Episode 200: Finding Peace in the Chaos - Laura Hernandez's Expert Tips for Busy MomsSep 12, 2023
Laura is a wife and mama to 10 amazing people. She is the founder of Mama Systems, a coaching business that helps mamas bring peace to their homes through systems so they can be intentional with their people and show up as the best mama possible.
“It feels like I've found the magic sauce and then I get to share it with somebody else and they see the results, too. It's so life-giving.”
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Welcome back to your next stop. This is Juliet Hahn. In this episode, I speak with Laura Hernandez. She is a mom of ten. Yes, ten.
She helps moms bring peace to their homes through systems. You can find Laura at Mamasystems on Instagram. Mamasystems? Net, and you can also find her on Facebook. Laura Hernandez or mamasystems.
We have some really great conversations because this stuff fascinates me. I mean, being a mom of ten, you have to have some sort of systems, right? So clearly her business came out of wanting to have more peace in her house. I think at one point she said that there was five or six kids under the age of four or five, and they were all like some of Cribs. I mean, that's just in my mind, just blows it because how do you even create systems?
So what she does, which I love, is she works with families, she works with the mom and how it will work best within their own house. So it's not like she has a system and she's like, you have to run with this. She basically takes the system and then works it through the parents and their house to make it work best for their individual needs, which is amazing. So again, Laura Hernandez, you can find her at Mamasystems on Instagram, mamasystems. Net, and you can also find her on Facebook.
Hope you guys enjoyed this episode of your next stop.
Welcome back to your next stop. You know, I say it every single time and I am so excited to have you guys meet. Laura Hernandez. Welcome to your next stop. Thank you.
I'm really excited to be here today. What an honor. Okay, so when my listeners hear this little piece, they're going to know that I'm like, giggling inside. So Laura is a mom of ten, and she helps moms bring peace to their home through systems. Now, we just had like, kind of a funny thing.
We got the wrong guest guide to Laura, and literally she was in the wrong place. And I was laughing to myself because I am someone that could use systems like 1000%. Being a mom of three with teens brings it to a different level. But being a mom of ten, I'm sure that if your mind works with systems, this is such an amazing thing for all my listeners to hear because you're going to really take us through this. But I do want people to check you out on Instagram Mamasystems, and that is with an S.
And you can go to Laura's website, mamasystems. Net, and she also is on Facebook, and it's her name, Laura Hernandez. And you can also find Mamasystems there. So, again, Laura, this is like I'm so excited. I know we had talked a while ago and then we had to reschedule some stuff.
And so I've been looking forward to this because I can't wait to dive in and find out a little bit about your story. So if you can kind of take people through a little of your background, like where you grew up, and then we'll really get into how Mama Systems was created. Yeah, ever since I was a kid, we wanted to adopt. I wanted to adopt. And there was some convincing on the front end with my husband before we got married, because I was like, that's a deal breaker, right?
We're doing that or we're not getting married. And so he obviously came around to it, but within we had our first few babies, and then we decided to foster. And we fostered Andrew when he was four days old, and he stayed with us until he was eight months. We obviously adored him, loved him like he's our own. I mean, he was just so precious.
We adored him. He went back to his mama, his birth mom, and we ended up having our fourth biological. And we're in Texas now, and we had moved up to Seattle for a couple of years, and while we were in Seattle, we had our fifth biological. Meanwhile, Biom had two more kiddos, and so she had three, we had five, and her kiddos ended up being put back in the system, and so we had the opportunity to adopt them and kind of bring them into our family, which was amazing and lovely, but to do that, we had to move back to Texas. So within the six month period of having our fifth biological, we started fostering the sibling group of three.
So we went from four kids to eight kids in, like, a matter of six months and kind of whatever you're thinking right now, of like, oh, hell, I could never do that. That's where I was. It was so much, and I don't think I felt it all in the moment because I was just living in survival mode, right. Just keeping everyone alive, which they're all still alive. So I feel like that's a really big win.
I remember days where I would just sit with my back up against the wall thinking, like, if I can just make it to bedtime, that's my goal. They would be in their beds and safe, because I had five little ones, four and under, all in diapers and then cribs. There's a lot of little people in cribs, so I was like, if I could just get them in their cribs, they'd be safe, and I know where they are. That was my whole goal in life. But I finally got to a point where it's like, we can't live this way.
Like, who can live this way? So I searched for systems for our family and searched for routines and all the things, but nobody had anything for a family with eight kids, eight really young kids. Our oldest was six at the time, I think, and some home school, some public school. Our three that we adopted are special needs little buddies and so just the whole oh, my goodness. All of it was so much, and nobody had anything for us.
And so I was finally like, I could figure this on my own. So that process that I walk through, where a few years later, with a couple more kids, I can sit up with my feet up at night and have a glass of wine, and the house is picked up and kids are bathed and everybody's ready for the next day. That whole process that I walk through is now what I get to help other mamas walk through, because I've learned that no one system fits every family. Right? If you try to implement our systems in your home, it would be like it wouldn't make sense at all.
And so figuring out what works for the mama, what works for the kids, the family as a whole, what they value, what they want to have in their lives, and things that are important to them. And then on the flip side of the things that they don't care about, we don't need to be putting focus on things that they don't need to care about. So I think that that's such a huge piece for anybody to do, and that work is so important for everybody to do, but we often just don't do it because we live such reactionary lives. No, it's so true. Okay, so I have so many questions, and I do want to take it back to when you were growing up.
Did you have a lot of systems in your childhood? Was your mom someone that had organization? Did you have a big family? And I know I'm asking, like, four questions, but I think they're all tied together. So what made you want to always adopt as well?
So if you could take us back a little bit to your youth and if this was kind of ingrained in you, or if this is something that just kind of came out of your situation. Yeah, that's a really interesting question. I think my mom did a great job of delegating things out to others. Maybe not so much of a great job of delegating out to us just because we were spoiled. I mean, I was so entitled, and so, like, I was thinking about that earlier this morning, actually, when I was unloading dishes, because it's one of my kids jobs, and she had a hard night, so I was unloading them for her.
And I remember thinking that when I was a kid, I would be like, this is your job, mom. I'm not supposed to be doing this, right? Like, if she would dare assigned me to unload the dishes. And now I'm like, oh, no, it is the kids job. They are helping.
I'm all about the chores, right? My mom was not. Yeah, we had a housekeeper, and I loved that we had a housekeeper. I loved that our house was always clean and orderly. But then on the real life side of it, when I grew up and learned, I have to pay for that not happening, right?
So to create that order and that peace in the home, that really brings me peace, I've got to figure out a way to do that on my own. And so I think that it came kind of out of necessity. I've always enjoyed that order, and for a long time, I was able to just maintain it by myself and kind of do all the things for all the people all the time. But I think jumping into the deep end, it was kind of like, okay, we're a team now, guys. We got to figure this stuff together because I can't do it.
All right. No, and I think that's so interesting. And it's also interesting that you had a different as you said, you had the housekeeper. So your mom probably enjoyed the orderly, and she just was, luckily enough, you could say lucky. You could say fortunate, you could say blessed enough, whatever word comes to mind that she was able to pay someone to help her.
And so when you saw that, okay, I want this, kind of I liked that I had that. But I also knew having all of these kids under one thing, I needed to kind of put money in different places and figure things out in different places. So I think it probably was, again, something that you grew up being used to but not seeing it done through your mom. But then necessity, it was like, boom, we have to do this. And I always love to ask a little bit about the childhood, because I think we do pick some things up from how we grew up, or sometimes part of our story really starts there, and we don't realize how it connected down the road as we grew.
So I love that you kind of had both sides of both worlds. You saw, okay, now I can actually help moms that maybe don't have the finance to have a housekeeper every week. I can kind of help them do that. And then on the flip, maybe I can also help people that maybe do but just want to do it themselves. Because I know I run into a lot of moms that possibly could have the housekeeper that keep order or what, but they are so love that organization doing it themselves.
It's almost like therapeutic for them where for me, it's not that stresses me out trying to figure out I mean, I have my own systems, but they probably are systems that others would be like, how is that a system? I see how it works for you guys, but as you said, each person in each family works really differently. And so I love that you were able to kind of in your business do that and kind of mold to what each family needs. So tell us a little bit about, because I know my listeners will be very interested in this when you realized, okay, I need to do this myself because I need to do this for whether your mental health, your husband, the kids, what was kind of that breaking point. I know with the cribs and all that you really painted that, but when was it like, okay, I need to put both feet in and get this done.
It's not just a dream. It's not something that I would like, oh, that would be interesting if I did. But when was that switch that flipped? Yeah, I think that it was a more gradual, like, a dimming of the lights instead of a switch of the lights. Right.
I love it. Very gradual of feeling like, oh, gosh, I think I'm drowning here. I think I need something. Right. And then on the other side of that, on the other dimming of the lights, we just started putting little systems in place, and once we saw kind of the benefit of that and, oh, that really freed me up to have somebody else do that.
For a kid to unload the dishes, it's such a simple thing. But now that I don't have to think about it and it's not one more thing where I'm trying to unload the dishes and people are interrupting and all the like, my brain's in 100 different places. Oh, my goodness. I was like, we need more of this. Right?
It's just kind of a slow realization of how life giving it can be, because I think so often our decision fatigue just takes us out during the day. As mamas, especially working moms, there's just so many decisions that we have to make, and the less we have to do that, the better it is for us, for our mental health, for our kids, for how we show up with our family. I like to talk about this study that was done that these judges in the morning were 70% likely to give prisoners parole, but by the end of the day, they were only 10% likely. And I know that we don't give people parole kind of really at all at our house, but it you can kind of see how the decision fatigue throughout the day affects you. Right.
Like, in the morning, I'm, like, ready to go. We're going to have a great day. We're going to get this stuff done. We're going to do this craft. We're going to blah, blah, blah, whatever.
And then by the end of day, I'm like, oh, my gosh, just get in bed. Like, I don't care what you do. Just go get in bed. Don't talk to me again. Right?
We're just done. And so the more we can take out, which is kind of how I define a system, anything that you don't have to think about, we've got a system. Right. So that could be that you have something automated that comes to your house automatically every week, delivered for you. Perfect.
That's a wonderful system. But then also having things like Alexis or Google homes reminding you of when to go get the kids so you're not constantly looking to clock and trying to plan things out, right? So just putting those little things in place that make it easier for your brain to be still and be present, I love that. And it just brought me back. There was a time and it's interesting, and there's a kind of a twofold here.
I'm going to tell you a story first, but I remember there was a time where I felt like the kids, it was like, we need to get something in place. And I remember I did, there was the marble jar, and then they kind of outgrew that, right? Like, if you do something really well, we put a marble in. You get money or you get a treat or whatever it was. And I remember the kids, when they were young, they loved that I had, like, bins of these great marble and they would put it in.
And then I remember when it was like, okay, the marble jar is not working anymore. And it was like chores. You do your chores without asking. You could get five marbles or there was a big marble or sparkly marble that were the extras. And it was always when I implemented that was when I felt out of control, right?
It was when things were so spinning. It wasn't like I was like, oh, things are going really well, let me put a system in place. No, then we did like a star chart. And I remember it was on the wall, and it was like a chalkboard, and I had like, fun pictures, and it was like, you got a star for, again, doing the things that you're supposed to be doing. A half a star, if I had to kind of remind you, like, no star or whatever.
And I remember there was a point where a couple of the kids really took to it, but I think it was like a quarter or something, and I was paying, so because they really took to it and I was like, oh, my God, now I'm like, freaking, I'm paying too much. This is not working. So I have to kind of pull it back and be like, okay, I'm going to try to this. But again, it's the stages. So my question for you is a lot of times, again, when I bring you back to the marble chart or the star chart, it was because I was spinning, and I was like, I have to create some sort of order.
And then we got to that next stage where it almost wasn't needed anymore, but I had to pivot before things started spinning again. Does that make sense? And it was like because they're developmentally, they were at that next stage and the system worked. Now I didn't need the system anymore because it was kind of implemented in them. It was ingrained in them.
So they started doing it. But then I, a lot of times, especially in the early ages, didn't adapt to it. And then it was like, okay, that system has gone away. Now I'm spinning it. I got to pull it.
So do you help Moms kind of work through that developmental where it's like you put the system in place? Like, here's, you're graduated from this. Let's think about that. If you can take us through that a little bit. Yeah.
So I think that the majority of time, people reach out because they do feel like they're spinning, and the number one phrase I hear is, I feel like I'm drowning, which is just so heartbreaking. What a horrible way to feel in your family and in your home. Right? And so I think that that's when people get desperate and they want to put systems in place, for sure. And I think we kind of triage that moment and try to figure out, hey, what's going to work for you.
But my goal is always to teach the parents the process behind why we're doing what we're doing. Right. So what things do you want to instill in your kids? For example, in our home in the morning, we have our morning chores, which we often call roommate responsibilities. And our goal behind this is to prepare them for when they leave the house, because our goal, obviously, for all parents is to raise well functioning adults, right?
And so I like to think about my kids living with someone else, either a roommate or a spouse or kids one day, like, how do I want them to show up? Because I would really like them to show up just a smidge better than how my husband showed up. Right. I want them to know how to do the dishes. I want them to take initiative.
I want them to pick up their clothes off the floor. I would like to say that we've nailed down all these things, but I'm like, okay, I don't know. Anyway, you want your kids to be these great adults that do those things, and so how can we train them in that way? And when they're littler, it's a lot of reinforcement like, yes, we do this every morning. Great job, you did that.
But then as they grow older, you are wanting to see that on their own, right? Of course you're going to pick up your dirty clothes off the floor. You're 17. That's what you do. And you want that to just be second nature.
And so the responsibilities get a little bit more, right? So, okay, now you need to hold down the job, and you need to maintain your schedule. And we expect this, this and this of you. And all those things are just kind of built on as they grow. And still my little ones were still working on, like, okay, you have a job at dinner time, you're putting the forks on the table, right?
Like, what a big deal. You did such a great job, but you wouldn't dare praise your 17 year old for doing that. You're like, no, you need to be doing that, right? So it does EB and flow and trying to figure out what makes some kids tick and what you have to kind of incentivize for some things and just continue to teach and train and kind of disciple along the way to help them be the best people that they can be, right? So I am curious, what ages are your kids right now?
Can you take us through all of them? Yes, I can. So our youngest is three and our oldest is 17. But working backwards, we have 17, 15, 14, 11, 12, 11, 11, 10, nine, four her and.
How many biological and how many adopted? With seven biological and three that are adopted, that's amazing. So and I think I shared with you, I have an adopted sister, and maybe I didn't, but my parents adopted my sister from Korea when she was three and I was a newborn. And it was know, when we were growing up, people would always say, well, who's this? And I would look at them and I'd be like, Are you talking about it's my sister?
But now that I'm older, I'm like, right? They probably were like, well, you didn't look alike. She's Asian and you're not. But it was always so baffling to me. I'd be like, who's.
Who? And they'd be like, who's that? And I now look back on it. As she said when she grew, sometimes that was hurtful because she didn't see it either. She was young when she was adopted into the family, so sometimes people don't think of those things.
But I think it's really admirable. I mean, seven kids, three that you adopted is just such a beautiful thing. And teaching them all what you're doing, again, it's teaching them what life is going to be about and how to live in the real world and to think about that, because all of us want that, but sometimes we don't think about that. I'll have friends that are like, oh, your kids do chores? And I'm like, yeah, I mean, I think they started doing chores at one point because I was like, I did chores.
My husband had to do chores. But also because this is not all on me. I have things that I have to do. If you guys are going to live in this house, you need to be part of it. And then I'll have friends that will be like, yeah, I just feel bad.
They have a hard life now, but adulthood, life is hard, right? Like, life is hard. It's going to get even harder. So I want them to know, I'm sorry if you rinsed and we still fight about this all the time. You rinsed your plate in the sink and put it in the dishwasher.
Thanks, but you left all the stuff in the sink. Who is going to do that? And they always look at me because I have a 1715 and 13 year old and they look at me and they're like, well I'm like, right, you expect that I'm going to do that. And guess what, this pisses me off. And I have had a couple of times where I've exploded because I'm like, I've told you this a thousand times and now you're like, why are you bothering me, mom about it?
But if you just did it, I wouldn't explode. And I want them to see that kind of cause and effect because it is like you're asking me why I exploded. But I've asked you every time you've done your plate to rinse out the sink, how did you not see that's annoying? And now they do and it will be like, yes, no, sorry. Now they jump up because they know it's like, let me finish that.
But it's a work in progress. I mean, raising kids is so rewarding and so difficult and we have those days that you have all wins and you're like, oh my God, that was so great. And then you could have a span of a couple of weeks that you're like, oh my gosh, what in the world is happening? I guess I can imagine it, but having ten, it's interesting. Do you feel so I grew up with five and I know that there was times where maybe you didn't want to be heard as much because you're like, okay, this person's causing problems or whatever, they're going through their thing, so I'm just going to keep quiet.
I feel like when there's three, sometimes it's like I don't care that they're going through it. I'm going through it too and I'm going to be loud. Do you feel with your kids that some of them might step back a little bit if someone else is having a mood? Or do you sometimes have all ten that are like unraveled? Yeah.
So our three that we adopted all have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and that's kind of a beast of a disorder and I would love to take just two minutes to kind of go over that for a hot second so that people understand, please. It's two and a half times more common than autism and there is not much talk out there about it. There's not much education out there. And when you're going through foster care training, no one really they may like hot minute talk about it, but they don't tell you like, hey, it's going to cause brain damage and it's going to affect them for the rest of their lives. And these are some of the behaviors you're going to see.
And you can attach all you want, but it may not help. Like there's real brain damage here, right? And so resources, doctors, nobody really has anything for you, which can be a very lonely, hard place, right? So you're seeing some really incredible behaviors that often many comorbidities with FASD are ADHD, bipolar, schizophrenia, sensory processing disorder. I mean, there's a ton, right?
So all of these little issues going on in these little bodies, and a lot of times that looks like rage for our little people, and it's just a difficult thing to live with. Like, mental health in little people is really hard and difficult to understand. Along with that, they also have IDD, so their IQs are a lot lower, and they are very immature for their age. All this to say, there's a lot with them, a lot of the times. And so my goal is to always acknowledge that because it's so hard.
And I feel like I had to do a lot of rethinking of how I parent because of this, because my kids will come in and they'll be like, oh, they're coming home, they're coming home from school, and they'll be disappointed. And I want to be like, oh, no, we don't talk that way and make it happy. But the truth is they're having those feelings, right? They sense the chaos when they walk in the door. And I sense it too, right?
So, hey, let's acknowledge that and say, like, hey, it does get loud when they come in, right? It is kind of harder to do X, Y, and Z when they walk in the door from school because everything just kind of escalates. So I've tried really hard to acknowledge those feelings and all of that and have it be a safe place for them to talk about those things, right? At the same time, I'm human and I feel miserably all the time. And I've seen my daughter just like, she's gotten really small and quiet and kind of secluded to herself, and it's always so hard to figure out.
Part of it is she doesn't want to be a bother. She doesn't want to have any problems. She feels the need to be perfect. However, I've like, I've never told you nothing, and I feel like I've done a really good job of doing all this right, but I can't control how she's perceiving things. And so, again, just giving her space and going in there and letting her talk invent and just being a little more proactive on my side to create that for her so that she can feel seen and heard.
Yeah. And now, is she one of the teens? She's my oldest, yeah. Teenagers, it's a different emotion. So how do also do you feel that you're thank you for sharing that, by the way, because that is something that not everyone talks about.
How do you feel when you get a system and then you're able to do it in your house and then help a mom, right? Tell us that feeling a little. Bit and tell us again where people can find you. Because I know we're coming to the end here, but if you have anything coming up, share a little bit about that. But the first thing is, when you find something working at home, how excited are you to be like, oh, I can't wait to share this.
Yeah, it's so joyful. Joy is what I feel because it feels like I've found the magic sauce or the great diet pill that's going to make you drop 15 pounds all in one day. Right. Whatever that is, that wonderful thing. And then I get to share it with somebody else and they see the results, too, and it's like, yeah, right.
Like you're on my Tina. We get it. It's so life giving. I mean, simple things like getting a morning routine down and the evening routine down, those two things alone can be really life changing. To have those bookends on your day of a sense of control and peace in your home.
Oh, my. Yeah. It is so life giving for me. And then to be able to share it with somebody else is the sheer joy, I'm sure. So I love what you're doing.
I mean, Laura, again, people can find you at Mamasystems on Instagram. Mamasystems. Net is your website. They can also find you on Facebook. But the thing that I love and which is going to help so many moms is it's not like you're this person without kids, right.
You're not a mom and you have these systems and you're like because you know they could work, but you're living it. And you're not living it like one or two kids. You're living it times ten. So the things that you have are almost like this steroid up here, which someone with less kids, it could be like, okay, this is going to work so well because they know that you've worked through so many different scenarios and so many different situations and that it's worked for you. But the fact that you also give moms the space to be like, does this work for you?
Or how can this work and work through how, you know, their house is going to really how it's going to take to them, I think is going to be so helpful for a mom to hear, because it's like, this is a system that works for us, but let's find a system that works for you and your family. Yes. And I love that because we get to kind of tweak things along the way and slowly build up to greatness in the home and peace in the home. Right. And I'm sure with clients, have you ever had a client that you kind of tweaked something, but then you were like, oh, my gosh, this would actually be brilliant in my house, and kind of taken that and then used it for yourself.
Yes. I mean, all the time they'll say something like, oh, why have. I never done that before. And I get to do it too, and it's so fun. I mean, it's so fun.
Yes. I'm such a dork when it comes to this. I just get so excited. No, I love that. I love that.
So, guys, you know what to do. Like, rate review. You might be listening to this. You might be sitting there being like, I'm not a mom, but you don't know who in your life needs to hear this. You need to take this and think of every mom that you know and share this episode so they can enjoy this conversation, but also possibly, and most likely be able to recommend Laura or be able to use her services again.
So, Laura, thank you so much for joining. Well, thank you for having me. I hope you liked this episode of your Next Stop. Please subscribe to my channel, share with your friends, and join in each weekend.
My focus is entirely on helping you follow your passion, even when you feel like you've got stuck in crazy town. There is a way out, its me helping you. You don't have to ditch everything in your life that is making you feel overwhelmed and stuck, you just need some help to navigate it.
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