Beyond Overwhelm

June 24 2024 | by

Dear Mr. Pfister: My wife and I are struggling in parenting our five children. We both work full-time, which means our children are in daycare for most of the day during the week. When they come home – which is when we seem to have the most trouble with their behavior – they’re loud, energetic, and seem to want all of our attention. They also tend to act out and disobey our directions the moment after we give them. While we recognize they want and need our attention, we’re both tired after a full day of work and feel as if our entire evening is spent combatting their negative behaviors. We desperately need to find some balance in our family so that everyone is able to receive what they need without the nightly battles.


Raising a large family in today’s world is anything but easy – it’s beautiful, but not easy. Many parents feel that difficult pull between providing for their family and taking care of themselves, and striking the perfect balance feels akin to running a marathon – each and every day. But while it is difficult, it isn’t impossible, and there are many things we can do to find a better balance that provides for both ourselves as parents and our little gifts from God.

The first thing I would encourage you and your wife to change in your evening routine would be to provide it with structure in the form of family routines. This will have the double effect of providing your children with structure – which is psychologically very good for them – and you and your wife with a series of met expectations of behavior from your children. This is because they’ll be looking forward to the family routine and spending that quality time with each of you.

A routine can fall into one of four different types of behaviors, depending on what is most needed by the family at the time. These behaviors fall into the categories of work, play, talk, and pray.

Work routines involve coming together as a team to complete a task, such as making dinner, but focusing on the time together as a family as opposed to the preparation of the meal itself. Play routines involve spending time together having fun, which can include anything from playing a board game to getting outside and throwing a baseball to going on a walk together. Talk routines focus on communication, such as checking in with our children at the dinner table about what’s going well in their day. Lastly, prayer routines involve dedicated times of prayer together, such as praying the Rosary as a family at the end of the day. 

And while it’s hard to give that dedicated time after a full day of exhausting work, don’t forget to ask God for the grace to be the father or mother He is calling you to be before you pick your children up at the end of the day. The ‘boost’ of grace that will come from your prayers will be exactly what you need to fulfill your most important job: spouse and parent.

Incorporating each of these routines, one at a time, into your evenings will help to alleviate the overwhelm you and your wife are presently feeling at the end of the day. They will also give your children both things to look forward to and provide them with the love and affection they’re seeking, but in a way that is less overwhelming for you and your wife as parents who are seeking a healthy balance between work and home life. They’re small changes that go a long way.

Updated on May 30 2024