Whenever my kids and I go somewhere, I frequently hear people comment :”Wow, you got your hands full!” or “You look really busy!” Yes, I am busy, but I’ve been managing pretty well with my three year old and my 11 month old twins. I am busy, I am tired, but I am happy and I feel like I have this family thing under control. I want to share how I make it doable. And if you have any tips on how to manage multiple small children, please comment and let me know!
1. I learned that the more organized you are, the easier it would be for you to manage a household with many kids. I love schedules, charts and a sense of structure. I do not thrive on chaos: chaos makes me feel out of control. Since kids bring so much chaos with their playful little nature and multiple (sometimes conflicting) needs, having an organized life really helps with managing your house, coping with stress and the lack of sleep as well as with enjoying your children.
2. In my opinion, the kids should be on the same sleep schedule (obviously your older kid is not going to nap with the baby at 9 am, but make their schedules as close as possible.) Early bedtime and early rising contributes to child development, which has been proven by multiple studies. There is no reason for a little kid to be up past nine, or even eight.
3. In my family, mealtimes are important. We don’t run around with pieces of food :we have an eating ritual. We sit down around the same time every day, all together (minus Daddy who works) and eat. All of us eat the same things. If babies can’t have arugula, they eat our regular salad without it. If babies need to have something mashed, we mash what the older kid eats. This creates unity among the kids and ease for the mother. If no one eats anything that the other ones don’t, no one is whining and asking for something other than what’s on the table. I eat with my kids. This way I can never say how I “don’t have a moment to sit down and eat.” I do. Maybe I have to be interrupted ten times, but I can still eat.
4. If you are a busy mother and say that you don’t have time to exercise, don’t lie to yourself: you don’t want to exercise. Everyone has thirty minutes to go for a run with the stroller and the older kid riding on a special board on the back of it. I do my yoga while the babies are sleeping in the morning. The older kid is disturbing me a lot. So what? I am still practicing yoga. And learning patience, too.
5. In our family, every child has “their special” day. On that day they get the extra parental attention they need. They get an extra book read to them, they get a special art project to do with mama and they get many special kisses.
6. Every child in our family has been assigned a specific color, so there is no need to fight over everything. One of my boys plays with red cars and the other one plays with blue cars. They know not to touch cars of the “wrong “color. This doesn’t solve every problem, but it helps a lot!
7. Every child in our family has “their special ” toys. These toys you don’t have to share. We also have “everyone’s toys” and these need to be shared.
8. My older kid helps me a lot. At three years old, he empties out the dishwasher on a regular basis, sorts laundry and pushes buttons on household appliances. He also vacuums the kitchen floor and wipes the surfaces. This makes him feel useful and teaches him the value of work. When we buy him toys, we never do it “just because.” We do it “because you helped mama do X” or “because you did Y.” When the babies get older, they will be helping, too. Children need to learn the value of hard work early. It will only help them.
9. I noticed that the more time my kids spend together the more inclined they are to be considerate of each other’s needs. We are a family for a reason, so I don’t like to separate my kids. To solve the “special attention ” issue we have our “special days” (see above.)
10. My husband and I can hardly leave the house to have an official date. So one night a week, we feed and put the kids to bed early, so that we can have dinner alone and talk. I cherish these times.
What other ideas can you share to help mothers of multiple kids keep their sanity?