I know when we started having all these little sweeties that people further down the parenting road told us that it wouldn’t always be as hard as it was in the very early years. As in 3 under 5 and pregnant again. But it’s hard to imagine how having more kids gets easier. I’m there. And it is crazy. Another thing other parents told me was that there’s this turning point when your oldest turns 10. I also could not imagine that. Granted, my oldest is only 9 1/2, but it’s already changing.
Here are a few of the things that have changed around here.
The other night I had fixed a reasonably large late lunch and decided cereal was in order for dinner. When I told the kids that, not only were they excited they went about getting dinner ready. On their own. They cleaned off the table, got the bowls and everything needed and then proceeded to fix their younger siblings cereal too. Wow. Then they took their bowls, dumped them in the trash, and cleaned the table up again. I remember a few short years ago I didn’t even allow cereal in my house because the mess was just too much for me to take on.
It had been a long day of in and out of the snow and I had showered, then bathed the younger 3 kids earlier in the evening (since they were cold when they came in from playing and bathtime takes up a considerable amount of housebound crazy time for littles). It was close to bedtime and I realized the 2 olders hadn’t bathed yet. I sighed inwardly because this head cold has me tired, lazy, and selfish. Then I realized how old they were and that I could say, from my chair no less, “Hey, guys, go get your showers, please, it’s almost bedtime.” And with that they ran off with no help from me. Wow.
When I tell the crew that we are going to town for a doctor’s appointment I say, “Go get your go to town clothes laid out, brush your teeth, and potty.” I still only have to start getting ready to go about an hour before we need to leave. Because 3 of the children do these things themselves. I still only have 2 small children and myself to dress.
Four of the 5 children can buckle and unbuckle themselves in the van.
Four of the 5 children have chores that – for the most part – I can tell them to do and then I can go get in the shower to get ready (with Baby in the swing or saucer or shower with me) and they do them. So, not only can we get ready for town quicker, I can leave a house that is relatively picked up.
My 3 oldest can read. Even the girl can read well enough now to start the shows that are dvr’d and recognizable for herself, and her 3 and 1 year old brothers. They can skip their own commercials and “bad parts” of kids movies (think: the attack scene in Tarzan that they hate).
I can assign some school work for the 2 olders and be there for instruction and questions, but for the most part they can do their own work. You know, compared to the labor intensive (yet more fun!) years of preschool and kindergarten.
Last night as Baby was playing with Matt and me alone I mentioned to Matt that this Baby has had more one-on-one time with us than any others since The Oldest. (To which Matt replied, “Good, maybe this one won’t be messed up like we messed up the others – he has the best of both worlds – 4 siblings AND he’s an only child!” But we’re not talking about that!) And he does. The 2 oldest boys were playing the PS2 in our bedroom together and the girl and the nearly 4 year old were playing in the bath together. Paired off like they often are. While we played with Baby and watched the Super Bowl. Weird. But nice.
These same friends who told me these things also said some not so glowing things about the teenage years. But I choose to not worry about those days until those worries are here and real. That’s a worry for another day.
I say these things to you so that you won’t believe the hype. Don’t buy into the lies that more kids double, triple, and quadruple the work load. It’s not like having 6 toddlers or babies all at once. That’s another thing one of Matt’s mentors (who have 4 kids close in age) told us early on. The work doesn’t multiple exponentially. It just doesn’t. It is harder than one child, I’m sure. But not like you would think. Don’t buy the hype. Have those babies you want. If you have, and you’re in the “they’re all so little and I can’t do this any longer” phase – hold on. It gets easier. I promise. I know.
And try to find the joy in these chaotic moments. Because before long they are behind the corners you’ve already rounded. And though it will be a joyous occasion, you will wonder with a twinge of sadness, at how quickly they’re gone. And how you have no idea where they went.
Don’t buy the hype. Revel in the present. Enjoy those babies. And the new milestones as well!