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Surviving when you have more kids than arms

Large family in bedSo, you’ve decided to have a big family? Or you’re marrying into one?

Lucky for you, I love giving advice. I really do. There is nothing easier than telling someone else how to operate in life from a safe distance and with low emotional stakes!

And who loves giving advice to mothers? Everyone!! Anyone who has had a baby or has been a baby is eager to share tips. Be wary. Parents have terrible memories and might be advising you about your two-month-old with advice more appropriate for an 18-month-old. Worse, people might be offering advice out of date two decades ago. (Thanks, Mum.)

Let me repeat: I am no parenting expert. Tonight I heated up left over spaghetti and meatballs for one of my daughters and forgot to feed it to her. I’m not even remotely kidding. Didn’t even realise until after bedtime when she asked for apples slices and I went down to the kitchen to see the bowl sitting next to the sink.

I am no expert but I am experienced. I literally have more kids than arms. I have more kids than bones in my inner ear. I have enough kids that people slowly back away from me at the public library’s Wriggle and Rhyme session when I don’t lie about how many dependents live in my house. I have four kids and I haven’t lost any yet. (Well, not outside of the house anyway.) That definitely qualifies me to share survival tips.

And unlike a lot of the internet, I won’t be an arse about it either.

Surviving when you have more kids than arms

Control is an illusion

Buy the pretty clothes, cook the nutritious meals from scratch, and invest in college savings now. You can lead a horse to water but… A first lesson is little cute itty bitty baby socks with bows. Nobody keeps baby socks on a baby. Nobody. One of the many frustrating things you will find you cannot control in the parenting game.

Chill the Eff Out

A veteran mother of four took me aside at work to tell me in hushed tones, “Most things don’t matter.” And she’s right. Resilience will be learned early in our full house. The more children you create, the less time you have to care. Not about the children but about controlling the circumstances of their existence. When the kids are 16, no one will ask if they were co-sleepers, breastfed, addicted to Peppa Pig, wore colour co-ordinated outfits or were toilet trained at 2.

Sleep

Life is easier if one kid is always asleep. Ultimately, parenting is much easier when all of the kids are asleep but this just isn’t realistic for vast chunks of the day.

TV is like a vacation you can afford

Boxset DVDS or a subscription to a streaming service is recommend. I like low-stress, non-offensive viewing during the daytime milking hours: Gilmore Girls, Parks and Rec, Jane the Virgin and Grace and Frankie are among my favourites. Milk-makers are way too hormonal for crime or drama. Another one of the many frustrating things you will find you cannot control.

Wake up at 5am

I can see you doing the internet equivalent of backing slowly away from me like I have just made an insane suggestion but I’m serious. The 5am club is quiet, peaceful and entirely yours to either be a fully productive member of Livingroom Crossfit or just muck around on social media. Give yourself the gift of an hour that is entirely yours. Also, you’ll have earned yourself a smug hashtag. (#5amclub)

More babies than boobs? Bottle feed when you feel like it.

Formula is not the devil. Formula is miracle of science and human ingenuity. Babies do not have to be binary. There is only so much nipple to go around. Much to my husband’s disappointment.

Don’t quit ‘til you get enough

Have as many kids as you can afford. You can tell you’re at capacity once you start forgetting to feed any of them. Quit right then! I know I should have.

Are you really a person who wants advice for raising children by a woman who is nutty enough to have four kids?! Probably not. I think you might just be curious. Even if it’s just so you can promptly reject the unsolicited advice and realise:

You’re surviving parenting your kids just fine, thankyouverymuch!

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