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We keep the local pediatrician in business!
We are the parents of a lot of kids. And it takes a ton of energy and strategizing to keep our big families fed and fully functioning. Those of us with more kids than most – I am a mom of four – well, we (almost) have running our families' daily schedules down to a science.
But we're always open to tips from the color-coded, cubby-lined frontiers of our fellow big-family mavens.
It's with that in mind that I share my own tactics for tackling the never-ending chores that come with raising a team of tots, as well as those shared with me by parents who also aren't strangers to multiple back-to-school nights, binge-shopping at Costco, and always calling their kiddos by the wrong name.
So sit back (is that a shoe behind the pillow?), relax (I'm hilarious, I know), and read on to find out what some dads and moms are doing to keep up with the demands of their broods:
Outsource: Even young kids can help with household chores. That might include watching the baby so dinner gets on the table, taking trash out, or emptying the dishwasher. It could mean the older ones helping the little ones with homework, or splitting up the reading at night into groups instead of one-on-one sessions. Big families = all hands on deck.
Plan: Create a color-coded wall calendar that lists all kids' activities and family events, and keep it somewhere front and center.
Recycle: Keep hand-me-downs organized, and separated by size, in utility totes for the next child's use. For example: If child No. 1 grows out of one size but child No. 2 isn't ready for that size, the clothes go into a tote that will be stored in No. 2's closet until she's ready for them.
Prep: Do everything the night before – from making school lunches to filling water bottles, laying out clothes, filling out permission slips, and even setting the breakfast table.
Sort: Do each person's laundry on a separate day. Yes, it means doing laundry every day, but the sorting, folding, and putting away are so much easier.
Collaborate: Carpool with other parents! When your kids have dance four days a week, taking turns driving can make a huge difference.
Takeout: Use a meal delivery service at least once a week. Do "Taco Tuesday" because it's easy and everyone loves it.
Pause: Have at least one night a week with nothing scheduled. Amen!
Designate: Assign each kid two hooks in the garage, or the house – or both, with a plastic bin underneath and basket above. Everything stays in each child's individual storage space so when it's time to leave for an activity, there is no question about where the backpacks, coats, dance bag, bat bag, cleats, or tennis racquet are.
Here's wishing all the big families out there much organization, a full night's sleep, a moment's quiet, and enough pizza for everyone to feel full. Dare to dream!
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.