am thankful that there are other options. I'm a firm believer in "fed is best."
How many hours of sleep to you get a night on average?
Lately it has been around 6-7, which is definitely not enough for me. Part of that is my own fault because I end up staying up too late...just enjoying the silence and lack of responsibilities, ha ha!
What is a priority for you, and what gets sacrificed? For example, everyone looks great but the house is a disaster, or the house is clean but work deadlines get pushed back.
I think it really just depends on a day to day basis. A messy house stresses me out. But I also hate being late to anything. And I also want everyone looking put together. So when we're rushing around to get out the door, I stress about making sure that we all look nice and that we make it out the door at the right time, but sometimes that means our house is a complete disaster when we leave. However, sometimes meals don't get served in a timely manner because I'm busy cleaning somewhere else. So it really depends on the situation. The truth is that there's always going to be a sacrifice somewhere in life.
Do you cook meals every day for your family? If so, how do you plan them?
I'll be honest, I do not love cooking. Baking, yes! I love baking. But I don't love cooking. However, we are a family of 8 so it has to be done. My husband is only home for dinner 4 nights a week, so I usually only plan meals for those 4 nights. The other 3 nights, we usually just do simple meals like sandwiches, leftovers, or pizza.
Have you ever felt like you are losing yourself to motherhood and or life? If so, how did you bounce back?
Motherhood is my calling. It is what I am meant to be doing. I have been blessed with 6 beautiful children and I wouldn't change it for anything. Having said that, sometimes I feel so consumed with the daily responsibilities and struggles. In those times, I feel like I just need a long vacation away from everyone to recuperate. Obviously that's just not an option for me. So if I'm able, I try to find time to sneak away with a friend or two to go take pictures and eat sweets. Or just a day out by myself, slowly browsing Target and thrift stores for a bit. My husband really is great about seeing my need for a break and working to make sure I can get away for a bit to feel refreshed. After a little time away, I'm usually ready to dive back in to my role and I think everyone is better off.
Does hubby help you with anything particular? If so, what and how?
When he's not working, he helps with the kids as much as he can. He changes diapers, gets them breakfast, helps with school, etc. He is also in charge of helping them brush their teeth and putting them in bed those nights. As far as housework goes, he doesn't really do anything voluntarily but if I need him to do something like sweep for me, he will do it without complaint. The most helpful thing he does is entertaining the kids while I get things done.
How do you manage motherhood and marriage?
Like I mentioned earlier, we don't ever have anyone watch all of our kids at once--unless it's something major. So date nights are hard to come by (I honestly can't even remember the last time we had one.) But since the kids go to bed at 8, we have a couple hours for just us...which is nice. Also, I'm glad to live in the generation of texting. We text all day, every day while he's at work.
Do you work? Do you work in an office or at home? What does your work consist of and how do you get it done during the week?
Besides my role as a full time stay at home homeschool mom, I don't officially work. I do like to keep up with my blog as time allows, which usually gets done after the kids go to bed or occasionally throughout the day if both the little ones are napping at the same time. My husband and I are also constantly brainstorming potential family businesses that would allow him to work from home.
Have your circle of friends changed now that you're a mother? if so, how do you meet new mommy friends?
My circle of friends are the same ones I've had since childhood. That will never change. I was the first of any of my friends to have babies and I'll admit that, for a while, I did feel like the odd one out. Because I was taking care of children, I couldn't just stop what I was doing and go do stuff with them. As the years have passed and those friends also started having babies, our bond has grown stronger as we can relate to the struggles and joys that this stage of life brings. I've been blessed with a great church family with lots of encouraging, wise, amazing women to call my friends. I also have made some connections through the world of Instagram. Years ago, I probably would have been embarrassed about having online friends. But I have had the chance to meet some pretty incredible people through the internet that I would have never met otherwise. I love it because in real life, I'm actually not very outgoing at all. But online, I can release my outgoing, talkative side.
What’s the least favorite household chore you dread doing?
Mopping. I can't stand it. It doesn't get done as often as it should.
Describe a recent experience when you didn’t have it “all together” and how you handled it all.
That pretty much describes the last half hour before we leave the house for any reason. When I try to get myself and 6 kids ready, fed, and out the door, things get a little...tense. I feel ashamed to admit that I lose my temper often in those situations. And often have to apologize to my kids for yelling. But anytime I get a question on Instagram saying "how do you do it with 6 kids? I can barely get out the door with my 2." I just want to let them know that I don't always have it together either. Having 6 kids doesn't make me extraordinary. It just means I get a lot more practice learning how to be patient and self controlled.
Fill in the blank: As a mother, it's a luxury to __________________
Eat something without someone asking for a bite.
What is your philosophy on balance and does it exist in your home?
I think balance is essential to keep everyone happy. Yes, the kids need to learn the importance of keeping the house clean, but I have to also remind myself that that they are kids. And toys scattered all across the floor is sometimes just the sign of kids having a good time. I'd say the same thing about certain things like screen time for the kids. Of course we want our children to get out an explore the world, but sometimes it's good for everyone to have the kids sit down and watch a movie for a bit. I could go on forever but I do feel like there's a balance in everything we do.
What are your dreams outside of motherhood that you would like to accomplish?
As I mentioned earlier, I would love to have some sort of family business that would allow my husband to work from home. We're still in the brainstorming stage but we throw around ideas pretty much every single day.
What is one thing that keeps you sane?
God. Prayer. Food/dessert. Silence (but I can only stand the silence in small doses.)
What is one question you'd like to ask our fellow mama readers?