Monday, January 4, 2010

A Letter to MOMS of Lots of Littles

Rerun... this time it's one I need to remember with this crew of mine...


A Letter to Moms of Lots of Littles

Today, I want to write a specific post to the Mamas 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. Although 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 two are not so cute at twelve. I promise you’ll survive this. I did!


  1. Is this just for me? It sure seems like it. My four littles seem to be an overwhelming bunch many times during the day but I know that I must laugh and smile at the also overwhelming cuteness more than any other mother I know. They are amazing and as much as I look forward to them being able to help more I am not looking forward to them growing up. My oldest is about to turn 5. I tear up thinking about it, maybe thats becuase I will be homeschooling LOL. Just Kidding sort of, how in the world will I manage to homeschool full time with three other littles and likely another pregnancy by then? Suggestions?

  2. You'll do it. Naptime is great when they are young and schooling. I remember we read all together in the morning, and memorized Bible verses, etc. Then during naptime I did stuff with just Angela. Math, handwriting, etc.

    Now I have 6 in school, an almost 5 year old wanting to do school, and the 3 who are 3 and under. NOW it is chaos!!! Little did I know that those days were easier to school than now. Good thing we start easy, though, because I need to perspective to remember that they WILL learn it all even if I am busy.

  3. Your advice is so solid, and definitely what I tell new moms who come to me in frustration. I agree with it all! And it really is easier to keep having babies when you have older ones to help. I wouldn't have believed it myself when I only had little ones, but there it is! I definitely like having olders, even if the schooling is more complicated!