Survival Tip #4

It’s Monday. I can remember back to the days of being a kid. Saturday morning would come and I could hardly get out of bed fast enough. There were cartoons to watch!!! I’d tear out of my bed faster than a cat trying to avoid a bath (trust me, that’s fast)! I’d flip on the TV and turn the volume down as fast as I could so I wouldn’t wake up my parents (that’s something my kids haven’t learned yet, I guess). And I’d turn the channel to the USA Network, ready to take in what they referred to as the “Cartoon Express.”

Cartoon Express: One of the few good things to come out of the 80's!

These days, however, there is no tearing out of bed Saturday morning for me. There is no racing to the TV to see what I’d be missing if I had slept in. No, sadly that eagerness has been replaced with the adult (boring) habit of attempting to sleep in. I say attempting because it rarely ever happens.

One thing I fail to understand is that the same kids you literally have to threaten to get out of bed for school each morning mysteriously can’t seem to sleep past the first hint of sunlight come Saturday morning. I guess I could understand it if the Cartoon Express still existed…heck, we don’t even have cable!

So, with that in mind, I present…

Survival Tip #4: Learn to ENJOY the Weekend

Monday through Friday I’m awake before 6:00 AM. Sunday I’m up around 7:00 to make sure we make it to church on time (five kids take time to get ready!). So, when Saturday rolls around, my natural instinct is to cling to every last bit of sleep I possibly can. Unfortunately, as I mentioned about, those natural instincts are usually destroyed disturbed by the results of some other natural instincts.

So, since sleep isn’t really an option, why not enjoy the weekend? Hang out with your kids! Do something fun!

I can hear you saying now, “But Mike, I have five kids. I can’t afford to do anything fun!” Hey, I have five kids too, I know how it is. But your idea of fun (fun=expensive) doesn’t equal your kids idea of fun (fun=cardboard box or fun=making strange noises). Make sure you’re not so eager to cross things off your to do list that you just leave your kids to do whatever they think is fun on their own. Odds are anyway that their idea of fun will be to be directly in the way of your idea of productivity (more likely, their idea of fun will be to destroy everything you’ve accomplished).

Saturday is most likely the only day you’ll get in a week to have fun. Sure, you might squeeze something in on an evening somewhere. But bottom line is, you’re usually too wiped out to try to have fun on a weeknight. So, next Saturday, take your family and do something fun. It can just be running around in the yard. It can be having a family movie day in front of the TV. It can be whatever your imagination can dream up. Kids are entertained very differently than you, so just make sure you’re doing something to recharge your emotional and physical batteries.

And if you don’t get Saturdays off, pick another day of the week to be your fake Saturday. You need it. Your kids need it. Your health and life depends on it.  Am I typing this as someone who has been great at doing this? No!  It’s more like I’m preaching to the choir here! It’s something I am going to try and be more purposeful about.

So go, enjoy your day off and have fun.

Until next time.

Advertisements

Survival Tip #3

For my regular readers (as regular as a little over a week blogging can be), you’ll remember that Survival Tip #1 was “waking up early.” With that in mind, I present:

Survival Tip #3: Staying Up Late

I realize that to the uninitiated, this tip stands in direct opposition to tip #1. I can hear you (or the sleep-deprived voices in my head) saying, “But Mike, if you’re waking up early AND staying up late, aren’t you tired?!?” And my answer to you is, “YES!” (My answer to the voices in my head is, “Shutup! I’m trying to write a blog post here!”).

According to the National Sleep Foundation (who knew that existed before now?), adults need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. But if you need 7 to 9 hours of sleep, obviously they’re dealing in averages. There is no such thing as getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep! You can get 7 hours of sleep, you can get 9 hours of sleep, or you can get anywhere in between. So, if they’re dealing in averages, it must mean that there are adults out there who can survive on less sleep, and adults out there who need more than that. And with my scientifical hypothesis (made up words make things sound official), I’m perfectly fine only getting an average of 5 to 7 hours of sleep (again with the averages!). Most nights I get at least six hours of sleep, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. And sometimes, I get a lot less (not very often).

I’m just confident that out there somewhere, there is some man or woman who sleeps an average of 12 to 15 hours per day. But the problem with that is, either this person is living in his or her parents basement or they’re working some job that they get paid $80 an hour and only have to work 20 hours a week. (Where can I get that job?!?).

If you’re a parent with five kids, you just have to learn to survive on little to no sleep. You see, after the kids go to bed is the only time you get with your spouse and with yourself. From the time you wake the kids up in the morning, to the time they fall asleep, life is constantly demanding things of you. You wake the kids up, they need help finding socks (or pants).  You get to work, and the day is full of people demanding stuff from you.  You get home, and there’s always things to do around the house (with five kids, there is ALWAYS stuff for you to do around the house).

So, that time after the kids are actually asleep (which is sometime well after the kids’ bedtime) is your only time to relax, decompress, spend time with your spouse, etc. If you want to survive as a parent with a lot of kids, this is your only saving grace.  You see, if you don’t have any time to relax and decompress, you’ll end up like an overcooked hot dog (which as a parent with a lot of kids, you’ll see a lot).

This one, specifically.

So, although you’ll be tired and sleep-deprived, you’ll need to wake up early AND stay up late.  It’s the only way to have a chance at remaining sane in any way at all.

Until next time…

Survival Tip #2

As a father of five, things work a little differently than a parent with one or two kids.  When you have one or two kids, juggling kids and responsibilities is a breeze.  Sure, I can (vaguely) remember back to having two kids and thinking life was overwhelming.  But in reality, it’s a simple issue of manageability.

Here’s the math to support my hypothesis:

Parent A + Parent B = 4 hands, and 4 > 2.

This means either

(1) Parent A manages two kids at once with two hands, freeing Parent B up to do whatever needs done with the two remaining hands (clean up messes, shop for groceries, pick their nose (you know they do), etc.).

OR

(2) Parent A manages one child with one hand while Parent B manages the other child with one hand, freeing up one hand per parent for any required tasks.

Unless one (or both, God forbid) parents are amputees, or one parent is a double-amputee, the math (and logic) are sound.  Simple, easy, manageable children.  Even if you were to increase the number of kids to four (provided both parents have full use of both upper limbs), there are still the same number of hands as children.

Parent A + Parent B = 4 hands (still), and 4 = 4.

Sure, in this scenario, life becomes difficult as there are no extra hands to get anything done – leading to more messes and difficulty getting everyday tasks completed.  Difficult, but not impossible.

But, when you graduate to kid number five, you have a simple irrational equation.

Parent A + Parent B = 4 hands (magic how that works each time)

But suddenly, there is an imbalance as 4 < 5.  And barring growing a third arm (depending upon your proximity to a hazardous waste dump), picking up a Parent C is your only option.  But, since polygamy is illegal in most states, and it usually leads to even more kids anyhow, that option rules itself out.

So, here I am to present:

Survival Tip #2: Strength in Numbers (or Dividing the Troops).

When my wife and I go shopping, we do one of two things (depending on how our kids are acting. We either go together or one of us keeps the kids while the other goes to the store.  One thing I’ve found that seems to help when we go together is getting two shopping carts.  We’ll each have one of the youngest kids in our cart, and then we set our kids up in formation, leaving one of us with three kids (usually me), and one of us (usually my wife) with two (she has them at home more, she deserves a break).

On the rare occasion we’re feeling brave (aka, stupid), we stick with one cart and have a hilarious sight for all the other shoppers.  In the cart, sitting in the basket are the two youngest – Seth & Ellie.  Standing on the front of the cart, our seven year old, Josh.  And flanking the cart on either side are the two oldest, Oriyah & Joey.  This is only on the rare occasion when we’re after something quickly, because there isn’t a lot of room (or safety) for very much stuff in the cart with two kids.

So if you have five kids, make sure you’re a team and if you’re going to take all the kids, make sure you both go.  It’s for your own good.  Alternately, you could hire a babysitter or convince a family member to watch them – but with five kids, it is incredibly difficult to find someone who is brave (aka, stupid) enough to want to take them all.

If you’re a single parent, I’m so sorry.  You’ll need to either find a Parent B or grow three more arms.

Pictured Above: The Typical Single Parent (I think).

Until next time…

Survival Tip #1

As a Father of five, so many times I hear people say, “How do you do it?”  Today I’m prepared to provide the first of many answers.

Maybe you’re out there and you’re expecting another kid…you’re wondering how you’re going to make it.  You’re going through all the emotions and questions; questions like, “How did this happen? (you know how)” or “What am I going to do?”  This is the first in the line of multiple survival tips that will (hopefully) help you survive as a parent with a lot of kids.

Survival Tip #1: Wake Up Early

Let me start this by saying that I’m not naturally an early riser.  If I could, I’d sleep in every single day.  But the most important thing that has helped me survive as a Daddy of 5 is getting up early.  For one, it gives me time to spend with God, reading the Bible and praying.  As a person of faith, this is very important.

But a second reason I get up early is that oftentimes that’s the only bit of quiet I’ll get.  In a house with five kids, there is very rarely any quiet to be heard (or not heard).  They always wake up earlier than you wish they would (except for when you need them to).  Bedtime is an ordeal filled with giggles and whispers and outright defiance.  Even when you’re watching a movie with kids, they’re always making noise.  So, for me the only way to survive is to get up before anyone else.

I take time with God and time alone just enjoying the quiet.  This does, however, present a problem.  You see, I’m a night owl.  I like staying up late every single day.  Even knowing that my alarm will go off just before 6:00 AM, I have a hard time going to bed much before midnight.  The only time I get to spend with my wife is after the kids go to sleep (which is much later than their actual bedtime), and I love spending time with my wife.

This presents a problem, as I spend much of my time looking like this:

Dog Yawning

Minus the fur and chain (most days).

Am I tired most of the time? Yes.  But to me, if I don’t have my quiet time in the morning, my day just doesn’t go as well.  This became very evident to me this morning.  My 9 year old, Joey, woke up only a few minutes after me this morning.  Instantly, I found myself feeling invaded upon.  Even though he just got straight in the shower, I felt like my quiet time was lost.

So, if you’re a father of many children (or plan on being someday), you’ll need to learn the art of waking up early.  This may be the most vital thing to remaining (somewhat) sane.

Until next time…