6 top tips for parenting multiple young children … and keeping sane.

Not that long ago, I had 4 kids in cloth nappies. I look back on that time and wonder how I did it, without going too crazy. Its also easy when you are a mum to feel bad about yourself and/or the situation. You can feel a little trapped.

It wasn’t just the cloth nappies, it was also the feeding and dressing and watching. It was hard work as it took up ALL my time. At times it was too much, and I had to get away. I had to have a moment to breathe. I would talk to others who weren’t in my situation and was offered advice or solutions that I could not implement. My favourite was always, “take them for a walk, to get out of the house.” To this day, I just laugh. Go for a walk? Ummm no.

Going for a walk involved a double stroller and a wheelchair and a 4 year old. Just not possible by myself. So I am thinking of all the parents of multiple births, parents with special needs kids plus young children or to parents who are not able to get out for what ever reason. If you are one of those amazing parents, here are my top moments or tips that got me through some of the hardest days. Especially while at home, alone.
One
Set up your nappy changing space or feeding area where you can watch all kids.
Even now I will change Abbey and Ali on a mat in the main living area, so I can watch and be with the other boys.
Two
Books, books and more books.
We would rotate books, read books and talk about books. There was always something one of the boys could do or read. We made up games, played ‘Eye Spy With My Little Eye”. To this day, Dan will read to the younger two as I attend to Abbey.
Three
Have jobs available for them at a moments notice.
Any job, as simple as cleaning up their room, sorting their cars or emptying the dishwasher. At times my boys would become restless, lost and could not entertain themselves. I’m not available to entertain 4 kids of different ages 24/7. So we have some jobs always available for them to do. There is always something to do. We may work together or they work in pairs. It helps promote responsibility, working as a team, but most importantly can help your sanity.
Four
Have a space in the house that is yours.
It can be a seat at the dining table, a chair in the corner or a favourite beanbag. I have a seat on the couch where I keep my knitting or book I am reading. The boys know that if I want to sit and have a moment, that is my seat. Others can sit there, but in my mind, its my spot to stop.
Five
Watch your thoughts.
If your thoughts are negative and not at all inspiring to help you. Take a moment. Just a moment to challenge the negative thoughts. For me, I tend to concentrate on failure. So if I haven’t cleaned their teeth, done the dinner or read umpteen stories to them, therefore I have failed. When I feel/hear this in my body, I stop and quickly challenge those unhelpful thoughts. If my kids are alive, happy, clean and fed, I have succeeded. When I add more pressures to the day, it all falls apart. So lastly…
Six
Keep it simple.
If you don’t have time today to cook a roast, its OK. Do tomato soup from a can, as that is what I am doing tonight. Tomorrow I can try for the roast.
keeping it simple
This is our nappy change area set up to keep life simple during the busy-ness of the day.
If you are not at your possible best, your kids will know. They will want to help, feel your energy and work off it. Love yourself, give yourself a moment. And a moment can be counting down from 10.
It was a pleasure to share my strategies recently for making parenting less mad!
  • Listening to your gut when a situation feels not quite right, and being courageous enough to question the status quo
  • Being spontaneously silly, such as asking your kids to do something in a funny voice instead of the boring monotone
  • Being adaptable to your kids needs and giving them time and space to express themselves
Sometimes these days go on and on. Can last weeks or months. Its OK. Its fine. If your kids are fed, clean and dressed, well done, you have succeeded for the day. If its all done with the intention of love, your kids will know.
What tip do you have for long days with multiple kids?
Tennille

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