Yesterday afternoon as I walked upstairs to my room to the sounds of the boys pillow fighting, the baby demanding something and Kiara dancing, I thought about what memories they would have one day growing up in what can only be described as organised chaos.
We often get asked what it’s like having four kids, where do we all sleep, is there enough space, how much food do we go through, so here it is the truth about what it’s like having a big family (in a small house).
- There is always noise. Not horrible, fighting, whiny noise but the noise of kids – they laugh, the talk (some of the non-stop), the watch TV, they press buttons on noisy toys, they make coffee, food – whatever, there is hardly ever silence.
- Someone always needs something. There are literally seconds between one of them asking me something – the little ones need food, water, milk, juice, bums wiped. The bigger ones need me to sign something, google something, print something, buy something. David needs admin done, calendar updates. They also often ask each for stuff, the babies especially will ask the older two for water, juice, food or for something to watch.
- Meal times are a bit like feeding times at the lion park – it is sort of survival of the fittest (which doesn’t always mean the oldest kid gets the most). Obviously I cook enough to meet everyone’s needs (except Cameron, there isn’t enough food in the world to meet his needs after training) but seconds/thirds go to whoever calls it first. Treats like chips and biscuits are rare but when we do have them they are eaten by whoever can finds where I hid them (again not the necessarily the oldest). Funny story (for you) about treats – I bribed them all with ice cream yesterday to clean the toy room. Off we go to get ice-cream, big two are happy but I think the little two will need counselling. Jack freaked out because the ice cream started melting, then the cone broke (like the teeniest, tiniest break). Emma was fine until she got to the end and wouldn’t eat the cone but wanted to eat the cone but couldn’t because I think the voices in her head were confusing her. It was traumatic for us all. Lesson learnt – no more soft serve ice cream until they are much older!
Back to the point!
- There is always stuff lying around, not necessarily mess but piles of books, wet bags, dancing shoes, Captain America, half eaten cookies, one sock (always one sock). Even on the days Jane is here, there is still stuff everywhere. I have decluttered and decluttered and it is so much better than it was but it still feels too much some days.
- Fighting. There is pretty much always someone fighting with someone else. He took her doll, she took his 2 point plug, she hit him, he threw a car at her, she’s watching him poo, he is kicking him, they are bullying her. It goes on and on. All.day.long.
- They are very rarely alone. Apart from the times they are at school and Emma is here, they are never without at least one sibling when we are at home or even when we go out. When they are separated, the ones with me actually get a little antsy and they start asking for each other.
- There is a lot of helping. The big kids help out a lot, not always willingly but they will help with their siblings. I think Se7en mentioned a buddy system in her house and I sort of do the same when I am out with them on my own. Kiara and Emma pair up and Jack and Cameron, it helps especially when trying to get everyone across a parking lot or into a sports venue.
- We all make a lot of sacrifices. I assess needs sort of like Dr’s do in a very busy ER – whoever’s need is greatest gets dealt with first. So you may need new shoes but your sister can’t button up her school skirt, so she comes first. You have a gala, your brother has his first concert, he comes first this time. And so we go on. Someone always draws the short straw but generally it is not the same person, so I don’t feel to bad about it.
- We laugh a lot. I am very lucky that the kids all generally have a pretty good sense of humor and take life as it comes and are able to laugh about things because there are times where it all just goes horrible wrong and I think if we didn’t laugh about it we would probably have killed one another.
I never planned for a large family, I don’t come from a big family so this is all very new to me and some days it is still a shock to the system especially at times like this when schedules are crazy and we are booked up for weeks. It is pretty awesome though, the chaos and the crazy. It is our normal now and I think we are doing a pretty job of getting our kids to where they need to be.