Between helping the kids with homework, trying to complete chores and keeping your sanity, managing a household with multiple children can be exhausting, but help is on the way! Try some innovative techniques to eliminate midday madness.
When it comes to households with multiple children, you’ll have one of two situations: the big, blissful, Brady Bunch-esque scenario, or what I have come to refer to as the Bumper Car Course family dynamic – lots of different cars (people), each moving in varying directions yet undoubtedly finding ways to collide with each other. Either way, more kids equals more work and unavoidably more stress. Here are a few tips to aid you in managing your brood without going psycho-parent.
Personal Space, Please: Children require interaction with other children, but they also need time to themselves every once in a while. The problem is that they don’t know how to vocalize this need without screaming and acting out against each other. Rather than punishing frustrated children with time-outs and lost privileges, first try providing each child with their own personal space, whether it is separating them into different rooms, or just opposite corners of the living room. Allow them each to pick a toy or activity to bring along, and don’t underestimate the calming power of soft music. Maybe it’ll only buy you fifteen quiet minutes, but it’ll be the sweetest fifteen minutes of your day.
Hire an assistant: Not rich? Yeah, me neither, but you may have a live-in housekeeper already and not even realize it! Older children are great for doing chores and helping to entertain their younger siblings. Even children as young as three can prove to be great helpers if given the chance. Create a reward chart for your children: head over to your local educational supply store, and purchase an incentive chart for a few dollars; better yet, create one from poster board and allow your children to decorate it. You can base your reward system on whatever time frame works for you (daily for younger and more eager children or weekly for older kids) and offer a fitting prize for completion - a sticker, an extra thirty minutes of television or a trip somewhere special like the skating rink. Age appropriate tasks include sorting laundry by color for toddlers and light housekeeping such as sweeping or dusting for five and six year olds. Older, more responsible children can be in charge of arranging and monitoring fun, indoor activities for their younger siblings. Be sure to keep the chart somewhere the children can visually keep track of their progress.
Don’t you forget about you: Now I know this is easier said than done, but the number one sanity-saving tip for any parent is to take time for yourself every once in a while. Children aren’t the only ones who require personal time; adults need an hour or two here and there alone as well. How the time is spent is completely up to you; a walk around the park, an appointment with your hairstylist, and even a solo trip to the grocery store are all tried and proven methods to melt away stress and return to the frame of mind necessary to manage the everyday chaos of multiple-child parenthood.