I’ve partnered with JOHNSON’S® on this sponsored post and all opinions stated on big family realities are my own.
Lucky or unlucky for myself, my baby number two arrived a mere two minutes after baby number one. I’ve since added two more (singleton) kids to the fray, officially landing us in the “big family” categorization by a good majority of people. Once you have multiple young people, especially close in age, there are several things you don’t have time for anymore and things you realize were never that important to begin with, beginning even with baby #2 (or #3 if you had twins first).
Big Family Realities: 9 Things You Start Give Up On
1.) Homemade Baby Food
I never made my own baby food, but we received hundreds of jars from WIC with our twins. Many new moms lovingly make their own homemade baby food, even buying new foods (for themselves) like parsnips and leeks just so they could feed them to their baby and receive that Gold Star in frugal and healthy parenting. Some even freeze extra in ice cube trays so they always have some ready.
With baby number two you are all about baby led weaning, finger foods as soon as possible, and them learning how to feed themselves. And often times it’s the second baby who is less of a fussy eater, despite all those organic new vegetables you pureed for your first child.
However, baby is also much more likely to get junk food at a much earlier age.
2.) Daily Baths
Daily bathing and grooming for yourself and the baby don’t really happen anymore. With a large family, I’m happy to get a shower three or four times a week. My high school and college self, who showered everyday, would be aghast, I’m sure.
As for the baby, well, even though you’re all for baby led weaning this time around, giving them a whole banana versus a pureed one, you realize you don’t always have the time or luxury to give the baby a full on bath after every feeding like you did with your first, or heck, even once or twice a week. So despite banana in the hair, you do your best to pick it out before you move on to the next thing in your life, knowing that the baby will get a bath, eventually….
That’s why it’s helpful for busy big family moms to use little cheats like the new JOHNSON’S® HEAD-TO-TOE™ baby cleansing cloths, because with them you won’t have to miss bath time and the closeness it brings as they allow you do “half-baths” on-the-go. These “sponge bath cloths,” as I call them, are soft, thick cloths twice the size of average wipes (measuring in at 7.8″x 11.8″) and designed for keep baby clean without the need for water. There’s no need to rinse, leaves no residue behind, and won’t dry out baby’s skin.
The baby cleansing cloths are great for summer time, but the cloths also work throughout the year for on-the-go clean up. Using them, I don’t feel as guilty and awkward when someone holds my baby, smells them, and says “I love the smell of newborn babies.” The JOHNSON’S® HEAD-TO-TOE Cleansing Cloths retail at $3.99 for 15 of these big cloths.
And even though my baby girl thinks being wiped down is akin to torture, at least she’s learning at an early age that beauty (aka no more banana face) is pain.
3.) Talking and Reading to Your Baby Like It’s Your Only Job
With your oldest, you talked directly to them, talking to them as you put on their clothes, gave them a bath, put them in the car, narrating everything you did, because that’s what you knew would help their vocal abilities.
“I am getting the blue cup. Blue is the color of the sky and your eyes! Daddy has blue eyes too! Water goes in the cup, and then into your mouth and down into your tummy! Water is good for your body and one of the things that makes life on Earth possible.” I’m sure your now three year old understood everything you said because now they are a clear genius and excellent speaker, am I right or what?
While your older children may talk directly to your new baby, you don’t really as much. You talk over and around them, sure. And unfortunately, the TV is talking to them much more than with your first.
With your first, the library’s 1000 books before Kindergarten challenge wasn’t a problem at all either for you. You went to the library story time religiously and checked out a stack of books that you read to your baby cover to cover multiple times before returning.
Chances are you aren’t taking the time to read to your younger children nearly as much. A thousand books before kindergarten feels way more like a stretch, especially as you skip story time as you fear wrangling your two, three, or more children for an hour while sitting on a hard floor.
4.) Going and Doing ALL THE THINGS
With a large family, one of your realities is that it is not so easy to get up and go places. Even “quick trips” with two or more kids has to be planned. With multiple kids, you tend to stay away from things like swimming pools, shopping malls, events and venues that cost money, and even story time. With more kids, you dread having to drag two screaming, tantruming, can’t find their shoes or button their jackets, kids out the door. As some moms will tell you “One you go, two you do, three you stay.”
You still manage to get out occasionally, but its for your older kids way more than it is for the baby, especially because it often messes with baby’s two naps a day that she refuses to take anywhere other than her own bed. Mommy and Me classes feel way more like an expensive luxury now.
5.) Stress & Paranoia
Being a mom is exhausting. As a first time mom you overthink everything. When they trip, fall, get a bump, use scissors, play with things that aren’t age appropriate, or climb higher than you feel comfortable with, you nervously hold your breath.
With more kids you’ve learned to relax some (or a lot) and are way less paranoid. You’ve stopped running to your kids as soon as they cry, especially if you are in the middle of something else. You’ve discovered kids get over little bumps and misfortunes much quicker if you aren’t flipping out about it yourself.
The secret to less stress, as my friend Rachel over at A Mother Far From Home will tell you, is to have more kids as you realize how hardy and resilient little kids really are.
You also stop worrying about every little thing, especially your child hitting milestones! With your first it was easy to want to push them into the next “thing” the moment they showed readiness:
He’s trying to climb out of his crib? Let’s move him to a toddler bed tomorrow! She want to sit in a booster instead of a high chair? Absolutely! She took off your diaper, then she must be ready to potty train!
No! With multiple young children, you’re way more okay with them staying in a crib until they’re five and using a high chair until they’re four and a half. And potty training? Only when they’re actually completely ready.
6.) Matching Clothes
With your first, you took great pride and care into how your baby dressed, wore their hair, matched, and look generally. He or she was your brand new baby doll.
With a large family, you are just glad your children are dressed everyday. And if it’s the same clothes they wore yesterday, or if their outfit clashes terribly, you don’t mind as long as it’s not noticeably dirty from the day before. You have learned to embrace the hand-me-downs, free clothes, and secondhand clothes. Plus, it often makes for less laundry for your large family.
7.) Baby Memory Books
Your first child’s book is complete. Your second child’s book skips six months and has a few pages filled out. Your third child’s book is empty with all the milestone written down on a sheet of paper that’s shoved into the book. Your fourth child doesn’t even have a book, just a piece of scrap paper with most of their well child checkup stats written down on it, and maybe a few extra dates for things like first teeth or first steps also written down on it.
8.) Working Out & Me Time
When you had one baby, you could take the time during those luxurious one or two naps a day and early bedtimes to treat yourself to some needed alone time: you’d pop in a workout DVD, use a postpartum exercise app, head off to the gym (if hubby was home), go out with your girlfriends, take a nap or a long bath, whatever.
With multiple kids, you are way more tired and your expendable free time very limited, especially during the day. After bed time you just want to binge on a TV show or scrolling through Facebook. It’s why I believe in paying for a gym with childcare (and taking full advantage of it).
9.) Quality One-on-One Time
It’s hard to realize that with your first you spent a ridiculous amount of one-on-one time with him. You would go for long walks, take him everywhere with you, talk, read, play, or simply draw on the sidewalk or blow bubbles with them. With multiple children, as a mom to a large family, you don’t get that luxury. Baby and laundry call as does the tantruming toddler. It’s why I’ve often felt I was a better mom before I had more kids after my twins. While you may not get all the one-on-one quality time you’d love to spend with each and every child, you certainly have much more family bonding time, fun, laughter, and your kids have more playmates than before!
What things have you started to give up on after you became a “large” family?