Having a big family was something I knew I always wanted. My husband and I have been blessed with two girls and two boys. We even added in a dog for good luck. We are eleven years into parenting, and though we are hardly pros at this parenting gig, I’m here to give the lowdown on what it’s like to have four kids running around.
Here are the challenges of having four children.
1. Having kids isn’t easy.
And yes, every additional child is a big adjustment. We jokingly tell people, “What’s one more?” but honestly, one more is A LOT whether you’re going from one child to two, two children to three, or even three children to four.
The biggest reason parenting doesn’t get easier is that each child is completely unique. They will like and need different things, and your biggest challenge as a parent will be meeting each child exactly where they are.
2. Not everything will go smoothly.
We have four healthy (and, depending on the day) happy children, but we joke that “there is always something” in our house. Someone will get the stomach bug, another will have anxiety about going to school, another will have lost their water bottle, and another will have forgotten where they put their homework. It will always feel like a huge effort to get everyone out the door with all their things and go to the right place.
3. There is a lot to keep track of.
Never mind actually keeping track of my kids, which can be a challenge; there is also the task of keeping track of their things and schedules. We have four kids playing soccer this fall. I have a bin for hand-me-downs so that I don’t have to buy new things every season. Still, we have to keep track of everyone’s cleats, shin guards, water bottles, uniforms, and balls so we’re not constantly scrambling before practices and games. Our calendar can become a giant Rubik’s cube, and as the kids get older, I’m so grateful for friends and family nearby to help with the carpooling and babysitting.
4. Kids are expenisve.
Four kids and all their clothes, gear, instruments, food, and activities – it’s crazy. Also, do you know how much people charge to babysit four kids (and a dog)? And we won’t even talk about saving for college.
5. Life can feel pretty crazy sometimes.
Kids are loud and messy. No sooner do I clean one room of the house than another is torn apart. Also, laundry at our house never ends. Never.
Here are the best parts of having four children.
1. We’ve learned to put things in perspective.
I wouldn’t say we’ve seen it all with four kids, but we’ve seen a lot. I’ve experienced easy pregnancies and heart-wrenching miscarriages, endured long labors, and breezed through short ones. I’ve had healthy children hitting milestones and an infant who spent three months in the ICU. I’ve had children excel in and love school and those with diagnosed learning needs and extreme anxiety about walking through the doors.
Parenting a large family has taught me a lot about empathy and going with the flow. Not every problem is an emergency. Not every setback is permanent.
2. We’ve learned to prioritize.
We really can’t do it all; there isn’t enough time, money, or energy. As a result, we’re always evaluating what our true priorities are. Right now, it’s downtime and time together, so we’ve committed to only 1-2 activities per child. This keeps a few afternoons a week totally free after school and lessens the stress level at home.
3. Life is full.
We are definitely never bored in our family. Our days are loud, funny, and chaotic. There is always someone to talk, play, read, explore, or work with. Saying “no” to outside activities doesn’t generally feel like a loss because we usually have so much going on together.
4. Siblings can take the pressure off parents.
My husband and I do actually get some time to ourselves because our kids have built-in play partners every day. They often need referees, but it is so fun to sit back and watch when the kids are lost in their imaginations, playing or working together.
I also love watching my kids help each other. The other day, our youngest was scared to walk into kindergarten, but my fourth grader took the lead and held his hand to walk him to class. Our kids are cheerleaders for each other when it matters, and I love that they will always have a little crew at their back, even when they are out of the house and in the world.
5. Our kids adjust easily.
My kids have more confidence than I did as a child. They’re used to figuring out group dynamics and interacting with kids of all ages. They’ve learned to go with the flow because whether they are the oldest still going to library time or the youngest learning to ride a two-wheeled bike at four years old, they realize quickly they must be flexible. There were no nap schedules in our house because we were always on the move with older kids. My kids are also used to sharing toys, bedrooms, and space with one another. It doesn’t mean there’s no fighting at our house, but the expectation is that the world doesn’t revolve around you.