It’s rare to see large families these days, but Amy Williamson is a down-to-earth mother of four. She has always liked juggling several things at once, such as contributing to the Arts Council of Fort Worth and The Parenting Center. And though she enjoyed her working life, as soon as the doctor put her first baby in her arms she knew: “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.” While her husband spends his days at the family manufacturing business, Williamson-Dickie Company (he also raises whitetail deer at Antler Ranch), Amy focuses on Lilli, 10, Crawford, 11, Mary Amelia, 14, and Donovan, 16. With the foursome in activities ranging from soccer to ballet, riding horses to hunting, and guitar to piano, she balances one hectic schedule.
WHAT SHE DOES
In addition to raising a big family, Williamson volunteers throughout the community, including at her children’s school library; she also organizes the school book fair and serves as room mom. The family likes to donate time and resources together at the food bank, as well as lend a helping hand at the local SPCA. “I’m a sucker for anything with animals and children,” Williamson explains. That’s apparent by her large array of pets, including dogs, cats, a bird and even various reptiles in the past. “You never know what we’re going to have in our house,” she jokes. Williamson strives to instill in her children the adage that you should leave the world a little better than you found it.
She also seeks to keep her big family closely bonded with small traditions. They sit-down together during the week for family breakfast and dinner (as long as there’s not a conflicting game or event), do not watch television during meals, play board games and plan family vacations. To help include the children in the trip-planning process, they all pick someplace they would like to go and research what to do while there. The family then discusses the pros and cons of each destination to help decide which voyage to take.
HOW SHE DOES IT
Williamson relies on her laid-back approach to parenting to keep her life in check. And, she counts on both sets of grandparents, who live close by, to be there to help out, as well as to just spend time with their grandchildren. That’s not to mention the time-saving carpool arrangements she’s worked out with other parents for activities such as ballet.
Her children also pitch in around the house to earn an allowance. Not all the chores are assigned, so the siblings have to figure out who does what. “They barter. It’s up to them,” Williamson says. “My goal is I want them to be close.” She nudges them to resolve their own conflicts, and, in the process she’s discovered that it doesn’t matter how it gets done as long as it gets done. “There’s more than one way to do everything,” notes the seasoned mom.
That attitude is just part of her relaxed nature and what helps keep her less stressed with six different schedules. “[It takes] a lot of tolerance, a lot of love. You can’t have a plan,” Williamson explains. “You’ve got to be able to compromise and to change. You’ve got to be able to switch gears. … It’s not one philosophy, it’s a whole lot of them packed together.” She adds: “You know you’ve done it right when [your children] talk to you.”
To give mom a break, her husband will often take the three oldest children with him when he goes hunting, which also gives dad and kids some quality-time at the family ranch. “It’s very important to spend time with each child,” Williamson asserts. She says it doesn’t matter whether it’s thirty minutes or four hours, just as long as she and her husband spend daily time with their children.
With such an on-the-go brood, it seems there would be few moments left for her, but Williamson occasionally manages to get away for a massage, a manicure and pedicure, or just out to lunch with friends. “You’ve got to have friends, family and time for your husband, otherwise you cease to exist,” she stresses. “You’ve got to keep your identity.”