The Best Plan (for you)


My laundry system…might not work for everyone (but I swear by it!)

I had a strange conversation with my parents the other night that went something like this: “Do you think I’m doing a good job as a parent? Is the Family Balducci doing a good job as a unit?”

It’s silly to think I’d ask my parents this. They tell me all the time how proud they are, what a wonderful job Paul and I are doing. I’m blessed and lucky that my mom and dad have always been so generous with their love, so quick to encourage.

But it’s a funny thing I’m going through lately, being on the brink of something new. The territory of growing children, of no-longer-little babies. I find myself taking stock of everything I do as a mother, examining my methods and approaches to life. It’s not that I doubt myself, I’m just making sure.

This year we have a son graduating from high school, a son being confirmed and a son making First Communion. So many milestones and I feel like I’m standing on the edge of this cliff, about to enter a new season. And it has me thinking, a lot. Have we done our best? Do we do what’s right? Can we do better? Do I need to just relax?

I think a lot about the way I was raised, the kind of household my parents so ably managed. There were eight of us Swenson children, and I have vivid memories of daily family prayers and organized chore charts, of breakfast as a family and dinner together too. It was a tight ship my parents ran and I’m inspired by the job they did.

I’m inspired, but also tempted to compare. Because while I love so many things about the home of my youth, I recognize there are aspects of it that don’t work for me. There are ways my parents worked and functioned that don’t bring peace for me and Paul, methods that don’t work for our brood. As much as I hold it as an ideal, I can’t copy it completely.

It wasn’t until my candid discussion with my parents the other day that I realized exactly why that was. How I sometimes put pressure on myself to recreate something that was beautiful for the Family Swenson, but doesn’t completely work for the Family Balducci.

I’m able to see all the ways that I’ve tweaked their approach, and then melded that with Paul’s preferences, to create a system that works for us. My parents needed a system that worked for them, that complimented their schedule. My dad was the headmaster of the private school my siblings and I all attended; he came and went with us. And while he often had meetings after school, our family life included a schedule with very little flux.

I’m married to an attorney, someone who works completely different hours than an educator. And we have five boys in a row — which makes for a unique and interesting family dynamic. In our home, I’ve realized, we’ve created a system, a sense of order that works with those dynamics in mind — the way I approach mealtime and chore charts and so many other details is a reflection and me and Paul and our unique make-up as a family unit.

It’s such a relief to be at peace with where we are, to operate the way that works best for us. It’s not about a path of least resistance; it’s about a rhythm that makes sense. Comparing is good, but only when it inspires. If it leaves us feeling depleted and defeated, it’s time to reset our thinking.

Order brings peace, and schedules bring order. But those plans and details are here to serve us, not the other way around.

What matters most in parenting is humility and love. If I focus on that, if I’m open to being who God made me to be as a wife and mother, then I will continue to have peace and joy. I can only be me, I cannot be anyone else.

This originally appeared in The Southern Cross.


  1. I remember it being such a relief when I realized that as a parent, I could have NEW traditions or ways of doing things, or melded traditions that meshed how I grew up with how my husband grew up. It was so freeing to let go of how I thought I SHOULD do it and do it how I WANTED to do it. And what’s your laundry system? I’d love to know about it!

  2. Michelle Ross says

    Rachel, you are so right…it is the rhythm of each family, each home, that we must tune and tune into to find our proper path. He will lead us…if we have the courage to listen and realize how different our rhythm will be compared to others. Thank you so much for this post today, I really needed it.
    And definitely tell us about the laundry system…I’m all ears!

  3. Honesty, I do not know how you all do it! You families with multiple children! I admire in awe my friends with many kids and know for a fact that there is no way I could have handled that. God in his wisdom knew it too and that is why I just have one boy, grown and raised and in college. It’s an amazing task to raise a big family. God has a special place for you parents of many!! xoxoxo

  4. Thank-you for this wonderful and very aptly written reminder.

  5. I’m a young mama and just want to thank you for always sharing your wisdom so beautifully! Your a mama and blogger (you were one of the first blogs I ever read) I really look up to. I have only boys (two) and when you say things like it amazes you at how different your daughter is from your boys, it’s comforting! lol My boys have an energy and boyishness that is real! 🙂 God bless and thank you!

  6. This is beautiful Rachel-one of my favorite articles of yours!