During our recent trip to Italy, there were many times we’d be walking down a cobblestone street and be greeted by an Italian exclaiming, “Complimenti!” when they saw our six kids. And back home I have had moments when a stranger looks at me with my kids –like I’m some sort of hero — and says “I don’t know how you do it with six kids”.
Believe me, there are a lot of other remarks that I have received that weren’t so complimentary, but the point remains that many people look at a mother with six kids and think that they are some sort of phenomenon, a walking Saint, perhaps part angel-part human? Either that — or they think you are nuts!
I have to dispel those myths right now! The nuts thing is harder to disprove, but I can prove that having six kids isn’t anywhere near as hard as it was to have 3 little kids — it really isn’t! So, my hats off to all of you mothers of littles who don’t realize just what heroes you are!
The truth is, the summer after having my 3rd child was one of those lost summers — I was like Grandma Moses rocking away on my rocking chair in the kitchen — trying to recover from a very difficult delivery, attending to three kids ages 4 and under, just hoping to survive until my husband returned home from work — that was the point I should have been receiving all the praise for having kids. Because it was really, really hard!
You mothers with your first or second or third child, all under the age of reason, you are the women that I tip my cap to because you are in the most heroic stage of motherhood! I’m going to assure you that it does get easier!
To prove my point, I offer you my 7 Quick Takes: Why Having Six Kids is Easier Than Having Three
1. All the Unnecessary Gear That Weighs You Down:
Oh the gear I had with my first child! I couldn’t leave the house without 20 diapers, 2 extra outfits (you never know when they’re gonna have 2 blow-outs) diaper ointment, 5 favorite toys, blankets, snacks, sippy-cup — you name it, I had to be prepared!
Just look at this picture at World Youth Day, 2002. Yes, that is all of our gear for just one day outside! You would have thought we were preparing for an expedition to the North Pole, Irish flag and all! Yes, that is our baby pop-up tent, enough food and water for a week, blankets, baby backpack, ginormous stroller — and we didn’t really need any of it.
I remember jumping on the bus early that morning with a family with 5 kids — also on their way to World Youth Day. I overheard the husband saying to his wife, “Did we bring diapers?” I remember being shocked — just shocked! I couldn’t believe how relaxed they were about everything and I was a stress case!
Because I had like 20 diapers for the day, we gave them a few of ours. So, you see, God provided for them! And now, we are just like that same family with 5 kids. We are so much more relaxed and we often run out the door without anything — no extra diapers, no shoes, no snacks — and we are just fine without all that stuff!
2. Older Siblings Are the Best Form of Entertainment:
If you only have little ones, you might still be at the “always fighting stage” so I get why adding another child to your own little world wrestling association might not seem like such a good idea. I get that — because I still have certain kids that fight a lot — and sometimes we are all about to lose our minds with the screaming that happens.
But I promise you, when you see the laughter that happens between your kids or the inside jokes or the great big bear hugs that happen, you quickly forget all that other stuff. My littles are so entertained by their siblings that it has made my life so much easier than when it was just me trying to reason and deal with 3 little kids below the age of reason!
Early in our marriage, my husband coined a term that turned out to be so true: “There is no greater gift to give to your child than another sibling”. This doesn’t mean I advocate having as many children as you possibly can, no matter how overwhelmed you might be feeling — not what I’m saying here.
Rather, it’s good to be reminded that all the things in the world don’t really satisfy the deepest longings of the heart like another child does for a family. That’s all.
3. Live-in Babysitters:
This one is huge! It’s so much work to find a babysitter, call a babysitter, drive a baby-sitter, and pay a baby-sitter, that it really stopped me from getting outside of the house for those little breaks that make a big difference. I can actually go out to exercise or pick up groceries all by myself because my older kids can now babysit!
Before I had kids, I never knew how amazing walking through a grocery store all by myself could be. I never knew how nice it was to grab a coffee with a friend and sit quietly and have a conversation. I never knew how much fun it was to grab a few beers on a Saturday night with my husband. I never appreciated these things — but now I do!
So not only do I have amazing babysitters who my littles are incredibly comfortable with (they are siblings after all) but I appreciate my time outside all the more.
4. Saving Time and Money on Toys:
This is sort of related to the gear, but it deserves it’s own category. I used to have so many toys that I thought were necessary to keep my kids happy. I spent hours reading reviews, spent precious money on nontoxic toys, and freaked out when the favorite toy got misplaced –only to realize that these things brought very little joy to my little ones.
You know what brings joy to my sixth child, besides the already mentioned siblings?
Potatoes — that’s right, small potatoes — preferably yukon gold and organic for when he starts to eat them. 🙂 Potatoes are a go-to entertainment for this kid.
You know what else, an orange makes for hours of entertainment at a conference — again preferably organic for when he begins to eat the skin, after throwing it on a dirty floor for an hour. Don’t worry, my doctor assures me dirt is very good for a baby!
And let’s not forget how entertaining plants can be. This one was a little messier than I would have hoped for my cream colored carpet — but there’s no denying it is far more entertaining than any of our other hand-carved wooden toys 🙁
Let’s just say he wasn’t so happy when I began to take his nice big pile of dirt away 🙁
So what I have learned is that kids are entertained by whatever is around them — and most especially whomever is around them. We just don’t need a whole lot to keep them happy. I was way overthinking it when it came to toys and stuff.
5. Closing in on the End of Child-bearing Years Makes You More Grateful for the Kids you Have:
Honestly, there were moments when I dreaded the thought of getting pregnant — not because I didn’t love the kids I had already — but because I was on the edge of exhaustion and couldn’t imagine adding any more chaos to my already chaotic life.
One day I’ll write more about NFP — because it’s amazing — but I now look back and see that God met me every single time I needed Him to. There were definitely times when I first discovered that I was pregnant that I felt overwhelmed — but a few days of prayer and getting my mind around it would quickly change my fears and worries into gratitude.
Now I realize it’s pretty darn amazing that I have been able to have 6 children grow inside of me, to give birth to them, and to enjoy their presence in our lives! And if there are more to come, that would be a blessing too!
6. Maintaining a House is Easier:
Part of our Homeschooling model is to teach our kids the life skills that they will need to function in this world. In my opinion, knowing how to maintain a house and cook a few meals is part of those essential life skills. No matter what they are being called to, knowing the basics will benefit them and the people that they live with.
When I had three little kids, it was just my husband and I who could clean our house. It was so much to do and I always felt overwhelmed by the monumental messes that surrounded me — it was just too much for 2 people to handle!
And then, all of a sudden, the older ones started to be able to help. It is amazing how motivated some of my kids are when people are going to be showing up at our house for dinner — I never thought that day would come!
In our house, everybody over the age of reason (the Church says that’s 7) has a job to do. And honestly, cranking up some fun tunes and working side by side with your kids can actually lead to some fun moments. I’ve busted a few moves while cleaning with my kids — and I’ve also found threatening to bust those moves when their friends are around is a great bargaining tool with teenagers.
7. Better Perspective That All the Hard Work is Worth It.
Raising kids is sort of like a crap shoot. You just sort of try what you think will work and hope for the best. It can leave you up stressing at night over whether or not you are messing up your kids — because you just won’t know for years whether or not they are going to turn out okay. When you have only littles, you tend to worry a lot more about every decision you make for them because you’re just haven’t seen the results of all your hard work.
Now, a lot of the foundation is there, and I just have to keep trying my best and leave the results to God. I’m letting go and realizing that I just have to try to put their hand in God’s and slowly step back and see how they do.
And now that I have some kids who are older, and I have been able to see how amazing they are, it makes me a lot less worried than I used to be. I’m not saying that they are perfect, but what I am saying is that I really like the young men and women that they are growing up to be. Honestly, I can’t imagine life without them and there would be a big fat void if any of them had never been!
I would have missed out on a lot of life if I hadn’t said yes to raising these 6 crazy kids.
Well, hope this encourages somebody out there — especially those of you who are just at the beginning of raising kids — don’t worry, it’s gonna be great!
~Have a Great Weekend~
Linking up with Kelly.