How to Survive Life with Five Young Kids

Many of us know that even one child can be a challenge. The question then is how do I get through my day when I have Five of them?

First of all I start my day knowing that just about anything can happen and most likely will. My children will probably be awake long before I even get out of bed. It doesn’t matter that I really only got to sleep a few hours before they spring out of bed, they are ready to go first thing and I have to be prepared to spring into action right behind them.

I make my coffee the night before or cup of tea on the way to the bathroom. Hopefully it will be ready by the time I am done. The children are hungry and will need nourishment first thing.

On weekends or during vacations, it is best to get this out of the way as soon as possible as early morning meltdowns of hungry children can set the mood for the whole day. I don’t really have to make them anything special first thing, cereal or toast is fine until I can get around to something more nutritious. While the older children are breaking their fast I can get to work on changing the younger children’s diapers. After the diaper change and I have slammed my morning caffeine I can work on getting a good breakfast for every one. If I am lucky I will actually get to eat something as well.

Getting kids ready for school:

It is much easier than you think. I start getting them ready on Sunday afternoon. First I their lunches for the week. Bag up their snacks and as much of their lunch as possible. I can have this done in less than a half hour and makes mornings so much easier! I pack a few extra bags of snacks to take with me for appointments or after school activities.

Then I make sure that all of their clothes for the week are clean and set out for the week. This makes getting them dressed for school easier as well. In the mornings during the week they get up and get dressed while I am making breakfast.

I stick with something simple, easy and something they can eat quickly. I like to throw a few bananas, some yogurt, milk and protein powder into a blender and give them a breakfast shake. It only takes a few minutes to make, leaves very little mess and they can finish off their breakfast in less than five minutes.

So while they are eating, I put some toothpaste on their toothbrushes and get their shoes out and by the door. Then while they are finishing breakfast and brushing their teeth I toss their lunches together and make sure their bags are packed.

I can actually get them ready and have them out the door in a half hour or less!

I keep a schedule of all appointments, classes, and everything else I can think of. To keep track of my week a huge dry erase board is perfect. Every Sunday I plot out everything for the week. It is also advisable to carry a day planner, that way I don’t double book anything. I also like to add all activities to my email calendar so that I can double check when I get emails. I get an alert for scheduled activities when I log on to check my email. The day planner is great for when I leave the house and the email or any other computer calendar is a wonderful reminder for when you are sitting at your computer working or checking emails. It is very important to cross check all of my calendars several times a week as they will almost always change.

I keep the dry erase board as close to the front door as possible so that I can quickly look at it as I walk out the door. It is also a wonderful way to teach my children the days of the week. It is always there for my children to see and that way they wont be shocked when I tell them that I will be picking them up from school for a doctor or dentist appointment.

So now the older kids are out the door and at school and it is time to move on to the younger kids. I am homeschooling one child and sending another to public school. I get to work with my homeschool lessons first thing in the morning. For the younger kids, don’t be afraid of the television, PBS is your friend. Once the younger children have eaten and are settled in with Elmo I give my house a quick clean up. There is no need to obsess or spend all day long cleaning, the kids will just tear it up again. I pick a time fairly early in the morning, sometime between 9-10 o’clock to be finished with the cleaning, depending on when I get started. An hour a day is all I need.

The only things that really need to be taken care of every day are the kitchen, the laundry and the bathroom. I can step over the same toy every day for a week, but I can’t make food in a filthy kitchen, I can’t send my kids to school in dirty clothes, and I can’t live with the filth in my bathroom that comes along with five young kids.

I throw a load of laundry in the washer, give my kitchen a quick clean up and wipe down the bathroom. Now it is time to start crawling around on the floor tossing toys into bins. This is a great way to teach my children where the toys go and how to clean up. They might turn around and dump the bin of toys out as soon as I leave the room, but at least I tried to keep your house clean. If I still have time before the cut off time, I can actually get the laundry folded and put away. If not there is always time for that while the kids are napping, playing quietly or after dinner.

It is OK to have some Mom time. I check my email, try to get a shower, get dressed, what ever works for the day and I can find the time to do. I just have to remember that I can’t spend all day getting lost on the computer or fill the tub up with a relaxing bubble bath, those days are long gone.

I have 2 children in diapers and one is potty training. So it’s time to change diapers again and work on potty training.

If I don’t have any appointments, I throw myself on the floor with the kids and share a moment with PBS or toss in an educational DVD. I learned it is useless to be afraid to sing, dance or roar like a lion. Like I said TV can be your friend if you know how to work with it.

Don’t be shocked if after awhile your children will want to play by themselves or with each other and have no use for you. Embrace that time. Now is the time to finish up that laundry, go through your cupboard and figure out what is for dinner. Make your shopping list, pay some bills or if you work do freelance work or sell on the internet you can get some work done.

Your children will interrupt you at least every ten minutes or less. Be prepare to stop what you are doing, they know when you are in your own world and will do anything they can to stop it.

Don’t try to talk on the phone either while they are quietly playing, they will only play quietly as long as you are not talking to any one else. At the point which you get on the phone they will come running, screaming at you about something you don’t understand and insist on sitting on your lap. At this point they will stop crying and start putting on a cute little show for you to try to get you to get off the phone, most of the time this will work and you will be off the phone before they turn from cute and cuddly to tired and screaming.
You can always get back to work after the kids eat lunch and take a nap.

More diaper changing and try to get one child into the tub.

If you do have appointments. Quickly pack more than enough diapers, baby wipes, snacks. Don’t forget to pack several changes of clothes, you never really know what will happen with diapered children.

Don’t forget to eat! Take a quick shower and run out the door, you are already late, so don’t look back, if you forgot it, its too late now.

After an afternoon with your younger kids, it is time to pick up the older kids. Luckily they are still young enough to not have too much homework, if any and you can get your shopping done after you pick them up. It is best to teach them while they are young how to push a shopping cart. When you have 5 kids and need a lot of food two carts are a must. I put my two youngest in one cart and my oldest helps me push the other cart with the groceries. My second oldest puts everything into the cart. It is so much easier if they get to help instead of being dragged along.

Another diaper change. You might have to do this while you are out with all five kids. If you are lucky you will make it home before anyone needs a diaper.

After picking up the kids any number of things could be going on. They could have homework, any number of athletic classes, school concerts, art shows or scouts. Don’t forget to pack those extra snacks and always keep toys and books in the van.

Your older children spent all day long away from home and need time with mom. I like to help my children with their homework by just being in the same room as them. I am there to help them if they need it, but I can still get something done while they are working and it keeps them from getting too distracted and helps them to focus.

When homework is done you have time to hang out with them and find out how their day went. If there is time, all of the children can get together and play. Often this ends up with some sort of argument or brawl between them. Once the fighting starts it can go on for hours, either they get along or they don’t. If they are having one of those days where they will never get along no matter how many time-outs they have gotten, that would be the time to go hide in the bathroom for a few minutes. This might also be the time to separate them.

Leapster game systems or any other educational game system is as much of a friend as PBS. When you get a new computer it’s a great idea to give your old computer to your kids. Wipe out everything except the operating system and you have another great educational tool. There is no real reason to hook them up to the internet, so don’t worry about that.

Try to get another child into the tub. If now is not a good time, there might be time later.

Regardless of how they are behaving, dinner is a must. This is also a good time to separate them and pull out the computer games.

By dinner you are probably exhausted, so hopefully you had time in your day to figure out what to make for dinner. If you are organized enough to make up a complete menu for the week it really helps.

They will probably all tell you that they want something different. I know you love your children, but I advise against this! Make one thing for every one, keep it simple and if they are hungry they will eat.

You will probably have to change another diaper in the middle of making dinner. If you have something on the stove it is a good idea to turn the temperature down for a few minutes.

You could probably think about having a glass of wine or a beer at this point. You will probably only just think about it because as you are thinking about it one of your children will haul off and nail another one of your children in the head with an action figure and you will completely forget about your desire for a drink.

I try to stick with a strict half hour for dinner. I also try to have dinner on the table every night by 6 o’clock. It really helps to have a routine so that you can make it to the end of the day without passing out before you get your kids into bed.

From 6:30 to 7 o’clock is a great time to teach any child that can walk a few chores to help out. Clearing the dinner table, doing some recycling, picking up a few toys and putting away a bit of laundry is a great way to get a bit of help as well as teaching your children responsibility and teaching them to work together with others.

You might think that this would be another good time to grab yourself a drink, but you would be wrong.

I like to start bed time for the older children at 7 o’clock. That includes PJs, teeth brushing, putting their clothes in the laundry and reading as many books as we can by around 7:30ish. If possible get at least one of your children into the tub. Then it is bedtime with lights out. They get to lay in bed for a bit of reading, looking at books or playing with a few little toys with a flash light. They get about 10 minutes and then its time to go to sleep.

Then it is time for more diaper changes. The youngest kids will probably not sit for the book reading, so its time to just play with them and get them wound down and get them into bed. It is a good idea to keep them up a bit later than your children going to school. Hopefully they will sleep a bit later in the morning while you are getting your older children ready for school.

After your youngest children are in bed it is time to collapse on the couch. As you are laying there you remember the drink you were thinking about earlier and decide to forget about it as it will probably make you too sleepy and you wont be able to make it to the end of the season finale of the Office.

After awhile you finally peel your self off the couch and head for bed. Just in time for the baby to need another feeding and diaper change.

An hour later you finally go to bed.

Just as you fall asleep some one wakes up with a bad dream. You get to hold them for a few minutes until they go back to sleep.

You head back to bed. An hour or so later somebody else has to go to the bathroom.

Just as you are falling asleep the baby is ready for another feeding and diaper change.
Another hour later you go back to bed. At this point every one is pretty well settled in and you have a good 3-4 hours sleep.

One more feeding and diaper change for the baby.

At this point you have time to take a nap for about an hour before every one starts to get up in the morning.

On weekends or during vacations. It is a good idea to still get quick lunches and snacks together at the beginning of the week. You still have five kids and many appointments and activities.

You will probably spend even more time running around during summer vacation to keep them involved in as many different activities as possible. You will drive them just as crazy as they drive you if you don’t keep them busy.

It is a good idea to have a huge bin of arts and crafts supplies, gallons and gallons of bubbles, and tons of sidewalk chalk.

It is also a good idea to plan trips to the park early in the day before it gets to crowded and you can’t find your kids on the jungle gym because they just all ran off in different directions.

To truly be able to survive life with 4 young boys and a little girl, you must be willing to give up your pride, your food and your bed. Know that the bathroom is your sanctuary, don’t be afraid to spend time there. Don’t be shocked when you suddenly realize that you do sound like your parents, even though you have been fighting it for years. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And learn some Yoga techniques. There are some moments when you will need to slow your breathing, relax and walk away from the situation.

Realize that children can be gross, messy and smelly. Nothing a good bath wont clean up. They will on occasion hurt your feelings. It is all part of growing up, for you and for them. Don’t get mad, use your words & teach them to use theirs. Be prepared for little to no sleep. Vacations will never be what you expect. And dinner out will never be what you expect.

You can however survive knowing that you do the best that you can and your children will love you for it.

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