We currently have eight children, 2 adults and one dog living in our house. This used to be a common size for a family, but in recent years having three or four children classifies you as a “large family.” Aaron and I say that after 3 kids, adding more doesn’t change much.
Most people start with one child. Easy-schmeezy. Though you freak out over every little thing and feel that your new life-calling is to be a spotter for your toddler, taking care of one child is only the beginning.
Then comes two. My husband calls this “man-to-man” territory. Each parent can take care of one child at a time and things are covered. You’ve relaxed a tad from your initial first-baby anxiety, and your second child is soon toddling along, falling occasionally and -surprise!- surviving.
Then, if you’re adventurous, you add a third baby to this mix. And there’s really no preparation for what hits you. Even babysitting an additional third before adding your own doesn’t really give you an accurate idea of what it’s like to have one child puking on the carpet while another colors on the wall and the baby screams in the tub.
The good news is, once you master the 3-child realm, your systems can pretty much stay the same. Now, I say “stay the same” assuming you HAVE systems. 🙂 If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about OR the systems you have created still leave your life feeling like the edge of chaos, maybe I can pass on a bit of wisdom. I don’t have much, but living with 8 children has hopefully given me a bit. Here are a few systems I SWEAR by:
- LAUNDRY BY ROOM. This is something I changed to right before I had my fourth, and I could never go back. I’ve tried, believe me, but I love this system! Each room has a hamper and a day of the week for laundry. Towels go in one hamper in the laundry room. Each room is responsible to do their own laundry (with some assistance for youngsters). However, my 5-year-old knows the basics of doing laundry and even hangs in own shirts. It can be done, people! 🙂 This system operates under the assumption that one saves time by going to one room and putting laundry away vs. delivering laundry to any or all of 5 bedrooms in the house.
- COLORED TOWEL SYSTEM: Each person in the house has a color of towel, and they are only allowed to use their color. We have two of each color, and we switch them out every 3 days. Now, this may gross some of you out, but I operate under the idea that a bath towel wipes down a clean body and is then hung on an individual hook in each person’s room. I think it’s safe to let kids use a towel 3 times before it needs to be washed, but don’t judge me if you disagree. 🙂 This could easily be adapted to 3 towels per person, etc. The goal here is to not end up with 6 towels in one person’s hamper while everyone else wonders where they all went. Yup. It happened.
- CHORES FOR ALL: We do not give allowance for taking care of your own stuff. Cleaning your room, making your bed, doing your laundry- that’s part of being a family. However, we do pay our kids for additional chores, and – like real life- they do not get paid if they do not complete their chores. This goes all the way down to the 2-year-old (whose chores are playing with the dog, picking up the backyard and helping Mommy with the living room). Each child gets paid their age weekly. They are expected to give 10%, save 20% and have the additional 70% to spend. If we go to McDonald’s and the kids want a Happy Meal, unless it’s a special occasion, they have to use their spend money to purchase it. This teaches the kids the price of the things they want, responsibility and the ability to wait for what they want most.
- DINNER AT THE TABLE: This is a no-brainer. We eat together, and we eat at our own dinner table at least 5 nights of the week. Everyone has a role in helping with dinner, and when we sit down together we pray, use manners (passing, not reaching), and take turns telling our favorite part of our day. I LOVE DINNER TIME. It’s a time to reconnect with everyone together.
These are only a few of the systems by which we thrive at the Escamilla house, and I’m sure I’ll share more later. But, how about you? What are some systems you’ve placed in your lives to thrive?