Doug and Deanne Walker have 19 children, 10 of whom are adopted. These loving parents have been up and down and all around adoption, and seem to me to be an endless bucket of adoption knowledge and wisdom. On top of that, the Walkers are welcoming, inviting, and friendly! This series of articles covers everything from being an organized home executive to failed adoptions to finding the right agency. Watch for them on Tuesdays and Fridays! And as you read, imagine taking a comfortable spot on Deanne’s sofa as she openly shares her insight into each topic.
One can only imagine the organization skills needed to run a household of 20 people! I sat down with Deanne to see if I could learn some of her tricks. Certainly, if her organizational methods work with so many people, they should work for the rest of us! I thought that she must have some secret methods and I couldn’t wait to be surprised. And surprised I was! There are no tricks. No special tools or tips. But there are two things about their lifestyle that make the ordinary work in their favor:
1) Routine with flexibility.
Everyone needs routine, everyone needs consistency–parents and children alike. But consistency without exceptions creates a rigid work environment, not a home. The Walkers have strict bedtimes–this means that the children expect they will be tying things up and retiring at the same time every night. That eliminates contention and ensures happy, well-rested children the next day. But with allowing exceptions they were all excited recently to stay up an extra couple of hours to celebrate Dad’s birthday.
2) Family time is a priority.
The Walkers are intentional about family time.
- Sundays are family days. They are untouchable. On this day everything is done together as a family. Lots of games are played, books are read, visiting with each other happens.
- Monday nights – the same thing. They hold a weekly Family Home Evening and all respect that time. If there is another event that might take them away from their family, the children reevaluate and find a suitable substitution so they will not miss that evening at home.
- Dinner Time is family time. And like the other sacred family times, nothing gets in the way. Schedules are tweaked so the entire family can be together every night for dinner.
- Vacations happen annually. Every-other-year they take a trip (which requires great organization and intense planning). On the off years, they vacation at home. This can include trips to the local water park or museums . . . something that is out-of-the ordinary and special for them.
So Deanne’s “secret” is simply 1) being consistent and 2) being intentional about family time. The rest, she says, falls together pretty well when these two criteria are met.
She is also a list maker! Every night before bed Deanne begins her list for the next day. Then in the morning she adds to the list. Deanne is a pen-and-paper mom who simply doesn’t “have the time to learn technology.” Her advice to others is to find the organizational method that works for you, then stick with it! The family will follow suit.
More from the Walker Family: