STAYING AS ORGANIZED AS POSSIBLE
Let's be real, my house is not as organized and perfectly clean as I wish it was. I am continuously working to keep our home organized and ahead of the next stage. All of the items that come along with having four young ones pile up fast! I love the organization guru, Marie Kondo and have tried to incorporate some of her techniques but not all of them work for large, young families. Here are some of my favorite organization products that help me stay sane: Organization Must Haves.
Laundry- When we had one set of twins, we did our best to keep the drawers stocked with clean and folded laundry. After the second set came along, we had to rethink that strategy! Now we use this awesome laundry cart that lives in our laundry room. The coolest thing though is that you can roll the whole thing or just bring a bag into a bedroom to deliver clothes to the dresser! I’ll admit, for the most part we throw them in, not folded. At least everything is clean and organized! I have to do at least one load per day to keep up with all six of us. I like to start it first thing in the morning, move it around lunch and sort into the bags. It works out for us. Do you have any laundry tips for big families? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
We have had so many ridiculous parenting moments that seem so rare that we just have to laugh. We had four in diapers, simultaneously! I remember when the littles (second set of twins) were first born and the bigs (first set of twins) had just turned three, I had a running joke of keeping track of how many #2 diapers I had to do in how short of a time. Ridiculous, right!? What other parents (besides of multiples) would ever change 3 poopy diapers in 5 minutes?! So I had a name for it... I would say, "3 in 5” and laugh. CRAZY!! Since becoming a parent, I've always tried to look beyond the craziness of the moment, I try to look at the big picture. I tell myself, this is just a stage. I won't be changing their 3 diapers in a row or whatever the frustration is, forever.
Our family likes to laugh and we will always keep laughing about how ridiculous some of our experiences have been and are. One of my favorite funny memories, that my family will never forget, is when the bigs teamed up on me while I was pregnant with the littles! If you'd like to read about that, here is the post: Twins... They Will Team Up On You!
When you’re a new mom, there is often a biological urge to forget about yourself completely and devote every ounce of your energy to your new love or loves! As time goes on you either start making time for yourself again or you stay in that same frame of one hundred percent devoted energy to your children. I don’t think it’s healthy to completely lose yourself to the point of neglecting your own basic needs. When I am finally able to take some time for myself, it doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I have the time to myself. How important, to just have a few thoughts to myself. Sometimes I’ll meditate in the yard or just look something up that I’m interested in. A yoga class or an outing, even just to run an errand, is a treat and I try to enjoy the solo time when I get the chance. When I drive without the kids, I play my favorite Jazz station and take my time, just letting my mind finally have a chance to wander.
Here are a few of the ways I’ve learned how to make time for myself with four young kiddos:
Independent Playtime- I started making independent playtime part of our regular routine, when the first two were about nine months old. I make sure this is a positive, fun and safe experience that help the kids gain independence and confidence in themselves. When they were very young, I surrounded them with their favorite toys, played fun music and cheerfully told them, “I’ll be right back”. I started with only a few minutes at a time and as they grew more confident with me out of their sight, I would add a minute or two, building their independent playtime stamina. While away, I would order groceries, change the laundry, sit and have a breather, whatever I needed. I always listen carefully and make sure their room is completely baby proofed. Sometimes during independent playtime, especially when they are very young, I listen or watch through the monitor if necessary. Now that they are four and two, all four are completely happy having independent playtime on their own or together, while I get a little done around the house. When I come back, most of the time everyone is fresh and in good spirits from the little down time and break.
Grandparent Play Dates- It has been so wonderful to have Adam’s parents or mine take the kids on a weekly basis for a few hours so I can have time to take care of things and honestly, catch my breath. If grandparents aren’t an option, a sitter or nanny will do!
Relaxing Evenings- We make sure all of the chores are done before the kids go to sleep so we can relax and recover after they go down! One of our routines that really helps with this, is the way we do bedtime. I sing and rock one baby to sleep at a time while the kids play with Adam. When I sing and rock the second baby to sleep, Adam reads the first book to the bigs. When I come out, I read the second book to the bigs and Adam does the dishes. The dishes are done, books are read, four kids are down, all in about twenty minutes. Then, right when the kids are tucked in, we start our parent only, relaxation time.
Hatch Baby Mornings- This has been one of the best products I’ve discovered that I didn’t know about before I was a parent. This awesome device is a night light, sound machine and the best part of all, it changes colors however you set it, so your child knows if it’s time to rise! It can even be controlled from your phone through the Hatch Baby App! For us, at bedtime a soft yellow light goes on and stays on all night and at 7am the light turns blue and the kids know morning is here and it’s time to wake up. We have a water sound set for the sound machine to help block out noises. If they wake up and the yellow light is still on, they can either go back to sleep or play or read quietly until the light turns blue. This has been an amazing, life changing product for our family. I know it’s a little pricey, but for me it is worth every penny!
Napping/Rest Time- Nap time is so necessary, not just for the kids to have some down time to recharge but for me, too. We have a routine that I don’t stray from. Songs and rocking for the littles and two books for the bigs and down they all go. Now that the bigs don’t actually sleep, I give them quiet activities during their rest time. Sometimes an audio book, a puzzle, beads, train tracks, etc. We use the Hatch Baby for nap time in addition to the mornings, which helps the kids know when rest time is over. Check out my favorite Quiet Time Activities, here:
QUIET TIME ACTIVITIES
Featured Activites: Train Track Set and Fuse Beads
My favorite Train Set, endless fun!
Fuse Beads- this set comes with a mermaid and a unicorn!
Adult Supervision (ages 3&up)
MAKING TIME FOR US- Adam and I got pregnant with our first set of twins after only 8 months of marriage so we feel like fostering our relationship and taking time for us, together, is a priority. Our parents have let us take numerous date nights and it has been so important for us. Taking time not just for myself but taking time for us and strengthening our relationship, reminds us where it all started and to appreciate each other on our own.
This picture is from our six year wedding anniversary. We put the kids down earlier than usual, set up a table, lit a candle and enjoyed a delicious sushi delivery dinner! We didn’t even need a sitter and had a special time, with just each other.
We make sure have enough quality time together since it is both of our love languages. Sometimes we will take a walk with the family, pushing two double strollers around our neighborhood, just so we can have a conversation without interruptions. It works well and the kids enjoy themselves, too.
Another way we make time for each other, is by having all of the chores done or at least to a point we are okay with, so that when the kids go to sleep, we can relax and connect and chat about the day.
This is a throwback! First date night after the bigs were born. They were one month old. We went to our favorite pub and the grandparents took care of them. I remember I texted at least twice to make sure everything was going ok with my newborn babies.
Flowers and Romance- Call me old fashioned, but I LOVE flowers. We have the sweetest neighbor who is a wonderful gardner and likes to share little vases of flowers, like these beautiful dahlias. She sets up a table and about 15 mini vases and says “Free, Enjoy your Day!” It is the sweetest gesture!! We have been able to have flowers almost all summer long because of her generosity and thoughtfulness. I love how flowers add romance to any dinner. They just make you feel good to look at and the fact that they come from a place in someone’s heart (who doesn’t even charge for them!) makes them even sweeter.
What are some ways you make time for you and your significant other? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Kathleen, M.Ed.-mom of two sets of twins, educator, yoga instructor, nature enthusiast.