For whatever reason, people tend to assume that if you’re a stay-at-home parent, you only have one or two kids. Perhaps it’s because of the expense associated with multiple children. Perhaps it’s because big families are much more uncommon in today’s culture. Whatever the reason, how-to articles tend to be geared toward moms of one, maybe two, small children.
Potty training your child in a day? No problem…as long as you can dedicate an entire day to one child. Breastfeeding and having supply issues? Take to your bed for a day, or even for a weekend! Most people just don’t seem to take into account that it’s not just the single issue that must be taken into account—it’s the dozen others popping up at the same time.
While your toddler is peeing in the floor, your baby is screaming her head off, ready to be fed ten minutes ago. You have one older child procrastinating, and another one tugging on your sleeve to ask a question about an assignment. If you’re lucky, one might actually be doing chores…which will eventually require your help. Another one might have just finished a school assignment, which it is now your responsibility to check and review. Somehow, dinner must get fixed, laundry must be done, and the house must be made somewhat presentable. You spend all day running around in circles, trying to get everything done; and at the end of the day, you feel accomplished simply to have survived.
How do you get everything done?
Prioritize. Dinner must be fixed. That doesn’t mean that it has to be fancy—but it has to be fixed. Sometimes, the laundry can wait for another day. Other times, you badly need to wash something, or your husband isn’t going to have any clean socks for work tomorrow. School needs to be done five days a week—but that doesn’t mean that you have to have complicated lessons every week, either.
Remember, “equal” doesn’t have to mean “exactly the same.” If you have a child who desperately needs your attention for the greater part of a day, give it to them! Sure, you want to pay attention to all of your children equally—but that doesn’t mean that you can always divide your time evenly between them every day. Remember that sometimes, your toddler needs you to get down in the floor and read books or play blocks; your baby will benefit from some extra snuggles; and an older child who is struggling with a particular subject needs your attention more than the sibling who is completely finished with half of the curriculum by mid-year. Eventually, it will change, and the child who previously didn’t need you as much will take their turn.
Enlist help. You likely know other moms with children of similar ages. Enlist their help. If you know a homeschooling mom whose best subject is composition, while you greatly prefer math, trade services! You’ll work with her kids for a few hours a week if she’ll work with yours—and you’ll get in some much-needed social interaction at the same time. Need a babysitter? Try swapping with a friend instead of paying someone to do it.
Remember that this is just a season. Your children will not always be young; and ultimately, they will not remember if your house was clean, your cabinets were spotless, and dinner was always something spectacular. They will remember that you always had time for them, and the fun times that you had—so make it a point to create those memories.