Managing Life with Multiple Kids
Moving to a new neighbourhood is challenging, even more so if it is a new country as well. The fact that all of my family and friends were across the ocean did not help the situation. Soon after that, being a new parent was another challenge that had to be faced. However, as I reflect on this journey a decade and a half later, with five children, it seems there are a few things that helped me not only stay sane but on top of things. I am no expert, but there are things my personal experience has taught me.
- Be organised. My house was not the neatest as with young children there are bound to be toys lying around; however, all the toys tended to be in the toy room we had made in the conservatory. So, unlike other parents’ homes we visited, we weren’t tripping on cars or wondering where we should sit while teddies occupied sofas. It is important to have a place for everything and to have school bags ready on a table by the door. Oh, and I always answered school letters, forms, and paid fees at first notice because if something was out of sight it was out of mind in my baby-occupied brain. Having a diary helps ensure you show up to those school plays and meetings.
- One-on-One Time. When you have more than one child, especially five, it is important to make them all feel that you are paying attention to them. As soon as they come home they all compete to narrate their daily events. So, you have to be creative and carve time out alone for each of them. Although finding time for bedtime stories was difficult, making regular time for school reading books was always a priority.
- Finding a Routine. When the children know there is a routine then they will try to follow it eventually, even if the timing is off. This is especially important for school days and school runs. The morning madness can really begin to affect your relationship with your child unless you learn to stay calm. I know this may not be the healthiest option, but if you are running late it is much better to give breakfast in the car than to scream at your child to hurry. If packing lunches is difficult while trying to wake the kids up, try to do some preparation the night before, like filling five water bottles.
- Manage Finances. Children are expensive, so you need to prioritise expenses and save where you can. Become a smart shopper and look out for discounts and sales. Sometimes the older kids have clothes they never touched so hang on to those. Books and toys can be kept in good condition for the younger kids.
- Squeeze in Fun. The school routine can become a chore for both parents and children, so it is important to have fun every now and then. This doesn’t mean going to a theme park every weekend, but even just watching a movie together or going to the local park. Play some games together or if you have girls, they will never say no to shopping.
- Ask for Help. Perhaps you are wondering how I did school runs for five kids? Some days I had to myself (it was crazy), but usually I had help from relatives for the older kids. People usually are willing to help if you ask them. The same applies for any concerns about your child. Don’t just spend all your time worrying and being anxious. Talk to your child’s teacher if it is a school issue, or your child’s doctor or health visitor about health issues. Getting professional advice regarding any issue, no matter how small, is always helpful and adds to your own knowledge base.