“I can barely handle my [one/two/three] kids, how do you handle five?”
I hear this all the time. I always wish I had a good answer. Setting aside the kids’ ages, personalities, the fact that my in-laws live in town and are usually willing to lend a hand, and things like that, I’ll do my best to explain my strategy.
This is all coming from my introverted, goal-oriented, used-to-be-perfectionist, anxiety prone, perpetually overtired, stay-at-home parent perspective. I’m a little nervous about answering this here and opening myself up to the judgement of the internet, but here goes:
*note: there is an important aside at the end, which might actually be the real answer.
This past Saturday, the kids let us sleep in until almost 9:00*. It was as amazing as it sounds, until about an hour after we got up, when my husband went down to the basement.
While R (9) read in bed, and Miss C (1) played in her crib, the other three (ages 3, 5, and 7) apparently had a goldfish fight in the basement playroom. It involved two entire bags of goldfish crackers and culminated in them stomping the goldfish to crumbs all over the carpet, mixed in with toys.
2 1/2 days later, after getting them to clean up the toys, do a first run over the crumbs with a carpet sweeper, clean up the toys again, clean up the crumbs someone shook out of the carpet sweeper after they neglected to empty it, and clean up the toys again, I finally got down there with the vacuum to finish the job, only to discover that the last time I made them vacuum up a big mess someone had decided it would be a good idea to vacuum up a sock.
This evening I spent an hour taking apart the vacuum, unclogging the vacuum, putting the vacuum together, and vacuuming.
But, I got to sleep in until 9:00* on Saturday!
*After being up with Miss C several times during the night because she still doesn’t sleep well.
I like to give homemade treats for the holidays. I get the cute little tins and fill them with goodies. This year the kids handed some out to our whole neighborhood of 2 dozen houses, plus teachers, friends, the mailman, and even our pediatrician’s office.
It’s nice to have a variety of treats, but it’s a pain to make a large quantity of a lot of different things. I kept it pretty easy this year. I made some of The Best Cookies Ever. They are a variation on spritz cookies, so they work up quickly. If you don’t have a cookie press, you could always make the dough and then form balls and press them on to a cookie sheet with a half pecan on top. Yum. And then I made fudge and turtles. The easy way. And threw in some mints for good measure.
I’m not a food blogger or a food photographer. I didn’t come up with either of these recipes, but they are so easy I have to share them. Each requires only 3 ingredients and a few minutes of time and turns out beautifully.
That’s 1 mile into a 2.5 mile woods trail near our home. I take the two little ones while the older three are in school. Miss C sits in the stroller parked next to me while Little A throws pebbles into the water and I crochet a few tiny hats. And then we finish our walk.
I often get asked how I find the time to crochet while taking care of five young children. I have a two part answer. First, I don’t clean as often as I should. Second, I don’t have a smartphone. That pretty much covers it.
When we have bananas which need to be used we make Banana Bread. When we have apples which need to be used we make apple crisp.
Apple crisp is one of my favorite things to bake with kids. It is delicious, there aren’t any raw eggs, you don’t need to measure exactly, if at all, and you get to use a really fun apple slicer.
I’m busy today. I seem to have gotten to the stage of sleep deprivation where I feel like the energizer bunny. I hope it lasts through dinner and getting the kids in bed!
Last night when Miss C woke to nurse I realized that our laundry piles had taken over the rocking chair. Uh oh. Today I had to address the problem. When the clean laundry starts to look like this, all stacked together and starting to compress and merge, we refer to it (not affectionately) as “laundry mountain.” It happens at least every other week. Five kids make a lot of laundry. There is a foot stool in there, somewhere. I think.
I have been thinking about organization a lot recently. One of the tricks I use I learned from my mom, who learned it from her mom. Each kid is assigned a color. My mom and her sisters were red, green, blue, and yellow, in that order. My siblings and I were red, blue, yellow, and green.
We assigned colors at birth, kind of accidentally. They were each given a blankie knit either by my sister (#1, #2, and #3,) or myself (#4 and #5.) That color stuck. In order, R has yellow, Big A has blue, O has green, Little A has red, and Miss C has purple.
The main reason this is useful is because kids can learn to identify their color before they learn to identify their initial or name. It’s also often easier to mark something with a color then with a letter or name.
We use the kids’ colors around the house: on all the bathroom stuff, on the laundry baskets, one the lunch containers, and so on.