Surviving Life with Four Kids

I’m not usually big on advice posts. I actually abhor the advice culture that seems to permeate women’s and parenting magazines. Ever notice how men’s magazines aren’t constantly offering tips and hints on how to do ordinary tasks?

Still, I think I have figured out a few principles for surviving life with four, two of whom are twins.

Number one: I never plan to do anything that takes longer than seven minutes. There is a high chance that at least once every seven minutes some child will interrupt me. However, if I am thirty seconds into a task when it happens, I am probably safe to let that child cry, whine, or wait for at least six minutes until I finish whatever it is I am doing – be it showering, handling raw meat, boiling eggs, or having a Facebook conversation with my friend which will likely be the sole adult interaction of my day.

If I absolutely must do anything takes longer than seven minutes, I break it into seven minute parts. Also, if I get longer than seven minutes… bonus! Sometimes if I am very lucky I might get an hour or even 90 minutes during which all my children are asleep or at least reasonably content. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does I am astoundingly productive. Or sometimes I just watch episodes of 30 Rock and knit. Like I said, it doesn’t happen often so I take advantage.

Also, I go to places where there are people around. I love my afternoons picking up P from school, even though it often means I wake the twins from a nap. That’s because there are usually moms there who are happy to hold a twin, point out if my toddler is about to leap off the jungle gym, or just chat to.

Also, I had to throw out all the advice that applied the first two times – Never wake a sleeping baby, sleep when baby sleeps etc. etc. I wake the girls to go to Mother Goose because it keeps me sane to get out of the house. Although I always napped with P when he was tiny, I have accomplished “sleeping when the baby sleeps” approximately twice in the six months since they have been home.

I often think “to each according to their need.” It’s impossible to slice your time evenly among four. If you are a happy relaxed baby and your sister is a bit higher needs and requires tons of physical interaction, you might find yourself woken from quite a few naps to go to medical appointments, and sitting in that bouncy chair through a lot of showers. I can’t feel guilty over this or try to keep score. When we do get “alone time” occasionally, it’s that much more special.

And last but not least, I get my groceries delivered. And I really wish I’d thought of doing it about 10 months ago instead of just six weeks ago. Worth every cent of the $8 charge.