It is to be expected that when you bring a new baby home, no matter how many kids you already have at home, that you will experience a period of adjustment. Everyone in the home has to tread the waters of a new baby entering the family. Personally, my most difficult adjustment was going from 1 child to 2 children. It took a while for me to get used to having to bounce from one child's needs to the next all day long. Once I got used to doing the constant back and forth, about 6 months in to having two, it just became the life I lived and we survived. This made going to 3 children a less difficult adjustment simply because I was used to multi-tasking. I threw the extra ball in the air to juggle and caught on just fine. Although my 4th pregnancy was unexpected, I was not incredibly anxious about how we were meet the needs of all four of them. We adjusted just fine, and had to dance to the rhythm of four instead of three, which did not feel that much different. I did notice some differences, though, as my fourth daughter made it through her first year (and even into her 2nd) of life.
All of a sudden we never had enough food in the house. I had to think a little bit more critically about making a grocery list that would last us a reasonable amount of time. You know how they say everything in America is made for a family of 4? I thought that was not totally true when we became a family of 5. The functioning of our day to day family didn't change that much in regards to preparing food. We managed under the same budget as we did with two children. When we became a family of 6 this had to be modified. For example: If we want to have a side of green beans, it would take the equivalent of 2 cans for 1 meal. My older daughters began eating slightly larger portions by the time my youngest started eating table food. One of my husbands favorite breakfast foods is cinnamon rolls. Our family will not be fully fed on 1 can of Pilsbury any longer. We need two. Same goes for everything. Buying in bulk is a MUST at this point for us.
I would say this rings true for other household goods as well. Toilet paper, paper towels, vitamins, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent etc. Nothing lasts as long as it did before.
Using a crock pot and cooking casserole style have seemed to be our best bet. It seems when I prepare food this way, we can even end up with leftovers - so this the most efficient way for me to cook.
Our table. We have a large(ish) kitchen table - but we have a small dining space (and house in general) We can only squeeze 4 chairs around our dining table, so the kids take up every chair now. My husband and I have had to resort to sitting at the kitchen counter bar for meals, which is NOT ideal at all, but we have to work with what we have. Thankfully we are moving and already have a large farmhouse table with room for 12. This will be such a warmly welcomed change for us.
I had my youngest on May 28. By June 7th I was WELL AWARE that doing laundry as I knew it would never be the same again. Adding a 4th child felt like I added 3 extra loads of laundry a week! I am being dramatic here, but all I know is that ever since adding my last little one I have consistently been behind on getting all the laundry done.Before, I could skip a day of laundry and still have head above water and have my family in clean clothes. Now, if I want to stay ahead of the game, a load must happen every single day. I have to wash towels twice a week so that everyone has a clean towel to dry off with after each bath/shower!
Let's start by just getting out of the house. I literally have to start getting everyone prepared to get into the car about 15-20 minutes before we actually need to leave. It takes this long to make sure everyone has gone to the bathroom, put their shoes on, all have something to drink, and grabbed any items that we may need for wherever we are going. Also, once you hit 4 kids, I can't imagine not having any other car than a minivan. I have driven one since we had 2 kids - but now that we are at MAX capacity with 4 carseats properly installed, I just don't know how I would get around without a my beloved minivan. The minivan fits the 6 of us just fine, but we couldn't really fit anyone else unless we moved things around quite a bit.
For when we are headed out of town for a trip of any kind, the adventure starts several days before the planned event. Packing. When we had 3 small kiddos, I used one large travel bag to pack clothes for all of them (the less bags to load, the better, right?) and then I had a separate diaper bag. This stopped working when our youngest joined us. There was no more room, so now I pack separate monogrammed "weekender" bags for each of them that will hold a weeks worth of their clothing. This has made the packing process so much easier for us. Its more bags, but that is just where we are. Every square inch of space in the minivan is taken up when we travel.
Hotels. Hotel stays aren't our favorite. We really don't do them except for if we absolutely have too because its just uncomfortable and good sleep/rest just doesn't really happen for anyone of us in a hotel room. It's almost a must that we try for a suite. Two beds is not enough for all 6 of us - even if the kiddos are little. So this is an added expense and a pain to really deal with. If you can get good rest and be comfortable, its hard to make the most of a trip. Suites really do work pretty well though. I have never flown with all 4 kids, so I can't speak on any authority there - but if I do anytime soon I will be sure to have some snacks and some screens on board.
With our first 3 pregnancies, I was excited to announce them. I knew that those we loved would welcome and celebrate each of one of them. Of course with the 3rd, I would get "Congrats! Are you done now?" or even, "Aww congrats! You will be done now, right?" Since almost every congratulations carried the 'are you done yet' question behind it with my 3rd, I immediately became self conscious about how people would react when I became pregnant with my 4th. It did catch people by total surprise, when I announced the fourth pregnancy. In all honesty, people seemed a bit less interested or excited - but I think it was just because the "new" of my bringing babies into the world had worn off. It was ok, because our little family of 5 (at the time) was so excited and ready for the new addition.
Now, when people see us as a family out and about, they look a little longer (ok they stare). I have caught strangers counting the kids out of the corner of my eye. People will stop and ask me questions like " Are they ALL yours?" and the ever famous, "You have your hands so full". It is like it was normal to be seen at the store with 3 kids in tow, but 4 really raises a lot more eyebrows and brings on so much more looks and comments.
This is my favorite take on having four kids: Jim Gaffigan : 4 Kids Everything he says is so on point. What is funny about watching this now, is that this comedian now has 5 kids!
Our budget and our time have both had to be modified pretty significantly. We have found that it is necessary to save more for things like Christmas and school supply shopping. The hubs and I have to do a lot more tag team parenting to get everyone where they need to be when they need to be there. We have had to give up some things, but oh we have gained so much.
All in all, we have made it work. We have made the adjustments and accommodations necessary to give these 4 babes a happy and healthy childhood. It some days seems impossible, and yes, we are busy but we are so thankful for each one of them. They each add a unique and irreplaceable dynamic to our family unit, and we could not be who we are without any one of them.
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