What it’s like to have four kids

photo credit: Creative Commons: anyjazz65

I’ve grown in several areas over these past six and a half years: 1.) Physically: I’ve gained and lost a total of 140lbs. Thirty-five-ish per pregnancy, give or take, as some pregnancies required more chocolate/nachos than others. 2.) Vanity: I ditched any remaining shred of coolness when we bought a minivan, which I had vowed to never do because only nerds drive minivans. 3. Control: I largely stopped dressing my children in coordinated outfits. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 4.) McGuyver-ability quotient: I have grown entirely more adaptable in situations previously deemed too hard or totally despair-worthy, ie: broken legs (we’ve had three so far), newborn baby colds (stopped counting at a dozen), forgetting to bring a pack n play on an overnight trip. NBD, man. Life will go on.

Here is what to expect when you have FOUR KIDS, if you are considering doing such a thing. You crazy lunatic, you.

  1. When you take your whole tribe around town, people act kind of weird, like you have seven heads. I took the kids to the doctor’s for a checkup the other day, and within an hour, FOUR different people stopped me to ask if all four kids belonged to me. One lady even stopped her car and rolled down her window to ask. Yes, you sweet bystander. This freakshow is all mine. Here is a sampling of unsolicited comments I regularly hear (like multiple times a day) while running errands: “Whoa, that’s a lot of kids!””Are they all yours?” “You have your hands full!” “Did you plan this?” “Better you than me!”
  2. Your day-to-day becomes a real life version of the movie Memento. Do you remember that movie? It’s about a guy who can only remember fifteen minute increments before he forgets everything that happened leading up to it. Super suspenseful and stressful, but I don’t really remember much else about it because, like I said, wait – what was I just saying? No, but seriously. I’m the Steph Curry of forgetfulness. The reason is basically that  your brain is like an internet browser (this is a real science fact that I pulled from my vast knowledge of sciencey things). Moms of four children have approximately 462 browser tabs open at any given time. Did I pay the phone bill? Is today Wednesday? Wednesday is early pickup. When did the baby nurse last? On which side? We need solar panels. Why does child #2 have his outfit on entirely backwards? Why do I not care? Has child #3 consumed any vegetables today…yesterday…the last three days? Meanwhile, four of the tabs (the children) are talking to you like those video pop up ads that come out of NOWHERE, yelling about who the heck knows what. So, for reasons you can imagine, some things are just forgotten: jackets, backpacks, sending your mom the Mothers Day card that has been sitting on your desk for a MONTH, texting people back, dropping off the dry cleaning, ordering Nespresso pod refills.
  3. Getting out of the house every morning is basically like living in the movie Jumanji. I’ve been doing this four kids thang every day for the last nine months, so the chaos has become my “normal.” A few weeks ago I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, so David had to get all of the kids ready, fed and out the door by 8:30. David is very hands-on when it comes to the dad-stuff. Diapers, feeding, dressing, you name it, he seriously does it all. But until this day, he hadn’t done a full morning with all four kids on his own. He met up with me to switch cars at 8:45. All the children were fed, dressed and even had shoes on. When I asked him how it went, he calmly responded, “Yeah, that was insane.” I guess it is. It’s the baby crying because the three year old is sitting on her while you try to brush the eldest’s tangled hair into a ponytail; it’s the five year old, unable to decipher the English words you are speaking when you tell him for the eleventieth time to PUT ON THE SHOES, ONTO THE FEET THAT ARE YOURS, THAT BELONG TO YOUR LEGS, AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LEGS, JUST BEYOND THE ANKLES, EACH FOOT GETS ONE SHOE AND PLEASE PUT THEM ON NOW BEFORE MY HEAD EXPLODES. NOW. NOW. NOW. NOW. And then you get a miffed response, “OK!” Like, “Sheesh!” Like, “Omigosh, mom you need to calm down.” Yes, because clearly I am the unreasonable one.
  4. After you take a shower and clip your nails, and then clip your kids’ nails, by the time you are done, you have just clipped one hundred nails. ONE HUNDRED NAILS. (Also I just realized that could be a great name for the band I will start with my children. We will figure out how to play instruments at some point after we have mastered the putting on of the shoes. First things first.)
  5. Speaking of showers, any tiny moment of privacy is now long gone. I took literally 3 minutes to shower off the stickiness from making breakfast the other morning. All the while, one little darling stood outside asking if I was done yet because they needed to show me a trick. “How about now? Are you done now?” “I will be done in two minutes, you precious angel from my womb!” (I said either that or something like that…-ish) “Ok…” (seven seconds later:) “How about now? Has it been two minutes?” So I just canceled the tiny remaining shower I thought I was entitled to. I was rushed through my drying-off process and over to the “trick,” which turned out to be a child who had spread a small blanket on the floor…and then jumped over it.
  6. One fun thing about having four kids is the opportunity to cook for multiple picky eaters at once. When cooking for four tiny food critics, you are pretty much guaranteed to never make a meal that every person will enjoy or even say positive things about. This is why I am working on training up my children in the way they should go. And here that means don’t critique mom’s meal choice and hard work, lest you skip dinner and have to wait for breakfast. I’m trying to implement a rule that when they ask what’s for dinner and I describe a lovely, nutritious meal, they may respond in one of two ways: a.) “Yay! Thanks, mom!” OR b.) “Ok!”  If I did not ask for your opinion on the meal, then you can just keep those words in your head, mmkay?
  7. You will probably bathe your four children less often than you bathed your kids when you had one or two. Not necessarily saying that I do this, but I’ve heard some totally reasonable moms of four kids say that they will go multiple days between kid baths. If I did know a mom who said that, I’d be like, “Hey, you seem like a pretty cool lady with great taste in music and Netflix shows. I trust your discretion when it comes to your kids’ bath frequency.”  A hypothetical mom might space baths a few days apart when it’s necessary for her sanity; like when she needs bedtime to happen NOW, and not like in 45 minutes after lathering, rinsing and repeating on FOUR separate bodies. But that’s just what I’ve heard. For some people. Sometimes. Or maybe a lot of times. (You don’t know my life.)
  8. Even though strangers regularly comment on your reproductive schedule and gawk at you like you’re straight-up cray; and even though the day is bursting at the seams with chaos and unreasonable behavior and dishes and crumbs and dirty cars; and even though walking through a buffet line with a nine month old in an Ergo is like wearing an octopus; and even though the laundry situation is so dire that you have considered starting a nudist colony; and even though, wait…what was I saying? Oh, yeah. Ok, even though all of these things make life hard and complicated and sometimes your head almost explodes, each time you bring home yet another baby, you are blown away that you can love something as individually and tenderly as all the other babies, who you thought took up every last morsel of your love capacity. And at the end of the day, when all the precious angels are asleep, and you are enjoying a glass of Sauv Blanc and a bag of Orville Redenbacher, Netflix binging alongside your husband, you marvel at your lives together and the babies entrusted to you. You wouldn’t have planned it any other way. (Except maybe if the other way meant you could have a free maid and chef, then yes, definitely I would have planned it that way.)


Image Credit: Creative Commons, anyjazz65

179 thoughts on “What it’s like to have four kids

  1. Annonymous says:

    We are crazy. We are expecting our 1st and want 4. Btw, we are in medical school. Loved this article and can’t wait for the insanity…insanely awesome, that is! (The husband, the medical student, typed this in full aggreement with his wife who wanted to comment.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jess says:

      Hey! Wife of a family doc here! We had 3 in residency…… Now we’re out and determining the planning the 4th…..4,3, 18mos are the current ages 🙂 Whoop!!! It’s madness and fun and you may need counseling but with God all things are possible and these girls are worth it!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Melanie says:

    All this is so true! My kids are now 18,16,14,12. Yes, you read that right! It does get better and personally thought it was easier with 4 than 2 since the older ones can help out with the younger ones. Thanks so much for writing this and sharing your opinion. It is just one of those you just cannot understand unless you have gone through it yourself. I wouldn’t change any of it!!!


  3. Another Mom of 4 says:

    13, 12, 8, 6. I feel your pain. I have all boys and if one person says, “All boys, woo I bet you’re busy!” I’m going to scream and rip my hair out!!


    • Happy Days at Home says:

      I have 4 girls and get comments like that all the time… Along with the “are you going to try for a boy?” As if having all girls is punishment. My husband gets it most of the time with comments like, “oh, wow, you poor guy.” It’s infuriating.

      Liked by 1 person

      • April says:

        I was one of four girls and loved it. I now have three boys and the last one is a girl. It’s so strange how when I was pregnant people were so shocked that we wanted another…until they learned it was a girl. Then it was like the pregnancy was justified. Not because it was another beautiful life but because she was a girl. I even had a Wal-Mart employee high five me about it…that was weird.


  4. Lisa says:

    Absolutely spot on! Thanks for the memories… Mine are now 34, 26, 25, 22. You will survive and thrive. Trust me. Then you get the grands…God’s reward for not killing your teens!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kathy says:

    I have 7,yes,7!! They are 36, 30yrs. 10months 3days–he will always stay this age, 32, 29, 25, 22, 19. You will survive and have wonderful memories and laughs to enjoy. I know you don’t want to hear this now, but every day is a gift, b/c everyday you have them to hold in your arms. Tomorrow is not promised, as we found out. Love them deeply. And, no, we didn’t plan one of them.


  6. Pat says:

    Guess I’m a generation ahead of most of you. We had eight kids(2 boys and 6 girls). They gave us 26 “grands” who so far have blessed us with 12 “greats”. Three of the families live in my neighborhood so we have lots of gettogethers and cousins have grown up together. Life is good!!!!


  7. Amanda says:

    My kids are 13, 11, 10, & 5…and baby #5 is due in 8 weeks. It’s crazy making, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Ever.


  8. Three So Far says:

    #4 due in about a month, and I had already been getting the comments with only 3. Plus the, “this one wasn’t plannrd, right,” from some nosies. All the kids are very energetic, but are kind and living to others (amongst each other is a different story some of the time), drive me bonkers when running errands, and generally wear me out. But what great playmates and life-long friends (hopefully) they will have in each other. And they’ve been excitedly waiting for their new sibling and I know everything will just be the best! Though, i’ll still be exhausted 😉


  9. Petra says:

    Very cute and humorous! I never married and had no kids (which was not a choice I made, but a sad fact of life for me) and so I sometimes look wistfully at the families I see, and secretly cheer when I see moms and dads with more than 2 kids in tow. But your posting makes it clear it’s like a three ring circus every day.

    I grew up in the early ’60’s in a family of six kids, and blog posts like yours give me a great insight into my own mom and dad. I remember as a very little kid bedtime was a joint effort by Mom and Dad – two of us in the tub at once and the littlest getting a bath in the kitchen sink! The older boys took their baths after we were done. (No showers in those days!)

    As I read your very cute and humorous description of what it’s like to have four kids, I thought back fondly of my own mom, and have more insight from an adult perspective into what was actually probably going on in her moments of impatience (read: hollering). 🙂 But one thing I never, ever doubted was her unending and tremendous love for me and for each of us. And it wasn’t from the material things my parents had or gave us (which wasn’t a lot) I knew this. It was from them providing a home, a family, values, regularity, and having expectations of me to grow up with virtues, and they living those virtues themselves (like integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, prudence, courage, temperance (self-control)) that made me know they loved me, and made my childhood a happy one.

    So even if it’s chaos every day, if you are giving your kids that, you are succeeding. And remember, raising kids is not a sprint – it’s a marathon. God bless you. 🙂


  10. lisa says:

    The shoes yes!!!! Why is it so hard????? We can be all ready to go and posed to be early at something and then end up being 20 minutes late because of the time it takes us to get shoes!!!!!


  11. Melanie says:

    Hilarious! Yes I have four kids ages 20,19,14 and 12. No child left behind meant that everything including backpacks, lunches, shoes, sports and PE clothes. Permission slips, homework and everything else would be at some point forgotten. My husband and I teach full time too and while it hasn’t gotten any easier, it is different. We are truly blessed and I am thankful I slowly getting my mind back ( I had 27 browsers open just now lol).


  12. StacyLSC says:

    Ours are 13, 11, 8, and 6….with #5 coming In Novemer…it is WILD and awesome…we homeschooled for 7 years when they were little as we did ministry and it worked best with that schedule…it’s all about what you get used to (and giving up bathing EVERYONE EVERY night)!


  13. Annette says:

    When you are pregnant at 43 with number 7, it brings a whole ‘nother list of questions. It’s kind of sad as the bigger ones stop going places with you, you stopped getting the comments and you miss them….my kids are 22, 20, 17,16,13,12,and 5:). We are only going to have the 5 yr old at home this week. I don’t think I am going to cook. At all.


  14. Anonymous says:

    Mine are 14, 13, 9 & 6 (I think:)
    And we didn’t plan the last two, but my husband & I couldn’t be happier to have a house full of fun & different personalities! They’re truly a gift from God!!!


  15. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time, this blog is hilarious! We had a blended family of 6 children and now we have no idea how any of us survived the insanity of it all. Now that we are empty nesters I can shower as long as I want without interruption, so hold onto that thought.


  16. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for this. Ours are 18mths, 3, 5 & 8, we would not have our life any other way. I’ve just learned to smile & nod at people’s comments in public. I thought it was just me that 52 different things going on at one time-thank you for putting this into perspective & helping me laugh that I’m not alone.


  17. Tamye says:

    I have 10 siblings. We were born in 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1981. I grew up in station wagons, suburbans, custom vans with five bench seats. When we went camping we took our motor home AND pop up trailer to fit everyone. I shared a bedroom until I was 17 years old with at least one sister. My dad was an accountant and my mother was a stay at home mom and she is amazing. I love my large family although now that we’re all adults with families we’ve only had the entire family together twice at the same time and location in the last 10 years at my parent’s 40th and 50th wedding anniversaries. I have empathy for moms raising multiple kids and feel sorry for kids who have no siblings. I always had a best friend growing up, big brothers who watched out for me, younger siblings to watch and play with and my life has been enriched by being a member of our family. I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.


  18. Christie says:

    I just had my fourth one week ago today, and these things are true already! When I was pregnant I was out one time and this guy commented that I almost had enough for a basketball team. I thought, “well, that’s a new one!” People are funny.


  19. Anonymous says:

    Hilarious! Comforting to know I’m not alone. Mine are 5, 3, 2 and #4 coming in November. I’m learning to joy every moment and all they teach me and my husband.


  20. Elise says:

    The second best part about this blog is all the amazing comments. No snark or judgment or nastiness. Just support and love. I just had my first in December at 33 years old. He’s now 6.5 months old and an absolute riot! I’ve been wearing my husband down since before I was pregnant. He used to tow a hard line at 2, and now he doesn’t even flinch when I talk about “the fourth one”. Your blog post made me laugh out loud and the comments made me cry. I didn’t know I could love anything or anyone as much as I love my son. I want a whole tribe.


  21. Rachel H says:

    4 in 4.5 years. Yup. this is my life. I LOVE, like totally LURVE, when people ask how I get everything done. HA. whatevs. NOTHING is ever done. My kids are alive, you seriously want more than that?!?


  22. Roxana Rivera says:

    I’m the youngest of 4!!! I am so happy my mom had four girls 🙂 idk how she did it as a single mom with no financial help or anything. She’s my rock. Now my sisters are 32, 31, 29, and I’m 25. They are literally my bestest friends in the world. I have a total of 9 nieces and nephews I love it. Big families are the best! Keep up the good work you beautiful mothers!


  23. Monica says:

    This was brilliant, funny, relatable, and inspiring. You are a hero in my book, just for putting up with strangers’ comments alone! I have three kids in Northern CA, and for some reason people are ape-sh*** amazed. I’m like, “Guys! Come on, do we live in communist China or something? I’m not breaking any rules here.” That being said, the past year has been the craziest, most stressful year of my life since we added #3. Hat’s off for adding a fourth!!


  24. Anonymous says:

    I have 5 kids 16, 15,12,10,9 plus my husband is a big kid too lol I sometimes tell people yes these are all my kids and they all have different father’s just to see the look on their faces it is hilarious. When the kids were young they were a lot easier to handle now that they are teens and I have 3 girls pmsing at the same time I want to run away! They get more demanding and lazy with age…. But I always know when they are sucking up to do something cuz that’s the only time they all get along.


  25. Judy Gruen says:

    Loved this so much! My four are 22, 24, 26 and 27. And while I “couldn’t wait” till they grew up so I’d have more time to write, I have have 2 adorable granddaughters who live nearby and whenever I am asked if I can babysit I say YES. Children are such a gift. Grandchildren are that gift squared.


  26. Katherine Darrow says:

    Great Article…. I wish mine where as close in age oldest is 10 and I have triplet girls at a whooping age of 2 and our house is just the same. Any and everything is game for these chicks by the way all girls. I’ve heard some very impeding questions concerning the triplet. I now down to a mom of 6 or even 7 I’m already struggling with just my 4. Lol!!!


  27. Natalie M. says:

    I FEEL YOU! I have five: 7, 4, 2, 2, & 1. Writhing you’ve written is spot on. We’re a freak show parade every time I go to Walmart (or anywhere else, though Walmart is usually the only place where I can handle all of them in public by myself, because of those glorious plastic child seats attached to some of their shopping carts). I’ve skipped baths for the sake of sanity (you know, hypothetically). I cannot get my children to understand the putting on of shoes or the getting into the car, even though English is our first and only language. I subsist mostly on lukewarm coffee and the kids’ leftovers (and my secret chocolate stash). Even as I write this, my right arm is tingling as circulation returns because the baby fell asleep on it and you do. not. wake. the baby. Unless the house is on fire. Speaking of which, CANSOMEBODYPLEASESTOPTHETWINSFROMTRYINGTOTURNTHEKNOBSONTHESTOVERIGHTNOWTHANKYOU!!! I’m also convinced my laundry spawns in the hamper while it waits as I rewash the load already IN the washer that I forgot about which had started to sour. And, um, I shower twice a week if I’m lucky. Solidarity, momma. I’m in the trenches right next to you.


  28. Catherine says:

    The oldest was 9 when we brought home the 6th. I look back at pictures and think how in the world did we make it past morning !


  29. jessica says:

    I am about 4 weeks pregnant with my 4th…equal parts terrified and excited! So far the kidlets are 6, 4 and 1. My husband just became a stay at home dad, which takes daily stress down a little. I go back to my job in the military next week, after a year of maternity…not sure they will be too pleased with me. Anyways thanks for the laugh!


  30. Jen says:

    Absolutely true! Mine are 7, 8,10, 12. My three younger are each about 18 months apart and I still cannot believe how many people ask if I have twins or triplets. The best was once when the baby choked on a metal object and I had to call and emergency squad and the tech asked if I was running a daycare. I had only my 4 kids. Great article!


  31. Tammy H. says:

    16,15,13,11, 12 weekeish in utero This artcal is great! When my four were little I made a mom friend who had four the exact same ages and genders as mine. She was a lifesaver. Bath time was 4-6 kids in a kiddy pool with soap after many hot play dates. Unill a baby pooped in the pool. Everyone out, now!


  32. C says:

    Wonderful message! So great to hear there are so many ‘not perfect’ or ‘not striving for perfection’ moms out there 🙂
    We are expecting our 8th and wouldn’t change a thing either. So blessed!


  33. KEWH says:

    I have 4 kids. 2 girls and 2 boys . 11,9, 3 and 10 months . I wouldn’t change my life for anything I love the chaos and madness that happens . I always tell my husband I am going to miss this when they are all gone.
    My sister in law and brother and mother in law always ask us when we are going to fixed so we don’t have another. It drives me up a wall. It is none of there business. My husband said that he is going to tell them that he got fixed even tho we haven’t .


  34. Angela Garrison says:

    I have 5 – yes, the literal handful. Mine are now 20,18,12,10,10. Got the set of twins to bring up the rear. Let’s hear it for old eggs!!!!
    My favorite comments were (and I kid you not) “Are they all from the same father?” YES! and “Are you Mormon/Catholic?” No, Lutheran – kinda Catholic lite and not even close to Mormon.
    I got all the same comments you did and even though those comments have lessened over the years as they have aged and we are not all together all the time, people are still amazed that I have and purposefully planned to have at least 4 kids (the twin thing gave us the bonus and got us to 5).
    Things are easier in some ways now that they are older and harder in other ways. It’s all been hard, just different kinds of hard at different times. Kids are never easy, no matter what the age.
    When my kids are fighting and upset that there are SO many of them, I ask them to pick one of them and I’ll send them back. They never can and I never could either. They all fit and they are all meant to be mine. ❤️


  35. mollydefrank says:

    “The literal handful.” I love that so much! We are in the process of adding a fifth via foster care. Definitely going to keep that “literal handful” comment in my back pocket. Beautiful words. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂


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