“It gets easier the more kids you have.”
I’ve heard this often from moms of big families—and even said it myself a few times—but I’m pretty sure we’re all just fooling ourselves.
Or maybe it’s just that I’m at capacity (even as we wait for the arrival of #6!) and feeling it.
Either way, while it’s true that some things do get easier—they have each other to play with, so I’m not constantly entertaining them; the older girls are old enough that they’re actually really big helpers; and many things become automated when you have to do them 4, 5 or 6 times anyway—there are some areas where more kids are just, well, more.
As I’ve been evaluating things over the past 3 or 4 months to see how we can reduce the chaos in our home, a few things have become obvious to me…
1. When there are 8 people in your family, there might not be 8 times as much stuff…but there’s still a lot of stuff. Everybody needs a decent amount of clothes (and even if we all participated in Project 333, it would mean 33 items times 8 people for a total of 264 items of clothing, not including underwear, pajamas or loungewear!). The kids each need school supplies and shoes and treasures of their own that just can’t be shared.
2. A normal amount of arguing and testing the limits from each of them can feel like a whole lot of disciplining and enforcing the rules. I often have to remind myself to view each “incident” separately rather than viewing them as an amalgamation of all four girls!
3. The noise level is just…well, deafening sometimes. Maybe this isn’t true in “sweet” families, but for our “spicy” family, there is constant noise. And it’s often loud noise. Many times our girls sound like a full classroom of kids or an entire choir just by themselves, and that’s even without Jackson chiming in. At any given moment on any given day it’s not unusual to hear 5 or 6 different voices all talking at once. (Which is just perfect for this introvert, as you can imagine!)
4. Preparing meals no longer requires a single recipe with leftovers for lunch the next day…the recipes now have to be doubled and sometimes even tripled just to get us through dinnertime.
5. If everybody is fairly neat but just a little bit messy, our house still ends up as a disaster zone by the end of the day. And when they’re not neat…well, it’s a disaster by breakfast and I’m tempted to just burn the house down and start over!
6. Visiting a store together means constant reminders to not touch, stop quacking, walk in a line not a mob, be respectful of other people, keep up, slow down and “shhhh!” I’m sure I’d do some of that with just 1 or 2 kids, but when I have them all with me, they all need their own reminders, so it’s constant.
7. When we share viruses, it can feel like we’re sick for weeks as one person passes it to the next and then the next and then the next. And that means constant interrupted sleep and laundry (for the stomach flu) as well.
8. The interruptions are constant. I’ve already told Sean that in our next house I need a wall calendar and chalkboard in the kitchen because I get asked “What’s for dinner?” (and every other meal) or “Are we going anywhere today?” at least 4 times every single day. On school days, there is a constant stream of books being dropped off for me to review, questions being asked, and help being requested. Just when I think I get one or two of them settled, someone else needs help.
9. Leaving somewhere to come home is literally like herding cats. Just as I get two or three of them ready to go, I realize that the others have wandered off. Despite my commands to “Stay put!”, by the time I gather the others, someone else has gotten distracted and left the loading zone, and I have to go searching for that one. We often make abrupt exits because when I do have them all in one place, I’m not letting a single one out of my sight!
There’s also more of the good stuff, of course—laughter and snuggles and “I love yous” and aha moments—and most of the time the good outweighs the hard.
But if you ever hear me tell someone it gets easier the more kids you have, feel free to burst out laughing and call me a liar for not sharing the whole truth!