Monday, May 7, 2012

Having a big family isn't an excuse...

Over the weekend, I learned that having a big family is not an excuse to not do things. It definitely makes certain things harder, but we can't always use it as an excuse to get out of doing stuff. There are still things that we won't attempt because of having so many kids. But there are things that we are able to do that we hadn't  done before. Nothing major, but things that we pushed off before thinking it would be too much. Going places is still difficult, and will be for a while. If we're truly not going to enjoy going to an event because we're spending the whole time managing the kids, we'll wait on that until they are older.  I will continue to choose to stay home during the day over taking all of the kids out for a quick trip to the grocery store to to pick something up from Target. With 5 kids, there is no such thing as a "quick trip" anywhere. Loading and unloading the van in itself takes more time than it is worth. If I have the choice to run errands during the day with all the kids or wait until the evening when my husband is home, it's a no brainer! But I know from experience that if the school nurse calls and Princess is sick, I can load the four boys in the van and get Princess back home in ten minutes. That is truly a Mom Superpower!

There are times where it is just easier to say no to doing something. There are also times where we try something and find out that before we try that again, we have to do things differently. For example, last weekend we went to my sister in law's house to eat crabs. Having a newborn, a one year old who is scared that we are just dropping him off therefore crying when anyone else even looks at him, and a terrible two year old who gets into absolutely everything in sight, made it impossible for either of us to sit down, let alone attempt pick and eat crabs. (I am aware that is probably the longest run-on sentence ever.) Sometimes if we get invited somewhere it is easier to not go, or to have just one of us go and take a couple kids instead of all of them.

The last time we went to church as a family on our own was in July of 2009, about a month after Trouble was born. Pirate had just turned two, and couldn't sit still. Trouble cried for the last half of the Mass, and Princess and Pirate whined almost the whole time. Back then, my husband was working every other weekend, and I never would have attempted taking three kids to church by myself the weekends he was at work. We thought it was too hard to take all the kids to church, so on his weekends off, we would take turns going to Mass, or just not go. We all went to church when Trouble was baptized, then again when Donkey was baptized. Both of those times, we depended on our families to help with the other kids while the baptism took place. Princess made her First Communion last weekend, and we only took Pirate with us to the Mass. We  realized that it is important for at least the older kids to go to church, so this weekend we decided that we will go back to taking turns taking the kids to church. Eventually we will attempt taking everyone, but not for a while. Having a big family isn't an excuse to get out of doing things that are important to your faith.

We have never hosted a playdate at our house. Princess has gone to friends' houses to play before, but never invited anyone over here. When she would ask, I would always say, "One day. It's too hard with all the kids at home right now.". In my defense, I don't know a lot of her friends' parents very well. Having all the kids is an excuse not to go to her school to visit during the day or to volunteer at events, just because you can't take other kids. She has had friend parties for her birthday the past two years, and I have met the friends' parents, but I don't know them well. We also live on kind of a main road, and most of our neighbors are older. If we lived on a court or in a smaller neighborhood, I'm sure we'd have kids in and out all the time. Anyway, Princess hosted her first playdate yesterday with her best friend. They ride the bus together, go to Religious Ed together, and Princess has gone to her house to play before. I am so glad I finally gave in and let her have a friend over. We worked around naps and the boys running around and the girls were able to play together. They had a great time! When her mom came to pick Princess's friend up, she brought her little brother who is Pirate's age. They will go to kindergarten together next year. He jumped right in and started playing with the boys like they had been friends forever. It made me so happy to see the kids having friends to play with, and knowing that if I give things like this a chance they will work out fine. Having a big family isn't an excuse to get out of doing things that are important to your kids.

This weekend I also took Princess and Pirate to do a fundraising walk for March of Dimes. In the past I never would have attempted to do this with all the kids. Having my husband home on weekends is definitely a help because I didn't have to take everyone. That would have been impossible. I took the oldest two kids with me and they did great! I should note that I completely underestimated how far 4 miles is, and given the choice again, I would have just taken one of the little guys in a stroller. Princess walked the whole thing and didn't complain once. Pirate made it halfway then had a complete meltdown. He was sweaty and dragging. Why did I bring him? Because I gave in that morning when he started crying that he wanted to go. Again, completely underestimated how long it was. *Sidenote - this walk made me a little nervous about the 5k I am supposed to "run" at the end of June. I can't imagine the sweat. Thankfully, one of our friends offered us an umbrella stroller for Pirate so he could take a break. At first, he freaked out about the stroller. I guess it's degrading to be going on 5 and riding in a stroller. I didn't care, it was the only way to finish. In the end, he was really happy that he got to ride the rest of the way and eat his goldfish. Having a big family isn't an excuse to get out of doing things that are important to your friends.

Princess just recently learned how to ride her bike with not training wheels. Yes, we are aware that most kids knew how to ride way before now. It was one of those things that we would think of teaching her, say we'd do it next weekend, forget, then remember at the end of the weekend. It's ok though, she is now an official bike rider, and only occasionally hits a street sign :) Pirate wanted to start riding his bike as well, and my husband made sure he took time to take them each out individually to ride over the weekend. He also bought a bike that both of us can use so we can go riding with the kids. He was able to go out for a ride alone yesterday. Then I did it too - I rode a bike for the first time in probably fifteen years. It has probably been longer than that because I didn't look at my bike again once I started driving. It's funny how when you're a teenager you can't wait to drive and not use a bike and now that I'm an adult I can't wait to go for a bike ride when my husband gets home today! We also spent way more time outside this weekend than we have in a while. Donkey doesn't get to play outside much because I need to be there with him, so usually I just stay in with the babies while the three big kids play in the yard. I do take him for walks with me around the neighborhood, and he got to play out back for a while over the weekend. Watching a new walker get used to walking in Crocs and on the grass never gets old! We spent lots of family time outside getting active this weekend, and it made us feel really good. We set a good example for the kids showing them that we can go for bike rides and long walks and run and enjoy ourselves. Having a big family isn't an excuse to get out of things important to your health.

It is difficult to have a big family. I know that it is a challenge to do anything having so many kids. I know that we will not do some things as a family until the kids are older. 5 may not see the inside of a restaurant until he is a teenager! But I know we can't stay shut inside our house forever. It is important to get out and go places and exercise and play with friends and support great causes. The best part? Doing all this stuff out of the house completely exhausts the kids so they go to bed without argument and sleep all night!

ready for bed!

exhausted after a fun weekend!

1 comment:

  1. As a mom of six, I completely relate to this post! Many, many times we try to do things, only to think, "What were we THINKING!" or like you said... "if we ever do that again, we will be doing it differently!"

    I would much rather host anything, EVERYTHING at my house if I could, rather than trying to manage them all at someone else's house! This is partly why I started a mom's group here...

    Hang in there though- they will get better at doing things outside the house as they get older! as for me, I'm looking forward to summer when the big kids are home- THEN, we can get in the van and the big ones buckle the little ones- I just get to climb in, and OFF WE GO!

    It's so weird! :)

    Nice to "meet" you by the way! Visitor from bloggymoms!