In our home, we have three different “bed-times”. The younger children (6 and under) go to bed at 8pm. So then, my husband and I have an hour with just the older kids. At 8:30 the kids who are in the middle ages 8–12 go to bed, and then at 9pm, the teenagers go upstairs to their rooms. We will either watch a movie together or play a game together, but it is just a nice time to spend with the older kids to connect with them and build the relationship, without the constant distraction of taking care of the younger children, who generally require more of our time and attention.
As a part of my series about “How extremely busy executives make time to be great parents” I had the pleasure to interview Ashley Buffa.
Ashley Buffa is a mother to 10 Children. She’s a published author and Home Systems Expert, designing chore schedules for kids and other organizational systems for the entire family so mothers can have more time to focus on their passions. She’s also an expert on Homeschooling, managing large households and more.
Ashley’s no stranger to struggle, having had six young children while pregnant with her 7th, and no family living nearby, trying to run a business full-time while homeschooling, in a very messy house and NO IDEA of how to fix it.
She was sick constantly, and ended up having to drive herself to the ER on Christmas morning for trouble breathing. Ashley was working too many hours, not taking care of herself and completely burned out before she restructured her life from inside the home and out. She worked on getting better at laundry systems, cooking for a large family, staying within a decent food budget, cleaning better, teaching the children to clean better and attempting better organization
Now she is committed to helping ALL Moms (working moms, stay at home moms, homeschooling moms, ADHD moms, and any other kind of Mom who wants a change) realize and achieve a calm, peaceful, neat space that really feels like Home Sweet Home.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “backstory”?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I thrive on being in charge…so running my own business has always been more appealing than working for someone else. Figuring out the ‘why’ of my business was the hardest part. Once I had my ‘why’ everything else clicked into place.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
I have worked in the online marketing industry for the past eight years, and I’ve always really enjoyed it, but it didn’t light me up…it wasn’t my passion.
I realized that my passion is actually helping other women find success in the home management arena, and to find freedom from the idea that they had to do it all themselves.
I first realized that this was my superpower after being interviewed on a bunch of different podcasts about my marketing systems…but the conversation would inevitably turn towards how I run my home with so many children without losing my mind.
After I realized that every single interview ended up turning into me talking about my home systems, I knew this was something I needed to share with the world on a grander scale.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
I spend my morning hours until 1:00pm homeschooling my children and just being Mom. From 1:00–5:30 I work in my home office. We have dinner around 6:30, and then we spend the rest of the evening as a family!
According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?
In our home, we have three different “bed-times”. The younger children (6 and under) go to bed at 8pm. So then, my husband and I have an hour with just the older kids.
At 8:30 the kids who are in the middle ages 8–12 go to bed, and then at 9pm, the teenagers go upstairs to their rooms. We will either watch a movie together or play a game together, but it is just a nice time to spend with the older kids to connect with them and build the relationship, without the constant distraction of taking care of the younger children, who generally require more of our time and attention.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.
I think the most important thing to remember is that you have to connect with your child in his or her own “love language”. Some children need extra hugs and high-fives, some children need extra quality time, and some children need acts of kindness or service. So I would strongly recommend discovering your child’s love language, there are free quizzes online for this!
One of the biggest helps to me is compartmentalizing. When I am on Mom duty, I am 100% Mom. My phone is in my office, so I’m not tempted to constantly check in with my business. So this means that I am not only giving my children 50% or 75% of my attention. Children are able to tell, very easily, when they are not your priority in the moment.
Our staggered bed time evening routine is another huge way to give the older children the time they need to connect with us.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
I remember the first time that I realized that my overwhelm and frustration with my responsibilities as a mother stemmed from the fact that I was trying to do everything FOR my children.
I was reading Farmer Boy to them from the Little House on the Prairie series, and it struck me how much work the children were doing. The four children did so much work, but they weren’t angry or resentful about it, they were just part of the family and that’s what family did…they worked together.
I realized that I actually was the angry and resentful one because I felt like all of the work was squarely on my shoulders. That was the day that I decided to figure out how to work together with my children and husband as a team to carry the load of household management together.
If I could say one thing to every new parent, it would be to “be the parent”. Parenting is not easy, no matter what. However, if you teach your children to respect your authority, then it doesn’t end up being an awful, torturous mess.
I’ve been told for years…”Just wait until you have teenagers!”. My teens are actually delightful (and I have three of them!). Is everyday perfect? Nope. But by and large, I really enjoy my children (especially my teens!) and it’s because they respect me.
But respect goes both ways. Respecting your children as people is also important. It’s a balance.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
I am a huge believer that each child has a specific BIG purpose in life, and our job as parents is to help equip and inspire our children to achieve their unique calling. One of the best ways I have found to inspire our children to dream big for themselves is to make sure that we are dreaming big for ourselves as women, and for our families.
It’s so important that we voice our dreams and aspirations to our children, and that we continue to have those dreams in the first place. It’s also important that our children see us fail, brush ourselves off, and then get back up to try again.
This is all done through conversation and openness. My children are acutely aware of my own business failures and triumphs, because I include them. When I win, I share it. When I lose, I share it. So they are seeing huge dreams come true right before their own eyes, and experiencing the inevitable truth that the triumphs don’t come without the failures.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
I have several markers for success.
Financial success means being able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it.
Family success means that we continue to work together well as a family unit. But it also means that my children are working toward their goal of independence and success in their own lives.
Business success means that I am constantly impacting and helping to change the lives of the women that I serve.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?
I love reading classic literature and extracting parenting and life lessons. One of my primary parenting goals is to raise independent children. There will be no children living in our basement until they are thirty-five…and I tell my children this all of the time.
My job is to raise them and then push them out of the nest to go out and change the world.
So for this reason, I like to read older books. The entire Little House on the Prairie series, like I mentioned earlier was especially influential.
The Five Love Languages of Children was another helpful book. We have also recently started a deep dive into the study of racism, it’s history, and what we need to be doing as individuals to eradicate it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have always worked to instill in my children that “life isn’t fair”. If a child is always walking around waiting for life to line up perfectly with his own ideas of fairness, he will end up wasting his life.
So, from a young age, I teach my children that no, life is not fair, and the world does not revolve around them. I try to redirect my children towards serving others instead of focusing on themselves.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The idea that home is a sanctuary, and not just the physical home, but the feelings and the emotions created in the home. We are raising our children to grow up and one day go out and do great things…basically to leave us.
But if we make our homes places of love, laughter, order, and comfort…they will come back when they need to re-charge. Because they will have learned in their time with us that home is where you go to re-charge, rest, and revitalize.
Homes have the power to change the world. One child at a time, one guest at a time, one mom and dad at a time.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!