As all parents know, parenting is pure survival. We shouldn’t judge one another or compare to others because we all are using our strengths and skills the best we can to survive. My personality is driven to succeed, once I feel I am surviving I take it to the next level challenging myself to thrive. I don’t like living in chaos or the crazy cycle so once I feel that coming on, we make changes. As a family we have adapted quickly to the many changes we have experienced these last three years.
This large, beautiful family is my reality, my norm. I am very aware of just how big we are every time we step into a store, every time I sit down to pay bills and every time I leave my crew with a multiple sitters cause I have to divide and conquer. I have discovered that I am parenting at a new frequency and some things in our world have changed.
I have had to adapt jumping from just 4 kids in January to 7 kids today.
Time: This one is tricky, still no matter how hard I want there to be more I still only get 24 hours in one day. My goal each day is to spend one on one with each kiddo. A story here, a snuggle there, making sure that each of my kids is touched and heard throughout the day. I am a physical touch extroverted person, I usually am always able to pour out for my crew and have some left over for the other people in my world. I also encourage my crew to love on each other, the bigger ones read stories, snuggle and hold little ones as they cry when I can’t. I am realizing that I am raising some really kind, compassionate kiddos. We strive to see others around us.
Chores:The whole crew from 10 to 2 chips in. I use a lot of non toxic cleaners in my home using (vinegar, essential oils and Norwex towels). My kiddos all help out, cleaning windows, vacuuming, dusting and caring for the animals. They help set the table, sweep the floors, fill cups and get snacks. We do family cleaning sessions where we crank up the music and divide up the chores and go. Letting your children do chores not only teaches them but helps you. We are not a family where this mama does it all, there is no benefit to that. I have learned however that I must lower my expectation, my 6 year old sweeps the entry way very different than I do. I don’t let her off the hook for a job poorly done but I also allow her best effort to be enough, which means its’ not perfect or how I would do it often.
Going Out: That is a full time job in and of itself, a day out takes quite a bit of prep, especially with 4 Three and under. I feel like a day out is like end of the world apocalypse prepping every time. It takes quite a bit of time to get everyone loaded up and buckled (4 car seats) so we can go. Big kids are self sufficient and getting the littles ready is an assembly line of sorts. Lining everyone up and changing diapers, swapping pajamas for clothes and feeding them in bulk fashion. Usually I am shouting at the slow poke upstairs, while wrestling a baby alligator (baby who loves to roll over during changing) and telling a toddler “no more snacks” while herding chickens out of the house. Our mornings are certainly not peaceful but it is a beautiful, productive kind of chaos. Being a single parent means my kids come with me when I grocery shop or have to run in the store real quick. We have a system in parking lots we buddy up, big kids pair off with little kids while I wear one baby in and hold the other. We work together, I am always reminding them that there are people around us so we have to be aware of where we are going and how we are walking. Once we are inside the store I use carts to fight chaos and fatigue: baby in the seat, baby being worn and two toddlers in the cart. I love Aldis and other retailers for they have double carts which means more room for groceries and such in the actual cart.
Grocery Shopping: Snack time around our place is entire bags of chips, box of crackers and package of granola bars. A week’s worth of groceries contains several bunches of bananas, 2 packages of noodles and 2 dozen eggs. I am still adjusting our numbers here, our budget amount is much higher than I planned before and we really pack out the cart when shopping, by the time we get to the register all of the kids are holding things that couldn’t fit into the cart.
I have discovered something else that has changed as well, we seem to get a lot of attention when we go out. People ask questions, smile and stare and try to figure out exactly what all is going on here. I am so proud of my little family, they all work so hard to be kind, hard working and considerate. Lately, I have seen a whole new side of my crew, I have seen ownership. I think it has been incredibly healing for my older three to be the oldest. They feel the boldness to share how we do things in our home, they are no longer guests here. It has been really beautiful to observe that as they love on littles, help around the house and share me they have found their confidence as a Klepfer.