Families with 4 children

(82 Posts)
DeGlitterBug Fri 04-Jan-13 10:57:53

Please can someone reassure me all will be ok!

Youngest is 5 months, and the others are 3, 5 and 7.5 years. I am exhausted. It's the end of the school hols, plus baby and I have had permacolds for what feels like about 2 months. I am run ragged chasing round after them. Leaving the house is hard. The rain doesn't help. Staying on top of the cooking and washing is near impossible and I ache all over from doing everything one handed whilst holding baby! I seem to shout all the time, and have no time between the essential stream of get this, clear that, wipe the other, feed baby, change nappy, wipe bum, pick up stuff etc to actually have fun and enjoy spending time with the kids. Aaaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!

I have lost my voice today, and the night time was a merry go round of feeding baby, changing a wet bed, toddler had bad dream. Dh is knackered too.

Will it get better? Please tell me it will. Currently feeling like having a fourth has tipped us over the edge sad. So few real people have a big family there's no-one in rl to empathise.

I know teenagers will be hard in a different way, so no need to scare me about that thanks wink

cynner Fri 04-Jan-13 11:00:45

waits with you I have four children too..ages 16 to 5... I do hope someone will come along and reassure us..

lockets Fri 04-Jan-13 11:08:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Poor you hmm yes, it does get better as little things change like baby sleeping through, older dc can do a bit more etc. Being ill/tired skews your perspective on things and I've noticed that most women expect the same of themselves & the housework when ill. But we ought to lower our expectations!! Mine are 9,6 and 4yo dts. Every few months if things are getting beyond us, we look at which bits are causing most hassle and try and think of ways to work round them. Dp came up with plan that one of us puts all 4 to bed one nite & the other person gets on with jobs. I feel more relaxed because I don't have to deal with bedtime at all 3/4 nights a week AND have managed to tidy lots of areas of the house. That might not work for you right now, but when you're better maybe spend an hour with DH working out exactly what is tipping you over from busy to chaos and what might solve it. Often we find its just switching the order of things that helps. Having one meal that's easy peasy on a hectic day, getting older dc to do 1 extra job. I sound like Tesco but every little does help. And I know I know I know that getting out of the house is ghastly but it's the thing that will force you to spend nice time with the kids. IYSWIM? Be nice to yourself. smile

DeGlitterBug Fri 04-Jan-13 12:32:15

Thank you smile

I know in my head that being ill makes it harder, but still feel bad about not coping. Housework standards really are very low already.

You are totally right about going out. I can't wait for the weather to improve a bit. Even the park's not an option many days when it's so wet and cold, as if baby needs changing or feeding there's no way to cope.

The hardest thing this week has been the screaming and arguing. Every single time baby starts to fall asleep some fecking row breaks out!

I know about the arguing, it's what drives me bonkers with 4 dc. But they don't do well in the house all day together. Is it feasible to split them 2/2 or 3/1, we do this quite a lot so it's not quite so full on for either of us. And the kids get a bit more 1to 1 time, so they're happier. I have got to the point of treating them like dogs and dragging them out whatever the weather. Took 9yo and 4yo dd to the woods last week in freezing mud, they were happy as larry. Perhaps for now don't aim for big family outings with all 4, that is really tough in winter with a baby. Hopefully next week when your eldest 2 back at school, life should calm down a bit. smile

TameGaloot Fri 04-Jan-13 13:37:46

Yes it gets easier
Mine are now 9,8,6&3

This too shall pass smile

Hanikam Fri 04-Jan-13 13:48:50

Deglitterbug, I've just found out I'm expecting number 4! Due in August. It was hard enough with 3 dcs when they were 0, 3 and 5!
It really did get easier....once they were all at school, but that's a long time to wait. I've said it before on MN, the best advice I had was to hire a cleaner. She was a Godsend! At least one day a week the house would be fresh, clean and shiny, beds changed, ironing done, windows sparkling. I'm going to hire another cleaner before dc4 arrives. Mandy has retired now and I miss her!

Hang in there op, it's good to get it all out on MN cos being a mum is f***ing hard sometimes, and anyone who says different is either lying or has has a whole team of domestics doing it all for her.

hugs from suffolk

MelodyHarmony Fri 04-Jan-13 21:07:36

Hi DeGlitter. I only have three DCs (we are TTC #4) so I'm not as experienced as other posters. I think, though, that you mustn't be too hard on yourself. The weather has been crap so that really doesn't help. The autumn term at school is notoriously long so your bigger ones would have been exhausted by the time they broke up from school, Christmas holidays are a roller coaster of emotions for children (excitement, later nights etc).

I remember when my DC3 turned six months things just seemed to get a little easier, so hang in there. Then once the night times got better it was easier again, then when he approached a year just recently, things got slightly easier again.

I fully intend to hire a cleaner as soon as I get pg with#4 and morning sickness kicks in, then keep her for as long as I need. I don't have spare cash for a cleaner but I will cut down on food if necessary just to afford one. Would that be possible for you?

Like others have said, do easy meals on busy days. I don't expect much from my DCs after school except snack, school reading book then play on the Wii/DS (separately, otherwise they argue! We have a rota to show whose turn it is!). Early tea (5ish) then all three upstairs at six, bath only every other night. Bigger one plays quietly on our room, smaller two to bed. I think a bit of evening to yourself is very important, vital in fact.

I hope that doesn't all sound patronising. I really am no expert but you must not be so harsh on yourself. I'm sure you're doing a fantastic job. I also always think if all I've achieved all day is clean pants, hot dinner (even if that is Maccy D's occasionally) then that's enough!

bigbuttons Fri 04-Jan-13 21:12:10

I have 6 the oldest being 8 when the youngest was born. I suppose it was tough. I had a cleaner, that made all the difference. I can't say it's any easier now though, sorry, just different as I have teens. Life was much simpler when they were all small.

bigbuttons Fri 04-Jan-13 21:14:31

Oh yes and having my fourth really did make a huge difference. When I had just 3 I still socialised, when no4 came along it tipped the balance .After that 5 and 6 didn't make that much difference!

DeGlitterBug Fri 04-Jan-13 23:00:10

We don't have a cleaner and can't afford one. We've recently cut back on takeaways etc too and are trying to plan meals better to save money. No local family support either sad.

Thanks for all the suggestions. Our kids seem to need little sleep, which is far from ideal. The older ones tend to finally go to sleep between 8 and 9pm and as the baby is still so little she's still down with us (though mostly sleeps all evening now). The brood start to get up from about 6am. The older two have been persuaded that they must stay in their rooms until 7am, but the toddler and baby are a whole other deal! Time to ourselves is literally non-existent, either individually or together. The evenings consist of (a) getting the big three to bed, (b) clearing up essentials -sorting a bit of washing, clearing the table/kitchen & gettting dishwasher on or emptied, and (c) caring for baby, which is at least gradually reducing now that she no longer cluster feeds all evening. At the moment we're sleeping separately too just to try to maximise the amount of sleep we each get. Often we have one (or more!) child each in with us for some or all of the night.

One thing I'm suffering with is my 3 year old dropping her nap. It makes bedtime for her a bit easier (though still 2 older ones to wrangle, so overall impact on evenings minimal), but means I get no time with her asleep during the day, and also by teatime she's so tired she's gripey and tantrumy. I guess this will improve as her stamina increases. Looking forward to her starting nursery half days smile. The baby also sleeps a bit less during the day now she's not newborn, so less chances overall for me to grab a cup of tea! Not sitting or crawling yet (both of which will bring new challenges when they happen), but seems to want some sort of entertaining all the time.

Thanks for all the suggestions. After school, 2 days a week the older 2 have activities, so those days are hard because it means getting out of the house again to collect them, with whining toddler and unhappy baby, whilst dinner cooks on a timer! That'll be easier in better weather, as we won't come home, just go to the park and play. The other days, after getting home and snacks etc they mostly just watch TV or play computer games blush. It's all I can cope with right now. We eat as a family at . There's no way I would even contemplate us eating separately. I'd be too hungry to wait until bedtime's over, and as dh is home by then usually, it's a key part of our family life. We only bath them about twice a week, and dh takes care of that. The eldest is starting to prefer a shower. One of the main challenges right now is that he's getting significantly older than the others -his interests are changing. He wants to have friends over, he's totally past cbeebies etc. Often I feel he misses out sad.

I don't even know what I'm going on about. I'm just finding it all hard. There are SO many competing and different needs to balance that I can literally never win - when I have 4 on my own someone is always unhappy, often more than one. Thank you for letting me offload and for the reassurance that it will all pass smile.

I'm struggling (just as I did with baby 3) with not wishing away the precious baby days, whilst at the same time finding them very very taxing!

<repeats to self> Breathe in, breathe out and try not to shout.

Skiffen Fri 04-Jan-13 23:05:16

Sounds v hard - remember this will all pass.

One tip though - have you got a sling? Get a really good SSC and have baby on your back while you cook/serve dinner/tidy etc. Then you won't be one handed and she may settle and sleep a bit in the evenings?

Myliferocks Fri 04-Jan-13 23:05:40

Mine are aged 16, 12, 10, 9 and 8.
In some ways it has got easier and in others it has got a lot worse.
The arguing seems to be worse these days but I think that is more to do with all the hormones flying around in our house.
The easier side is that the children can do most things for themselves and if it gets really bad I just kick them out to call on their friends whatever the weather!

DeGlitterBug Fri 04-Jan-13 23:11:54

Totally right skiffen, slings are a lifesaver grin. Yesterday she napped for almost 2hrs on my back and I not only managed to clear up, but also give everyone a little attention (OK, they peeled and chopped veg for making soup & dinner, but you know, I paid them some attention, so not all slave labour! Amazing how much of a 3 year old's attention it takes to peel garlic). Once they're back at school the sling is less handy round the house, cos the baby's in that for school runs several times a day, so that's when she sleeps, and when she's at home she doesn't want to be in it any longer. Soon she'll be crawling, then goodless only knows how dinner will get made. It's quite scary how little of this stage I even remember from last time hmm. I don't seeem to have many photos of 6-12 months, so guess it was too manic for me to have had hands free to take them.

Maybe I'm not doing that badly, maybe it's just that it's really really hard and even a pro would struggle?

ohforfoxsake Fri 04-Jan-13 23:12:40

It is very hard. Looking back I wonder how I got through it (I had 4 under 6) but its so much easier now (eldest is 11 now).

It was once recommended to me to approach a local college and offer work experience for a child-care student in the holidays. You don't leave them in charge, but they can help with the older ones.

I'd also recommend putting your 3yo into afternoon nursery - that way you get a couple of hours to have a break and get dinner ready.

I worked so hard at trying to get ahead of myself I tied myself up in knots.

Be the first up, shower and have a peaceful cup of tea. Do your grocery shopping online, keep on top of the laundry, tidy up at the end of the day. That's really all you can do. smile

amillionyears Fri 04-Jan-13 23:16:13

It will all get easier.
You say your older ones have lots of energy.
Could they help you out with chores a bit more.
Even offering that if they do some extra bits, they get a few pennies or stickers or an extra comic or whatever?
You could just do that until the weather is better.
It is surprising how much a few extra chores getting done helps.
-and will wear them out quicker as well--

DeGlitterBug Fri 04-Jan-13 23:18:25

OK, that's a good plan amillion. What sort of things can a 7yr old boy do that are helpful? I think he would respond to small payments wink.

amillionyears Fri 04-Jan-13 23:25:24

Bits of cleaning, dusting, sweeping. Dishes if you have a dishwasher.
Clearing the table, laying the table.

He will probably dislike some, but quite like others.

amillionyears Fri 04-Jan-13 23:29:35

You could pay him by 20 minutes work done, or even 5 minutes
That is what I used to do when I was desperate.
Mine enjoyed it for a limited time.
And then I used to occasionally reintroduce when I needed it again, or sometimes they asked me, so I let them then even if i didnt particularly need them to. I felt I had to be fair to them in that respect.

amillionyears Fri 04-Jan-13 23:31:22

They start learning the value of money, working for money etc.
And also that adults need help sometimes, and that the house does not just run itself.

DeGlitterBug Fri 04-Jan-13 23:39:43

Clearing and laying tale would make a big difference actually. they are very time consuming when everyone's at home all day. I think I will give it a go and see how I get on. I expect even 10p wluld be sufficient to motivate. They;re also quite annoyingly competitive, so I guess the middle two will want in on it too. Even if it only helps over the weekend it's worth a go! Thanks

Baby asleep again, so off to bed now before early start tomorrow smile

Op, it sounds like a really hard slog at the moment, the kids not sleeping much would be a killer alone for me! Help with chores sounds great, my 6yo empties the dishwasher, puts away shopping. 9yo does the bins and I'm training him to put the washing on, he has to gather it up too. 4yo dts can lay the table. They all get daily pocket money . I do wonder whether your older 2 could go to bed earlier with books, audio stories etc, in bed but with light on? Just so your evenings are not so protracted? I remember thinking same thing about my eldest a few years ago, and I still don't manage to get friends round that often. But did realise that he appreciated small things here and there. Didn't have to be a big effort, just 20 mins on a project with dp before bed or a trip to the shop to buy a magazine with just me. Hope things improve next week, I do think Christmas and Feb half term are hardest and then there is light at the end of the tunnel! smile

notnagging Sat 05-Jan-13 01:49:51

Yes it does get better! I have 5 now & they have been great today. Sent the eldest 3 to the shops while I was sick in bed with baby & doing 5 yr olds hwk. I keep them very busy & use alot if bribery/threats/rewards. They now help out in the house & mostly get themselves organised. With that many you can't do it all yourself op.

Reassuring to hear from some posters that it does get easier as mine are 5,4,2&1.

Really need dd1 to go back to school & dd2 to go back to nursery, it's all getting too much now!

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