Having five kids is hard. I’m barely making it right now.
Having one kid is hard. I was barely making it then too.
Having kid(s) is just hard. We’re always barely making it.
Often, when I tell people I have 5 kids, they’re astonished. They say they don’t know how I handle five when they can barely handle one or two. But here’s the thing, when I had one I could barely handle one. Like, barely barely. My tiny apartment was a disaster. The baby often screamed and I didn’t know why. I had zero time to take a shower or even brush my teeth. I never ever went anywhere because every time I did, baby’s diaper would have a blowout. I barely survived those years.
So if I was maxed out with one, wouldn’t it be stupid to make it 2, 3, 4, or 5 times harder by adding additional kids?
Here’s the truth about how hard it is to have five kids.
It’s not twice as hard to have a second child, and five times harder to have five kids.
It gets a little harder with each one, but not double the difficulty. For example, if you’re already making a meal, you don’t make two separate meals for two different kids. You just make a little extra at the same time and it takes just as much time and energy.
It really does get easier as they get older.
Babies need you 24-7. And while my 17-year-old needs me to provide him with meals, clothes and gas money, and to listen to him explain “funny” memes he finds on the internet, he doesn’t need constant attention. He’s at school most of the day, can get his homework done on his own, and can even drive himself around and do his own laundry.
Older kids can babysit younger kids.
I didn’t have my fifth until my other 4 were older and they are huge helpers. The 9 and 10-year-olds can grab diapers, fill sippy cups and entertain the toddler while the 15 and 17-year-olds supervise and (try to) keep the peace.
You do less when your kids help more.
Chores, chores, chores. I never take out the trash, sweep, or mop. And I rarely vacuum, wash bathrooms or do dishes. My kids do that stuff. Oh, and I use cleaning as a punishment. I don’t scrub grout either. That’s a punishment reserved for inappropriate behavior.
You do less and less for your kids when they do more on their own.
We went to a halloween party last year and every one of us came decked out in costumes. People were amazed that I had “gotten 5 kids ready” to be there. But I didn’t get them all ready. They got themselves ready. I put a quick costume on myself and the toddler, helped the tweens get buttoned and zipped, and the teenagers completely took care of themselves.
There are only so many hours in a day. A mom of five and a mom of one have the same amount of time to get stuff done. But the mom of five simply has no choice but to do less for each kid. It sounds sad, as if by having more kids you are neglecting the others. But I think it’s actually good for them. They learn to be helpful and independent (in an age appropriate way, of course).
We do prioritize one-on-one time.
We make extra efforts to give them each individualized attention. We have one date night a week with one of the kids so they each get one date a month where mom or dad takes them out. It’s a great way to talk to them and spend informal time alone with them. It helps them open up and feel special.
There are pros and cons to having more kids.
It’s true that bigger kids have bigger problems. There’s more drama, more backtalk, and with more kids in the mix comes more fighting and arguments. But you also get more intelligent conversation, funny jokes, and they can play together and entertain each other so you don’t have to do it.
I love having five kids. I’ve had to scale back on other things in my life to make time for so many children. But with them getting older, doing chores, and babysitting the younger ones, I’m able to handle it. But still, just barely.