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Big Sisterly Advice

This week I was inspired by @10thingstotellyou #10onthe10th challenge to share my ten pieces of unsolicited advice, and it was seriously envigorating to write out the ten things I would tell someone if I didn't have to worry about being bossy. Now you know the enneagram one big sister in me is loving this opportunity to boss people, so please know I'm saying these with all of the love I have. I jotted down the list then decided I wanted to explain them more here since I can write more words. ⁠

1. Drink good coffee. Life is way too short for cheap, stale, old coffee that didn't touch human hands. Better yet, find yourself a local roaster who aligns with your values and buy from them.⁠

Josh and I had absolutely zero clue about what went into the coffee we were drinking every day until I met the previous owner of the business we currently own. We didn't know the best coffee was harvested by hand, mostly by women, on the sides of mountains, and the resources in the area were probably not great. We didn't realize how far coffee had to travel to get to our coffee maker, and we didn't realize how big of a difference specialty coffee really makes. We literally spend our days educating others on this topic now and we love it. Like, we really love our jobs.

2. Don't wait until you're "ready" to have kids. There's no such thing as ready, & having them young means you'll be young when they're out of the house. Having them along to build your dreams is also really fun.⁠

Six months after Josh and I met we went through an experience together that I probably won't chat about online in detail because doing so doesn't just affect us, but it changed us from a partying/whiskey drinking/not super serious about school pair of kids to a serious couple with new goals, new pain, and a new pension for acting upon what the Lord tells us to do. So we got married a short year later and then six months after that, we were shocked (like actually shocked) to find out I was pregnant with our first baby. At the time we were like "Crap, what are we going to do?!" We had little money saved, we were renting, we were still looking for big kid jobs, we wanted to have some fun together first. But oh my gosh, once we got into it we loved having Lily and decided it would all be fine. We were young but had such great support from our families and became absolutely addicted to family life. Now the only weird thing about this is that our friends are never our age. When we had Lily at 22, most of our friends were in their early thirties. Now that we're in our early thirties, most of our friends are in their forties. It creates a bit of disconnect that you're in the thick of raising kids the same age as their kids, but they are a decade ahead with slightly more income so our hobbies don't always align.

3. Have a girl first. Everyone thinks they want a boy first because they'll protect the others or something, but it's never talked about how awesome it is having an oldest girl. They care for siblings so well & are basically a second mother, which is great if you have a bunch of kids.⁠

Now, this is one I get pretty defensive about. I absolutely cannot stand to hear young dads-to-be say they want a boy so they will protect the younger kids. I don't even understand that. Why would you wish that on your child? I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting one gender over the other, but don't get some wild idea in your head that may or may not match up with your kid's personality. Also, oldest girls are AWESOME. Lily is motherly, helpful, and genuinely fun to hang out with. I know she's going to lead her siblings well in the future and I've always been thankful for her help in everything from getting sippy cups to helping with first-grade math.

4. Journal. You won't remember things, & you'll want to look back at them.⁠

I began journaling after reading Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts, and writing out each day's gifts turned into writing about the day, which turned into wanting to remember the long days as a stay at home mom with my four little babies. I started journals for each of my children that I wrote in periodically so I could look back on eyebrow stitches or learning to tie shoes or first days of kindergarten. Now? I even save my planners to look back at and will jot notes about the day in those. It's addicting.

5. Get a morning routine & stick to one. Adjust if you find that it's not working, but have a routine so you set the day off on the right foot.⁠

I've toyed with morning routines a lot over the last 12 years, and I think I've discovered my sweet spot while also realizing that I'll probably adjust as I go along. In some seasons, I woke up at 4am to work out, and in some seasons I let kids crawl into bed with me to get a few extra minutes to snooze. I've obviously been more productive in some seasons than others, but also babies wake up at night and need their momma.

Currently, I'm reading my She Reads Truth subscription book, filling out my daily pages in my Full Focus Planner, and spending several worship songs in prayer or silent meditation. But I think the thing that's made this work better than past routines is my sunrise alarm clock. Waking up gently has made me less stressed and way less likely to hit the snooze. That's an affiliate link, but I'd recommend it to everyone on the street even if it cost me money to tell them about it, I love it that much. I also don't look at my phone for at least an hour after waking up, and instead read a book that then prompts the kids to start their day reading books also.

6. Memorize scripture. I've been using a method since last summer & it is shocking how well it works! I'll share in stories today!⁠

I shared a quick video here!

7. Don't get hung up on systems or practices that feel comforting at first, but restricting once you've created the habit. Let yourself live in seasons of growth & recovery & rest & tenacity.⁠

As an ISTJ, I like systems. I like to create a method for life that I can trust and go back to when things get off. I like to have a project organized into phases and lists. But then life happens or work happens or it freaking rains or something and my schedule is off and I'm in panic mode trying to put everything in its place. I've learned over the last few years that I can't hold my systems too tightly. There has to be some wiggle room so that I don't completely spin out if things don't go according to my (perfectly laid and color-coded) plan. The other factor here is communicating my plan to others so that they can work towards it with me. If they don't know what I want, how can they even work with me?

8. Prioritize human connection, even if you're an introvert & you'd be happy as a clam quarantined forever. God created us to be in relationship with Him & with others & it's so, so good when you take the time & effort & energy to be with other people.⁠

This last year has taken its toll on everyone. Literally, no one has been spared from the effects of the pandemic and the mental health of our nation has become fragile. This is my very unprofessional opinion, but I know I feel better after being with other people (safely). It's always worth the effort.

9. Make more food at home & eat together every night. It's better for your health, your budget, & your family.⁠

Since I started the autoimmune protocol diet and have been so incredibly restricted in what I can eat, we've eaten more homecooked food than ever. I've always been a thrifty cook, and we don't eat out a lot, but in the last year we've sprung for more convenience items and cooking became less ritual, more utilitarian. Last fall we assigned each kid a night to cook supper and it became their favorite night of the week, plus they learn valuable skills and I get one on one time with each of my little blue-eyed monsters. It's been a win all around.

10. Find awesome people to be in your kids' lives. Find people who they can go to if they don't feel like they can go to you. Find people who will pray for them constantly. ⁠

Even before we began homeschooling, I set out to bring people into my kids' lives who would be there for them if they needed a friendly face other than their parents'. We desired for our kids to have people in their lives to go to if they were hesitant to come to us (even though we also have the goal that our kids are never afraid to come to us). From friends' parents to church ladies to amazing babysitters to teachers, we've talked to our kids about who we can trust and why it's important to have a wide circle.

Ok, so this was fun. I'd love to hear your unsolicited fill me in! What would you tell people if you didn't have to worry about being too bossy?

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