One of the questions I get asked the most is what life looks like with 5 kids. How do we manage 5 tiny humans? What kind of madness goes on around here?
I don’t even know where to start with this.
Maybe I should begin with a photo like so, where the kids that aren’t screaming or bickering or whining.
But a picture like this might give you the wrong idea because there is plenty of screaming and bickering and whining, along with unwashed laundry, spilled food, toy messes, poop on the bed, poop on the floor, poop on my clothes, poop in all kinds of places it really shouldn’t be in.
Perhaps I could talk about how a day around here looks like:
5.30am – baby Hayley’s pre-dawn feed
6.15am – Tru and Kirsten get ready for school
6.45am – the husband drops the 2 big kids off at school
7.30 to 8am – Finn and Theo get up and have breakfast
8.30am – drop Finn off at preschool, grab a quick breakfast with the husband + 1 baby (either Theo or Hayley, depending on when the baby last fed), drop the husband off at work
11am – run some errands, maybe a quick grocery run with 1 baby
12.30pm – swap the baby for the other baby, pick Finn from school, circle back to pick Truett & Kirsten, then head home for lunch
<<I imagine this is what the life of an uber driver looks like. I also briefly considered being an actual uber driver, and why not? I could pick up a passenger on my way back from town after dropping the husband off in the morning, another on the way back to town when I’d return to pick him up, plus several more in between. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of having to put on real pants, a top that wasn’t comfortably oversized or stained with baby vomit, and some make up. That or I’d have to pick up perfectly-coiffed young executive types looking like I’d just come off a shift at the market, which would give me zero stars on my uber profile.>>
2pm – I’ll try to get Theo to nap while he fake poops and sings on the bed until I come to my senses about how futile this attempt really is. Abort mission.
2.30pm – I’ll spend what’s left of the afternoon feeding the baby, breaking up squabbles, cleaning poop, kissing imaginary boo boos that have healed 2 weeks ago, looking into homework/spelling/听写/show and tell, fixing puzzles, fixing snacks, fixing blocks, fixing more snacks, fixing a dinner that my eldest son describes as prison food (usually rice and soup and fish and chicken and vegetables), making everyone eat enough of said dinner while watching them make vomit faces, before cleaning everything up and sending them all off to bed.
8pm – bedtime for Truett, Kirsten, Finn and Theo
8.30pm – once the 4 big kids are asleep, I’ll bring Hayley along with me to pick the husband up from work.
11pm – Hayley goes to bed for the night, and so do I. And then we’ll have fun with the 2-3 hour feed/burp/walk/bounce routine for the rest of the night.
I have a domestic helper who helps me out in managing the madness throughout the day, which is a lifesaver but some days, I can tell that she wonders why she ever agreed to come work at a family with 5 kids.
Multitask. At any given moment, I’m probably holding a baby, helping one kid practice spelling, having another kid tell me to “PUT BABY HAYLEY DOWN AND CARRY ME TO THE KITCHEN TO GET STRAWBERRIES!!”, checking homework, while listening to someone else tell me he’s “very tired and needs milk” but will not actually sleep after he’s done with the milk.
Get the kids involved because big kids are very useful. With the exception of baby Hayley, all of them (even Theo) help to pack up toys, pick up trash from the floor, watch out for each other, sing to the baby. This gives me time to take a shower or eat a cookie without being harassed.
It’s probably not very different from the days of most stay home moms, except maybe with a few more snacks to fix and more messes to clean.
But I think the real question most people want to ask is WHY. Why do we do this?
It sounds crazy but I really do like having all the kids at home with me even though they’re so demanding and they leave a trail of destruction in their wake.
Like last week, they decided to set up a shop selling all my possessions to each other for actual money. My money. Which they acquired from my wallet while I was distracted with the baby. After they were done, EVERYTHING WAS EVERYWHERE. Coins under the sofa, stray puzzle pieces in the toilet, a $10 note flapping in the balcony, scrap paper on the table, random toy parts covering just about every inch of floor area in the house.
I was already exhausted – the baby and I had a rough night – and looking at the mess made me want to cry but looking at the mess also made me smile because it was the result of 4 hours of crazy fun where Truett and Kirsten gave the two smaller boys a wallet stuffed full of coins each and taught them how to buy stuff from a shop.
I can’t tell you how much feels I had just watching them play that afternoon.
It makes me feel thankful that I’ve got messes to clean and tears to wipe away because it means that I’ve got all my 5 babies here to make them. I know that someday soon, I’ll wake up to an immaculate living room with no towels thrown on the floor or a trail of cookie crumbs (and ants!!) leading to the kitchen, but for me, that will be a sad, sad day.
Motherhood takes a lot from you, it’s true. Sometimes it takes everything that you’ve got and then some more even when you feel like you’ve got nothing left to give. Sometimes it makes you feel like you’re not doing enough or doing it right. Sometimes it makes you feel like someone else is living the dream while you’re stuck here knee deep in baby poop.
But I can’t shake the feeling that right here in the midst of all the madness is my highlight reel. This is where it’s at.
All the chocolate stained faces I get to clean and little hands that I get to hold and the sleepy faces I get to kiss, this is the part that really matters and I’m glad I still get to do it everyday.