Inside: Large family mothering looks a bit different from the way smaller families run. You can learn a lot from Moms of many! Here are 9 tricks to steal!
Back when I only had two babies (16 months apart), I was just winging it. At that stage, aren’t we all? I mean, you have a baby, the nurses help you out for a couple of days, and then they send you home without any grown ups to make sure you’re doing it right.
If you’re lucky, you have family members to lean on. (Or call every 20 minutes to ask what you should do next. Not that I’d do anything like that. Ahem.)
Eventually you’re able to get longer stretches of sleep. You might have more babies. And after a while, something clicks. You learn to let go of unimportant things, and cling tightly to ideas that are proven winners.
Long about the time you reach baby number four, you start to get the feeling that you can actually handle this mothering thing.
Large family mothers run their families in a way that looks different from smaller families. Sharp, but workable, ideas are born out of necessity. In fact, all mothers can learn a thing or two from large family mothering.
9 Large Family Mothering Tips You Should Use Today
Here are some of the ideas that mothers of large families depend on to make life work.
In a large family, the work load is big. Every person needs food, clothes, and “stuff” for education and activities. But that doesn’t mean that Mom has to be the one to cover everything. Kids are capable of making their own lunches (even as young as kindergarten!).
They can set their own alarm clocks to get up in the morning. (Though some kids will need more incentive than others!)
Chores can often be done by the person who created the mess in the first place. If a child can operate a tablet, they can operate a broom. Depending on their age and maturity level, my kids are able to care for animals, empty and fill the dishwasher, sweep floors, put away their own laundry, and even make supper.
Meanwhile I catch up on my soaps and eat bonbons. Just kidding! When the kids handle some of these chores, that frees me up to catch up on extra laundry, do a deeper cleaning of a room, declutter, and things I wouldn’t want young ones handling. It also gives me a little breathing room in my day so I don’t turn into a Mommy Monster.
Speaking of decluttering, that’s a must in a large family home. Unless you live in a mansion, fitting a large family into a smaller house is tough. There’s no way to keep everything that comes through the door and have a grip on your sanity.
Large family mothering demands a good decluttering on a regular basis. I always have a garbage bag in the corner of my dining room that is headed to a donation pile somewhere. Every day I keep an eye out for anything that no one uses. If we’ve outgrown something, it’s gone.
With every pile of laundry, I usually find something that is outgrown or needs to be thrown away.
Enjoy the simple things in life! The more we say “no”, the more we appreciate those little things that usually get lost in the chaos.
Instead of taking a trip to a pricey amusement park, head to a local (free) park. This saves a ton of money and has been essential to helping us get out of debt. But we’re still making great family memories.
Rather than making elaborate Pinterest worthy meals, stick with tried and true favorite recipes. You can eat a delicious variety of foods without breaking the bank.
4. One on One Time
When you have a large family, it’s important to make one on one time a priority. Make sure to give each of them undivided attention on a regular basis. But don’t assume that one on one time means taking kids out for a special day filled with expensive meals and tickets.
Some ways to get in one on one time include:
- taking one kid to run errands
- asking one child to help make dinner
- writing in a special mother/son journal
- playing some one on one basketball
- redeeming a free meal coupon they earned at school
- just sitting down to talk
5. The Calendar
I think most mothers of large families have The Calendar. This magical calendar is what keeps the family from missing important things. If The Calendar is lost, Mom is not going to be happy.
Some moms will even color code the calendar to see at a glance who needs to be where. Maybe the oldest child is yellow, so you know he’s the one that needs to be at practice tonight at 6:00.
(I’m a huge fan of the Cozi calendar! It’s free, and everyone with the app knows what’s going on at a glance. Love it!!)
6. Problem Solving
Who has time to solve every little problem for their kids? I didn’t sign on to be the full time family judge and jury. If you solve every problem for your kids, what are you teaching them? A lot of reinforcement that they should run to you every time they have trouble in their lives.
Instead, teach them how to deal with a problem as it pops up. When you catch someone solving a problem, praise them. It can be as simple as picking up the trash that missed the can the first time. Or as complicated as sharing a beloved toy. The more you compliment this behavior, the more they use it.
7. Plan Ahead
Planning makes life easier. Look at your calendar on Sunday evening. That will give you time to grab that gold paint your son needs for his school project (rather than rushing out the night before and paying double).
Have a basic meal plan. Keep it simple! I never sit down and think,”We’ll eat spaghetti on Monday, chicken tacos on Tuesday” etc. But I do write a list of 14 meals I can make in the next two weeks. Each day, pick the meal that fits your day.
Planning ahead means you have snacks for the cheerleaders, breakfast foods for everyone, and the uniform is clean for today’s game. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.Large family mothering tips that Moms with any number of kids can totally use! #momlifeClick To Tweet
8. Know Your Dailies
Do these four things every single day and your home will run smoothly:
- Unload the dishwasher that you ran overnight. If necessary, reload and run again in the late morning.
- Make the bed. (This is where I fold laundry.)
- Wash and dry 3 loads of laundry. (Preferably get it folded, too!)
- Pick out supper from a meal plan list early in the day to avoid 5:00 burn out.
If you don’t get much more cleaning or general homemaking done on busy days, that’s ok. Because you’ve got to…
9. Let It Go
Repeat after me: You are one woman. You can not do everything. Don’t believe it when the world promises you that you can.
You’ll have seasons of life when you’re exhausted from growing or raising a baby. Times when someone is sick and it takes all of your attention. And life will throw you unexpected curve balls. That’s when you let go of the cobwebs and homemade desserts.
Because you’ll also find times when life is flowing smoothly. The kids get older and can care for themselves. You’ll find the time to read books and learn a hobby.
If you can’t learn to release some of your type A tendencies, you’ll make yourself and everyone around you miserable. If you don’t learn this sooner as a large family mom, you’ll learn it later…the hard way.
Take a cue from these large family mothering tips and make life better.
Even if you don’t have four or more kids, you can borrow ideas from those of us who do. It’s almost like having a family member to call!
Be sure to check out How to Organize a Large Family in a Small House.
We need a 10th tip! Share your best large family mothering tips in the comments.