Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Moms of Lots of Littles

Today, I want to write a specific post to the Mama's of Lots of Littles. Or maybe Only Littles. And by Littles I mean the children too small to really be a helpful member of the family. Once I heard an interesting thought... when children are little (under 7 or so?) they are not a productive member of the family... they cost more to feed than they are able to help out. In the middle years they even out... they can help enough to balance the food they eat. By the time they are bigger, they can help enough to be a positive member of the family's society. I think that was from an Amish or Mennonite background, but I think it has value.

OK- we can argue semantics for a while... I know that a person's value is not just dependent on what they can produce, but go with me on this. I now have Older Children, Middle Children, and Little Children. Things are easier than they used to be. When the baby is fussy, I can sleep in a little. I rarely have to do the dishes. I even split the cooking duties, so if I am in a project the children still get fed.

BUT- I remember when I only had little ones. I remember it well. I still get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about it. My mind flashes back to that 4th story apartment in Okinawa, Japan, where my husband was deployed or working all the time. I remember the loneliness and isolation. I remember pacing the floor with Anna who cried all the time her first 6 months of life. I remember being so tired I was dizzy. I remember crying as I surveyed the laundry piled over my entire sofa, as high as my neck. Oh do I remember.

Here's my encouragement to you... THIS TOO SHALL PASS. You will survive this. And, surprisingly, so will your children. They will grow up. Althugh the days are very, very long, the years are so very short. As hard as it is at times, enjoy your children.

Here are my suggestions for your sanity in these years:

1) Have a routine. Notice I didn't say schedule. Routine. Go from one thing to another in order so they know what to do, where to be, and what is coming next. This will help you. Have each person have a place to be and something to do.

2) Teach them to play alone. This is hard if there are a lot of them, but it is important.

3) GUARD Naptime. If they don't all sleep, make them read on their beds. Give yourself some quiet time. And use the quiet time for YOU - not to catch up on housework.

4) Teach them to help you. When you are emptying the dishwasher, let them do the silverware. When folding laundry, they can fold kitchen towels and washclothes. When cleaning the bathroom, they can wipe down the sink with a cloth while you do the tub. They can empty the garbages into the kitchen garbage can. Work together, room by room. Before long, they will be able to do the simple things on their own. Then it is just a matter of time before they can do bigger things.

5) Snuggle up on the sofa and read to them. Some of our favorite times were reading aloud together. I rarely do it any more. I wish I did.

Someday you will be past the All Littles Stage, and be able to look back and realize that it's easier. I promise. If not, you can come and cry on my shoulder and accuse me of lying. Until then, enjoy your children, and keep doing the next thing. Don't forget to train them well. Things which are cute at 2 are not so cute at 12. I promise you'll survive this. I did!


  1. I remember those days too, and I thought they would never end. Now my older kids worry about leaving me "alone" with just the little ones!
    I love when you say, "Although the days are very, very long, the years are so very short."
    Well said, and so true!

  2. I have similar memories, Carri. I think the worst part is feeling like the Lone Ranger. When everyone else is offering such pearls of wisdom such as, "Dontcha know what causes that?" and, "Y'all oughtta buy a tv" it's easy to feel like the only person in the world with more than 3 children. That's why I feel like it's so important for us to stick together. (Hopefully Mr. Linky will be fixed by next Tuesday.)

  3. I join the crowd of "remembering those days". It was hard and I wished there was someone around to offer support and help.

  4. Thanks for writing on this subject today. I needed to hear it. I have 4 under 7 and we are homeschooling. I rarely feel like I am doing a good job and am constantly frustrated that i can't seem to juggle it all! Thanks for your words of encouragement. Its nice to know that there are other mom's out there who have been there!

  5. You are so right about the Littles Only stage! It's HARD! My kids are now 12,11,10,9,7,6,6,3. Life is completely different than it was just a couple of years ago.

    I 'lend out' my three oldest girls once a week to a friend who is in the trenches of Littles Only life. I remember how it was! They are getting practice in serving others and home management, she is getting a bit of relief, help and encouragement.


  6. Great post! Those are wonderful tips and/or reminders of how to keep the peace in a home full of people! Thanks, Lisa~

  7. Thank you dear momma!

    I didn't intend to cry, but...
    You know? I actually DO the things on your list already, and they work well for me.
    However, it is the most wonderful and refreshing thing to hear (from a momma two steps ahead) that the tiredness is normal, the time is short, and the little ones precious.

    Thank you.
    So very much!


  8. So true, so true! Just hang on, moms of littles. Mine are now 21, 18, 16, 15, 15, 14 and 11, and I am having a wonderful time. Homeschooling is challenging with so many in high school, but it is fun, too. I love teaching 4 of them Biology all at the same time. (With my 11 year old listening in it makes 5.) So many things we do are so fun now. And I haven't had to shovel snow for years now. Or change light bulbs. Or do dishes. Or vacuum! I still cook and bake, because I love to, but with help!

  9. This was a great encouragement to me. This past week, everyone was sick, and only Mommy could help with the "ickies" and do all the housework as well. One day, I know it will be easier, but for now, I can relax and enjoy my children.

  10. Thankyou! I am weeks off having bub number 4 and my eldest is under 4 and a half, we moved house a few months back and are renovating, Beloved works long hours and renovation happens only one day a week (we have gone 3 months without a shower so far) and we are approaching the height of summer here (Australia) and I hate the heat when NOT a billion weeks pregnant. I hired a cleaner this week and I have been wrestling with the guilt of not doing it all myself. It is so encouraging to hear that other people agree that it can be tough! Just to counteract all that whinging though, I do get to nibble baby neck and hear baby belly laughs every day - How lucky am I?!?!

  11. You are so right! We are in the little/middle stage and I'm sooo happy to have helpers who are actually able to help now!