Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have 4 kids? It’s not all that unique to your daily life if you have any number of kids. Just more of it. I’ll take you through my day today, which is pretty typical, and see if it’s anything like you imagined.
If I had to describe my days in one word it would be: non-stop. Every day is a continuous flow of doing one thing immediately followed by another. There is no break. No time to think. Organization, planning and logistics are paramount, which does not bode well for me since none of those are my strong suit, but luckily SuburbanMommy excels at them.
My day starts shortly after 5 am. Not because I am naturally a morning person, but because Thing 4 wakes me up. And on those rare days when she does “sleep in” until 6, Things 1 & 2 wake up at 5:30 to have an argument about which Wii Mario Brothers world they last played. In truth, I have been woken up that early for so many years now, I don’t think I could sleep past 6 o’clock even if I were to wake up on my own.
Hmm…waking up on my own…to quiet…sounds wonderful. Sorry, I got distracted by a daydream for a second. Speaking of getting distracted, that happens often during my day. I’m working on one or two or ten things at the same time when something comes to the top of my attention and I completely forget whatever I was doing. Now back to my day.
My first order of business is to get all 4 kids awake, breakfast, dressed, and ready for school/camp/daycare while SuburbanMommy is getting dressed and ready for work. Each kid has their routine that I need to cater to. Thing 1 bounces out of bed and is ready in no time. Thing 2 will take forever to get dressed because he likes to watch himself dance naked in front of the mirror (seriously). Thing 3 must have his milk as soon as he gets up or else, and it’s best if he picks out his own clothes. Trust me. Thing 4 can’t wait to put her shoes on. Then there are all the things I need to remember for them that day: field trip permission slips, special lunch items, show and share day, out of diapers, change of clothes. Finally we get all the kids loaded into the car around 7:15, I wave goodbye, and I take a deep breadth.
Now I can start thinking about what I need to do today. But first, there is a good deal of cleanup following the disaster that is 4 kids eating breakfast and running around the house for an hour. Remember when I said there is no downtime? I lied. At this point I take 10 minutes to eat a bowl of cereal or two, drink tea, and watch the Today Show. Don’t tell my wife. OK, break time over. Time for me to shower and get to “work”. I mockingly call what I do at an office work because it’s pretty easy compared to my time away from the office.
But it’s not like I spend an uninterrupted block of time at the office. No, I’m constantly shifting between office and home tasks. Parent teacher conferences, doctor appointments, or, what I did today was take the minivan to the dealer because some parts were recalled and we’re about to take a long drive to the beach so probably should have that taken care of. That’s actually where I am right now writing this post. You didn’t think I get time set aside for blogging, did you? I almost always write blog posts while doing something else.
Today I need to leave the office at 4:30 to take Thing 4 to a swim meet. This is where logistics comes into play. There are only two of us and four of them. Sometimes I need to be in more than one place at the same time in order for them to attend all their activities. In those instances, you just need to pick and choose and sometimes they don’t get to attend. I suppose that sucks for them but it’s just the way it goes when you are part of a large family.
Usually, at 6 o’clock it’s time to pick up the kids. They are at the on-site childcare where I work so it’s convenient. SuburbanMommy gets home earlier to have dinner ready for the kids when we walk in the door, because that is a sight unto itself. Imagine flipping a switch to turn on a Category 5 hurricane. That’s what it’s like to walk in the door with four tired, hungry kids who all want your attention. At the same time. It is quite stressful even if you are used to it and know it’s coming. Which is why the next thing SuburbanMommy and I do is pour a tall glass of wine for ourselves.
The next hour or two are the reverse of the morning. Dinner, baths, teeth brushing, bedtime. With each kid having their own routines and quirks. Who goes to bed first. When and which book to read. Lights on or off. In the case of Thing 3, whether he is sleeping in his room or the hallway floor tonight because he is afraid of dreams. Thing 4 is the first to bed around 7:30. Not because she is ready for bed, but because we are ready for her to go to bed. It takes about an hour to get the rest of the crew through the nightly ritual.
Now it’s 8:30, time for me to eat my dinner hopefully in quiet unless someone comes out of their room needing a drink, or scared of something, or fighting with someone. Then it’s one more round of cleanup and organization for the next day before collapsing into bed, only to wake up some hours later to do it all again.
That about sums it up. If you have kids it probably sounds familiar. If you don’t have kids it probably frightens you. At least now you know.