Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Primer on Larger Families

Our oldest two boys have been in Colorado visiting the 'Grands for about two weeks now and boy what a difference it has made in our house! It is easy to think that temporarily going from five children to three might make my life easier, if only because I am cooking for and taking care of fewer people overall. However, I have to give credit and kudos to my oldest two boys. Bruiser is doing his very best to try to help hold back the "creep" on the house and the Clutter Within. But he's six. He wants to play, he wants to watch shows, he wants to do games with Mom, he wants to hear stories - and rightly so! He's six!

Giving credit to my Exact-Center son, he has moved the laundry from the washer to the dryer and even figured out where to set the timer so it would run long enough to get everything dry. Please trust me when I say that that is a big deal. I've found more laundry left slightly damp in the dryer than I care to remember! On top of that, when it became clear that he was not going to be able to help me mow the back lawn, he saw another need and took care of it - Mr. Magoo was crying in his stroller off to the side and so Bruiser took him into the house and kept him entertained for the twenty minutes it took me to mow. There are other things he's helped with as well, but these are just two big ones from today.

But on the flip side of that, trying to keep everyone "entertained" (as much as they should be entertained by anyone else - they need time with Mom and Pop, but they should also be entertaining themselves a good chunk of the time too) and busy on my own each day is exhausting! And somehow the nap times rarely add up to the same time. Mr. Magoo might fall asleep for his "long" nap at around 10:45 or 11, just when Buttercup is settling in at the table for lunch; Buttercup finishes lunch and is heading for stories and a nap at closer to 12:00, just as Mr. Magoo is waking up. Bruiser is no longer taking naps at all, and wants to interact with Mom while the other two are napping - he wants to show me his latest creations, wants to read with me, wants time to have me all to himself. Whew! And as much as Bruiser tries to help, he's not strong enough to help move boxes in the basement, not old enough to help mow the lawn, not tall enough to put away the dishes that go on the upper shelves... and he still has a tendency to "stash" things when we're cleaning up the little cluttery things that get set down throughout the house.

When Maestro and Smeagol are in the house with us, it is easier - they pull a good bit of weight, and the younger kids really look up to them and adore being with them. When: the baby cries, the laundry needs taking down or back up or switched out, folded, hung up or put away, the rooms need vacuuming, the bathrooms need scrubbing and so much more, it is less work getting it all done in one shot with them around. I can send one to do a bathroom, one to handle laundry, one to help with the baby. 

Larger families function well only if everyone pitches in and helps where they can. We seem to fit into that dynamic now - the larger family - (apologies to my wonderful sister-in-law and brother who have seven if I'm presumptuous here!) and having the two oldest away is a great reminder of how much we truly get done together. 

Normally, when I have Maestro mow the back lawn, he and I switch off on the lawn while Bruiser and Smeagol work together to weed the garden. Buttercup traipses around and helps here and there before ultimately ending up at the swing set. Today didn't go that way. I mowed, Bruiser took Mr. Magoo, Buttercup freaked out about every. tiny. mosquito. that landed on her (she thought they were spiders) and the weeding will not take place until Saturday morning. 

When the older children are here, they help with the house, and on top of that when they're at their best, they act as mentors to the younger children. Maestro has helped the youngers find better attitudes about getting housework done by keeping energy high, making songs and games up, etc. Smeagol has a great attitude starting out of the gate and helps get the ball rolling. Bruiser helps Buttercup learn her letters and numbers and shows her how to do the chores that are more age-appropriate for her, those chores that he is leaving behind. 

As time passes, they pass on more than just their hand-me-down clothes. They hand down their life lessons, and their old chores for new-to-them chores, they show one another the love and kindness that comes over time of working and playing and sometimes disagreeing together day in and out.

- SO, all this is to say: hat tip to my boys -

though you all sometimes drive me crazy when we're all together and the bickering gets started and slows us all down - you guys are truly awesome to have around and I love every minute of it. The energy you bring to the jobs we do cannot be matched. The crazy made-up songs, the fun games that you make up to keep our energy high when doing even the worst jobs (dog messes, anyone?) ... thanks, guys. Enjoy your trip out with the Grands, know that we're looking forward to you coming home to us in a few weeks... 

~...  ~ ...~

and leave the bickering there in Colorado, eh? 


  1. I'm so tired from reading about your day, I need to go lay down!

  2. I only mowed the lawn and did a load of laundry today :) I felt I accomplished something.


I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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