I have so much I could share on this topic but I’m going to focus this blog on a few tips of how I managed six kids, eight and a half years apart in age, and kept the crazy down to a moderate calm.
I like order and structure, which is interesting because it was not the way I was raised. After raising six kids I’m convinced there isn’t one right way to raise kids but there are some things I found worked…at least for our brood. Homeschooling meant we were home all day. Do you know how many cups you can go through in one day with that size of a crew?
I needed a solution. I found and bought two sets of kids cups in six colors. Everyone was assigned a color...for life. We never deviated, so it never leaves room for an argument about who gets the yellow cup or the blue cup today. To cut down on dishes, they would use the same cup all day long. Never, ever have a dish item that doesn’t match. Throw it away now. That one special dish, no matter how ugly or treasured it may be will be your downfall. Trust me on this.
Now about calling ‘shotgun’ for car seating. This was never allowed. My initial plan was to rotate everyone one spot each time we went somewhere (after car seats were no longer needed) but I could never remember who sat where last. The solution? Assigned seating, which equals no more arguments. Stick to your guns on this and save yourself some headaches.
What about household chores? Each summer before school started, I would invite the kids to put their vote in for chores they wanted for the coming year. Obviously, there were some non-negotiables like cleaning your room and everyone had their turn at doing dishes. I created a chore chart for the week in an excel document that would remain the same for a full twelve months. The kids had about four chores a day. Not unreasonable and age appropriate. The chart was also color coded for the kids.
There school schedule had the chore chart attached to it, while the master copy hung on the refrigerator. Each child received their schedule for the week on Monday, with a place for them to check off their school assignments and chores. They were not allowed to go out and play after school until everything was checked off, outside of dinner dishes.
Seriously, I could go on and on but I’ll stop for now. Our routines created peace and a sense of security. The kids knew what was expected. One of my friends asked her son what it was like to stay at my home, since he spent the night with us fairly often. His answer, “It not bad, you just need to understand the rules.”