There are many reasons people choose to have big families. Sometimes it’s something you’ve always dreamed of. Other times, your big family chooses you. In my case, it was both. My husband and I come from large families—he from a family of six kids and me from a family with five kids. We didn’t want quite that many for ourselves—three felt like the right number for us.
As fate would have it, we ended up getting our three sooner than expected when our “second” child ended up being a twin pregnancy. Going from one to three children overnight was challenging, but nothing we couldn’t handle. In the years since we’ve come to understand some universal truths about life raising multiple kids. So, whether you’re on the fence about adding to your brood, or are a mom or dad of many looking for a laugh, settle in for these five truths about the chaos of raising multiple children:
Life with a lot of kids is loud. Each child comes with his or her own set of noises. Even just “relaxing” in the playroom will feel like a night at a rock concert. One kid will be off in the corner belting off a rendition of “Let It Go” while another is roaring like a dinosaur in the midst of battle and yet another is crying because someone stole his cookie. The more kids you have, the more it will feel like you’re running your own private daycare except no one is coming to pick these kids up by 6 PM. Sometimes you’ll wonder when you’ll ever be able to hear yourself think again, but then you’ll remember that silence is a scary sound and decide you’re OK with a little noise after all.
I’ve often joked that having three kids is like watching three different television programs at once and trying to figure out what is going on in each one. Your kids care not for your need to digest information in a calm, orderly fashion. They will all come at you on full blast with the urgency of a cable news anchor during an election cycle. As a parent of many children, you’ll need to train yourself to absorb several different stories, multiple requests, and competing calls for help and attention all at once. It’s…confusing.
Kids have a lot of feelings—babies, toddlers, preschoolers, little kids, big kids, tweens, teenagers—all of them. So, no matter what ages you’re dealing with, when you have multiple children, you’re almost always swimming in some intense emotions. You’ll spend large portions of your day—way more than you could have imagined—navigating everyone’s emotional needs and fits of fury. You’ll become so adept at managing sibling relationships that you’ll consider adding the skill to your resume. You’ll say the words “share” and “please” and “take turns” so often you’ll wonder if you still have other words in your vocabulary. By the end of the day, you’ll need some time to zone out and shake off the feelings you were wading through all day—if you can even remember how to relax by then.
It’s physically exhausting.
Parenting multiple kids isn’t just mentally exhausting—it’s physically exhausting, too. Whether you’re wrangling several kids during the morning rush, chasing after them all day long, or just carrying your toddlers back to bed for the hundredth time, you’ll clock miles and miles on your activity tracker just from daily parenting. Leaving the house will feel like a marathon. You’ll resemble a storm chaser as you try to catch several tiny tornados all on their own unique path of destruction. Chasing after one kid is tough. Chasing at several kids is an Olympic event.
All that said, raising multiple children is amazing. You’ll marvel as you watch each of their individual personalities develop and will swell with pride as you observe their kindness and compassion. Moments where you see them playing together, sharing, and engaging in all those good behaviors you worked so hard to instill will make you forget every sleepless night and tantrum (theirs and yours). You’ll catch glimpses of the people they are becoming and will imagine what your future dining room table will look like filled with beautiful people you love and helped shape. Of course, not every moment of parenting multiple kids—or parenting in general—will be a fairy tale, but it will be filled with more magic than you could have ever anticipated.