What's it like having 4 kids you ask?
- Loud. You stop finishing sentences permanently.
- Chaotic. When we had 3 kids I called it "controlled chaos". Now it's just chaos.
- You will never finish things. Projects, to-do lists, naps (ha!), sentences (see above).
- You will never not be tired.
- You spend a crazy amount of money on groceries. And I don't even have teenagers.
- There is a rotating unhappy child. Theres always somebody who doesn't like the dinner, the activity, the whatever.
- Your house will be messy all of the time. Every surface is covered in grime, 2 hours after the cleaning lady leaves. My husband and I are clean people by nature, and it drives me nuts. Those pictures won't be posted here. 😝
- You will constantly question yourself if you are giving so-and-so enough attention. You are simply spread (too) thin, and you will find yourself lying in bed at night realizing you need to focus on a certain child who has been going overlooked.
- It's hard on a marriage. Harder than it was before, with 3 kids. You're just plain exhausted by the time they are in bed, and passing out together on the sofa half way through your glass of wine (jk, priorities, I always finish that!) 15 minutes into your favorite show is a regular occurrence. It's all too easy to find yourself putting the kids before the marriage.
Truthfully, I expected going from 3 kids to 4 to be fairly easy - I mean, our life was already hectic, right? People make those jokes that once you hit 3 kids, another kid makes no difference. But it was a big adjustment for us. Maybe because Leo was hardly 2 years old at the time. There was a moment right after Camille was born- I was sitting on the sofa trying to breastfeed her, and the 2 older kids were talking in my face at once, so close I could feel their hot little breaths. Leo, who was feeling like he had been replaced by the new baby, was squirming to sit in my lap too. I started feeling desperate for room - I was overheated and sweaty - and Camille was fussing and not latching on, and suddenly I just had this irresistible urge to shake everyone off of me and run out of the room! I looked over at Jose and asked, "Is this how it is going to be from now on?"
He laughed. That wasn't the answer I wanted. But I am here to say, it DEFINITELY gets better once you don't have a newborn! So much better! Those days were SO hard for me, and I am very thankful we are out of the 4th baby stage. So no, it is NOT like that anymore.
But... is it easier now? No. It has not gotten any easier for me. We just adapted to the new crazy normalcy and rolled with it. And the reason we roll with it is because those difficult parts of life go hand in hand with some beautiful things, equally as true.
- Laughter will often fill your house. And let me tell you, fits of giggles between 4 kids coming from a different room is like magic to your ears.
- Your kids will be so independent! Jose and I typically wake up between 8 and 9am on the weekends, because Sofia (who is 7) will get Camille out of her crib + change her diaper. She CHANGES HER DIAPER! Of course this isn't something I asked or expected of her. Robbie (10) gets out the cereal and bowls for everyone, and sets up their weekend TV and computer games we let them have. We never taught them to do this. Their motivation is that when we wake up and come down- TV + screen time is over!
- Nobody is ever left out. Seriously! With 3 kids we often had an odd kid out, and I never knew how to deal with that. With 4 that problem just went away!
- They grow up without victim mentality. Life's not fair, and we repeat that to them daily. Everyone knows an adult that constantly makes themselves the victim; it's exhausting to be around! My kids complain like any other kid - and by no means are they the 'best behaved kids in the room'.... in any room, ever. Lol. But they know better than to expect things to be fair between them and their siblings. Keeping everything balanced was an idea that had to go out the window with 4 and we remind the kids often: "We don't do FAIR in our family." (Insert massive eyeroll from our oldest). But they will enter adulthood without the victim/entitled mentality, and you can't put a price on that!
- Your house will be the fun house! Everyone will want to come hang with your family for a piece of the fun and action! It's hard for a crowd of 4 kids not to feel like a party. As they are getting older, we are starting to enjoy their company so much more. We can play games with the older 2 that Jose + I actually like now. Robbie is clever enough now to be included in a lot of adult conversation, he is on my level with riddles, and can actually compete with his Dad, etc. So many dinners now end with us sitting together, talking like friends.
- Amidst the mess, you will become so good at decluttering until you are essentially Marie Kondo. This is a learned skill I perfected after each child. Our children don't have closets and drawers packed to the brim- we wouldn't survive! I toss things out and donate on a dime with no regrets! I am ruthless! And the good news is: the more you practice doing this, the easier it gets. McDonalds toys? Gone by the end of the day. All that artwork coming home in 4 backpacks daily? If it's not going in a frame or our keepsake box, I might take a picture but I will for sure toss it! (Picture me: 'I loooove this!!' as I turn around, crumple it into a ball and stuff it deep in the garbage). 🤣 You will drown in piles of paper otherwise, so you learn quickly.
- Sibling rivalry, while it obviously still exists, isn't as strong for my kids as when there were 2 or 3 of them. They're not stuck with the "hated one" as their only playmate. They have another face to be friendly with and quickly forget the one out of favor.
- It's a cure for the helicopter parent. Ya gotta let go! When school is out, I have to kick the kids out of the house multiple times a day so I can have peace + quiet or get stuff done... or as a punishment. I have no choice but to trust them (sort of) beyond my sight. They want to go play in the creek in the back of the woods? Put on your boots, take care of your sister and knock yourself out. They want to ride their bike through the neighborhood? There will come a time when you are ready to start saying yes. For selfish reasons only, you will teach them and trust them and let them go... and it will feel so good mama!
- They won't rely on you for entertainment. HUGE people!
- This goes for all bigger families, but you learn to put your marriage before the kids. Again and again. My husband once said to me during a bleak moment, "No matter how frustrated or upset I get, the last thing I want is to be alone in a shitty apartment, heating up a Lean Cuisine, thinking of you and all the kids all together without me." It was such a depressing statement, + I laughed! If we weren't totally committed to this marriage it would never work. And as extra motivation, nobody wants to parent 4 kids solo (although of course people do and I respect that). That fact alone will force you to forgive and commit to each other daily.
All photos taken by Jaimi Bailey Photography who was kind enough to come hang out with me for the day + follow us around. If you are local to the Raleigh/Durham area I highly recommend her.