Recently quite a few people have asked me how I do it with five kids. Many were surprised that I don’t have a nanny or any other kind of hired help. It’s just me, myself, and I taking care of the kids (and me). Some go as far as saying I’m a “Super Mom.” Such a title immediately catapults my mind to thinking that I really gotta make a superhero outfit for myself. I’d love to be Mrs. Incredible/Elastigirl.
In reality, I’m no super mom, and even though I secretly envy Elastigirl’s superhero abilities, I’m indeed human. Just a regular Joe (er, Jane). At times I just don’t know how to answer the question because I simply do it. Yes, I have five kids and I just do what needs to be done managing a household. Such an answer is not helpful for people who are truly seeking for advice, encouragement, and tips.
It dawned on me the other day that I do have at least one tip to offer for those who truly want to know how I do it with five. The tip is: Train your kids to sit still.
While I was making dinner the other day, the kids were wild. They were running about, bickering, crying, and the whole nine yards. It was difficult to get dinner going if I have to stop now and then to referee. Then I had a light bulb moment. I could have the kids sit in the kitchen to listen to a story on tape (or iTunes in our case) while I cooked. With that I was finally able to make dinner and have the kids reined in. On top of that, the kids got to hear a nice story from our favorite storyteller Jim Weiss.
To show you what it looks like in our house, here is a picture of the kids sitting in the kitchen listening to a story:
The reason I could have the kids sit and listen to a story that day with a simple command was because I had already trained them to sit still previously. I wrote about such training two and half years ago:
When my oldest was 15 months old, I started training him to sit still. I placed him in a regular chair or a highchair. I then set a timer for five minutes. He was required to sit and not come down. Whenever he tried to come down, I told him “no” and then placed him back in the chair. I did this everyday and as he got better, I increased the time to 10 minutes. Slowly and surely we worked up to 30 minutes. Eventually we transitioned into listening to a sermon together every morning, and this lasted anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour.
(To read more, click here)
The reason I have the kids in the kitchen with me and not in a different room is that if a quarrel breaks out, which occurs more often than not, I am right there to address the problem. I know that some people use their TV as a babysitter so they can do other things. I find that letting kids watch TV while I make dinner actually gets them more wild. After all, they had just spent the last hour being entertained. On top of that, when it is time to turn off the TV so they can come to the dinner table, it is inevitable that at least one of them whines and cries because they still want to watch. Having the children sit and listen to a story engages their minds actively, which is quite different from TV watching.
So there you are. Weapon #1 in Lois “Elastigirl” Ding’s arsonnel. Stay tuned for next time when I share how to morph into a parachute.