What It’s Like to Have a Baby After I’ve Proclaimed "I’m Done Having Babies!”
Written by Sarah Newman
Major spoiler: it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. Sure, there are still sleepless nights and early mornings. But, honestly, it’s not as difficult as it was the first time I had a baby. For starters, I have more help!
We have four kids, 12, 9, 6 and 16 months. (Yes, there is a 5-year gap between the third and fourth child!) When my three oldest kids were younger, I didn’t think so much about them chipping in around the house for so many reasons. They couldn’t do what I needed them to do as fast as I wanted them to, AND I felt as though this precious role as their mother meant I had to do everything for them. As they’ve grown older, I know they could’ve been more helpful, and I’m wishing I had done things differently when they were younger.
We now have a fourth child, who is five years younger than my 6-year-old. I am beginning to see things differently now that my baby Graham is growing in to a toddler. At 16 months, I now realize that he understands EVERYTHING I say, something in my younger years as a mom I was too impatient to take the time to realize. And because of this, my perspective has changed so much! I used to tell myself that my children at two years old couldn’t help me pick up the toys that they had strung all over the floor, but now I am seeing that my now 16-month-old completely understands when I ask him to bring me something or pick something up. Just last night Graham dumped water on the hardwood floor and I gave him a towel and said, “Go mop up the water that you spilled.” He looked at it and took the towel over to the spill and set it down on top of the water. It wasn’t perfect, and I had to stop what I was doing to help him get it completely cleaned up, but it was just another situation that reminded me that I need to be more intentional as Graham grows older to get him to help around the house and take responsibility for his actions.
So there’s that, but there is also this: as a family of six, there’s a lot of pressure on everyone in the house to help out with chores and responsibilities. We live in a small house, and the minute something is out of place or not picked up, it feels like complete disorganization to me. My husband shares the same sentiments. When we had Graham, it was a real turning point for our family. Bringing Graham home at the ages the older kids were (10, 8, and 5) allowed them to see and understand all that goes in to making a family run smoothly. Right before the new baby came, we had prepped them by telling them we would need more of their help, but I’m not sure they knew what all that entailed. Once Graham came home, we began to ask them to do more chores like taking dirty diapers to the trash, cleaning up their dishes, making their school lunches, vacuuming the floors, and unloading groceries, just to name a few. These were things we weren’t giving them as responsibilities before, even though they were capable. Once we started giving them more tasks, and asked for more of their involvement, the pressure started to come off of me because I realized I had more helping hands around the house, and it wasn’t up to me to clean up after all four kids all the time. They can pitch in, too!
What ages are your kids? Do you hold back on asking them to do things around the house because you do not think they are ready? Do you have small ones, like toddlers that you can engage to get them to help with things like unloading the dishwasher? Do you have teenagers that can take on more responsibility around the house, but you just don’t want to hear their grumblings? How can you engage all of your kids to be more helpful around the house and to get them to take more ownership in the space that they share?
We would love to hear all of this in the comments below!