Trying to picture the daily life of a family of four children seemed like such an unimaginable number, pre children to me! However, look at me now! I was lucky enough to be surrounded by large families when I was growing up and seeing them all interacting, the camaraderie, it was something to aspire to. Though no two families’ experiences will ever be the same, I’m going to share with you my honest reflections of having 4 kids.
To start, let’s get this part out of the way. Yes, having 4 little ones running around is noisy, messy, and on average pretty chaotic. There are frequently competing demands on the parents. The baby needs milk, whilst the eldest child needs help with their reading, all whilst the middle two are arguing with each other. The mumma guilt can creep up on you when you feel you don’t have time to give everyone enough attention; in particular, finding moments for 1 on 1 time can be challenging, especially in the early stages of having a newborn. You physically don’t have enough arms or hands for holding each of them with. I’ve had nightmares about what if there was a fire in the house, how would I help them all out?
You have to give a good amount of time for getting out the door and everyone buckled up into the car, scheduling that into your routine or risk being late everywhere. Thankfully having three children prepared me for putting helpful procedures into place for certain activities – like a station where shoes are to be kept for each child and where to put them on by themselves.
A house with 4 kids is not often quiet and this can be certainly off putting for some people, my own family too. I regularly have to find some small moments to recharge so I don’t end up being a frazzled mess. Our date nights and getaways have gotten less frequent and often involve complicated logistics of splitting the children up to different babysitters.
The amount of stuff can become unmanageable too if you aren’t very careful. You can make yourself crazy trying to pick up after everyone throughout the day. It’s one of the reasons I’ve adopted minimalist principles, toy rotation and follow a decluttering and deep clean system regularly (to stay sane and meet my own needs of OCD). Still, my house isn’t spotless, because this would be totally unrealistic for our family. I frequently have to remind myself to have reasonable standards. The laundry is basically never-ending, and I’m always wiping up something. There are finger smudges on my windows, mirrors and TV screens constantly.
With all of this said, you get used to the chaos pretty quick. I found the transition from 3 to 4 a lot easier than expected. Personally for me, 0-1 is the hardest (your a newbie). 1-2 was amazing, baby Hamish just went with the flow. 2-3 was horrendous, but I blame COVID lockdowns for that. But 3-4 is a breeze, you already know your outnumbered so what’s one more! If you’re going from 3 to 4 children, you’ll already be used to not having enough time or hands, and you’ll likely have some good strategies in place. It’s only an incremental increase in loudness, stuff, and needs. I think once you get into the big family mindset, a baseline amount of chaos is your norm and doesn’t bother you. You just have to up your mental headcount of children when you go out, and you’re set!
Now on the brighter side: I think having four children is totally amazing and highly recommend it, especially if your contemplating it! Adding our fourth child, Jonas into the mix, only multiplied the love in our house and everything I enjoy about family life. For me, I think the greatest benefit is seeing our family interactions. I particularly enjoy the sibling interactions. Having siblings has many benefits for children, for example teaching interpersonal skills and empathy. Siblings can have about as much influence on a child’s development as parents. Another thing I think is great about having 4 children is it teaches them to be more self-sufficient.
I think money is one of the biggest determining factors when it comes to family size. Sure it isn’t cheap, but a lot of it depends on your lifestyle as well. There are some things we have to make sacrifices or live without. For example holidays and dining out. Each child has one extracurricular activity each, for scheduling reasons, as well as budget (I don’t want to be driving around every night, all night)!
One negative I should mention is that being a big family can come along with some judgment, we have had some interesting comments in the past. Even more so, the fact that they are all boys, gets a lot of people talking and can come as quite a shock. If I had a pound for every time someone asked me if I was going to try for a girl! Overall, what I tell people is, it’s busy and exhausting at times, but also wonderfully rewarding. There’s nothing that quite feels better than being in a group hug with all my little ones or seeing the smiles on their faces when they experience something new.
Yes, boys are energetic and wilful, physical and loud. They rumble and tumble and like to play rough. But they can also read, draw, and have occasionally been known to sit still in a cafe! At times I feel overwhelmed and outnumbered, I have four little guys who can drive me so crazy, but also fill my heart with so much joy. Four little guys who challenge me and test me and amaze me and hug me tight. Four little guys who love me unconditionally, who kiss me good morning and won’t go to sleep until I’ve kissed them goodnight. Four little guys I would not swap for anything. It’s certainly one of my wildest adventures to date!
Much love Rebecca