Large Family Logistics: The Art And Science Of Managing The Large Family, by Kim Brenneman
For the record, I do not come from a large family, nor am I in any particular place to plan for a family of the size of the author. Indeed, given the rather consistently disastrous state of my own love life and the unpleasant state of my family history, reading this book may appear to be even more ridiculously improbable than the most fanciful speculative fiction would be. So, given the unpromising reality of my own life and lack of immediate or even reasonable prospects for any kind of short to medium-term family planning on my part, why even bother to read a book like this, all the more since this book and its subject matter are clearly aimed at the female audience of would-be housewives to large families? The answer is that this book is an applied book on logistics, a subject of intense personal interest , an intense enough interest for me to read more than 300 pages on a subject which I may never get to use any of the wisdom for myself, barring a remarkable turnaround in my own personal life. And so it is that my love of studying logistics in its many applications to our contemporary life led me to read this fascinating and excellent book on household management despite its lack of applicability to me personally. For those who have large broods that tax one’s ability to cope as a mother, this book is a good one.
For those who have a more practical interest than my own in the subject of the logistics of large families, it is important to understand the impressive depth and scope of the advice this book provides to its female audience. The author begins with an explanation of why she wrote the book, expressing her desire to reverse the loss of societal skill in homemaking over the past couple of generations, along with some helpful tips in how to use the book. The author then covers forty-seven chapters in two parts and two appendices over the next 300 pages of material, and the material included is not puffery in the least. The author begins by discussing the wise woman of Proverbs 31, goals, systems, self-discipline, attitude, time management, interruptions, the Psalms, the importance of giving children a strong work ethic, dealing with inattentiveness that leads parents to often repeat themselves, a method of teaching children new chores, redeeming time spent alone, life with little ones, baby balance, the family dynamic, making the master bedroom the parents’ own personal spa, and how mothers can dress for success without ever leaving the house (the author recommends camisoles and avoiding frumpiness). All of this material covers a bit more than 100 pages and the first seventeen chapters of the book, and makes up the first part. The second and longer part of the book contains chapters on creating a home management book, dividing the week into laundry day, kitchen day, office day, town day, cleaning day (along with a separate chapter on deep cleaning), gardening day, and “the Lord’s Day” (readers would be advised to apply this to the Sabbath, the day of which Jesus Christ is Lord). The author continues with a discussion of morning and evening routines, meal time routines, table time, fifteen minutes of phonics for pre-readers, quiet time, read alone time, afternoon chore time to make sure that the house is clean and welcoming for the husband returning home from a long day of work, bathroom management, bedroom management, the children’s hour, family worship practices, home arts and crafts, homeschooling the large family, health and wellness, the playroom, feast night, meal planning, project day, pregnancy and preparing for baby, and the buddy system by which older children help share the load of taking care of and looking after younger kids. The author then closes with two appendices on how parents can cope when overwhelmed and exhausted and how housewives can move beyond survival mode. I can think of a few people this book would be useful for if they are not already very familiar with its contents.
Although this book is clearly not aimed at me, the author points out implicitly over and over again that an appreciative and involved husband makes the job of being a wife and mother much easier. And no fair-minded man could read this book without having a great deal of respect and admiration for the self-discipline and logistical genius that is entailed in following the recommendations of this book. Anyone who underestimates the importance of household management would be well-advised to see just how seriously this author takes the subject, and how thoughtful and wise and observant she is to so many details about how to best manage a large and busy household in ways that preserve spiritual and physical health, provide for the well-being and encouragement of all, and raise a godly and productive family. The author blends an obviously high degree of intellectual knowledge about the subject material with her unimpeachable personal experience and distills wisdom learned by her experience and that of other mothers in the same position into a book that ought to be required reading for families seeking to have a large brood of their own. The author’s love of books as well as of practical arts and crafts from gardening to sewing and cooking shines in this magnificent book, which admittedly is aimed at a niche audience but is a fantastic and immensely practical resource.
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