Lessons Learned with 4 Kids under 5
It's 11:16 pm in my house and everyone is sleeping. I know I should be heading to bed soon too and I have had getting more sleep as a goal of mine since baby #1 was born (we're now on #4 and no progress there!) but truth be told, it's quiet and peaceful in my house right now and I want to be awake to enjoy that! :)
I had on my heart and mind tonight a recollection of some of our experiences in parenting our little blessings thus far. Having 4 kids under age 5 has no doubt one of the most rewarding and joyful times yet also exhausting, mentally trying, and draining times as well. Through this amazing journey, I have compiled a short list of things that have worked well for us. I'm sharing these in the hopes that perhaps you can take one or two small things that you can implement in your life to make your every day a little easier!
Things that Work Well for Us
- I'm a Type A MN girl. My husband is a Type B guy from the Bahamas. We're different, so very different. For so long, I resisted too much of a schedule because he's just a more laid back person and I didn't want to force a schedule on him. We're over that. That was crazy town. With four little kids, you have to have some sort of a schedule! Our's is flexible but until we get into a routine (i.e. school year, summer routine, etc.) we follow a schedule to get used to the timing and flow of events. Our kids actually thrive with it!
- We cut out TV a year and a half ago! After #4 was born, we may have been delirious from our new bundle of joy but we decided that we would pull the plug and our kids watch TV sparingly, like once every two weeks or so. What we've noticed from this is that the kids are outside ALL THE TIME....playing in the dirt, riding bikes in the driveway, looking for worms. When the weather is bad, they are inside playing toys, making up games and of course, pestering each other too! While it was an adjustment, it was one of our best decisions to date.
- I lay out each kid's outfits for the week in a hanging sweater organizer in their closets. I would spend forever if I had to pick out outfits for myself and 4 kids every single morning so I don't. I spend 20 minutes picking out everyone's outfits on Sunday afternoon and we're set for the week. *Usually* no switching allowed - especially on school picture day! :)
- We removed most toys from the main level of our home. Toys are upstairs in bedrooms, downstairs in bins, and even in the garage in certain areas. No matter how many times we tried to get them to pick up toys each day, the house always seemed cluttered so we decided to limit toys on the main level and it seems so much neater and more space to enjoy being together.
- We try to take kids on individual dates regularly each month, usually a few times a month. With 4 kids in the house, we don't want any of them to feel left out, unheard, or ignored. Our dates can be simple such as a Target run and then stopping at our coffee shop for an Almond Milk Hot Cocoa for them. Just something special that they don't get to enjoy in the every day routine. The time spent driving in the car and in the store is so perfect to hear what's on their hearts and get a better glimpse of their personality when they're solo. They're absolutely treasured moments.
- We try to plan regular family adventures. These can also be simple such as finding a new-to-us park overlooking a lake (win for kids and parents!), planning a simple day trip, swimming together. It doesn't have to be elaborate, so many times we find that it's the simple memories that have stuck with our kids the most.
- Lastly, we try to involve them in cooking, fixing things, helping with chores around the house, etc. They're so eager to help so it's the perfect opportunity to teach them some new skills they'll use years down the road but they're loving every minute of helping mom and dad!
These are just a few of the things that have worked well for our family so now we'd love to hear your tips! What has been so helpful for you?