That’s what we currently have. In fact, at the moment the age range of “the younger ones” is 8, 6, 5, 4, 2, 13 months and 3 week old twins.
People often say that the older children (18, 17 and 12) must help out a lot with the younger ones. I tell them that the oldest two are no longer living at home and the answer is almost always a surprised “Oh!”. If I were to look into the future ten years ago to where we are now, I think I’d have fainted! There is no way I could have imagined having so many children so close in age and when people often ask, “How do you cope?”, especially with a couple of newborns thrown into the mix.
Here are some tips on what I have found works for me:
Take some time out after having a new baby
The week after the twins were born coincided with the week that half-term was scheduled. This meant that the kids had a week off their lessons and I had a week off from teaching them. Whether or not it was scheduled, we’d have had that week off anyway. It took pressure off and allowed us all to simply veg and focus on settling with the new babies.
People often want to come and visit new babies and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to be dealing with so many people coming in and out the door in a short space of time when you are busy and dealing with a gazillion things already. Don’t be afraid to say, “We need a little time and I’ll let you know when we’re a little more settled.”. Usually they’ll understand and won’t mind waiting a week or two to visit. If they are offended, well, that’s not your problem to deal with.
Let things slide for a while and accept it
Sometimes it’s necessary to accept that some things need to take a back seat. For example, I will normally hoover the house (downstairs only) twice a day. Since having the twins it has usually only been done once a day. At first it grated me and I felt a knot in my stomach that I wasn’t “keeping up” as I normally would. Then I realised that as long as we were a) fed and b) had clean clothes to wear, I was doing okay! If the crumbs on the carpet really bothered me I could run the sweeper over them even if I couldn’t go the whole hog and get the hoover out. Ok, so maybe I couldn’t let it go completely!
Avoid unnecessary trips out
Packing up everything and getting everyone loaded onto the family bus can take a lot of time and effort. Slow down. Take time to stay at home and just take things easy. Have a family movie afternoon, sit in the garden (weather permitting!) or read together. You can do plenty of things with your new baby in tow. Take a week or two to rest and remove any unnecessary trips or appointments from your schedule.
One thing that has evolved greatly as my family has grown is realising how great the need for organisation is. Keeping the laundry rotating rather than thinking you’ll deal with it later, or keeping an eye on the groceries to make sure you don’t run out of milk first thing in the morning is a must. I have to admit, for the first time in a very long time we have failed on the latter. Thankfully Mike is home and able to make an early morning run for a milk top-up. If he were not here I would be having a nightmare to get nine of the kids out of the house in the early morning to go and get the stuff I’ve run out of. This would create havoc with my stress levels, the children wouldn’t be happy at being dragged out without having breakfast and meltdowns would occur all round. So organisation is the key. Note to self: Take own advice – remember to check the milk in future!
As with organisation I feel better when things run to some kind of a routine. The younger children’s nap times are always around the same time each day as are meal times and bed times. Sleeping and eating are the two most important things to keep on top of if you want to avoid children’s melt downs so if you have these two worked into some kind of set schedule you’ve won half the battle.
I am a big fan of doing my grocery shopping online. I hate shopping at the best of times, whether it’s for groceries, clothes or anything else. I hate the busyness of shops, the checkout queues, the parking, carrying the bags around… the lot, so shopping online is, in my opinion, one of the greatest developments ever. I click on what I want, pay by card and get it delivered to my door. Lovely and stress-free. (Well almost. I’d be happier if the delivery driver could also unpack my shopping for me. Yes I know, I’m so demanding and hard to please).
Use a slow cooker
Throw a selection of ingredients in in the morning. Switch on. Eat a yummy, hot meal in the evening. Easy!
Have a supportive husband
Yes, I’ve been very lucky with this one I know. Mike is more than halfway off his parental leave period now. It’s been great having him home and spending time with him. He’s been a great help with everything, from looking after the kids to helping with the housework and laundry. He’s even been honing his cooking skills with fab results. I am really going to miss him when he goes back to work.
There are a few more things I could probably add to this list but those are the suggestions to get started with. What have you found works for you?