We’ve been a family of five for over a year now and I am not going to lie, at times it is crazy. Meal times are interesting. Getting everyone dressed is some kind of Olympic sport and hardly anything comes in packs of five.
I love it though and, while I am by no means winning every day, I have adopted some simple things which help me.
I have therefore decided to share them. Most of the ideas, can be tweaked to adapt to any size family and many of you may already do them but, for me, it has been a real help.
When you have a large family, people tend to speculate on what must be the hardest part-meal times? Bedtime?
For me, by far, the most difficult thing is keeping on top of the washing. In winter when everything has to dry inside, I often find myself dressing us all in clothes that come directly from the clothes airer.
I try to put clothes away as soon as they are dry but with five of us, it really is a mammoth task.
1. I have three clothes airers. One for each room. The boys have one, my daughter has her own and the farmer and I have one too. Then there are three small baskets which are different colours (blue, green and pink) and the dry clothes go into the appropriate basket and taken to the room. It just makes life that bit easier when you have 30 seconds to pull clothes off an airer before the baby empties the whole of your bathroom cabinet into the bath.
2. Along with airers, each child has their own little peg airer (the farmer and I share) so bibs, socks, underwear and any other small thing goes on there and I can take it, when dry to the corresponding drawer.
3. Socks are the actual Bain of my life. My daughter had some socks with ribbon bows on the outside of the leg. Matching them was a nightmare in itself so when new ones had to be bought, gone went the ribbon. My biggest mistake was to buy the boys matching character socks in the different sizes. Oh. my. Days. It took hours to pair them and, they quite often ended up walking round in one right sock and one that either pulled up to the baby’s knee of barely covered G’s ankle. When the boys start school, I am going to get them a colour of sock each-one black, one grey or navy. I think that is a brilliant idea.
4. What is the one thing you find yourself repeating again and again? For me it is ‘shoes on’. It starts off quite jovially but turns into a hiss and then a shout when I am ignored. My worst mistake was to buy G little boots with laces. They had zips too so I thought they would be ok. Not so. He cannot get them on himself so my tip here is always go for the easy shoe and, if you know you will be rushing around in the morning, I open the shoes the night before so little feet can just be squeezed in and fastened. No fuss. Obviously getting the feet actually into the shoe is still work in progress but, at least if they are all in the same place, you have a fighting chance.
5. I am currently working through boys clothes and clearly labelling the ones G has grown out of so that when the baby is that age, it will be easier to find them. I also purge clothes that the baby ad my eldest have grown out of fortnightly to bring down the clutter. I have a look through Boo’s clothes for anything remotely unisex to pass down to the boys. She had a gorgeous quilted navy coat that I passed down to G. We don’t go for gender stuff here. Both boys have worn pink vests and sleepsuits. We definitely got our monies worth out of them.
With a two year gap and the baby clothes now on six month growth sizes rather than three, the gap between the boys is fast being removed. I have got mixed up on numerous occasions-especially if they are matching. One night, G ended up in my daughter’s pyjamas and the baby in G’s. It was quite funny seeing them in such big clothing. They looked like they had both been shrunk in the wash.
I wrote a post a couple of years ago on tips for drying washing without a tumble dryer. Mainly because I have a washer/dryer and to tumble dry would mean I wouldn’t be able to wash.
On Christmas day, I had a washing break. One day. By Boxing Day, I had to push public holidays aside as the pile was as large as the presents the children had received.
Everyone expects your washing machine to be on at least once a day when you have one baby but for each extra child you have, the washing pile just gets bigger.
I love Spring when you can start drying outside again. When it is really hot, not having to air helps so much too. For the one week of really hot weather we have each year, I get my bathroom back with no clothes airers.
If you have any large family washing (or other) hacks, I would love to hear them. Making our lives that bit simpler can mean the difference between tearing your hair out, or not.