Whenever I tell someone I have five kids, their eyes get wide and their mouths drop open a little, like it's the most shocking thing they've ever heard. And then, of course, come the questions: "Are you religious?" (Not at all.) "Are they all yours?" (What does that even mean?) "How do you manage it all?" (Like any other parent.) But having five kids is actually easier than having one kid, you guys. Yes, I’m serious.
I’m not saying that our house isn't chaotic and loud, because it totally is. And I'm not saying I just intrinsically knew how to parent five children, because it's definitely taken some time to figure out routines for getting my children ready, fed, and put to bed each night. But my partner and I, and our children, eventually found our groove, and now life is so much easier than it was when I was responsible for just one child.
When my husband and I decided to blend our families together, and then have baby number five, I thought things would be unbelievably difficult. And, yes, people definitely questioned our sanity. But when we found our new normal and the dust settled, I realized our new normal was much, much easier to handle than I could've imagined.
I think it's easier to have a house full of kids because they inevitably entertain themselves, so I don’t have to be "on" all the time. When I had only one child I had to come up with daily plans and provide all the entertainment for my tiny dictator, which meant being a parent 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at all hours of the day and night. As much as I tried to encourage my daughter to be independent, it was hard to not be her default playmate. After all, I was it.
But now that I have five children, most days I can just tell my kids to go play and trust that they'll figure out how to entertain themselves and, by proxy, one another. So yeah, I would’ve been the last person to guess that having five kids would be easier than having one, but it totally is, and for the following reasons:
They Entertain Each Other
For me, one of the best parts of having five kids is watching them play with each other. It's amazing to see them form those sibling bonds and friendships. And, folks, it totally makes my life easier. Rather than having to come up with a daily itinerary to entertain them (like I had to do with my only child), I can simply say "go play" and they'll go play... for hours. Which is awesome, because there's no way I could entertain five kids, ages 2 through 13, every damn day.
They Leave Me Alone
When I had only kid, I felt like I had to touch her or watch her 24 hours a day, every day, lest she feel neglected. Now that I have five kids, I weirdly get more alone time.
Until one of them calls my name from the other room to tattle or break up a sibling fight, of course.
There’s An Age Gap
Because there's a significant age gap between our oldest and youngest kids, I can ask an older sibling to watch the baby for a few minutes so I can pee by myself, or even take a shower. Yeah, that never happened when I had one child.
They Play Pretend
I am not the kind of parent who enjoys having tea parties, playing house, or going on adventures with action figures. Having five kids means I rarely have to do these things. Score.
They Learn From Each Other
My middle son pretty much potty trained himself by watching his older siblings. They also helped him learn to read and have taught him how to play games. There's nothing more precious than watching one of your kids teach their little brother or sister a new skill.
When I was a mom of one, all of these responsibilities and lessons were on me.
They Hold Each Other Accountable
Having five kids means I have five sets of ears hearing my rules and instructions. This increases the odds of my message being received and, more importantly, followed. Surprisingly, my kids will hold each other accountable, especially when one of them wasn't paying attention.
I do way less nagging than I did as a mom of one.
They Help Out
While making meals for seven people is hard, it’s really no more difficult than making a meal for three. And now that some of my kids are old enough, they help out with meal prep and clean up, which means more work is off my plate.
They Stand Up For Each Other
I know that my kids will stand up for one another when it comes to playground bullies and mean kids at school. I can't always be there, and it's not always appropriate for me to intervene, so it makes me feel more secure knowing that they have each other's backs.
They Comfort Each Other
Sometimes a sister or brother can understand your problem way better than your mom. My kids listen to each other and help each other through situations, especially when they are unlikely to want to include me.
They Are A Team
My kids make a great team. I don't always love the trouble they get into — like when the three middle kids conspired to steal my stash of leftover Halloween candy from my closet — but I love that they are learning to work together and problem-solve as a team.