Once question I frequently get asked, as a blogger, homeschooler and mom of four girls, is, “How do you do it?” Some hold me up as a super mom and others just seem amazed that I can get anything done with four children under foot. Honestly, I’m not a super mom and I don’t always get everything done. However, I’d beg to suggest that blogging and homeschooling is possible because I have four kids, not in spite of that. How, you ask? Let me give you five reasons why having 4 kids is easier than having one or two.
I’m not that mom who spends hours playing with my girls. For starters, I’ve got that to-do list to accomplish—dishes, laundry, house cleaning, blog posts. The bigger reason, however, is that they’re usually too busy playing with each other to play with me. (If you are the mom who plays with your kids, kudos to you. I was the babysitter who always played with my charges, but I’ve somehow turned into a boring mom.)
Having 4 kids means that they almost always have a playmate around, other than me.
It’s been fun recently to see Pearl (18 months old) start playing more with her older siblings. Sunshine and Lily love giving her piggy back rides, playing peek-a-boo, or making up other games. More often, she plays play dough with Jade (age 4) or builds MegaBlocks with her.
How much the girls play with each other has been reinforced to me on a few occasions when my husband takes all three older girls out. When her sisters are around, Pearl is generally a pretty happy baby. She may try to do what they are doing, or she may just play around them.
When the older girls are out, Pearl seems almost lost. She wants to sit on my lap. She wants me to play with her. She won’t play with her blocks or colour or read her books, or do all the things that she does (without encouragement) when the older girls are there.
Now that my older girls are 7 and 9, they are able to help out quite a bit with their younger sisters. I noticed this especially after Pearl’s birth, when I was often busy with the new baby. Suddenly, my older girls could step in to help Jade (then age 3) with getting dressed or getting snacks. My oldest has put Pearl down for a nap a few times and very occasionally changes diapers (not poopy ones).
This isn’t to say that I’m a slave driver who makes them take care of their younger siblings. Sometimes, yes, I’ve demanded some help when I’m in the middle of chopping chicken for dinner or huddling over the toilet with the flu. More often, they volunteer for something. All three of the girls love helping Pearl (who wouldn’t? she’s so cute!), whether they are holding her hand as we walk to the car, getting her unbuckled when we reach our destination, helping her pick an outfit for the day, or sharing their snacks with her.
There’s also that toddler stage… you know, when you don’t put the toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush in exactly the right manner, or you grab the wrong colour of sippy cup, or you try to convince them that they really need to wear their running shoes instead of their pink sparkly shoes, and they throw the Temper Tantrum of the Year.
That’s when a big sister is very helpful. Lily has an amazing relationship with Jade (two years younger) and has, on many occasions, been able to calm that Temper Tantrum of the Year. When the toddler is mad at mommy, a big sister is like a miracle cure.
Okay, we’re not quite at this stage yet, but I’m counting down the years until Sunshine (currently age 9) is old enough to babysit. Until then, I’m employing my friends’ teenage daughters (and appreciating the fact that, because these girls have younger siblings and help out frequently at home, I trust them more with my own daughters). I’ve heard from my friends with older children that this stage with in-home babysitters is almost magical. It makes those really tough years with several toddlers in tow worth it.
So you had your first child, and made a huge gift registry, and invited all your friends to a baby shower. And then you had your next child, and maybe updated a few items in the nursery (especially if your second child wasn’t the same gender as your first). After that, it’s easy sailing. These days, when Jade needs new shoes or Pearl needs longer pants, I don’t go to the store. I just go to the box in the closet. I’ve got clothing, shoes, coats, toys, and more for girls ages 10 through newborn.
Having one or two children was harder because I always had to anticipate their needs. Baby will outgrow cribs and car seats and clothes and hats and shoes. Now, on those rare occasions when I’m buying something for Sunshine (we get a lot of hand-me-downs from family and friends), I buy with her younger sisters in mind. It’s worth paying a bit more for a quality pair of shoes if her sisters can wear them too. Knowing what stages my older girls have gone through, I know what the younger girls will need as well.
Often, as I’m doing something with Pearl, I’ve thought back to those days when Sunshine was her age. I’m quite sure I was a very different mom back then. I’ve learned a lot in ten years as a mom… and not just in ten years as a mom, but in having four children in those ten years. Each of them has their own personality, their own needs and ideas, their own unique perspective in our family. Each of them has taught me so much, about myself and about being a mom.
When I had Sunshine and Lily, other moms (with more experience and more kids) told me that it would get easier as they got older. In the midst of dirty diapers and toddler tantrums, that seemed hard to believe at times. Now that I’m on the other side, with older kids who can help out and a closet full of hand-me-downs and sisters who play nicely together (most days), I understand what they meant.
Yes, it may be hectic at times to coordinate the schedules of four girls. It may be hard to listen to all four of them talking to me at once over the dinner table. I may get tired of each of them asking for something at the same time (if only I had eight arms or the ability to bi-locate). But on the whole, I’d say that yes, my life as a mom is easier as the mom of four than it was as a mom of one or two.
How many children do you have? What has made mothering “easier” for you?