Friday, April 22, 2011

The workings of a "big" family

In the adoption world, 6 kids is not really a lot. I know so many families that have more than 6 kids that I sometimes forget what an oddity we are to other people we run into. And most people can't for the life of them figure out how we manage six kids. I get lots of comments about "How do you do it? I can hardly manage two!" Really, I think once you get past three or four it just doesn't matter anymore. But a little organization does help. And you definitely need to be able to count up to however many kids you have...over and over again. ;)

So how does life work with 6 kids? We're organized and follow a schedule (or at least we try really hard to be!). Every night, clothes are laid out for the next day. Each child has basically 10 days worth of clothing plus dress clothes (and school clothes as applicable). There is an under-bed drawer under each child's bed that has their clothes. School clothes are in a separate dresser with a drawer for each child. We do showers every other night and all six kids go through the shower one after the other. They brush their teeth then shower, then pajamas then stories. They all know the routine. :) In the mornings, I get the kids up and dressed and do the girls' hair. Then I send them downstairs to Mark who makes breakfast. I use my time upstairs for quiet time (praying, Bible reading, etc.) and finishing up any upstairs chores like putting away or gathering laundry. After breakfast the kids come back upstairs to brush their teeth, then it's downstairs for bathroom, shoes, and backpacks. Off to walk to school about 8am (right now that's a family affair unless Mark has to be at work early) then Mark goes to work and Bianca, Julia, and R come back home with me. When school is done I walk down with Bianca, Julia, and R to pick the other kids up. At home, the kids put their backpacks on the back of their dining room chairs and take out their papers from the day. We start homework as needed and the others go play. I finish getting dinner ready (if I've done well there's very little last-minute dinner prep) and we eat between 5 and 5:30. After dinner is playtime or showers depending on the night and we start all over again.

I have separate medical and school binders for each child. In their medical binders I keep their most recent physical and vaccination record for each child. This way I can just grab the relevant child's binder to look things up (or take with me to appointments) instead of trying to flip through information on the whole family. I have found the binders to be invaluable as we have several kids with medical needs.

We also have a big wall calendar that I use to keep track of everyone. It's particularly nice since Mark works occasional weekends plus we have lots of school functions that go on the calendar (two kids who take class snack to school at least once per month plus an amazing number of field trips). The wall calendar is also why I have been adamant that none of our kids have the same first initial. Every even put on the calendar has one or more initials in front of it designating who is participating in the event. That doesn't work well when people have the same first initial. So the kids' last dentist appointment looked like "ATDBEJ--Dr. A... 1pm". I know lots of people like colored pens or pencils for the calendar, but there's no way I'd remember who was which color, especially with eight of us in the house!

Mealtimes are pretty easy for us as we don't have any special needs regarding food. Each person has a specific spot at the table as well as a designated napkin. We had to institute that after lots of fighting over napkins. Now no one can complain that someone else got their napkin dirty. LOL

I'm sure there are other areas I'm leaving off, so feel free to ask questions in the comments!


lstaceymd said...

Thanks for sharing. I am the mom of 5 - almost 6 also. I am a little overwhelmed at times thinking about the logistics of 6 -but I know it can be done. But it is so encouraging to hear from others who also meet that challenge! So thanks again and God bless.
Stacey (mom to 5 - soon to be 6. 2 adopted and 2 with special needs)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips, yes, very useful, now to put them into practice in my own home is another matter... I'll come up with some questions and let you know!

Nikki said...

Really interesting...

Nikki --> get a blog design to change the world!

Michelle rieken said...

Courtney, We have a bunk bed we are giving away if you could use it. Michelle rieken

Courtney said...

Thanks, Michelle! I think we're all set with beds right now but I really appreciate the offer!!