My house is anything but calm, but I joke that it’s all “organized chaos!” The McDermott home is wonderfully busy with the joys that five small children bring. It is also crazy with laughter, squeals, and yes…sibling bickering. Commotion and mess come with the territory, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I do several things every day to keep myself calm in my busy home. These include crafting, cooking, journaling, and of course, long, deep breaths when it all feels like too much!! As we welcome Beau into the family mix, I have been brainstorming new ways to include some peaceful moments into our days. Below are a few things that we have been doing in the McDermott home.

1. Device free at meal times

Meal time is busy with five kids, but it does not have to be stressful. Tuning out the rest of the world and focusing in on each other for a half hour is one of my favorite ways to carve out some quiet time during our chaotic days. At meal times, we turn off the phones, electronic devices, and the TV. Instead of connecting with our devices, we connect with each other, and go around the table and share something positive about our days.

Turn off the devices a half hour before the meal is served, and have the kids help set the table and help with the cooking. We put on music, sing, laugh, and dance together as we make delicious meal together. It is such an easy way to connect, and the time together sets a happy tone for the rest of the day or evening.

2. Prep easy snacks ahead of time

It feels like someone is always hungry in my house! Finding time to make snacks while I juggle baby Beau’s on-demand feedings can be stressful. To ensure everyone has a snack when hunger strikes, I have prepped and stored some easy foods that the kids can grab and make for themselves. Some of my favorites are:

– Fruit and veggies washed and stored, ready to go

– Energy and cereal bars

– Crackers and string cheese

– Hummus, nut butters, and dips portioned into small containers

– Popcorn and snack mix (Make a big batch on the weekend for snacking during the week.)

3. Keep a bedtime family ritual

I am a big fan of routines, especially when it comes to my kids. Everyone seems so much more at ease when they know what to expect. We have a morning and bedtime routine, but we have also created a new bedtime ritual now that baby Beau has arrived.

After everyone is bathed and dressed in their PJs, we all pile into Dean and my bed for a 5-minute family snuggle with Beau. Even Nutmeg gets in on the action! We dim the lights, light a candle, and share one thing for which we are grateful. It’s simple, doesn’t take a long time, but goes a long way in connecting with each other at the end of a long, busy day.

4. Use clutter bins to wrangle miscellaneous clutter

I love my spaces to look beautiful and neat. The house feels so much calmer when everything is in its place. Of course, with children that is not always realistic, and I don’t want the kids to feel like they live in a museum! Seeing toys, clothes, and supplies scattered everywhere will undoubtedly send me into anti-zen mode. To balance things, I have clutter bins for each of the kids, labeled with their names. The bins are placed on the stairs, and throughout the day, I just dump whatever random stuff is left laying around into the appropriate bin. At the end of the day, everyone just picks up their bin, returns the items, and replaces the bin back on the steps, where it will no doubt, fill up again the next day!

5. Create themed boxes full of activities for the kids

“I’m bored,” is something I hear just as much as “I’m hungry!” I can’t understand it when there is always so much to do, but sometimes they just need to be reminded of their creativity. To help inspire them, I have several boxes filled with different things to get their imagination going. By design, I have chosen things that are quiet, and give the kids a chance to focus on one thing for an extended length of time. I have books and a blanket in one box. Another is filled with coloring books, pens, and crayons. I also have a box full of puzzles, MadLibs, and word games. When the kids are getting stir-crazy or on each other’s nerves, I just pull out a box and shout, “It’s puzzle time!” These boxes have come in especially handy when I need to occupy Hattie or Finn during Beau’s feedings.

Peace and quiet may not be realistic in my growing home right now, but pockets of serenity are something I aim for every day. It takes planning and patience, but it is definitely doable. How do you create pieces of tranquility in your busy households?

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