It is hard to know where to start logging life after I’ve been quiet for so long. The first thing that comes to mind is recording what life is like for our family at the moment. Lots of our friends have 4+ kids, so I don’t feel like we are any big deal. Then I step into public to do our grocery shopping or run errands on a day when I have all four boys and we become something to gawk at. Most often I get “I don’t know how you do it.” So, I am going to answer how I do it…”I just do!”
Most days begin with our early riser greeting us in the shower. Owen regardless of the day of week joins us bright and chipper in the wee hours. He shares a room with Aaden who is most definitely not a morning person. We are teaching Aaden to take cues from his own body and go back to sleep when Owen springs out of bed. We are also working with Owen to entertain himself for awhile. Week days, I send him away to read or lay on our bedroom couch, quietly. I too am not a chipper, morning person. A shower is a must for me and once I’ve gotten ready, I can usually face the onslaught. Kristofer’s parting gift each morning is to fry up a dozen or so eggs and sausage for breakfast. The older two get their morning chores done (dressed, beds made, clothes put away, dishwasher emptied etc.) while I get the rest of breakfast on the table. We typically have one hour before school drop off. In that time I do my best to sit down and eat with the older kids to set the tone of our day. Once finished I wake the sleepy little ones up to dress and feed them. We all do our best to be ready and have the dishes done by the time we head out the door at 8:55am. Dropping off Aaden is a breeze and we are usually home 10 minutes later. I use our morning to get a few chores done around the house and play with the kids. Lincoln is no longer nursing so his morning nap usually comes around 10:30am and I am working hard to put him down on his own. I usually stick Jackson in his room for quiet play time for an hour too. Mama has to get her workout in out in the garage! By 11:30, I need to get lunch on the table for the middles so that Owen is ready for school and we are out the door by 12:00pm. On good days, Lincoln has actually napped for the 1.5 hours and I can get him up happy! I try and run at least one errand in between preschool drop off/pick up and run home to feed Lincoln before going back for Owen at 2:15pm. We are home again by 2:35pm and I spend the next 25 minutes getting everyone down for naps/quiet time. By 3:00pm my hope is to have 40 minutes to myself before Aaden gets home from school. This isn’t always possible and lately it’s been more like 10 minutes to myself with time changes, nursing strikes, nap strikes and migrating Jackson to a toddler bed. It’s been a hard last few months with all of the transitions! By 3:45pm my friend graciously picks Aaden up at school and drops him off so we can be home for the afternoon. Aaden zooms in for afternoon chores and homework and we chat while he snacks and decompresses from his day. I try and give him 1.5 hours of down time before dinner and he usually spends it watching a show or playing reading games on the computer. In that time I try and prep dinner so that it can be cooked and ready by 6:00pm. The older kids usually wander down and help set the table & do art projects. I try my best to keep the littles in their rooms during dinner prep or it turns into a snack feeding frenzy! Kristofer usually gets home between 6:15-6:45 and joins us for dinner. We eat a little later than the kids would like but want everyone to be present at the table, including dad! After dinner is usually “wear the kids out hour” and while I do the dishes, Kristofer conducts any number of crazy activities (boxing, circuits, wrestling, jumping on the trampoline…). Bath & bed follows after we spend a few minutes picking up the whole house. Kids are typically in bed by 8:00pm every night of the week. We read and pray with each of them and then hope to have a few hours of down time together. Kristofer enjoys working out for 30 minutes while I make lunches/snacks and we reconviene to veg on the couch for an hour before bed.
Every week day is pretty much the same with only slight deviations. It seems tightly scheduled, but its the only way I can function and keep sane. We will occasionally have friends over to play, head out for a fun errand or have an after school activity planned. But, at this point we have chosen to not enroll kids in sports, lessons or extacurricular activities. I think as we get the younger two a bit older, we can be more flexible with our schedule and can help the kids decide what to add in. I often feel we “aren’t fun” because we don’t scheudle a lot for our kids during the week and use most weekends to catch up on grocery shopping, going to church and preparing for the week ahead. Likely, this is due to Kristofer and I being natural introverts and the utter exhaustion that comes with being “on” all day and night…but more on that topic later.
So, that’s how we do it…routine, schedules, chores, constant laundry, constant food consumption, always thinking of ways to expend energy…and loving on our kids through bleary eyes!