5 Ways To Connect With Your Kids Right Now

Raising 3+ children is the heavyweight category of parenting. These parents are pros because they have to be. They’re outnumbered.

Here are honest tips from parents of 3+ kids on how to manage the chaos and stay sane no matter how many children you have.

#1 Remember your spouse.
Parenting can take all you have- all your energy, your patience, your last shred of generosity- and leave you begging to be left alone at the end of the day. Fight that. Your spouse is not just your children’s parent but also your best friend and lover. Don’t forget that and don’t take it for granted. Have fun with your spouse.

Debbie White Wilkins Baisden, mother of 4: Put your husband first. His needs have not changed. He will be there when the kids move out. Go on dates and don’t discuss the children.

Megan Dimond Porter, mother of 8: Make time for just the two of you. Even folding laundry together in the evening after bedtime counts!

Communicate with your spouse. Talk about the calendar of events, the kids, and also anything but the kids. No one likes to feel out of the loop. 

Jonathan Kim, father of 3: Take time to catch up on adult conversation.

#2 Routines are critical, particularly for sleep.
Kids thrive on routines. It helps the days make sense to them. They know what to expect. They feel comfortable. Structure the days (and weekends) as consistently as possible when the children are young.

Lauren Marie Cuccias, mother of 3: I use a timer for everything. I give the kids 5 minute warnings before transitioning from activities.

Sleep is the most important part of the routine. Skip a nap at your peril. Guard the nap schedule like a dragon. It’s tempting to go to the afternoon birthday party but you’ll certainly pay for it later at dinnertime. If the baby catches a short one in the car it will ruin the nap at home.

Stephanie Gugliaro DeGaeta, mother of 3: Before my kids were in school I used to make them all nap at the same time. That gave me at least 2 hours to have time to myself to get my life in order. I trained them to all sleep at the same time. It took a week or so but it was definitely worth it.

Routines are also good for you, especially around the two most common things that need to be done each week: food and laundry. These are rolling avalanche-like chores and it’s better to keep up with them than fall behind.

Laura Perniciaro Zonneveldt, mother of 3: Prepping food on the weekends for easy heat and go dinners during the week works!

Megan Dimond Porter, mother of 8: Simplify your laundry routine. Buy Shout Color Catchers and stop constantly sorting. Have kids help. Even preschoolers can sort socks and fold towels.

Dani Bostick, mother of 6: I’d buy socks in bulk and everyone would share. I don’t worry about sock sizes.

#3 Don’t sweat anything, nobody actually cares.
Your kid has a complete meltdown at the supermarket? Don’t get embarrassed. Just leave. Every kid has had a tantrum. It’s annoying but you can come back later. Don’t work yourself up staying and worrying about what other people think. And a no-questions-asked exit policy teaches kids quickly that you do not negotiate.

Vanessa Willis France, mother of 4, nonchalantly explains her son’s meltdowns to strangers in the park: Nope, he’s not tired, he just has meltdowns every now and then and it’s ok. It’s a phase he will eventually grow out of.

Remember the pirate birthday party that almost killed you? You made that amazing striped cake with the homemade marshmallow cannon and matched the decorations, the goodie bags, and even the dog’s bandana. Yeah nobody cares. Do what you want to. Do what you enjoy and can truly fit in your schedule. Don’t do any more than that. If you’re not having fun, then don’t do it. Your kid and your guests will love it anyway, even if it’s store bought and not matching.

Meghann Lawrence, mother of 3: The thing my kids need the most is a hug and a bit of peace and quiet.

#4 Don’t parent for perfection.
What’s so good about perfect? Manage your own expectations and pick your battles. Be a realist, not an idealist. The kids can be happy, quiet, clean, & occupied but only three of those at one time.

Messes can be cleaned up later. Finishing vegetables is optional on the weekends. Parenting truly is a marathon, not a sprint.

Becky Elisabeth, mother of 3: My house can be clean without being tidy. Our home is lived in.

Lauren O, mother of 3: I do all the dishes after dinner. I let them pile up all day and do it all at once.

Danielle Silva Heckenkamp, mother of 4: The toddler might unroll the toilet paper and the baby might dump out the Cheerios, but that is life. I discovered that I needed to go with it if I was going to survive.

Give up on perfect. It’s too hard to keep up. You have more important things to do. The things that support good health, safety, and happiness are worth the energy. Don’t drive yourself crazy to get your family to become immaculate, fully obedient, or picture perfect. Who are you doing it for anyway? See #3 again.

Dani Bostick, mother of 6: Don’t parent for photo ops. Kids don’t need to wear cute outfits and your house doesn’t need to look like something off of a Pinterest estate board.

#5 Make time for fun with the kids.
What are your favorite memories with your own parents? When they spent time with you. Your time is better spent on family game night than making custom Valentine’s cards for their preschool classes. Put down the phone. Resist finishing the to-do list. When you’re with your child, give him your full attention. If you thoroughly tire him out during the day, you’ll have the time later to do those things when he sleeps well later.

Cynthia Smith Huhman, mother of 5: Enjoy your kids, it’s not a contest.

Amanda Davidson, mother of 3: Every Friday, we all come home and we just play together. No cooking no cleaning no working, just play until pizza.

Tara Garite Gunther, mother of 3: My motto is “Let it go.” The laundry can wait until tomorrow and so can cleaning the house. I’d rather play with them.

If you have more than one, carve out solo time with each one. It’s amazing how differently a child can act on his own. When a child’s been particularly on your nerves, that’s a signal he needs some one-on-one time. 

Jamie Christensen-Kramer, mother of 3: Spend time with them individually…this proves to me that they actually do know how to behave.

Crystal Olguin Duffy, mother of 3: This is huge. A good way to prevent sibling rivalry or fights is to give each kiddo individual attention.

#6 Invest in yourself.
It’s okay to fill up your own cup, too. If you are happy, you will have more patience, more energy, and more creative ideas for them. Don’t forget you. You have needs, too. Mental stimulation, a little pampering, a break, real friendships, whatever it is. Devote some time to it. Grow it. Make it your thing.

Lauren Marie Cuccias, mother of 3: Don’t let the kids become your everything. Find something that makes you really happy and feel really rewarded and make time for that in your life sometimes. For me, it’s photography.

Danielle Silva Heckenkamp, mother of 4: As moms, we need to find our own enjoyment. I love to cook elaborate dinners, but that’s just my thing.

When you are truly practicing being present with the kids (see #5), then when you take a break, really step away. You’ve earned it.

Stephanie Gugliaro DeGaeta, mother of 3: I work out an hour a day. I put the baby in for a nap and use that time to just detox my body and mind.

#7 Don’t like this age? It will be over before you know it.
Every stage is a treasure and a curse. You’ll love it and tolerate it at the same time. When they are newborns they don’t sleep through the night, but they also stay in the seat you put them in. When they are 7-years-old they can be very fresh, but they also start to have really interesting conversations. Love each age and try not to wish it away.

Danielle Crowley, mother of 3, reminds herself when she is upset: This chaos won’t last forever.

Zrinka Peters, mother of 6: Embrace the challenge, own it, and don’t run from it.

Debbie White Wilkins Baisden, mother of 4: One day your kids will wipe their own butts, tie their own shoes, and buckle their own seat belts. More exciting, though, is they will be fun to sit and talk to…in the front seat of the car.

#8 It’s okay to make it easy sometimes.
Seriously no judgement. Do what you have to do to get through a bad day. Throw away all your pre-kid declarations of how they would not watch TV until they are 5, no candy bribes, matching outfits, whatever. The “mom cut” is a trend for a reason.

Kelly Higgins Bay, mother of 3: Buy the minivan. Seriously, forget trying to be cool and buy the mini van already.

Strap the kid in the high chair, contain him in the exersaucer, wrap him to your body. If you have a runner, you have to make it safe for him when you unload the groceries. Let the kids open your phone’s Netflix app so you can finish your diner coffee in peace. Store burp rags in every room of the house. Keep a bottle warmer in the kitchen and upstairs. There is no shame in making it easy when you need it to be.

Amanda Davidson, mother of 3: I give my kids a little TV or iPad time, so I can clean, unpack bags and get myself together after work.

Becky Elisabeth, mother of 3: One or two trendy-looking baskets filled with toys won’t ruin the feng shui of the living room.

Cynthia Smith Huhman, mother of 5: Best trick? Take notes, I’m so busy chasing kids I forget a lot! 

Lauren O, mother of 3, takes the kids out to dinner at 5pm to avoid any embarrassment: Alone or with the husband, the trick is to get there early so you can leave before people actually show up!

Christi Terjesen

Christi Terjesen is the mother of three lively boys in New York. She keeps her sanity through daily walks, expensive wine, and good books. Check out her blog, Mental Stimulation for Moms at christiterjesen.com, and her playground blog, longislandplaygrounds.com.

I’m Not a Spontaneous Mom But I’m Working On it

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach

A few months ago, we were driving home from church when my husband leaned over and whispered, “I-C-E?” (code for, “Shall we surprise the kids and stop by the ice cream place?”). I considered it for about three seconds before nixing the idea. I alluded to the fact that we hadn’t had lunch yet, but the real reason for my negative response? Spontaneity is just not my forte. I like schedules, routines, and sticking to those schedules and routines. It’s not that I’m a completely boring person. I actually plan and incorporate a fair amount of playdates, hikes, picnics, and...

Keep Reading

I Need Less Noise, Never Less You

In: Motherhood
Mother and daughter

Baby girl, I love you. I love your enthusiasm. I love your energy. I love your ideas, your imaginings, your big plans. I even love the way you fall apart in a heap when the plans don’t work out as planned. I am afraid you probably don’t feel all my love today. RELATED: I Hope I Loved You Enough Today I’ve spent so much of this day suggesting, asking, instructing, and even begging you to be quieter. It wrings the very core of me . . . I want to teach you to embrace all that you are. I want...

Keep Reading

My Kids Fight Because They’re Figuring Out How To Love Each Other

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Siblings fighting

My kids fight. It’s hard to admit that out loud, but I said it. They fight, and argue, and use mean words, and hit, and shove, and yell at each other. It’s not pretty. And it makes me so frustrated. When the boys go out to play basketball, inevitably, one of them quits. Or one of them cheats. Or one of them decides to change the rules mid-game. And then, one of them comes in crying.  RELATED: Should You Stop Sibling Rivalry? In the morning before school, brother insults sister. And sister hurls one back. The bickering lasts until the...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, Your Mistakes Are Welcome Here

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom and daughter baking

Music is my escape. Every time I sit at the piano, I lose track of time. It’s where I go to clear my head, where my creativity ignites, where I process the day’s events, and where I go to just get away. Growing up, my parents used to say they could tell how I was feeling without even talking to me. They could simply hear my emotions through the way I played each note. My kids will likely tell the same story, along with their own version of how I checked out of the chaos and drama around me by...

Keep Reading

Behind Every Perfect Looking Photo, There’s a Real Family

In: Living, Motherhood
Family photo

“Wow! Your family is so beautiful!” “Your girls are absolutely gorgeous!” “The happiest family I’ve ever met!”  These are the typical comments we get any time we share family photos. But do they really see the family underneath the filter and well-captured smiles? Do they see the story? I’m Diana, and I’m a professional family photographer turned “mom-tog.” RELATED: Don’t Be Fooled by My Photos: Our Family isn’t Perfect We spend an endless amount of time shopping for color-coordinated outfits for a family of five, choosing the perfect setting, following the weather report to plan for the best golden hour,...

Keep Reading

You’re Not a Bad Friend—You’re a Busy Friend

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Two friends at sunset

“I’m a bad friend.” We tell this to ourselves when we forget to text back, we miss a phone call, we say no to a visit all while being completely submerged in motherhood. Sisters, you are not a bad friend . . . you are a busy friend. RELATED: Motherhood Changes Everything—Including Friendship You are covered in spit-up, nursing, cleaning, comforting, loving, rocking, burping, feeding, and bathing. You change so many diapers. By 7 p.m., you are ready for bed, utterly and completely exhausted. Mama, you are not a bad friend . . . you are a busy friend. You...

Keep Reading

The Pain of An Ectopic Pregnancy

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Baby curled up in crib, black-and-white photo

In 2018, I had an ectopic pregnancy. I was 21 years old . . . but let me start from the beginning. My boyfriend (now husband) and I lived in a little apartment together, my career was just starting to take off. We were happy. We weren’t trying to get pregnant, but in May 2018 after taking a pregnancy test due to a missed period, we got surprising news: We were going to have a baby! I set up an appointment with my doctor for the following week, and we basked in our exciting news signifying a brand new chapter in our...

Keep Reading

Dear Grieving Soul, God Hears the Cries of Your Broken Heart

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman

I remember the moment I finally yelled at God and let it all out. I was driving, alone, for the first time in weeks. My husband hadn’t left my side, I hadn’t left my kids because I was terrified to let them out of my sight.   The road wound slowly through town following a river that sparkled in the September sunshine. A few leaves were beginning to turn orange and red and the warmth coming from the bright afternoon sun felt good on my face. At the time, I noticed none of this because my heart was broken, torn in...

Keep Reading

Showing Up for Your People Is Easier Than You Think and Means More Than You Know

In: Friendship, Motherhood
Three friends, selfie, color photo

“I’m so sorry to cancel our dinner together this weekend, but my husband is sick and my baby is teething and acting sick too now. But maybe we can catch dinner a different day before you guys leave town.” I sent the text with a sigh—I had really been looking forward to that get-together—then jumped back into caregiver mode. Teething tablets for the baby, lunch for the sick hubby, another load of baby laundry.  When I looked back at my phone again, her response brought tears to my eyes. It read something like this, “What can I do to help?...

Keep Reading

All of Those Country Songs Were Right—I’m Gonna Miss This

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom hugging child

Growing up, country music had a lot to say on parenting. I remember it cautioning me to . . . Let them be little, ‘cause they’re only that way for a while. RELATED: He’s a Boy For Just a Little While Longer That this phase is gonna fly by; that it won’t be like this for long. That I’m gonna miss this, that I’m gonna want this back, and that I’m gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast. That the view I’ll love the most is my front porch looking in. That I must have done something right...

Keep Reading