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play dates and parties with 4 DCs?? How do you manage?

(24 Posts)
babymooner Wed 16-Jan-13 10:09:03

How do large families with young DCs cope with playdates/parties/all the rest of it? I have 3 DCs - 18 months, 3 and 5. Expecting DC4 in June. 3 and 5 year old in Kindergarton and Year One. I find myself turning playdates down all the time, particularly for eldest because I can't pick up at 5/5.30pm - DC3 is gorgeous little bundle but she's high maintenance and needs a LOT of sleep - have tried every routine and she now sleeps through until 7am (bliss), but only if she's in bed before 6pm. Which means we all have to be home for tea, bath etc by 5pm. DH works late most night, away lots of weekends too, which means that even weekend parties can be an impossibility sometimes (turning up with three children not a good start; having to leave early if the party finishes at 5.30pm makes child at party miserable and is awkward for host). School is drive away, so all playdates/parties etc are often around 20-30 mins drive from here.
I'm not having a moan, just curious as to how other big families manage. I come from big family but there weren't playdates in those days (or perhaps there were and my parents said no too??!)
Trouble is, I can only see things getting worse with DC4, particularly if he/she is anything like DC3 - she won't sleep in pram, won't sleep in car even if we drive for hours... she 's fine so long as her routine is adhered to and she's at home for her nap. And my life requires me to have sleep, so if that means doing things her way, I'll do it (after a year of serious sleep deprivation I'll do anything!). Maybe number 4 will be easy but even so, three naps a day for the first few months is going to really restrict us further.
I guess I'm hoping that big families don't need playdates so much... or will my elder children be scarred for life?!

lljkk Wed 16-Jan-13 16:24:56

You can start by being grateful you have a 18m old who sleeps 13 hours a night AND has a daytime nap. envy
Mine never slept like that (I would expect 10-11 hours/night at that age+1-1.5 hour daytime nap). My kids never bloomin' sleep like other people's (grumble grumble).

Can playdate or party host drop your child back for you?

Mine don't get many invites to turn down, and napped okay in vehicles anyway. My life would have been Hell without that option (mostly, did have some issues sometimes).

You could maybe alter the routine a bit, not have bath every night & allow some sandwich teas on the move, etc.

musicalfamily Thu 17-Jan-13 11:31:50

I have 4, youngest 3 and oldest 8 and they all get invited to parties;

1 - I only get them to go to parties of close friends rather than everyone
2 - same with playdates - they only get one friend x half term generally
3 - the older two get lifts from other parents (sometimes I drop them off and then a parents drops them back at our house)
4 - Bathtime is only every other day, although DD1 now tends to have a shower every morning (mostly by herself, can do it on her own now)

My DD's best friends are all only children and is going through a phase of saying "I wish I was an only".....I keep reminding her that she would miss her siblings if they weren't here but it does really upset me that she feels that way!

AnnIonicIsoTronic Thu 17-Jan-13 11:35:15

Well - I have totally free-wheeling routines for the babies - and I cultivate friendships with other big families or people who are immune to chaos in order, so that the whole family can join in.

izzyishappilybusy Thu 17-Jan-13 11:39:33

I have 3 under 5 plus older ones.

I think it's massively unfair that the older one is missing so much becAuse of the youngest routine.

In my life she would have to cRy and thats coming from someone who doesn't leave babies to cry.

Routine and large families - it doesn't really work in my experience.

HDee Thu 17-Jan-13 11:46:11

izzy, you must have the opposite kind of personality/family to mine, because without a routine, we'd never get anything done. Routine = essential IMO.

However, I agree with your other point. The youngest would just have to cry.

parachutesarefab Thu 17-Jan-13 11:54:54

I have 4, between 6 and 10.

Share lifts with other parents.
Have playdates at your house.
Ask if other parents would give your child a lift home. (You can usually reciprocate some other time.)
Ask local relatives and friends to help out.
Get a babysitter (for DC at home, while you pick up. A friend does this so that her eldest can go swimming).

I'm of the opinion that my DC shouldn't have to miss out on things because they have siblings. But I've also always been very flexible with routines.

izzyishappilybusy Thu 17-Jan-13 12:17:56

Its been hard to form routines because of the age gap with older ones.

babymooner Thu 17-Jan-13 13:38:41

thanks everyone. I don't mind baby crying, it's just that if she doesn't sleep well, rest of house doesn't sleep well - it's not a big house and walls are thin. For months when she was up several times in the night my two eldest had bags under their eyes and were knackered coming home from school so the fact everyone is sleeping well is, for me, number one priority! I think babysitter is best idea, thanks parachutes. Would use other parents more/have playdates here, but we're a bit of a trek from the school and so not on anyone else's way home (long story, won't bore you now). And no family near by either.
Izzy, I don't know how to have children and not a routine - but then I guess you've got older ones whereas mine are all less than 2 years apart. We have such a well established 5pm-6.30pm routine that eldest two get very upset if Grandma comes to stay and doesn't want to follow it to the letter blush but on flip side, they go to bed by 7pm and I don't hear from them until morning. (Am NOT being smug, btw. Took a very long time to get here which is why I'm so routine obsessive now!) My Dh thinks I'm worrying about nothing, that playdates are luxury and they don't need them because they have siblings, but I'm not so sure...
Anyway, thanks so much for suggestions and keep them coming smile

izzyishappilybusy Thu 17-Jan-13 13:52:44

Yes the older children are much older and it would have been really unfair to can their social lives for the babies.

I'd love a routine but I find life doesn't lend itself That way.

Our play dates tend to be out on weekends or with people who are happy to have all 3 dcs present as I don't leave them with anyone except mum and sister really

OhWhatNoooow Fri 18-Jan-13 01:09:21

we do playdates either on sundays or holidays. makes it much easier. I have 5DC under 10. The baby is very chilled so no problems yet dragging the littles around.. I would LOVE a routine, but find with lots of children its not feasible. As a result its abit chaotic here, but in a good way. I think if your baby needs to sleep thats very important. I dont think your older ones will feel deprived if you dont let them, and do playdates at more convenient times.

notnagging Fri 18-Jan-13 01:44:39

There's no way I would cope with 5 ds' if I didn't have some sort of routine. I also think its not fair to penalise the other children because of one. I make friends with other mothers with big families & we help each other out. Also use a childminder & neighbours who are good.

recall Fri 18-Jan-13 02:05:18

* Izzy* bless you for saying that about routines. I only have 3 children, aged 5,3 and 2. I was just explaining to my Mum that if we addressed each of their sleep "problems" every night, we would be up and down the stairs continually, and never get any rest. The only way we all manage to sleep well is to let everyone sleep where they want to. Currently the youngest two sleep with my husband in our bed, and I sleep in the same room as my 5 year old - it works.

The only routine we manage to stick to is getting to school on time every day, and I find that a challenge. We tend to eat when they are hungry, play when they are feeling playful and rest when they feel tired. It just sort of happens and as far as I can tell they are all thriving.

Sorry OP, hijacking your thread here, I do find that play dates at our house tend to be the solution. Then it hardly affects us, I just pick up the friend from school, and their parents collect them later. If your children get invited to play dates etc, could you say to the parents that you would love them to, but collecting them is a problem. You may find that they will offer to bring your child home. As for the parties at weekends, I would discuss with the host, and say it is difficult but if there are any other parents passing that they know of could they give your child a lift home ?

imip Fri 18-Jan-13 07:05:12

4 dds six and under here. Dd1 6 and dd2 4. A whole lot of jealousy when one had a play date and the other doesn't. I have to say no to a lot and try to schedule them. Also, when I am on a roll with housework, we have play dates here. Our play dates go for a while, so we include dinner in the package! Often also, we may go to the library after school instead. We are currently having bathrooms installed, so our house is a no go area at the moment after school, ESP for play dates. In summer, there is a park that all the kids go to, much easier than a play date, but harder in the sense that I need to manage a 2 and 1 year old at a park with loads of primary age kids there. I feel I need to reciprocate play dates, which is hard to manage when the girls get lots of offers. My two year old is almost three and keen to get into the swing of play dates also! Anyway, after the bathrooms are done and I clean the house of associated dust, we will be back on the play date circuit again!

Parties are a little harder. Tomorrow, dd1 and dd2 have one at the same time, which means dh and I have to divide and conquer with a little one in tow. Our problem is dd3 who for quite a while now has been chanting 'party bag' at the end of a party that she has tagged along to. In her mind, she is primary age! If possible, when one is at a party we try to take the others swimming, but it doesn't always work out so easily.

Branleuse Fri 18-Jan-13 07:09:47

i dont really do playdates unless they come to mine, and then I would usually offer to invite brother or sister too.
Playdates doesnt seem to be a huge thing in my kids school, or at least amongst the parents I talk to.

Smudging Fri 18-Jan-13 07:20:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ThreeBeeOneGee Fri 18-Jan-13 07:30:40

We hardly ever have other children over to play.

When I do let one child invite a friend, the other three try to play with the friend too, the one gets upset and it all ends in tears. If I invite a friend each, that pushes it up to eight children between the ages of 8 and 12.

We also have to run our routine like a well-oiled machine so that homework and music practice get done and the children can get to their various clubs and activities. This means all of the children being independent, pulling their weight and helping with cooking and clearing up, without being asked.

I have a couple of friends who I occasionally help out with childcare in emergencies, so our children do get experience of having other children in the house.

ThreeBeeOneGee Fri 18-Jan-13 07:33:30

The parties get easier once they are old enough to be left.

LongStory Fri 18-Jan-13 21:48:40

Great thread - wish I'd seen this a few years back, I have 5 aged 3-12, the youngest are now forming their first friendships.

My first option would always be to go to a local school and plan everything around that. But that didn't every happen for us (on our 5th area now, the joys of tied accommodation!)

The next plan was to get to know other large local families so that a range of friendships could form. Didn't really happen either, although I'm still working on it!

The third plan has worked out by default - moving lots of times has meant that they get invited to less parties than most kids. Not sure that should be a goal, hmm but do appreciate the logistics.

Those pesky kids keep forming their own friendships at school independently, without a care to our working / family / location arrangements!!

The playdate arrangements we have work out quite well:

- standing invite to any kids to come over on a Sunday 2-4pm ... the kids know they can invite people then, it tends to work well for other families and for us.

- people know I'm stupid busy so if they borrow a child, they nearly always offer to drop my child back home. In return they get a bottle of wine (the first time - I scale that back after to heartfelt thanks!).

- for longer distance friendships I try my best to get to know the whole family and invite them all over - saves me trekking over there every time. Or I text when I'm likely to be passing for other reasons, and arrange a play date around that.

ThreeBeeOneGee Fri 18-Jan-13 21:57:18

I like the idea of having an open house every now and then. I couldn't face doing it every weekend, but could do it in school holidays.

babymooner Sat 19-Jan-13 19:47:09

Open house sounds like fab idea! Sunday would be brilliant for playdates, but so many people have that as 'family' time... We do often have other large families (our friends usually, not school ones, but with DCs similar ages) around on Sundays so DCs aren't completely deprived, it's just the logistics of living far away from school and having a DH who is always away... gets me down sometimes because I can't do it all and I end up barking at them when really it's because I feel guilty. Ah well. Good to hear that others cope and I'm sure we will too. Saw Sound of Music again over Christmas - quite like Captain Von Trap's whistle idea smile

Journey Mon 21-Jan-13 18:39:24

I think the op is focusing far too much around the baby at her other dcs expense. If a party finished at 5.30pm then the baby would just need to put up with it. I wouldn't sacrifice my older dc not going to a party because of his baby sibling.

lljkk Tue 22-Jan-13 07:58:58

It sounds like OP would have an extended period of baby screaming and waking at odd times all night due to being over tired and having slept odd times. I couldn't subject myself to it, easily, either.

NAR4 Tue 22-Jan-13 14:35:30

As a last resort for parties, could you find a friendly local private hire, who does school runs, and use them to collect your oldest child from occassional parties, so they don't miss out. There are a lot of private hire companies in my area who do school runs and are police checked. I'm sure other mums, even if they don't want to give your child a lift home, would get their things together and make sure they got off home alright.

I always did playdates at my house when my older boys were young because the logistics of taking them all out to collect one at the end of the day, was a pain. Most parents were more than happy with this and the odd one would drive a child back for me if they had a playdate at theirs.

My youngest were often in bed before the friend/s went home. Having their friends still there kept the others entertained whilst I was putting the little ones to bed.

It does all get easier as the children get older. Playdates are not essential though and if they are just too much to manage at the moment, don't do them.

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