WT 079: How Do I Manage a Growing Family?
Our families are always growing, whether it's adding new babies to the house or just our current littles growing up and discovering their unique personalities. So, as a mom, how do you feel like you've got it under control if it's always changing? Karen covers new babies, your child's growing social calendar, staying organized and carving out one-on-one time with each kid. Moms, you've got this!
Question 1: Karen, we are pregnant with our second child due in February. How was the transition for you when you went from 1 child to 2? I have heard from some people that 1 to 2 is the hardest, if so any advice?
Karen’s Answer: Hey there! Well for me, 1-2 was the hardest. In my mind, I thought adding an additional baby would just be a little extra, but it ended up being a lot extra. It took me forever to get out of the door. Laundry was never completed, probably because Emily had reflux and spit up all the time.
Here's a few things I learned that I hope help you in the transition:
Pack the diaper bag the night before
Stop stressing about the laundry. I just realized it would be a long time until I saw an empty hamper and clean laundry room again (and it was, probably not until last year when Abby left for college).
I settled into my role as a mom, and stopped being so uptight all the time, trying to do everything just perfect.
Also, you still have some time with baby #1, so really start paying attention to their behavior, and clamp down on them minding you, that will really help you when baby #2 comes along.
Don't be too hard on yourself, realize it’s just like anything else, it’s just a season and it will pass.
Question 2: Karen, now that my kids are both in school, I returned to work for the first time in 8 years. My son's are also starting to pick up after school hobbies like sports and boy scouts. What tips do you have to bring order to a busier-than-ever family?
Karen’s Answer: I would check the schedules and if they conflict with one another see if you can work it out with a friend to help carpool or watch your children while you take the one to their activity. If you can’t make it work out, you may need to tell one of your sons that they will have to sit this year out, it’s just not working for your schedule. I know it’s hard, and you don’t want to disappoint your child, but this is life. As moms, we can’t always shield our child from the hard situations.
Another tip is to get organized on the days of the activities. Pre-make your meal for the night, pre-pack a snack and have it ready to go that once they get home from school you can grab and go.
If you have to sit at the school or ball field for practice tell your other children you will be reviewing homework while his brother is at practice. I found it was easier to do that there in that hour of practice than trying to call out spelling words at 8:00 at night when everyone is past tired.
Try to think ahead and get as organized as you can. You can navigate this season but you are going to have to work hard at making it successful.
Question 3: What are some great, practical things - like priorities or schedules - that helped you juggle multiple children? For me specifically, carving out one-on-one time with kids has been difficult
Karen’s Answer: Honestly, carving out one on one time for children is difficult at best! I’m not trying to be flippant about this, but it’s reality. If you have multiple children, it’s just hard. I had in on my radar, and if I did it once a quarter I thought I was doing good.
Here's some practical ways I spent one-on-one time with them:
Take one child and run errands with them
While younger children are napping, read a story to the older one.
One night after dinner, take a child and just go grab ice cream
I tried to take each child to look for clothes by themselves and make a day of it with lunch, etc. (Keep in mind I had three girls, and they liked that, Taylor hated it!)
There is only 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, and you are only 1 person. Cut yourself some slack. I look back on my childhood my mom didn’t spend a lot of one on one time with me, and I grew up feeling very loved and balanced.
Question 4: How do you specifically cultivate your relationship with your daughters during their elementary years? My oldest daughter is 8 and pretty independent. She’s a fantastic helper with her 2 younger brothers as well. I want to make sure I’m doing what I can to make her feel like I’m spending time with her, even if the boys take a lot of my time.
Karen’s Answer: My number one tip would be to figure out her love language and learn to speak it to her. The love languages are :
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
If your daughter wants words of affirmation, then spending a long afternoon of quality time might not go as far as you'd like it to. And vice versa! Learn their language and speak it to them. Here's how you find it.
Remember, you’ve got an entire lifetime to show love to your children, it happens little by little, day by day. Don’t stress! I promise you they feel loved!