Lessons learnt from looking after more kids

So we are back into the ‘normal’ swing of things here now that our extra visitors have left. The girls miss their cousins though and have had to get into the Facetime action to catch up. I know that they would have made some great memories though…and those are the best memories I have of my own childhood – hanging out with cousins in the School holidays.

Now as for all of you who have more than 2 children, I take my hat off to you. DEAD SET. I had 4 girls for just 5 nights and I was just about SPENT at the end of it. So much noise. So many fights. So much squealing. So much mess. SO MUCH FOOD.

K2

It was an interesting exercise in parenting though, having a few extra kids for a while. Here’s some of the stuff that I learnt and what I will be trying to do ALL the time with my own kids.

Treat the house like a school

With just two kids, and usually just one during the day with me while I try to work, I tend to go with the flow and tend to needs as they come to hand. It’s part me being lazy and part me being busy. You just can’t do that with more kids. I had to break the day up like a school day and let EVERYONE know at the start of the day what was going to happen so everyone knew what the plan was. I would round them up around the breakfast table and say “SO. Ladies! Attention please! We are having breakfast, then you are going to get dressed and play outside. At 10am there will be morning tea, then you can do craft, then we will have lunch then you can watch a movie, then we will go out and then afternoon tea and then outside play until dinner. Then bath, then books, then bed.” Everyone knew what was going on (including me). The big kids could keep the little ones on schedule and no one could ask what we were doing. I was like a bloody drill sergeant. I need to do this more often with my own kids.

K3

Feed me Seymour

I am SO slack with meals for my kids. Again it’s the lazy/busy part of me that means that I will realise it’s 9.30am and my kids still haven’t had breakfast. I was SO strict with food with more kids. We knew at 7.30 we would have breakfast, 10/10.30 morning tea, 12.30 lunch, 3.30pm arvo tea and 5.30pm dinner. There was no asking for food in between and I made sure I made an effort with each meal – lots of cut fruit, cheese, crackers, variety and they swept in, demolished and moved on. No one nagged me for food in between – I suspect because they were actually too busy to care, but we ate better, wasted less, and ended up eating everything in front of them. They were happy, I was happy. I am taking this shit on board with my own girls. Time to get bothered Beth, and get on track. Again, it’s routine, routine, routine. So boring! So works!

K4

Thirsty work

I usually have juice in my house. I do! Poppers and stuff and I inevitably get asked for it, because, you know, it’s there. I made sure I had NONE. Just water. That was it. They couldn’t ask for anything else, because there WASN’T anything else. DER BETH. I kept drink bottles in one place, made sure they returned them and if they needed a drink at ANY stage in the day, they could get it themselves. How long has THIS been going on? DER BETH. No more juice. Water. In the one place. Genius!

K5

I know you are all probably rolling your eyes at me…I mean this is just good practice right? It’s like saying you can take snacks of cut fruit in small containers when you are at the park…but for someone who has NEVER done that (yes I was always the Mum whose kid stole your kids cut up fruit) it’s been quite the parenting lesson. Routine. Order. Food. Water. Who knew?! I hope I can keep this up – the girls loved it and it’s time for me to BE bothered. I’ll be bothered Beth! For a week at least…

What’s your parenting tip I need to know?
That one thing that will be a game changer for a complete moron like me?

  • Kellie Collett

    lol….some true shit indeed. Water all the way and ROUTINE!!!! I have 3 girls and run my place like clockwork otherwise it all turns to shit. Well done, well done on your good work xxx

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      It DOES all turn to shot doesn’t it? You take a phone call, or check your email and the next thing you know it’s off the rails. We mothers are some special people!

      • Kellie Collett

        totes agree! God help the person that phones or knocks on the door between 5pm and 7pm of an evening!!! Again, well done x

  • Bree Di Mattina

    Yep water is the go. They get one small glass of juice at breakfast and that’s it. I do all that stuff you were talking about but had to remind the boy child about feeding hours while at home on hols. I even take cut up fruit to the shops now. And always have a packet of sultanas and a muesli bar in my bag. We have an iron clad bedtime routine and time. Otherwise mama goes loco. The other thing I now do which a very wise mummy of 4 told me… a couple of times a week we have a really easy dinner. Like baked beans or scrambled eggs or a toasted sandwich or something. Easy and money saving and the kids love it. Ours is usually monday after swimming lesson and then a couple of days later.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      I hate to admit how many times a week we have easy dinners…

      • Bree Di Mattina

        It won’t kill them seriously

  • Steph @MamaMarmalade

    Welcome to my world. You are a great Mum but you’d also be a great Mum to loads of kids – it helps when you’re super organised and like routine. It’s why my kids will grow up thinking our house was actually a very small army barracks. I don’t cope with chaos .. not ideal when you have 4 kids and 3 of them boys so I run a tight ship. We do the same things at the same time every day and the kids follow suit. Glad you had a great week and LOVE that you’re nurturing your girls’ future special memories xx

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      I bow down to your skills sensei. I am but a mere imposter!

  • Gail Virgona

    Love it all Beth. Sometimes do this but more often than not roll with the day and meltdowns as they come. So shouldn’t. Routine is the answer. I find it’s the husband who buggers it all up. I’m mid dinner/bath/books routine and he comes home and decides it’s time for a dance party/footy match. I’ve announced that me and the bubba are the A Team and we get ourselves sorted even if he and the boys (B team) do not. After getting her to sleep I tend to hide away reading blogs until I hear the B team is in bed. No routine tips from me but my wise sister in law who had 4 under 4 (nuts) never interferes in a fight unless someone is getting hurt. Let’s them sort it out. Good for their conflict resolution skills apparently.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Oh that’s some good advice…taken on!

  • http://www.singularinsanity.com/ Dorothy

    I am so slack on school holidays, we eat when I remember to feed them, but with only two it’s no drama. We also ate out a lot, as a treat and to take the pressure off of myself. On school days, our days run like clockwork, unless the children refuse to cooperate and then we have lots of shouting.

    Loving your approach to managing so many kids, it’s gotta be done.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Sounds like me Dorothy! That’s what holidays are for though right?

  • carohutchison

    My sister gave all the kids stainless steel drink bottles with their name on it for Christmas last year. Gold. All had different pictures so even the little kids knew which one was theirs.

    I always take a whole packet of rice crackers to the park, they go so quickly and usually there’s an extra mouth or two who wants one :)

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      I need to start taking the stuff I have in home out…great advice!

  • Narelle Anderton

    I have loved reading your posts about the four girls, I am a crazy mum of 4 girls ( 8,6,3 &1)! Sometimes its down right hard work but most of the time we just flow with the punches. I must say its the girly screaming that does my head in the most. Good job Beth, you coped!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Congrats to you! I don’t know how I would be full time though!

  • Bec

    I’m a mum of a four (4, 3 and 9 month twins) and I think routine and organisation is keeping me sane – just! My tips: always try and a be a step or two ahead (make morning tea at breakfast when all the mess is already there, arvo tea at lunch time, etc), drink bottles, teach them to clean up and help from a young age, lunch boxes in school holidays, eat outside whenever possible, meal planning, easy dinners a couple of times a week, toy boxes in different locations around house so you can just pick up and throw in for a quick clean up, and a very tight bedtime routine. And wine, lots of wine. X

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      That is GOLD Bec. Arvo tea when lunch mess is there = one lot of mess. GENIUS. Thank you!!!!

  • Averil

    I’ve got 3, and run a tight ship here! I only offer water, mainly because I cannot stand sticky floors. My tip would be to send them outside. With all this gorgeous weather mine have been spending lots of time outside which means less mess, crumbs and noise inside. They burn off lots of energy riding bikes, playing on swings and kicking balls. In the school holidays I actually locked the back door for a while and told them only to come knocking if someone was hurt!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Yes…I send them out to eat as much as possible. Good advice!

  • Lucinda Terry

    I love this Beth even though I’m one of the readers saying um, der?! But each of us is different and learns this parenting gig in their own way and their own time. It’s taken me almost 7 years to learn half those things – and the water bottles at the start of the day is genius! Hadn’t thought of that one yet. Well done to you! I would’ve been buggered after a day with 4 of them. I stress out when just one of my kids has a friend over for a couple of hours. Having said that, I definitely think there’s economy of scale when it comes to kids – the big ones take care of the little ones, and distract and instruct them.
    PS cute little H video on IG. The fact that she’s in a little ballet leotard and has cute ponytail, together with the mini Roberto face, just makes it even more adorable. My tip for next year is to have something you both do together regularly which is out of the house. We had a Taronga Zoo membership and were at the zoo every other week. It saved both his and my sanity! Oh, and the dot to dot words… xx

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Thanks Lucinda! We will have all kinds of stuff together next year…I am going to fill it up as much as I can so neither of us go crackers xxx

  • http://www.countrylifeexperiment.com/ JoCountrylifeexperiment

    We started doing water only when we moved here, mainly because we didn’t have the storage space for enough juice for a month (which is how often we shop). The kids don’t miss it, and it is one less thing they want. My 6 and 8 year old can get their own snacks from the pre approved snack shelf. Can’t wait till Mr3 can do that too.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Pre-approved snack shelf…love it!

  • http://alifeonvenus.blogspot.com.au/ Sam Stone @ A Life on Venus

    I got nothin’. I close my eyes and hope for the best most of the time. So far, so good.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      If it ain’t broke…

  • Adele

    my maternal health nurse called juice crack for kids!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Love it!

  • http://www.dazeofmylife.com Corinne

    Yep, living in the desert and in AC watering is constant, the kids have a pile of plastic cups next to our water dispenser. Even Darbs can fill his own cup now.
    I’m bad with the snacks. My girls can get their own breakfast now (god send, especially the big one who eats 4 weetbix and 4 pieces of toast before 7am). But I let myself down with the snacks!
    They’re used to having their snack/recess by 9,30am at school, so during the holidays I was “what?? You just ate breakfast you can’t be hungry yet??!!”
    I was/still am the mum who never takes food out and my kids steal other people’s. I just never think about it. I also have one non-fruit eater so I often struggle to think up healthy snacks besides cheese and crackers for her.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Cheese and crackers covers ALL the food groups, don’t stress x

  • ahoy.jenni

    You crack me up!
    I had my two 40 something single no kids (one a corporate manager the other a psychologist) girlfriends stay for a disastrous weekend recently and part of the disaster was they thought I was bossy!
    They don’t have kids so they don’t get it!!
    So glad you did this post…you make me feel normal!
    Snacks….what did your kids do when they were smaller ? Chew on your arm?
    Water bottles and hats. We don’t go anywhere without them.
    I do have juice though but I always dilute it (1/3 juice to 2/3 water) Its good to have to give to tired grumpy kids who simply don’t drink enough water no matter how much you push it on them. I always buy a good organic brand.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      I think I gave them snacks…no, I KNOW I did! WIll look into some fancy juice and good tip on the water x

  • Priscilla

    I just love that blog! I am a mum of 5 (1 girl and 4 boys) and I am not great at keeping my shit together. We live a little like a commune. I would love to be organised and admire those who are, but it just ain’t me. I think I thrive on the chaos. And I have happy, well adjusted kids so I’m not losing too much sleep about it. High 5 to you if you can keep it up though

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      And high five to you too! This shit won’t last 5 minutes…watch this space!

  • MotherDownUnder

    No juice here.
    And I am sometimes great with snacks and meals and sometimes really slack. I love baking though and on the weekends I always whip up some healthy “cake” or muffins and usually offer that for one of the daily snacks. I am also fairly militant about Toddler C eating in his chair. Hopefully it will help with table manners and it definitely helps contain the crumbs. The only exception is a smoothie..that is an outside drink!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      You do a great job – so much wonderful home made stuff!

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Very true kids thrive on routine,and I think you have it nailed Beth!

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      I nailed it for 3.4 seconds x

  • Gibbergunyah

    Gosh, I just assume everyone does this stuff. And then I look around and go DER, there’s more than one way to do it. I think having a sensitive, pedantic difficult baby first go, followed by his colicky brother 21 months later just forced me to start with routine and then stick with it. That and being the oldest of four kids (in 6 years) of a school teacher mother. Mum often called us “The troops” and used to do things like make a packed lunch for EVERYONE, yes, even those not at school. Regular meals (especially for the oldest who never asks for food) prevents meltdowns. I envy the more relaxed, go-with-the-flow parents though. I kind of feel on a treadmill, you know?

    Regarding juice, having worked as a health professional with dietitians, dentists etc, and having to deal with some juice addicted kids, it’s really just best for them to have it as a special occasion drink (parties and cafes). And it’s so much easier to stay calm when all they can spill is juice. I’m too lazy to mop sticky floors. My mum thinks my kids are going to get scurvy though, DESPITE the continual fruit cutting up I seem to do.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Your Mum sounds like a legend!

  • wino1970

    God, I hate routine. I mean, its there, get up eat lunches school work dinner etc and so on….but holidays to me mean, none of that bullshit.
    We eat when we eat, sleep when we sleep and play and carry on and have a fine old time. Certainly I’m not dissing the people who love order and who find it works best, but if I dont have a break from routine a few times a year, I would go postal. That is a promise, not a threat.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Absolutely!

  • Engracia Findlay

    Hi Beth, I am a new follower, found you via Retromummy & have enjoyed a few days reading some of your past adventures, my hubby thought I was MIA until he found me glued to the screen!! I have 2 boys (6 & 8, one with special needs) & my sanity relies on printed schedules & menus stuck on the fridge. Brekky & school lunches are made the night before. It just keeps things on an even keel. Holiday times though that all goes out the door & we just play it by ear & see where the day takes us (often it means a whole day in our PJs, happy days). Water & milk are our drinks of choice, fruit on the bench & a snack draw easily accessed by the boys. You’re not a moron, btw, just a normal hard working mum doing the best for her family. Engracia xx

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Thanks Engracia! Nice to have you here :)

  • http://slapdashmama.blogspot.com.au/ SlapdashMama

    Routine is my nemesis. I mean, I know it is GOOD and I want to DO IT and fark me I want to be the Mum with the cut up fruit in tupperware in the fridge and muffins frozen and whatnot but it is so HARD DAMMIT! Maybe I should have 5 kids just so I can get over myself.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      It IS hard. That’s why I am always so lazy. One day I will freeze baked goods…one day. Or not!

  • Melanie Ann Tarr

    two hands = two kids.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth

      Yes!