Daily life with four children under six

The last few months have been busy, tiring, sore and fun. But mostly busy. If I am crazy to have had so many children so close together, I am at least loving every minute of it (OK, maybe not the 3am ones) and somehow I make it through the days without losing my mind. Or a child. Matthew even went to the US for two weeks when Edward was only six weeks old and I survived! But I will say that the experience made me stronger – in the same way that bullying can be considered character building.

I homeschool in the mornings, mostly with the giant leech attached to my boob. If I’m lucky, Matthew is not away and will have made me a coffee before he goes to work and that can make the difference between a good day and a day when I am a crumpled heap in the corner when he gets home. In the afternoons we venture out to a variety of responses ranging from evil looks and lots of tsking/’why aren’t your children in school today?’ to ‘you’ve got your hands full!’ to big smiles and ‘oh you lucky thing! aren’t they lovely?’ I play little games with myself as to what I think the next person will say while I shepherd the children down the pavement of the busy road and try to remember that I must not let my mind wander for one second because somehow I have sole charge of four small children, three of whom are on the loose, and I AM EXPECTED TO KEEP THEM ALIVE.

In my sleep deprived state, it’s easy to forget that bit sometimes. Hell, I have trouble remembering to put all my clothes on before I leave the house, I’m not sure I should be trusted with anything as important as children.

I do grocery shopping online and other very important computer-related activities (which may or may not be blog reading – just sayin’) every evening, all evening while the baby feeds himself into a coma and thence to bed. Somehow, in between all this daily fun, I manage to stack the dishwasher twice and do about three loads of laundry, make 26 meals or snacks and occasionally sit down with a cup of tea.

My mother comes one day a week to help and on that day I am able to catch up with the backlog of chores and laundry and have one meal each week without the baby in my arms. Matthew cooks on the weekend and I freeze leftovers that I can reheat during the week. Without this help the house would look like the apocalypse had hit and the only thing left? – the bones of our emaciated bodies. And the mountain of dirty laundry.

Some days there is too much crying and way too many tantrums but I have learnt that they don’t get me anything. (Just kidding! I’m referring to the children of course.) The worst time of day is suppertime when the baby is at his most tired and hungry and I have the most to do. I have had to buy a sling for the velcro-baby/giant-leech because there is a limit to how much I can do with one arm and the rest of us need to eat. The children get bathed less often than I would like and the bedsheets changed even less than that. I try to set myself no more than one thing to get accomplished on those days when I am doing this parenting gig by myself. Sometimes this is something as over-achieving as leaving a message on a friend’s answerphone to let them know I am still alive. Sometimes this is still overdoing it because I can’t even remember who it is I’m phoning by the time I get to leaving a message. Which adds to the kind of crazy woman tag that I am cultivating right now.

But if I make it to the end of the day with everyone tucked up safely in their (dirty) beds and my sanity intact, I’m happy. Aim low: that’s my advice.

20 thoughts on “Daily life with four children under six

  1. Kitty

    I only have one, and I’ve already decided that a little dirt, whether it be on him or the bedding (and if it’s the former it will usually end up on the latter eventually) won’t kill him. Neither will most of the things he picks up off the carpet and eats, and of course, cat hair is a condiment.

    I can’t imagine how you cope with four of them.

    Kittys last blog post..We’ve had an accident…

  2. mumof4

    Yes – the comments about the four….someone once even told us (a stranger) that we should get a tv!!! I admire your home schooling too…..Can I just say, from my experience…the laundry pile only gets bigger….and don’t even start me on the iroing!!

    mumof4s last blog post..Wet

  3. Pingback: Four kids under six - most | least

  4. going2bmumof4

    I just found our I am five months pregnant with my fourth baby. I am struggling with three, how am going to cope with four (under 6).

  5. ella

    First of all, congratulations!

    Second, please don’t worry! This post I wrote was partly tongue-in-cheek. While some days with four are hard, for the most part we have wonderful fun and I honestly would love another baby.

    For me I found it hardest going from one to two children but after that I found each baby fitted in more easily to our family routine.

    Do you have much in the way of support? My second son has recently been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness and I have found so many people willing to help when I have asked. I wish I had asked for that same sort of help when the babies were little.

    Cut corners where you can while your baby is small and try to get as much sleep as you can.

    Good luck and let me know how you get on!

  6. LBow Inn

    This is honestly the most encouraging thing I’ve read in at least a month. We’ll be in the 4 under six boat by January, and I have NOT BEEN HAPPY about the idea; my mother-in-law’s insinuations that we’re ruining our children’s lives by having too many of them is also not helpful.

    Need cheer!

  7. Pingback: Coping with four children under six — notes from home

  8. oz

    O Ella! i was laughing and crying all at the same time while i read this. i just walked in from an outing (to a friends house who lives about 5 houses down my street) holding my 2 month old daughter with my right hand and supporting her with my head and holding my 17 month old boy on the left (i was seriously contemplating taking the car coz i thought it might be easier…then i thought how dumb it would be as the house was so close), while my 3 year old was throwing a tantrum as well as throwing her back pack on the floor and running off because she refused to hold her 6 year old brothers hand. All this was happening while the neighbours where watching and whispering amongst themselves and probably tut tuting! up until now i had been very organised and on top of it even with 3 under 5 it was great…but now everything is a HUGE chore.And i cant stand people judging or feeling sorry or asking questions like ‘so how many more will you have?’.
    I try and not care about what people think or say, but most of the time it really gets to me. Soo good to read something like this and feel a little normal 🙂 Thankyou!

  9. Giraffe

    We have just found out we are due our 4th and were devastated! We will have 4 under 6, we were considering a 4th in the future but not so soon. We have a 5 Year old (Just), a 3 1/2 year old, a 1 year old (just) and are due our 4th in January.

    We have gone through lots of soul searching, and are dreading telling my wifes Dad and my parents. We are also struggling financially as I am the only breadwinner, and there is little point my wife working as we wouldn’t be able to earn more than childcare. I am really worried about the long term, how are we going to help them all out financially as they grow up and need things? Oh well it’s all our own fault I know, but this baby thing has happenned far too easily for us, I know we are very lucky and some people struggle to have children, but we’d love to know what it’s like to try and plan for a baby!
    You’ll be pleased to know I am getting ‘done’ now.

    1. Anonymous

      Hey there,
      A big congratulations!!!
      Kids are a blessing. My third was a suprise that shocked us. He has been the most sparkling little boy. Life is what happens when we are busy making plans. Go with the flow, stay on the same team, dont let well meaning people speak negative over you. You are adults making your own history. If your family has four kids, you have to explain nothing to anyone. Find other people with lots of kids and great sence of humour to find encouragement from. You would be suprised how many people struggle finacially. Simplesavings is a great website. Some churches have great kid programes or mum programs with child care. This is how i find support as my family doesnt live close. All the best on such wonderful news.

  10. chih

    reading your blog assure me that I don’t need to be perfect, I just need to learn to manage it better. My oldest one starting his kinder next week, following by his 3 year old and 21 month old sister and I am six month away giving birth to another one. I appreciate your blog helps me to start organize my schedule in balancing between children and house work.

  11. Cat Threadgold

    I really apprecitae being able to read the thoughts of someone who understands life as I know it, with three under three.

    Next year in Feb we will have the mighty task, and richest blessing of handling four under four as I am due to have our fifth child.

    All our children are singletons, I just fell pregnant four years in a row. My body aches every night as I try to sleep.I’m either exhausted, or can’t stop thinking about everythign that needs to be done.

    I homeschool our eldest daughter, am editting a book that is due to be published sometime this side of 3000AD and my husbnad and I are building a home, while establishing a self-sufficient ‘hobby farm’.

    I am stressed, and happy. I laugh a lot, and cry too. I get no time to myself, except the toilet or a quick shower if I had the energy at the end of the day.

    People tell me my hands are full- I tell them so is my heart… and my washing baskets.

    There is absolutley no denying that it is very hard work.It’s tough trying not to lose my cool somedays, but it absolutely the most rewarding job adn I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else with my time and energy.

    My husband is the most amazing person I know, nad I fall in love with him over and over again through the trails and errors.

    I’ll be cheking in on your site when I get the chance here and there, and possibly considering starting my own blog…. probably after we move house with our newborn son.

    Love and best wishes, Cat.

  12. Jessica

    wow! I feel the exact same way.. I have 4 kids. my eldest are 6 year old (boys) twins, then, my 4 year old (boy) and just 6 weeks ago I had a baby girl. It is very hard especially, as a family, we do travel a lot and go abroad.. just recently we came back from south Africa and 2 months before that Japan. also my eldest (out of the twins) has cancer.. so everyday im almost spending my time with the baby or my eldest son … and believe me its tiring also I feel as if my 2 other kids ( 4 year old and the younger out of the twins) are missing mummy a lot.. however, having said that we do come together as a family when we go on holiday and abroad… so I enjoy every moment with my little monsters..

  13. Cole

    I have a three yr old daughter and 11 month old son, I found out I was pregnant and freaked and decided to have a termination, I found out that I am having twins and my mind is now is turmoil, this is something I’ve always wanted but its not the right time, our house is too small, our car is too small and I am scared how life with three children under 4 would be not only now and long term in the future. Help!!!

    1. Cole

      I have a three yr old daughter and 11 month old son, I found out I was pregnant and freaked and decided to have a termination, I found out that I am having twins and my mind is now in turmoil, this is something I’ve always wanted but its not the right time, our house is too small, our car is too small and I am scared how life with four children under 4 would be not only now and long term in the future. Help!!!


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