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4+ Can you meet everyone's needs without 'using' older kids?

(14 Posts)
missismac Sun 07-Jun-09 15:40:46

We always wanted 5, but at 4 we've stopped because we just can't meet all the needs of all the kids we have. I'm stretched so thin you can see through my middle & DH is old & grumpy before his time. We've no family to help so it's just us. I'm starting to think of 5 but just can't see how we could.

How do those of you with more make sure everyone gets what they need? Do you resort to using older ones to help out with younger ones? Please tell me how it can be done?

juuule Sun 07-Jun-09 17:32:44

"I'm stretched so thin you can see through my middle & DH is old & grumpy before his time. "

Ooooh, that doesn't really sound a good position to be in to bring another child into the mix, does it really.

What type of things do you mean when you say help out? How old are your 'older' children?

My older ones do help out but only if they want to (not that often). If they have other things they need or want to do then those things have to take priority over helping out with the younger children. Only exceptions would be emergencies.

missismac Sun 07-Jun-09 18:54:39

No juuule, it's not really a good position to bring nos 5 into the mix. But loads of people on here have done it & have bigger families too. I guess I'm hoping for an insight into what they're doing that I'm not to enable it to be a feasable proposition?

My DC's are 13, 11, 8, and 5.7. I do use the older two for a bit of childminding if I run to the shop, or drop another child to a friends house/ activity, but that's it really.

supagirl Mon 08-Jun-09 09:42:51


WE have 4 and 1 on the way ranging from 1 to 10.

We don't use the older ones to help with the younger ones unless they want to, but often I find they do, especially the oldest helping out with the youngest at mealtimes, bath time etc.

I find the only way to make it work is to be meticulously organised and build a good support newtwork.

I know you say you have no family nearby, what about friends? I plan week ends in advance and try to make sure there is a mix of family time and individual time for each child. Good activities to do together are swimming (though I do find the getting dressed/undressed VERY testing! :O/ ), a trip to London or a cycle ride (sometimes dp will take a longer route with the older ones and I'll take a shorter route with the youngest to accomodate the age difference).

The middle 2 are both boys and have similar interests so I might arrange a playdate for them at a friends while I do something with the oldest and dp does something with the youngest. I might get one child to help me make breakfast, a different one to help with lunch and another to help with dinner while dp plays a game or something with the others so that each child gets 1 to 1 time.

I also don't think there is anything wrong with one parent taking one child for half and hour or so and telling the others "this is so and so's special time with Daddy. We are going to do x but this afternoon, you will have special time with Daddy as well".

Use bedtimes to your advantage as well - the oldest stays up later than the younger ones so she gets her special time with us then. The boys usually wake first, so I might go and play a board game with them while everyone else is still in bed.......

It does take hard work and effort though and I DO have the odd day when I just want to lock myself in a room to get away from ALL of them. What I wouldn't give to be able to have a wee in peace sometimes...... hmm


psychomum5 Mon 08-Jun-09 09:47:48

I use my elder ones to help with some chores around the house, but TBH, if I didn;t have five children I would still expect them to do chores as they grew older as they need to learn how to do housework for when they leave.

I don;t see it as using them tho, I see it as teaching them important life skills

misdee Mon 08-Jun-09 09:55:26

older dd's have chores to do. even little dd3 who is 4, helps empty and load the dishwaher each day.

they tidied [badly] their rooms, strip their beds each week, make their beds daily, and help me sort laundry.

dd1 sometimes keep an eye on the little ones if i m out hanging laundry or something, but usually dd3 follows me and hands me pegs or gets the vacumn out for me.

only one who doesnt do anything is dd4, but she is only almosy 7months old.

am teaching older dd's how to cook atm, just basic things like peelling and preparing veggies, how to mix batters, cakes etc.

dont want them going into the big wide world only knowing how to use a microwave.

juuule Mon 08-Jun-09 10:41:09

missimac - what is it that you are finding particularly difficult? Not knowing much about your situation, I'm not sure what to suggest. Are your children all at school? Are you wohm.

Getting your children to chip in (age appropriate obvisously) and do their bit isn't 'using' your children imo (and others on here), it's part of being a family. We all help each other (or at least that's the theoryhmm)

supagirl Mon 08-Jun-09 11:22:52

I don't get my older children to help with the younger children unless they want to......but they do all have to help with jobs around the house.

I may have misunderstood - I thought the OP meant do you get the older ones to help specifically with the younger ones eg entertaining them, feeding them, looking after them etc. I don't insist mine do this as I feel that's my job but they definately do have to do jobs! grin


galen Sat 13-Jun-09 19:35:04

I agree with others in that my older ones (11,9 and 6) do have their share of helpoing to do ( loading DW, tidying bedrooms, putting their washing away etc..) and we also encourage the younger ones (4 and 3) to tidy up etc..The 15 month old obvioulsy just makes more mess LOL! I do ask the older ones to play with the 15 month old froom time to time if he is grumpy and I need to get dinner sorted etc...but normally it is only a matter of throwing a ball to him in the garden when theyre all out or similar. I agree that I dont see thie as "using" the childreneither, in fact think it is good for them to have responsibilities.


Madmentalbint Mon 15-Jun-09 09:25:49

I do get my older ones to do a few jobs around the house but I don't expect anything in the way of childcare for the younger two. My eldest sometimes babysits - but not often. My second DC will sometimes ask if she can bath and wash the youngest DC's hair but I don't ask her to do it. The bigger ones sometimes listen to the little ones read, which is a help. The younger two now have a few jobs of their own to do, like lay the table, feed the dog etc.

I don't think I could have another DC if I knew I'd have to rely on my older DC's to help me manage. Maybe things will be easier for you in a year or two? It's amazing how quickly life can change.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

alysonpeaches Thu 18-Jun-09 21:58:52

I havent got to the stage where I get older ones to do chores as they arent old enough or capable enough really. The eldest is 6 and has autistic spectrum disorder and ADHD so seems younger than 6 in many ways.

But when I do get to that stage where the next one down can help, I see it as a really good thing. Too many kids get everything on a plate and when they grow up and have to work for a living or fend for themselves at Uni it can be a shock.

I would see it as an important part of their development if they learn to help others.

Pollyanna Thu 18-Jun-09 22:05:06

I have 5 dcs aged 1-10. I do use the older ones to keep an eye on the baby sometimes. in fact they fight over looking after him! my 8yo dd loves to look after the younger ones and is very good at it.

I do sometimes ask her to do it if I need help too (eg to keep the 1yo while I put the 4yo to bed), but not often. I kind of think this is one of the things you do when you have younger siblings (I know I did and there were only 3 of us), and is part of the family "experience" for large families.

However I had to look after my sister after school and in holidays too, and would never expect my children to do similar.

They all do jobs, but they would have to do these anyway.

We are stretched very thin too, and it is just a way of life for us.

madremia Fri 19-Jun-09 22:50:19

I agree with Alysonpeaches about too many children get it handed on a plate and that it is a good thing if they are prepared to fend for themselves. Dd1 is 15 and helps with the younger ones when Dh is working away, she wanted to learn to cook from 12 and now its great that she loves to cook dinner every now and then while i spend time with the younger ones. When she does babysit or help out she gets rewarded either with money or with other privilages, depending on the age of the older children though and I would not force her to do it if she didnt want to, it is a bit of give and take really if she asks for a lift somewhere then i will say "ok but will u watch the baby for me to shower" wink, she does get to do what she wants when dh is home though.

mulranno Tue 23-Jun-09 18:59:20

OP...with your others all "grown up" and at school having another would be easy. I find that the baby was fascinated by the others so was entertained by them (and not me)...without them having to do anything. However they love doing stuff with her and it is easier...can chuck her in the bath/shower with older ones and all of them enjoy it.....found the day time nap a chore when older ones wanted to go out (holidays/weekends) and I had to stay back with the baby ...but this stage soon passed.

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