How A Mom of Ten Found Systems That Worked and Now Helps Other Moms To Do The Same

Who here feels exhausted and overwhelmed with how much you have to get done on a daily basis? 

Do you often feel disorganized and like you’re flying by the seat of your pants most of the time?

Do you notice that you feel resentful a lot because you’re tired of doing all the things, all the time, for all the people?

Well, help is here.

My special guest is Laura Hernandez, who is the founder of Mama Systems. 

Laura and her husband, Tony, are raising ten children in the Dallas area. In the past four and a half years, they have added six new children to their family… three biologically and three through adoption. 

Laura’s large and unconventional family forced her to create systems that helped her family run smoothly. As a result, it reduced her daily workload, and her house became a place of peace. 

Today we talk about systems in our homes – why and how to create them and how it can reduce decision fatigue, restore our sanity and create peace in our homes.

Let’s dive in!

Scroll down to read the full episode transcribed.

What You Will Learn: 

  • How do moms decide which systems to implement? 
  • What changes did you begin to see in your family once you implemented various systems?
  • What if you are a person that struggles with systems – where do you start?
  • How do you motivate your kids?
  • How would you encourage moms to get their kids on board, especially the mom that is starting this with older kids?
  • What are some tried and true systems that you have implemented that have created more peace and time for yourself?
  • How to teach your kids systems so they can become more independent and responsible.

Where to find Laura Hernandez:

Find more encouragement, wisdom, and resources:

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And here is the episode typed out!

Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. If some days you doubt yourself and don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve ugly cried alone in your bedroom because you felt like you were failing. Well, I just want to let you know you are not alone, and you have come to the right place.

Raising tweens and teens in today’s world is not easy. And I’m on a mission to equip you to love well and to raise emotionally healthy, happy tweens and teens that thrive.

I believe that moms are heroes, and we have the power to transform our families and impact future generations. If you are looking for answers, encouragement, and becoming more of the mom and the woman that you want to be, welcome. I am Sheryl Gould. And I am so glad that you’re here.

SHERYL:  Hi, Laura. Welcome to The Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. I am so excited to talk to you.

LAURA:  I’m excited to hang out with you today. This is going to be fun.

SHERYL:  It is going to be fine. I’m willing to launch in. I would love for you to share a bit about yourself with our listeners and how you started Mama Systems.

LAURA:  Yeah, so my husband and I live in the Dallas area. And we have ten kiddos. And in a very short time, six months, we went from four to eight kids, and we had our fifth biological and adopted sibling group of three. 

And along with moving across the country, remodeling a house, and renting a house. And for a hot minute, we also had their little sibling for about two months in there. He was just a newborn. So without that little sibling in there, we had five kids, four and under, all in diapers. 

And there were so many days where I would stand up against the wall and say, if I can just make it to bedtime, I can just get everyone to bed. They will be safe and alive. And that’s all – that is getting them to bed. 

So I remember just giving myself these pep talks and thinking there’s got to be a better way, right? There’s gotta be more to this because I had so many wonderful things in place when I had kids. And I just felt like I had that under control. 

And it was the first time I felt overwhelmed as a mom, just not knowing. I felt like I had no idea what to do with these people. I mean, it felt like we just had three strangers dropped off at our house. It was like, okay, they’re my kids. And here we are. 

So all that to say, I kind of started looking for systems. I listen to podcasts. I read books, blogs, and everything. And everything I read was great. But it didn’t work for our family because we were so unique.   

We had therapists in and out of our home all day, with caseworkers and out of our home all day, at some in public school, some homeschooled. So we’re just like this mixed bag of things that nothing seemed to fit. And so I finally was like, we just got to do something about this. 

So I had to sit down and create processes to create systems for our home. And the most wonderful thing happened whenever the systems were in full play. We begin to see peace in our home. And after a while, I can’t wait. This was fun. I enjoy doing this. 

I enjoy creating peace from chaos. And so I started helping mom friends. And that kind of just led to mom assistance to my business. And now, I get to help other moms create systems in their homes.

SHERYL:  Wow. It’s interesting. You’re the first person I’ve had on the podcast about systems.

LAURA:  Really?

SHERYL:  Maybe because I struggle so much with systems, I’m just in denial. But I was so glad when you reached out to me because, oh my gosh, we don’t have systems. And you have ten kids. I mean, my jaw was dropping when I thought about 10. How many are in diapers at the same time?

LAURA:  We had five that were four and under and in diapers.

SHERYL:  Wow. So it will be utter chaos if you don’t have systems. Well, I have to ask you. How did it come about? So you have four? Four biological? Were you a foster parent first?

We went to a class at watermark, actually an adoption class. And we learned all about all the different kinds of adoptions, the ups and downs. They had different panels come and talk, and I want to adopt from Africa. He wanted to adopt from China. We sat in that class, and our friends got up in the foster care panel.

We both look at each other and go, Oh, crap. This is what we’re used to. Because nobody, in my opinion, nobody wants to sign up to have their heartbroken over and over again. At least we didn’t. And so we felt it was so clear at that moment that we’re supposed to be doing that. 

And so we started down that road. And we got Andrew placed in our home when he was three days old. And he stayed with us for the first eight months of his life. 

So he went back to his biological mother. She had two more kids, and we had two more kids, which brought us up to five, which brought her up to three. And that’s when we started the process of them being taken away again. And so then we started the process of trying to adopt them. 

SHERYL:  Wow, yeah. And so, going from having four to suddenly hang out and having so many kids, where did you start? Where did you even begin to begin with systems?

LAURA:  Yeah, I think just. I like to think of it as a kind of like puzzle. And I did this with other mamas too. Let’s dump it all on the table when I’m trying to help them sort through everything. Let’s figure out what you’re doing, what you want to be doing, and what you want your kids to know how to do. 

Like, all the aspects of all of that. And then let’s start piecing it together. Because once we eliminate, we know what we don’t want to be doing. We figure out our yeses. It’s so much easier to put systems in place for our yeses. 

I love to think of systems as just taking the brain work out of us, all of the mind and decision fatigue we must go through daily, making every decision under the sun. If we have a system for it, we cut that out. And it frees us up to be able to be more present. And to love our people better and be a better mom for them. Because we can be, we have the space and capacity to do that.

SHERYL:  I love it, so you do almost like a brain dump initially. Like, here’s all the stuff that weighs you down and keeps me from being more present? And then do kind of rate them? Do you think this is a ten where I cannot live with its chaos? And you start there.

LAURA:  Yeah, so when working with a mama, I’ll have her write down everything she’s doing. And it seems like a tedious task, like not very fun to do. But I think it’s good exercise because they realize what they spend their time on. 

They realize that when they feel like they didn’t get anything done, they do a lot at the end of the day. And from there, we rate them, and we do your life, what’s neutral, and what drains you. And so we just put away the neutral and bring you to live for a hot minute. And we looked at all the drains and stuff. And all of those things. 

We either want to eliminate, automate, or delegate. And this could be something simple, like meal planning, let’s create a system around, like creating a themed meal plan where every Tuesday night you’re doing tacos, and it doesn’t have to be like hardshell beef tacos, but it’s some sort of like Mexican dish, right? And it just cuts down all that decision fatigue of what will we do tonight for dinner? You have a game plan, and pick one of your four recipes for Tuesday night. And that’s it. 

SHERYL:  Oh, that’s so good. I think about growing up, and I liked that my mom always cooked the same six meals. I think it needs to be different all the time, but it was like me at love, or we had tuna casserole, which I loved with the potato chips on top. And peas. That was bad. 

That kind of date because my older listeners know what I’m talking about. But yeah, I liked it. Because it was just familiar, it was like taking the brain work out of it. And every Wednesday night, it’s like, yeah, like a Mexican taco dish.

LAURA:  Yeah. I mean, if you have, every night is a theme night. So like breakfast night, taco night. Takeout night, just however it works for that family. That will reduce mama’s decision. Fatigue is like what we’re going for.

SHERYL:  Wow. Yeah. I love that. Because you know what it’s like, simple. Do you find that we make things way more complicated than necessary?

LAURA:  Absolutely. I do. Done a meal. And they pull out all of their cookbooks and all of the recipes they’ve ever owned. And I’m like, no, no, no, no. You got one time and then never meal plan again. Right? So let’s keep it simple. And your kids don’t care. Kids don’t care that it’s simple.

SHERYL:  So, they like simple, then we’re like, wait, I spent an hour and a half making this, and you want cereal. You don’t want to eat it. And then we get mad. Yeah. So keeping it simple. Love that. 

So where did you start to put systems into place? That really made a difference. So meals, was there another area that helped you immediately?

LAURA:  Yes. So we started something called five o’clock jobs in our house. So you were asking about chores earlier. And we do. I do call them chores. And some people have some things about that. And I don’t understand that because it’s just chores, we’re all pitching, and we all have chores, we’re all doing them. 

That’s how it is in our house does not have to be that way yours. So we, every kid, have jobs we do every morning and every afternoon. And morning time is a lot of just what we call roommate responsibilities. So they have to brush their teeth, and little ones throw their pull-ups in the trash, get dressed, and eat breakfast, just things we’re training them to be more independent, right? 

To become independent little people who can care for themselves in the morning. Then on top of that, they’ll typically have one other chore. And then in the afternoon, everybody is to get ready for the next day for school. 

So for our ones that go to school, the next day, they lay out their clothes, make their lunches, get everything ready, and everything is by the door. So we’re not scrambling around at 630 in the morning because I don’t do that. I’m unsure if anybody does that well, but I do not. 

So they get ready for the next day, and everybody has a zone they’re in charge of. So either wiping down the table or putting shoes by the front door or picking up Legos, it can be like a task like that, or it can be a room like, Hey, you’re in charge of the living room, this is your zone.

So depending on each child’s age and capability, they get one that. And then everybody has a job to help get dinner on the table. So even our three-year-old helps put silverware on the table, and he loves it. Like, it’s the most fun thing in the world for him that he gets to participate. 

Our kids have little charts that we use as a contract of, hey, this is your responsibility. You’re living in this house. We work together as a team. We will use this as a contract that you’re expected to do. And I know that I don’t have to think about everything every child is in charge of doing because they have their charts and can look at their chart. So again, it’s no longer my responsibility in my brain. 

SHERYL:  Wow. So a lot of listeners have tweens and teens. They have younger kids too, or older kids, also. But what if they haven’t started this? I hear a lot from many moms and caregivers that it’s really hard to get their kids to do chores. 

I love that you said that. Because before, we jumped on here, and I was calling them chores because I have heard that no, we call them contributions. So as not to get hung up on that. And then some moms are like, and I pay my kid. I’ve gotten into the space of looking for what works for your unique kids and family. 

But I do hear across the board. Pretty much. Getting their kids to help is hard, especially if they haven’t developed this, where it’s become a habit. So what would you say to that? That mom that’s listening? That’s like, my kid just is not pulling their weight around here.

LAURA:  Yeah. So I have a ton of thoughts about this.

SHERYL:  Okay, great. Are you ready for this? Ready? Buckle up, everybody.

LAURA:  I know. So I might be all over the place. So I kind of think I might have ADD. This is a new thing that people are starting to tell me, like you just helped me focus.

SHERYL:  Yes, you’re totally on my wavelength. 

LAURA:  Yeah, so I think we as mamas need to get our minds around like, this is good for our kids. They may not like it, but it’s good for them. Like it is studies show. It’s good for them. You can look it up. Great stuff. 

Study shows chores are good for them. Number two, they will be going off and leaving your house very soon. And oh my goodness, whoever they live with, you don’t want them to be tortured. 

You want your child to be like the best roommate, right? And know how to pick up their stuff, clean up after themselves, and contribute to their household, dorm, or whatever it is that they’re living in, as they will most likely be living with someone for the rest of their life. 

So how can we train them now to set them up for success? Because, oh my goodness, maybe you’re married to someone like that. That’s not the case. They don’t know how to pull their weight. 

And part of me is like, Well, I think that maybe if their mama would have done a better job, and that’s a lot because it could be personally, I realized that was a very blanket statement.

SHERYL:  We get mad at our mother-in-law.

LAURA:  So I think wrapping our minds around those two things that it’s good for them and oh my goodness, you want them to do it. Then figuring out what works for your kids. I’m not crazy about paying kids to do chores because, in real life, nobody’s paying them to clean up their room, right? Like, that’s just not a thing. 

So why are we implementing that at home? And again, this is just my opinion. Not a professional chore person here. ,

SHERYL:  You get so many things to get that, especially with ten kids. Oh, my gosh. 

LAURA:  Yeah. Well, I’m a chore expert. And therefore, you need to be given your constraints. And I think that consequences are probably a better thing. And let me say it like this. I think going to your kids and saying things like, Hey, here’s the deal, you will leave the house very soon. And we need to get some things under control. And we need you to be in the habit of these things. And just being very logical with them instead of yelling at them or demanding that they do something right. I’m trying to think of the guy’s name who wrote a book, feeding the mouth to buy cheese.

SHERYL:  Yes, yes, yes. Yes. I don’t remember the name of the author but yeah.

LAURA:  Anyway, he talks about of freedoms list of, like, hey, here are all your freedoms, right? So as they’re growing up, and I’m gonna pause right there, this is too big of a tangent that I’m about to bite off that I don’t need to.

SHERYL:  I don’t know.

LAURA:  It sounds good telling you it is a five-hour lesson I don’t need to. Conversing with your kids sets clear expectations about why you’re implementing this now. And the expectations for them, if, like, hey, I want you to pick up your room. 

I don’t care about your bed if your beds are made, but I just want to be able to walk in your room or to have the ability to come vacuum in there or whatever, having very clear expectations of what you expect of them. 

I also think that approaching your older kids with an attitude of, Hey, I just want you to know, I can’t do this alone. We’ve been doing this, and I’m feeling tired and weary. And I need your help. Can you help with this? 

Showing a little bit of vulnerability, I think, creates intimacy because they know that you can’t do it all. And what a beautiful thing to teach your kids, instead of having this idea that mom can do everything, and she never breaks, and she never complains. Those are lovely things. 

However, it’s not reality. And so I think giving our kids that permission to ask for help. And modeling it for them by asking them for help. Yes, it’s this beautiful intimacy between the two of you. So asking for that help, setting clear expectations and consequences if they’re not following through. 

I think that a lot of us kids have so many things. And they’re entitled, my kids included, right? And so it’s not hard to find something like, hey what, you lose your phone for a day because you didn’t do this. Get on the computer for the day because there is no X-Box for today. 

Because XYZ, and setting that very clear expectation, the beginning of hey, I’m asking you to do this, if you don’t do this, this is what will happen. And then following through with that.

SHERYL:  Yeah, I think that that’s so good. I also like that when you do this, you get to do that. Or when you don’t do that, you don’t get to do this until you’ve done that. I mean, that can be very helpful, too. 

And I think that’s one of the things you’re saying, and then we do have to follow through. But I want to comment on a couple of things that you said. This is good for them. We don’t want our kids to be upset with us. 

And it’s, I believe, from my experience in my own life and working with many moms, that we feel like we should be able to do it all. And then we get resentful that we’re doing it all. And we get mad at our kids and families because we’re not asking for help. And we’re really hard on ourselves and getting burned out. 

But remember, they might not like you asking them if you haven’t before done things, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t – that this is good for them. And this is good for us. And this is good for our relationships. So I just love that you said that. 

Because what do you do when you’re like, oh, I don’t want to ask them because then I’m gonna get into a fight, so it’s just easier to do it myself and to ask. 

We need to take a deep breath and say, this is good for them. We need to be doing this, this is going to be better for our relationship because they are helping out, and I’m not going to be resentful, and then that leaks out. And we end up criticizing them. And because we’re mad that they’re not helping, it’s just as vicious becomes this vicious cycle. So that is so good. 

And then vulnerability. I love that you said that because rather than yelling and nagging and fighting about it, I need help. I need you to help, man. I’m feeling overwhelmed here. And for our kids to understand that, I usually find that they respond. 

So those are helpful. How did you figure out what works? I mean, you have ten kids? Do different things work for different kids? Do you find some kids you have to constantly remind? How does that work in your house?

LAURA:  Yeah, so we have ten very, very different children. And some are responsible and will go off and just do their morning stuff, no questions asked or reminders. They just get their stuff done. I love them the most, but I don’t think I should. 

And then, for other ones, I specifically give them chores that are in my range. So when our five o’clock alarm goes off for everybody to do their afternoon jobs, I start cooking dinner. So all this is happening magically, that we have this alarm go off, and everybody does what they’re supposed to do. 

But for the ones that wander easily or are very sneaky about things, I’ll have them do their jobs like they are assigned close by to me, so I can keep an eye on them. And I can make sure they’re staying on task. The goal is that I wouldn’t have to remind anybody of anything, right? 

But I’m also aware that their children and eight out of 10 children in my home have ADHD, so there can be a hot mess sometimes, so they need reminders. And it’s more as they need them. And it’s not I’m enabling them. It’s like their brains need it. And that’s okay.

SHERYL:  So that is good, too. Because I don’t know about you, but I mean, from how I perceive you, you seem very patient and compassionate. I don’t know. But that’s just knowing you. That’s how you strike me. 

And we have to have that because it won’t happen overnight. And I think that a lot of times when I wasn’t expecting things from my kids, it was because I was frustrated. That wasn’t happening faster. So I just totally abandoned ship, like, Oh, that’s not working. So I’m just going to abandon it. 

And then I didn’t do anything, rather than knowing it’s a work in progress and having some grace around it. Does that resonate with you? Like even when your little one came in? How do you talk to them? Have you had to be kinder to yourself in this process?

LAURA:  Absolutely. And I think we have three buddies with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. I don’t know if you know much about that.

SHERYL:  Somewhat.

LAURA:  Like a whole-body disability, it’s often an invisible disability because 92% of people do not have facial features, but their brains are damaged from alcohol exposure. So just as a quick fact, one out of 20 kids has FASD 20. We don’t talk about it. And I would love to talk more about it. If you’re ever anybody ever wants to talk about it, I’m with you. 

Regardless, we’ve had a lot of practice of huge tantrums, huge things that, Oh, my goodness, where I’ve lost my cool. But I think those things have made me realize the little things aren’t epic videos. When you experience things like a kid throwing a stone through a window because they’re angry about losing something, you’re like, what is the subtle meltdown? It’s not that big of a deal. We can work through this. 

So it’s all about perspective, I think, where I can remain calmer. And then with my kids that have this huge knockdown, drag-out situations. I think that understanding their brain and how it works has been so helpful for me. Because when I can see that it’s brain damage. 

It’s still frustrating. But I can understand a little bit better and have more compassion.

SHERYL:  Yeah. And so, how does that work when you’re trying to get you to have systems with them? What does that look like?

LAURA:  Yeah, here’s the deal. I love the system so much. I’m kind of a dork because it gets so geeked out about it, right? But I love having things in place and having a plan for everything. And not because I’m expecting it all to go perfectly all the time, right? But I expect someone to have a big meltdown when something goes awry over here. 

I have these other things taken care of. I don’t need to stop everything that I’m trying to hurriedly get along and get done for the day, right? I have a plan for all of this stuff. And so I can pause for a minute and care for the child who needs me. Does that make sense? I realize I used a lot of pronouns there and hand motions that maybe people see.

SHERYL:  But well, what I understand what you’re saying is that because of the systems, it frees you up, as you said in the beginning, to be more present, rather than having your brain distracted about how am I going to do all these other things?

LAURA:  Yeah. So when I’m sitting there with a meltdown kiddo and trying to get him to calm down and de-escalate, I won’t have a plan for dinner. I’m not worried about laundry because I plan for that. I’m not worried about cleaning the house or kids getting their stuff done because they will do it.

 If I tell them they’ll do it, it’s not a big deal, right? So I think that’s where the joy comes in helping our FASD kiddos with systems. They love predictability. They love to know what’s coming. They love a routine, love a schedule, and they would never say these words to me by any stretch of the imagination, but when they’re their bodies and their behavior and everything, that’s what they need. 

And so, having charts with pictures, visual reminders of visual cues, alarms, and different things like that, it’s so helpful for them because they know what to expect.

SHERYL:  So visual, like, can you give me an example?

LAURA:  Yeah, so even just like in the morning time where they get dressed in the morning, I have a little visual chart that’s like, take off your pajamas, put your pull-up in the trash, put your pajamas in the dirty clothes, get dressed, wash your hands, like all the things that they’re supposed to do in the morning. And just having that little one’s pictures is picturesque of little characters. 

SHERYL:  Yeah. I love that. So it makes it a little fun. And it’s just that different visual learner, rather than just a chart?

LAURA:  Yeah.

SHERYL:  Wow, that’s good. I like that. Have you ever done little videos? They probably stopped with that. I was just thinking, like, sing along. Thank you for saying, and you got to do this. I wonder if that would work too. With some kids probably get too mesmerized by that. It would be way too distracting. 

That would be me. I couldn’t get anything done. If I’ve got some music or a podcast playing, it helps me, but probably for them now. So share some tips. What simple tips have you found that help moms with their kids develop some systems?

LAURA:  You mentioned the food. So I mean, very, very simple tip, setting alarms on everything. And everything’s a little extreme. But what I mean by that is, like, I have an alarm to take my medicine to start kind of kick off my bedtime routine. I have insomnia, so to take medicine, so I have an alarm set for eight o’clock, and I take my medicine then. 

That’s also when I get in bed and have things kind of play out from there, right, but I have a plan for what will happen. I’m going to read a chapter of my book. I’m gonna watch a show with my husband. 

I realized this sounds very rigid and strict. But I’m aware that if I’m not that way, if I just climb in bed and watch shows, I’ll stay up till midnight, just watching TV. Right? And then my next morning is atrocious. And then that whole day is ruined. 

So I’ve had to work backward and figure out what helps me thrive as a person and as a being and as a mom and a wife and all of those things and then really stick to those plans today make my very clear mind. 

Because I’m watching Netflix, and this is a really good show. Mine does not always look out for the best of me. So setting alarms for things like that. Setting alarms for bedtime is when we start getting ready for dinner. 

And these are really simple little things, but it takes that mental work out of you. You don’t have to worry about it, right you can trust that you have your systems in place and your timers in your queue. It is in place to keep moving through the routine of your day.

Dinner and our five o’clock jobs are kind of a must. And kicking off our evening routine gives us a great morning routine, right? Because if those things aren’t laid out, taken care of, cleaned up, or picked up, I wake up, and I’m not happy, right? 

Because I walk out to a very dirty house, dishes are in the sink. It’s just kind of chaotic. And then kids are running everywhere looking for their stuff. And I mean, it’s just not good. It’s not a good way to start today. So all of those little pieces are in play in their place. And then the alarms kind of help kick those off.

SHERYL:  Yeah, that’s good. I saw you had on Instagram that you have lots of different baskets. You had like baskets that were on shelves? Do you know what I’m talking about? Is that for each kid’s dirty laundry?

LAURA:  Yes. So we do a laundry day. So we are big batching people, which means we batch work our tasks, which is doing a length of the task quickly, right? Or all together. So, for the most part, this is like an hour or two that you sit down and do a task like a focus task. 

So I have office hours for an office day, and I’ll sit down, pay any bills that have come in, and make any appointments that need to be made. I’ll catch up on emails that I need to catch up on, kind of the business of the home stuff. That’s what I complete during that time.

 This is wonderful because I’m not thinking about a million things that need to be done around the house. I’m getting distracted while doing them. I’m just sitting down, I have two hours blocked off, and I’m plowing through stuff.

Once a week for Office day, and laundry day, we do once a week as well. And I’ll have all the kids bring down their laundry baskets. And we just switch them out all in one day getting done, and then kids put them away.

No more folding.

This is the magic of the system. Because when we had four, I would probably spend 30-45 minutes on laundry daily. Just trying to remember I gotta go switch it out. Oh, I gotta go fold it now. Oh, gotta go put it away. Like all the different steps of things, right? 

But with this, the kids do much of the work by bringing it down. I’m switching now. The older ones are in charge of doing their own by themselves. But for the little ones. I switched it out, put it back in the basket, and they put it away. We’ve set them up for success by labeling their drawers. 

So they know where things go in their drawers, and they can have it organized. It’s not folded because who needs to fold clothes? Everybody has permission to not fold their kid’s clothes unless they care. And then the kids can learn to fold clothes. 

SHERYL:  Did everybody hear we have permission not to fold unless we want to? Wow. But let’s see, and I grew up in a home where everything was perfectly folded. So that is something that when I started this business. I felt so guilty that I couldn’t fold my clothes perfectly anymore. 

Because I didn’t want to spend the time doing that, it has to be smooth, and you put it to have it, and it’s like, oh my gosh, if I want to do other things. Why does that feel more important to me? 

Why am I doing this, then? I’m feeling guilty. I’m not doing it. So much of it is just like freeing us from the constraints we put on ourselves. 

LAURA:  I started doing that. Oh my gosh, it would make me so angry. I would fold everyone’s laundry, and we get them all organized and nice and neat. And we had several kids in the room at the time. So they just had these little baskets where all of their clothes were. And during that time, they would go in and drop out all the baskets. 

So everything I had folded was undone. Abby gets so angry about it. And I’m angry at two and three-year-olds for dumping stuff out. And this is ridiculous. Why am I folding their clothes? Why am I putting in so much work? It just gets frustrating that they can’t keep it that way. 

And so I think permitting yourself to not fold laundry was like, well, I just saved myself so many hours, and I can no longer be angry, and I mean, I’m no longer hearing about laundry. 

SHERYL:  Yeah, yeah, I love that. That’s awesome. Yeah, just freeing ourselves up. What have you experienced coaching moms in this arena of systems? What have you seen that has made a huge difference in mom’s lives? 

LAURA:  I think that’s working has been a huge one. And the reason is, is because you know when you wake up in the morning and look around your house, and you’re like, I have so much to do today, and you could probably list 100 things that you could get done that day. 

Your brain isn’t a million different places thinking of all this to-do list, all the people you need to call, the things you need to do for all the groceries, all the errands, all the things, right? But instead, when you wake up, you have a plan for your day that’s already set up for you. Like, you don’t have to think about your plan. 

You already know that today is Wednesday. So it’s errand day, and you’ll finish all your errands. That’s it. You don’t have to worry about anything else that day. The next day will kind of take care of itself. And you can make all your phone calls on office day, do all your billing on office day, and do it much faster. And it creates so much less decision fatigue; you can be more present with your people and enjoy them more.

SHERYL:  You find the word that’s coming to me with this – permission. Like permitting yourself, this is just going to be errand day. And to let that be okay. I know what even my business it’s like. I can only do this today. So I have to put all that other stuff off and be okay that I don’t have to do that right now. 

So it helps us take ourselves off the ledge, so to speak, of worrying about all that other stuff, all that noise in our brains. Yeah,

LAURA:  There are many times when I think it’s okay, don’t get done in time, like, just have to be kind to yourself. Because if we think that, we’re quick to grab everybody else’s ideas for what our family should look like. And then try to implement them and then be disappointed with ourselves and with others, with our kids, when nothing is falling into place how it should be. 

And so I think just embracing who you are with your family, figuring out what works best for you. And then permitting yourself to just stay right there. Do you know?

SHERYL:  Yeah. How do you figure out what works best for your kid? 

LAURA:  Sometimes it’s trial and error, right? But every kid has something that makes them tick. And so I get studying your kids and knowing them and knowing what, what they’re willing to do for what and what? 

So, with my example, with chores, like there’s, you can’t make cleaning your room like this exciting moment, right? But if they’re not doing that, knowing that your kid can’t seem to live without their phone, or seem to live without their car does seem like easy things to be like, Okay, I’m gonna take that away. 

And just a few times, and at least with my teens and tweens, it’s been easy for me because they don’t want to lose their phones. They don’t want to lose their car.

SHERYL:  So that’s been a good motivator for them to say yes. How long do you do that? Do you just say until you get that done? And then you can have it back? What do you require for them to get it back?

LAURA:  Yeah. So we have been doing 24 hours. So we lose your phone for 24 hours. So if they lose it at night, they don’t get it till the next night. But they also have to go do the thing right then.

SHERYL:  That’s good. I wanted to ask you that. Because I sometimes think, in my experience, parents feel like they have to make it too long. And then that just discourages a kid. And they don’t have an opportunity to do it differently and change their behavior. We want them to change and learn from their behavior rather than be punitive and punishing.

LAURA:  Yeah. And, by all means, don’t hear me saying you’re doing this the first time before you get to this point. Like, we do a lot of second chances here. We make a lot of reduction. So if we’re responding disrespectfully, let’s try that again. Let’s come back and try that again. 

And same with chores and stuff, like, hey, it’s five o’clock, and you’re supposed to have dishes done by now, and you haven’t. So this will be your last chance to have this leeway in this grace. But tomorrow, if you don’t do what you’re supposed to, we will have consequences by the time you’re supposed to do them.  

SHERYL:  I like that, like, I’m on your team, I’m for you and just being very open, but your voice. I’m sure you don’t do it every time. But it’s a lot of it how we say things to each other, and if you come at a teenager with that kind of energy that’s like negative, you need to do this right. A lot of times, they’re going to resist.  

LAURA:  Yeah, I think that acknowledging what they’re doing or what they’re caught up in, like, Hey, I know that you’re in the middle of this game right now, but we do need dishes done, like 10 minutes ago, so could pause the game for a minute. Then come in and do dishes, and you can come back and play or whatever. 

With my older daughter, it’s a lot. There are a lot of emotional things. And so it’s okay. I know you’re having a hard day today, but we need this done. And we, as a team, are relying on you and reminding her that we need her to be a part of our team. Like she belongs here, and we need her. She’s a team player. And we meet her.

SHERYL:  I don’t think we often think of it that way, as you matter in this family. And, it’s from that place, like you matter, and I want you to participate because your presence in this family matters. And I think that the other flip side of getting kids to do chores is that it means they matter. And we need help. And we need to teach our kids to ask for help as well. 

This has been going so well. Laura, I want you to speak about another thing; I read it on your Instagram. How do we know what we should say no to? It’s such a big buy for moms. Just having to bake things for school or participate and everything at school. And was just one thing that you started saying no to? How do we know what we should be saying no to?

LAURA:  Yeah, so my first question would be, what are your yeses? Like, what matters to you? What do you want to prioritize if family dinner every night is a priority to you, then signing up for something every night to church or practices or school or whatever? That’s not gonna fly because you’ve already prioritized your family dinner, right? 

Same with, I mean, so we are people of faith. And I think Sunday church is a big thing for us. And so it’s going well when something comes up that has practice on Sunday. I guess we’re not gonna participate in that, right? Because we know our yes is, we know, that’s a priority for our family. 

And that’s what we want to spend our time and energy on. And so if there’s a select team, which we don’t, so many things going on, we just don’t do it. I think a lot of that is the necessity of, like, we have tickets, so everybody can’t do everything, right? 

So we have to kind of limit other ways. Yes. But if an opportunity came up like that, sorry, it’d be easy. We’re not gonna do that because this is more important to us.

SHERYL:  So knowing your priorities and what your guesses are so that when something else comes into the mix, you can discern, okay, that’s going to be a no. So we’re not so conflicted all the time. And getting pulled in so many different directions. 

LAURA:  So for me, I’m like, Well, I know that my weekly counseling appointment is a non-negotiable, or date night was a non-negotiable. So if something pops up on those days, it won’t happen because those two things are my priority. 

And I know that if I sign up for one more thing, I want to have the capacity to do the things I enjoy your take care of myself. And so it’s not gonna happen. I’ve gotten good at saying no. I’m proud of that.

SHERYL:  Yeah, do you just kind of pay attention? I know how you feel if you don’t want something initially. It’s usually going to be a no.

LAURA:  Yeah. And I think we often trick ourselves because they may be good things like, you haven’t done anything this year with a PTA. I have never done anything with PTA. Just say that out loud. It’s been okay. Nobody’s crucified me or anything. You might try to guilt yourself, or other people might try to guilt you into doing things. 

And I think that’s where the knowing who you are, knowing what you need, knowing what your family needs and values are. That’s it. You must stick with that; everything else will make it clear. 

SHERYL:  It’s a good reminder. So Laura, any parting encouraging words to a mom struggling in this area?

LAURA:  Yeah, I mean, you should call me. I would love to help you with that. I think just being kind to yourself and speaking to yourself as you would a friend. We’re often the hardest on ourselves, more than anybody else. 

If I were to call my girlfriend right now, what would she say? Okay, I’m gonna say that to myself. I have to like verbally do that because I can be so hard on myself and unkind to myself. That’s not who I want to be. Having empathy and kindness toward yourself is a great place to start. 

SHERYL:  That is so good. Because if I’m not being kind to myself, I will take it out on my kids or my husband because I’m putting so much pressure on myself. And that translates to putting a lot of pressure on them. So I love that. I love that. So tell our listeners where to find you and what you’re up to.

LAURA:  Yeah. So mamasystems.net is my website, and @mamasystems on Facebook and Instagram, and then I would love to share with your lovely mamas a self-care guide it walks you through exactly how to put things in place so that you could have kind of a self-care system, something that feeds your soul. 

So this is more than just getting a pedicure. Take out the trendy triggering word of self-care like this what do you need? And how can we make that happen? 

SHERYL:  So you’re gonna make that available to us? And this will be made into a blog post. And so we’ll put it in there as well. I’ll put it in the links. And we’ll share that. We need that badly. 

Thank you, Laura, for all you’re doing and for encouraging us to do this and ask for help. We can get our kids involved in this process. And we can support them to be independent, self-sufficient, and everything, and then their wives or husbands aren’t going to be mad at us, right? 

LAURA:  That’s what it’s all about – securing that relationship.

SHERYL:  But thank you, all kidding aside, thank you so much for coming on.

LAURA:  Thank you for having me.

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