When I tell people that I’m the mum of five kids, they stop, hesitate, and then proceed to look at me like I’ve lost my mind. There is definitely a stigma attached to having a large family, and by large I mean raising a small army of offspring. By society’s unspoken definition, the maximum acceptable number of kids to have is three. Anything beyond that is met with confused, sympathetic glances. I even had someone say to me recently, “I’m so sorry,” like having that many kids is the equivalent of coming down with a case of herpes.
What many people don’t realize is that once you hit that magical number of three,anything beyond that just blends right in. Like Metamucil in a milkshake. You hardly notice. I actually had more meltdowns when I had just two crazy ass boys than today with five. Five is like a full-on circus. It’s hectic, but we have a lot of fun! We juggle knives, swing from curtains, and even feed wild animals in the front yard. Yeah. Not really, but it’s not as bad as you might think.
Raising a small army? Here are the 10 rules of survival:
1. Have their names tattooed onto their foreheads. When you have this many kids running around, it’s hard to keep them straight. “Sally, Suzy, Sandy, Sharon, Shelly…? Which f’ing kid are you?” It can drive you batshit crazy calling them by 13 names until you finally get it right. Tattoos work. You can also use a Sharpie.
2. Buy Ramen noodle stock, lots and lots of it. Feeding the equivalent of a swimming team is expensive! You can’t beat $0.10 a pop!
3. Don’t let minor arguments or fist fights get to you. You can’t spend all your time playing referee. Unless there’s blood spewing, let it go! A little physical activity never hurt anyone.
4. Laundry will become your worst enemy. If it doesn’t smell like a barnyard or have fecal matter stuck to it, make them wear it again. AXE, perfume, Glade spray…all mask yesterday’s crab roll or spilled milk.
5. Your finger is now your best friend. When four or five (or more) of them are speaking to you at once in a crazed and furious manner, whip that finger up like you mean business. If they peep, poke it up higher. This not only confuses them, it’s also a source of instant entertainment—quieting them immediately.
6. Forget having a sports car ever again. Or until you’ve turned gray and your boobs are really sagging. You’re going to have to invest in a mini-van. Or one of those short buses. Personally, I’d opt for the short bus. They duo as a RV in case you need a quick getaway.
7. Showers are tricky in a family with many kids. First, there’s cleaning your own hoo haw. You literally have seconds to get from water to clothing before the door is torn off the hinges, all while zombie-like hands reach through the cracks in the bottom desperately trying to get to you. And then there are the kids. They need to bathe, too. Your best bet is the garden hose. Just have them line up, pass the soap, and spray away.
8. If you have a bunch of kids still in diapers, the assembly line method works best. Just lay them down next to each other—diapers off, wipes on, new diapers secured. Be gone!
9. Never underestimate the power of duct tape. It secures the diapers onto self-changing nudists, fixes broken toys, and even acts as an intimidator. Hang a roll within view. Kid swears, point to it. Kid bites, give the roll a little shake. Breaks even the worst offenders. (Just don’t ever apply it to their mouths or bodies. Durrr.)
10. Sometimes you just need to say f$%k this shit. Sometimes things become so chaotic and clusterchucked, you’ll want to give up. That’s okay! Step away. Get out the house. Go for a drive. Drink a tall glass of wine! Whatever you have to do to get yourself back into the game. And quickly on defence.