Let’s cut to the chase: we are a family of seven. That means we have five, count ’em five (head-counts are a necessity with five) little people who depend on us for everything.
I am constantly asked, “How do you do it?”
Standard reply: “We just do it.”
But, recently I started thinking, How do we do it?
I am finding out, by society’s silent social media criteria that we aren’t (insert appalling facial expression here).
We are currently in survival mode. Our goal: just make it through the day, whatever that looks like.
I remember when I had my first baby. I never felt like anything really changed. He went everywhere with us. It was easy to find us time, and we still had plenty of it. Grandparents practically begged us to go out on date nights so they could babysit our precious little man. I knew every milestone he reached and when. I was ready for #2 as soon as #1 popped out.
When #2 joined us, we brought #1 to the hospital to meet her. My firstborn baby would not speak to me. What did we do to this little man? I thought.
We gave him a sister, but it felt like we handed him over to enemy forces. Luckily, it didn’t take long for them to cultivate that BFF relationship. I distinctly remember a moment when #2 was one month old—I had just given them both a bath and that was the turning point . . . I could handle two kids.
Along came #3. We brought #1 and #2 to the hospital to meet our little man, and it was overwhelming (understatement). What have we done to ourselves? I thought.
Three was a hard transition. Outnumbered.
My aha moment came when little man was four months old. I was changing his diaper with the help of #1 and #2. No screaming. No fighting. No attention-seeking tactics. I could handle three.
#4 was a pleasant surprise. We brought the three to meet her, and it was a breeze. If you have 3 and are thinking of 4, truly what’s one more? No aha moment needed.
Now, if you have four and are thinking What’s one more?
Chaos. Complete and utter madness. That is what is one more. You now have a middle child, and they are not happy about that.
Sure, #5 babbles. I know because someone is always screaming and odds are one of those screams is hers.
I know that she is crawling because I am constantly tripping over her while I am refereeing our very own (unwelcomed) WWE matches.
We are always home. There is nothing we need so badly that requires us to take all five out of the car at the same time. They should have a drive-thru for everything.
Finding a sitter for five kids under eight is a bit more challenging. I would say it takes two sitters to manage our crew or one kindly optimistic grandparent.
We are 11 months into five kids, and I have had multiple aha moments. Turns out, they have all been false alarms.
So now our day is built on an intricate routine. One cog slightly shifts, and the whole system comes crashing down. Think Jenga . . . only more delicate.
Battle #1: Clothing. I just need them covered. There have been multiple occasions where I let #3 wear jammies to daycare. It is by far his favorite wardrobe and convincing him it is not appropriate is a losing battle. Once they are cleaned, clothed, and watered, I (attempt) to get ready. I am usually navigating arguments and distracted enough times that I hope I didn’t leave the house without putting on my pants.
Enter battle #2: Get in the car. I don’t care what they bring into the car as long as I can get them in their car seats, which is why my car looks like a landfill. Somehow, we make it out the door and to our ultimate destinations before dusk.
Dinner time is by far the most challenging.
We are excellent at meal planning. Have a plan every week. But, not so much energetic enough to implement it. Take last night, for example. Dirty dishes in abundance. Too tired to defrost meat. So, dinner consisted of basically anything that would make them full.
And then there is bedtime which turns into a
bloodbath friendly competition between us and them: who will stay awake the longest?
How do we do it?
. . . by picking our battles.
. . . by letting the little things go.
. . . by forgetting perfection.
. . . by counting our blessings and abandoning our burdens.
. . . by taking it minute to moment.
Our babies are our world. They are happy, healthy, energetic, and feisty. One day we will have family outings. There will come a time when they will clean up after themselves, make their own meals, do their own laundry (yeah, right—that’s what a momma of five tells herself to maintain her sanity).
In the meantime, we will enjoy their sweet senses of humor, toddler cuddles, and baby babbles. There is nothing wrong with survival mode. It will be gone one day all too soon. From what I hear, we’ll be begging for these moments back.
Originally published on the author’s blog