This is the first post of the paired sets that Chris and I are doing simultaneously. Every Wednesday, we will discuss a question asked of us. If you are here from Mommybloggers, where I am featured today (!!!!!!), welcome, and please stick around. I promise I'm not always depressing, sometimes I'm actually pretty fun to read........
So, Chris opened the floor of her blog up to questions. What do people want to know about big families? Some of the questions were to be expected - how can you afford so many kids, why do you keep having them, etc - and some were a bit off the wall. The thought that we both have our hubby's chained to the beds and won't let them up until we are pregnant again WAS pretty funny.
For our first topic, we thought we'd tangle with morning schedules. They are bound to be different, since she's a homeschooling whiz and my kids are schooled out of the house. I used to think that I wanted to homeschool my kids. Then I had them, and let's just say, that idea died a quick and painless death.
5:30 My alarm goes off for the first time. My big plan for every day is to get up and run on the treadmill. I lift my head from the pillow, squint groggily at the red numbers, and decide to run later. I shove over at least one child, who has made their way into my bed and demanded more than their fair share of real estate. I reset the alarm for 6 and go back to the dreamland, where I am slim and gorgeous and have much (male) eye candy to peruse.
6:10 Having already hit the snooze button once, I fumble out of bed, visit the potty and slap on my glasses. I make a stop in the big girls room, in Gabe's room and in Nik's room, where I say the same trite, Mary Poppins phrase every morning: "Good morning! It's time to get up and get ready for school! Aren't you so excited??" I rotate from room to room until I at least get a grunt in reply from all involved, and make my way downstairs.
6:12 - 6:20 I check my email and favorite discussion board, and if I'm quick, read a few of my favorite bloggers. I drink a cup of cold coffee and try to mentally prepare for the morning ahead. I listen with half an ear to the news and try to guess the trivia for the day, and grumble if the weather calls for rain. I yell upstairs and get verbal confirmation that everyone is at least thinking about getting dressed, and I turn my attention to...
6:20 - 6:35 Breakfast. After many ugly mornings, we now have a set schedule. Monday is eggs, Tuesday oatmeal, Wednesday pancakes, Thursday nutrigrain bars or bagels with fruit and yogurt, and Friday is waffles or pancakes. Yup, my kids like them some hot breakfast. If you don't like what's on the schedule - about three times a week between the big four - you can pour your own self a bowl of cereal. During this time, the yahoos are making their way down and to the table, albeit without combed hair. We have a rule - if you aren't downstairs and dressed by 6:30, you don't get hot breakfast. Just cold cereal. Much grumpiness is exuded during this time, not all of it by the kids. I'm slapping food around, pouring drinks and trying to clean as I go. I reassure Gabe that he's not dumb, tell the big kids to knock it off, and finally end up putting everyone on voice restriction.
6:35-6:40 Vitamins and medications. I grab about 40 bajillion bottles and the medicine drawers and slid into a seat. Nik and Allegra get 2 GNC adult multi's, B complex, extra C, and Immune support. Mackenzie gets 1 adult multi, a vitamin C, and immune support. Gabe gets three vit C - to equal the dose of the bigger kids, 2 greens today multi's. 2 benefiber - don't ask, you DON'T want to know. As of this week, the week of the THIRD invasion of strep, all get antibiotics and acidophilus - either chewable or swallow. I make a game out of it and shoot the pills air hockey style. I slide advair disks, claritin D and zyrtec to people. I pass out nose sprays.
During this time, one of the following has happened: Emma has woken up and come down, Riley has woken up and come down, or The Hubster has. We all pray daily that Emma and Riley stay asleep, so I don't have to take them with me when I drive the big kids. If they have woken, though, I give them breakfast and put clips in their hair, since both of them have hair that hangs down past their mouths and trust me, syrup in hair at 6:30 isn't where I want to be.
6:40 - 7:00 Places are cleared, reminders given to drink your juice, and lunches are packed. I really like it if hot lunch is good that day - I've only got to pack one lunch, since Nik never buys. I can do all four lunches in 4 minutes - I timed myself one day. Everyone gets a drink and a sandwich - pb and j or soy butter and jelly for Gabe - fruit, granola bar, goldfish or cheezits or chips. Chips are a once a week thing, and horded jealously around here. I slap the lunch bags and boxes on the counter and listen for the trivia answer on the news.
7:02 After hearing the headline for the Today show, I snap off the television and give out the orders. Teeth and hair, bags packed, instruments, shoes and coats. I head upstairs and quickly wash my face and brush my teeth, put in my contacts and get dressed. I try to dress in work out clothes, figuring that if I look the part, maybe I'll get it done today. I'm downstairs by 7:15 and we load out to the car. I do a quick count and reminder to grab all the stuff they need - especially difficult if it's soccer season, and THOSE bags have to be packed, and snacks and water bottles have to go as well. Coats are on hooks along the wall, and gloves and hats are in shoe organizers nailed up in the garage. Raincoats are on a rod in the garage as well. Each child has a shelf for shoes in the garage. Sounds like it would be easy to get it together, but you have to have PUT your stuff there to be able to FIND it there. I break up 372 fights in the driveway, send someone back to wash the toothpaste off their face, and beg them to just leave.each.other.ALONE for one flippin minute. Yeah, I'm so smooth. I pity my neighbors, who never get to sleep in past our departure - there is so much fighting and arguing.
7:15 If all has gone well, we are backing out the driveway. I play a little head game with myself. my neighbor leaves at 7:15 too, and I try to be the first one backing out of the drive. It doesn't always work - there are days when she's left 10 minutes before we do - there's always SOMETHING going wrong. Can't find the back pack, the shoes, no coat - yadda, yadda.
7:20 We head back up the drive and re open the garage door, for the forgotten instrument/homework/project/lunch/coat/hat/gloves/shoes. Yes, in one memorable morning, one of my children forgot to put shoes on, and we didn't discover it until we arrived at school. One day, someone had the wrong shoes on - wouldn't pass uniform inspection - and I had to make a separate trip.
7:25- 7:40 We drive to school and I mediate several arguments along the way. I call for an end to tattling, a cease and desist on kicking your sister, and put the kabosh on hitting each other with a hair brush. I'm usually signing permission slips, homework, tests, and the like, and even very occasionally reading a book to Gabe for his homwork. Yeah, I'm THAT driver some days. We try to remember to slip in a quick set of prayers and then, I
slow down and shove them out gently stop the car and release them into the wilds of school. I call out, "good bye! Have a great day! Make good choices! I love you!" and try not to burn rubber as I peel away, cackling madly.
7:45 -8:00 I stop at Starbucks for my favorite breakfast - usually a tall, non fat caramel macchiato with extra caramel. I enjoy the only time of adult interaction without a child present. Then I jump into the car and drive home, in time to....
8:00 Help The Hubster get ready to go to work. I bring down laundry, checking my email and reading blogs between trips. I break up about a kajillion arugments between Emma and Riley, and set out Riley's therapy stuff. I pack his lunch and mix up his breakfast smoothie. I pause for a quick send off for The Hubster, go back to my computer, and turn the tv on so that I can read blogs in the quiet. I briefly entertain the thought of the treadmill, and decide that can wait until after lunch. I get my butt off the computer, decide to change over the laundry, and clean up the house. I usually field at least one phone call from a kid, who has forgotten something, necessitating another trip to school. At 9, we start therapy work.
Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of Dynamics of a big family! If you have a topic that you'd like discussed, on the unusual challenges of raising a family larger than the norm, leave it in the comments. As long as it's not something to do with sex or money, we'll probably answer it!