5 Ways to Survive a House Full of Children by Vannetta Chapman + Giveaway

Let's welcome Vannetta Chapman to Just Commonly.  I am always excited to hear her insights. In Vannetta's new novel in the Plain & Simple Miracles series, Sarah's Orphans we meet the many children that takes center stage. Today, Vannetta shares some ways to survive a house full of kids! And here's Vannetta!

Sarah certainly has a house full of children in my newest release, Sarah’s Orphans. There are her four brothers, ages 6-18, and then there are the two children that she finds in an abandoned trailer--Mateo and Mia. Sarah feels overwhelmed at times, but she was raised in a Plain lifestyle, and so she has a good idea of what to do with all those young energetic children under her feet. I actually think that’s one of the very useful things we can learn from the Amish--a commonsense approach to child-rearing.

So how do you entertain that many children?

1. You don’t! Children don’t really have to be entertained. They don’t need you to be their playmate. Sometimes they need a little direction, but if you give them a few minutes they are actually quite good at finding games to play and hobbies to pursue. I think the first thing we can learn from Sarah’s example is that you do not have to entertain your kids 24-7. They’ll even be okay if they’re bored occasionally. (Though I think I remember my own mom outlawing the phrase I’m bored.)

2. Get everyone moving. Moving everyone outside to play is a great way to start. It helps use up all that extra energy, especially for little ones who have been sitting in school all day. Nearly every Amish home I’ve been to has a trampoline, and I’ve often seen the children riding bikes and playing tag. The great outdoors is something we could all use more of, and sometimes our children just need a push in the right direction.

3. Chores. I think chores have taken a bad rap, but there’s a lot of good things that result from having chores. The children have a sense of accomplishment. The parents have a little help, and you’re teaching them responsibility. I did a quick search of “Kid chores” on pinterest and found all sorts of fun ideas. You could even let your kids decide which thing they’d like to do. Try it for a few weeks, and then move on to something else if they’d rather.  

4. Low-tech is fine. Sometimes our children are a bit bored with all of the on-line games and activities. Amish children don’t have that problem, since they have no electricity. Instead it’s very common to see a pile of board games near the kitchen table--everything from Monopoly to checkers to Jenga. Game time can be a welcome reprieve for everyone. Your older kiddos might roll their eyes at first, but more often than not they will find themselves enjoying the time spent playing together.

5. Read together. When I was trying to coax my son into reading, I would read the left page and he would read the right. It was slow going at first, but soon he caught the hang of it and then he loved reading opposite pages. If your children are older, you can have a different kind of reading time--maybe where everyone reads one page aloud from the book they’re reading. This is also a good way to quiet everyone down before bed.

One of the things I enjoyed most about writing Sarah’s Orphans was watching everyone come together and experience a real sense of family. That often happens with the smallest things--sharing a meal, folding laundry, playing tag. It’s that we’re willing and eager to spend time together that proves we matter to one another. “We all need something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.” I hope you’ve enjoyed this list, and I hope that you enjoy the story of Sarah’s Orphans

Orphaned…But Never Abandoned by God

Sarah Yoder belongs to a Plain community in Oklahoma, but her days are far from simple. Life suddenly gets complicated when a series of tragic events unfold, leaving her in charge of the household.  

Alone with her younger siblings, Sarah is exhausted but finally at peace. Then she nearly runs over a small Hispanic boy with her buggy…and somehow finds herself sheltering two more orphans.

Paul Byler moved to Cody’s Creek to help his brother in a time of need. But now that Joseph has recovered from his heart attack, Paul’s ready for a quiet place of his own. The only problem? His new property lands him next door to the orphaned Yoder family—and a calling from God he can’t seem to ignore.

A story of extraordinary grace and love in the face of desperate need, Sarah’s Orphans is the third standalone novel in the Plain and Simple Miracles collection by Vannetta Chapman. 



Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace, including romantic suspense and Amish romance novels. She is the author of seventeen novels, including the Pebble Creek Amish series, The Shipshewana Amish Mystery series and Anna’s Healing, a 2016 Christy Award finalist. Vannetta is a Carol award winner and also received more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups.  She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas hill country. For more information, visit her at www.VannettaChapman.com. 

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Vannetta had graciously offer a reader of Just Commonly a chance to win an ebook or print copy of Sarah's Orphans! Woohoo! What are you waiting for??!! Enter away!




  1. I goofed and pasted the wrong link for the first Tweet. I think I pasted the URL for this page. It should have been https://twitter.com/grandaddya/status/771020053772775424.

  2. When I babysat for others I would take them outside to play games, inside we would do crafts, read, watch Sesame Street, color, etc. My mom was raised in an orphanage, so I would love to read this. TY for the chance.

  3. We keep our grandson everyday and that's enough! Don't know how we'd manage a houseful!

  4. I love every item on the list. My favorite was reading with my kids. We used to sit outside under our maple tree and read out loud.

  5. Never had a house full of kids so I wouldn't know what to say or if I could even manage a house full of kids!

  6. Growing up with several siblings we loved playing outdoors together, board games, playing church or school inside or outside. There are so many ways to interact with children to improve their imagination instead of having all the electronics and toys available to them today. Thank you for sharing this great post Annie with Vannetta Chapman. I love her books.

  7. I enjoyed this post.I have five children,which are all grown and I have 12 grandchildren.I think with so much technology these days it is important to get children out and back to playing outside.We love to play games with our grandchildren outside.I love all these ideas,especially reading to them.Encourage them to read,they can learn so much from reading.

  8. A craft table keeps my kids entertained for hours. I am a middle school teacher, and my 6th graders still love to string beads on a cord!

  9. Love reading and really enjoy reading Vannetta's books. Amish books are my all time favorite. Can't wait to read this new one. It sounds so good.

  10. Board games, crafts, read to them and or have them take turns reading, go for walks.


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