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Janni · 12/12/2011 19:59

I have three children aged 15, 11 and 7. Four weeks ago, we acquired a fourth, when the 15-year-old son of a friend who died joined our family. The children are getting on well, we've squeezed every inch of space out of our home so each child has their own room and, generally, things are OK. I'm not in paid employment so I do have time but I've never been the world's greatest housekeeper and the extra shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry have really increased my workload. Does anyone have any tips to offer? Money is tight so we can't afford household help. I do try to get the kids to do their bit but it's often more trouble than it's worth. DH is supportive but incredibly busy at work. I'd be interested to hear from veterans of this 'larger family' thing!

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MUM2BLESS · 13/12/2011 18:57

Hi Janni your family sounds really warm and loving.

I have four kids and childmind seven. As you can imagine things are busy in my house.

Do not stop delegating. Sometimes we want the house work etc done the way we do it. If you do delegate you have to allow who ever is doing it to do it how they know how, show them how to imrpove, rather than taking it on yourself.

I am still learning myself. Kids are 7, 10. 13 and almost 16. We tend to delegate at the weekends as I do not finish work until 18.00, most days, sometimes later.

I must say I do not always get things done. I sometimes fold the clothes rather than iron them sometimes.



I will be watching this space for some tips myself.

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lollystix · 13/12/2011 23:50

Mumtobless - you have 4 kids and work till 6pm and have time to iron?!!? I think you need to cut yourself some slack. I don't mind ironing myself but with 4 little ones I honestly can't remember the last time I ironed anything.

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whimsicalname · 14/12/2011 13:01

Hi Janni
I second the delegating thing. I only have 3 (7,5,1), but inevitably often have more in the house. At meal times, the older boys put cutlery out on the table, and help clear away after. I've just shown them how to unload the cutlery from the dishwasher too, so they do that while I unstack the plates.

They also (sometimes) carry their washing down to the washing machine or back up. Whilst supervising this takes as long as it would to do it myself, I'm confident that this won't be for ever, and that in time they'll be able to do it, and other jobs, themselves.

By looking after another child (and well done, by the way, what a wonderful thing you are doing), you have effectively increased your workload by 33%. Making sure everyone helps will eventually help to reduce it again, but it will, inevitably take a while to adjust to your new normal.

Presumably also you are still grieving for your friend, as well as providing a lot of emotional support for the child (and your children), all of which is a kind of work too.

good luck with it all.

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lljkk · 14/12/2011 13:16

The 15yos are old enough to do regular grocery shops with a list, that might help a lot. I did much of the weekly family shop from age 16.
Mostly because I was so darn fussy about what I ate, of course. :)

Alternatively, they are old enough to cook tea few times/week (widower friend had his teen sons cooking from about that age).

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LongStory · 14/12/2011 19:13

Janni you sound amazing - your friend knew what she was doing and would be so proud of you. If you are finding the practicalities tough it could help to be honest with the children and make it a shared problem so they can help with the solution - backed up with all the good "keep delegating" advice. I'm sure you could make it clear that the practicalities of domestic work is not the same as having lots of love and care for everyone in your expanded family. I guess there is a danger that you take on more and more work which they (being teenagers) don't notice and take for granted - and then you could build up some resentment.

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Janni · 15/12/2011 22:10

Thank you, everyone - good advice. I must keep asking the kids to do jobs and ensure they do them rather than slink away and hope I'll forget. Interesting idea to get the teenagers to do grocery shopping - they might actually enjoy doing it together. I'll try that. And yes, there is definitely emotional work going on which is invisible to the outside world, but I feel it.

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