This is, by far, the most common thing that is said to me.
Not, “How fun!” Or, “Thats so great!”
Maybe once every four or five months we will get someone whose first reaction is sincerely positive.
Fact: we’re really freaking busy.
Fact: we have a lot of fun.
How? Well here you go.
10 steps to having a fun and happy big family:
(1) surround yourself with people who support you. Even if people think they are joking around, constant comments and jokes about the number of kids you have gets annoying and boring.
(2) pick your battles. Pretend you can only get upset at either spilled water all over the floor OR screaming among siblings. Just clean up the spilled water (it takes 2 seconds) and use a “time out” on the screaming. Does it honestly matter if your 2 year old wants to wear a bikini top and rain boots to run errands? It doesn’t. I promise.
(3) take vacations. It can be something like Disneyland, sure, but driving upriver and going to the beach for a full day is a vacation, too. Get out of the house: away from laundry and dirty dishes. Yeah, it takes some time to pack everything up, but…
(4)…you don’t need to pack bags and enough stuff as if you’re staying 7 days in the jungle. I hear moms say all the time that the amount of “stuff” their kids need is just so much. It’s not really. At home, yeah, but if you’re running errands, just pack a couple diapers and wipes. For 1 hour, your toddler can go without 3 different snack options and 2 different sippy cups. Make life easier by not making outings too complicated. Because that can ruin your life.
(5) be kind and respectful. Do you want to hang out with people who are always rude and annoying and use bad language and don’t know how to say please, thank you, and eat with their mouths closed? Weird, me either. Be kind and respectful and correct your children when they aren’t. They will be pleasant to be around and you will be happier. You won’t dread being with them in public because chances are, they will make good choices. Or maybe better choices at least.
(6) know that it’s okay for kids to watch tv and play the computer. I’m so thankful for television, let me tell you. For an hour or so every day, I’m able to do whatever I want — read magazines, blog, clean, browse the inter web……and I know that the kids are entertained in the room next to me. They are quiet and safe and having fun and that makes life happy to get that break every once in a while. And I promise…they will turn out juuussssst fine.
(7) it’s not awful to have your children do 5 different activities outside of school. It’s also not awful if your children do nothing. Do just enough to keep them happy and interested. I have 1 who would do every single thing offered in our town….and 1 who is happy to sit at home alone and play with Legos. I’ve found a happy place right in the middle. Enough to keep my oldest busy, but not so much that my Lego master doesn’t have that alone time that he needs.
(8) hang out with friends. Alone. Without children. Get a babysitter and go out for drinks with your husband. Then eat dinner. Then maybe, afterwards, go to a movie. It’s okay to leave your kids. It’s okay for them to cry when you leave. You’re doing something good for them by showing you will always come back and that it’s okay to not be attached 24/7. Really.
(9) nod your head and smile. When people think they are giving you really good advice, just smile. There is nothing worse than when people tell you how to discipline your kids, how to navigate the elementary school years, how to get your kids to eat, how to get them to sleep…you name it. Every situation is different. Jamie will not eat vegetables. Do you know how many times I’ve packed them in his lunch? How often I put them on his plate? He will not touch them. This is hard for me and I worry about it a lot, so it used to get me worked up when people would tell me what I should be doing and tell me why he’s not eating. I’ve learned how to just smile and nod and let things go. I’m doing my very best and that’s all that matters.
(10) know that bad days eventually end. What seemed horrible and unmanageable today will probably not matter tomorrow. Smile . Laugh. Shrug your shoulders and say, “What the hell..” Because it’s all worth it.