I'm sort of torn on the number that everyone is fascinated with. Some people believe it is one - two too many. With other people, 4 isn't many at all! My neighbors have 10. My other neighbors have 6. Another house down the road has 8. And everyone in between has 3-4 each. So I feel pretty normal in this neighborhood.
Growing up with only one sister who is 4 years older than me, I got used to doing things certain ways. She didn't really "affect" me in many ways. The things I did were not decided by anything she did (if that makes sense).
There are things I WISH I had known or thought of though before having more than 2. Yes, the messes are bigger ... and just more of them. But I've found myself saying to myself "I wish someone had told me that a long time ago." Yeah, if I knew then what I know now!
1) Time. You think 1 or 2 kids takes a long time putting on their shoes? Multiply that times FOUR times longer! You think 1 kid takes a few minutes extra to get in the car? f.o.u.r. times longer. If it takes you 10 extra minutes to pack a to-go lunch or bag... yep, that would 40 minutes later you MIGHT be ready to go. Pretty much, you will be permanently late to everything you do from now on.
2) You could apply that rule to almost everything. If 1 or 2 kids stress you out... I wouldn't recommend 4. Toss the "I want a big family" idea out the window. You will be permanently attached to Chlorox wipes and a bottle of wine. And coffee. And more wine. And more coffee.
3) Bedtimes. Good Lord. Each kid has their own "thing" that helps them go to sleep. And yes, you want them to go to sleep FAST. Immediately. I got lucky with 2 of mine and they never needed/wanted me to rock them or lay down with them. Put them in the bed, say I Love You & Goodnight, close the door, and you're done. The other two I spend AT LEAST 1.5 hours with each of them and they usually still aren't asleep after that. But just reminding you , that if you like to read or watch TV or whatever it is you do to wind down after a REALLY long day... if you have alot of kids, bedtime rituals become the last half of a marathon. For me, I don't have a hubby who helps me with this because he works nights, so Kudos to all of you who do have help. You can tell me all about whatever ridiculous reality TV show you watch the next day. But I haven't watched TV in about 3 years now and I rarely get to read. Unless its Fancy Nancy to my 4 year old.
4) If one kid gets sick = they will ALL get it. Yep, thats ALOT of vomit. Just think about that.
5) Things are not as simple. I've heard "cheaper by the dozen" and "the more the merrier" and "what's one more?" That's only true depending on what you're talking about. Ok. For instance, I have 4 car seats in my car. Even though I have one kid old enough to not need one by legal age, she is so short that she still requires a booster so the strap hits her across the shoulder and not the face. No biggie. BUT on the rare night that my hubby is going to keep the other kids while me and a friend take our girls to the movies, I can't just "swing by and pick [her] up." Else I have to remove some car seats that I think my hubby welded to the seat. Someone else has to drive or I have to meet you there. Plus I usually have so much "stuff" in my front passenger seat even when its cleaned out and organized, that it just doesn't work. Easier to drive separately.
6) The level of planning reaches an all new high. And I'm a planner! Sunday mornings I ALWAYS hear the same question from Matt: "why didn't you lay their clothes out last night?" (so he can help get them ready FASTER. Its because by Saturday night, I am mentally checked out from all the planning during the week: the lunch boxes, the clothes, the homework, the signed school papers, the backpacks, the after school activity bag packing aka swim gear, ballet bag, baseball bag, and the weekly dinner menu (if I even get around to that). Did you put gas in the car? Which kid will you pick up first or which one gets out first will decide your car rider lines? Will you have time to come home in between any of that or do you need to pack it all in the car? Then someone vomits and throws all your plans out the window. But needless to say, I usually don't lay church clothes out on Saturday night mainly because I'm exhausted. And I fully expect one kid to wake up running fever during the night because that's just how it is. See what I did there? I multiplied my chances of that happening ALOT. Plan to get woken up in the middle of the night 4 times as often.
7) You.are.limited. Yep. The word that these millennial kids don't like to hear, right? You are limited in space. You limit what activity your kids can do because of either costs or timing -- usually one extra curricular activity will interfere with the timing of another. So you have to pick one! Heaven forbid one sibling determines what another can or can't do, right? We teach our kids they can be anything they want... oooohhh, wait that falls on a Thursday night at 6:00pm? Yeah, no. That's already our swim and ballet day. Your sleep just got even more limited. Your car space. Everything has a limit. Especially the iPad time.
It takes an army to raise an army. My best friend also has 4 kids. We used to carpool more often, but with 4 kids each, we have literally run out of room and can only pick up 1 extra kid... which sometimes defeats the whole purpose.
What's that you say? Get a bigger vehicle? Um.. no. We have several friends who drive the short bus with 6 kids. That's not in the cards for me.
I'm not complaining. Like I said, I LOVE my kids. But these are things you DEFINITELY don't think about BEFORE having them. You are probably thinking about all the positives of having a large family. Plenty of those too... I might make another post about that later.
People tell me A.L.L the time "I don't know how you do it with 4 kids!" and then I think that I don't know how my neighbors do it with 10! Besides the homeschooling bit. And they drive a church van. My advice? Find what works for you. The limits will definitely find you.