Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The realities of having four kids

When people hear that we’ve got four young children, the most common response is to gasp and say ‘I don’t know how you do it!’ or ‘how do you cope?’ The truth is, having four kids is easy. If you don't mind constant noise and chaos and having your life revolve around meeting the needs of tiny people, ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.

If you're planning on a big family, good for you. Our kids bring us joy and light up our lives in ways we've never imagined. I love it. We've grown used to the mayhem and mess, and accept that for now, this is what our lives are like. But just so you know, there's a few realities that come with having a large family, some of which take a bit of getting used to.

Here are the realities of having four small kids in the house:

There’s a lot of washing to do

Because kids are dirty, filthy creatures. Our washing machine is always full. For the sake of the environment, I've tried to be selective about what goes in for the wash and what gets worn again. But this has meant using the 'sniff test', which on more than one occasion Has. Punished. Me.  So now the rule of thumb is, 'if a child has worn it, it gets washed'. Really, it's not so much the washing bit that's hard. It's easy to dump clothes in a machine, add detergent and press 'start'. Even the drying process isn't that bad, but the folding and putting away of said clothes? The piles and piles of clothes? It brings me to my knees.

All the upkeep

Keeping track of all the little finger and toenails in the house constantly gets the better of me. I am in charge of eighty little nails, people. And then there's the bottoms to wipe, the teeth to brush, the noses to blow, and the ears to clean (which admittedly, I rarely do). Thankfully, the twins don't have much hair yet, but when there are four heads to oversee...and there's a lice outbreak at school? Hold, don't hold me, I might have lice. Get me a drink instead, quick.

The people mover

After shopping around, we went with the 8-seater, as this was the only one we figured could manage all the car seats and all our stuff. We are now the proud drivers of a people mover that no longer fits into our local supermarket car park or down small and winding suburban streets. The logistics of getting all four of them into their seats and buckled up is a hunch-backed, sweat-inducing, painful routine. Although, it's a great feeling when they're all buckled up and contained safe.

The vices

I am seriously dependent on coffee and red wine to bookend the day and I'm fine with it. If you plan on having lots of children you'll find your own vices along the way, which you'll make your peace with. They'll be the only thing that get you out of bed in the morning and keep you going until the end of the day.

Simple things are no longer simple

All the things that used to be simple, or at least straightforward, now require a detailed and strategic plan: getting petrol, a take-away coffee, going to the park - there is no simple trip or quick pop-up the road. Getting four kids ready and out the door is hard enough, but factoring in a stop-off at the supermarket and ferrying four kids out of the car and up and down the aisles of Woolworths is a headache that is not even worth talking about. Let's just say that when the milk runs out, it's pretty awful, bone-crushing news.

Stuff gets lost

Something's always missing and it's always something important. Think baby wipes, the TV remote, keys and special bedtime toys. I know the theory about everything having its place...this theory has no place in a house with this many small people. Small people couldn't care less about everything having its place. They are much more interested in finding said important items, running off with them like little imps and leaving them somewhere random like in the hat cupboard under the stairs (my keys - for a week) or in an old lunch box out the back with all the plastic toys (Lamby - two weeks). 

Someone is always doing something they shouldn’t

Of course they are. If I had all these siblings to cover my arse, I'd get up to mischief at every possible opportunity too. I only have to turn my back while I open the fridge to find someone going through the kitchen bin, someone drawing on their face and someone else eating a week-old biscuit they found under the couch.

There’s plenty to cry about (but also lots to laugh about)

With a lively six-year-old, a threenager, and a couple of toddlers in the house, there's lots of drama and crying at our place.  And then there's my tears and tantrums. We are a noisy, emotional bunch. But equally, there's a lot of laughter in our house. For all the noise, mess and chaos that small people create, they are hilarious creatures, and it's truly the laughs that keep us putting one foot in front of the other. 

* originally published on Kidspot