Managing Multiple Children---The 3R1D Method
If I had a nickel for every time I heard the following statements, I would be a millionaire!
- · WOW!! Five kids....they must keep you busy.
- · WoW!! Five kids....god bless ya.
- · WoW!! Five kids....I don't know how you do it. I can barely handle ___(insert # of children)
- · WoW!! Five kids....have you figured out what causes that yet?
- · WoW!! FIve kids....you must be crazy.
- · WoW!! Five kids....are you gonna have any more?
- · WoW!! Five kids....how do you keep your sanity?
- · WoW!! Five kids....you must have a lot of patience
I am continuously outnumbered by my children--there are 5 of them and only 1 of me (okay, 2 of "me" if you take into account their father!) I have 4 girls, ages 10, 8, 4, and 15 months. I also have one boy age 5. Needless to say, I have my hands FULL!!
Despite all the dirty looks and nasty comments I receive, I love my children! They are my world and we all get along pretty well. My house isn't in chaos and I do get quite a bit of peace and quiet. I bet you're wondering how this is possible ; )
THE METHOD OF 3R1D: RULES; ROUTINES; REWARDS; DISCIPLINE
RULES: I know this seems like a no-brainer. Of course a parent would have rules. What kind of idiot would I be not to have rules!!??!! BUT, for rules to be effective they must be consistent and the children must know & understand them. Rules just don't help me keep my sanity, but they are in place to ensure the safety of my kids as well.
I have rules in place for almost every situation that I could possibly encounter whether it be just playing outside, eating dinner, or going to the grocery store. My kids know the rules and they can recite them to me when asked....including my 4-year-old. I have the basic household rules posted on the refrigerator so that they will always have them handy should they forget them.
I also remind them of the rules anytime they ask to do something. For example, my kids just asked me "Mom, can we go outside and play?" My response: "I don't care but what are the rules?" Almost in unison, they recited them to me. I then reminded them what would happen if they didn't follow the rules. (See the 1D below) So, they are now happily playing outside following the rules and I know I don't have to worry about them : )
ROUTINES: Ahhh...how I love my routines. They make things run sooo smoothly. As with rules, consistency is key. My kids have a morning routine, a routine while in school, an after-school routine, and a bedtime routine. They know what the routines are and that they need to be completed before any rewards are given. With my kids, knowing what is going to happen or what needs to happen, saves a lot of confusion and tension. Additionally, if for any reason their routines are going to change, I make sure I explain it to them and give them a new "agenda" of what is going on.
REWARDS: There are certain things that my kids like to do or have every day such as computer time, watching TV before bedtime, a "junk food" snack, having friends over, and/or extra time playing outside. Every time my kids follow the rules and complete their routines, they earn one of their rewards.
DISCIPLINE: Every child needs discipline. They may hate it, and you, at times, but in the long run, they will thank you. Now, I don't practice spanking my kids. I also don't practice "time-outs" because I don't think it works---I've had no success with it at all. What do I do instead?? I start taking away their rewards when they are misbehaving. They hate this more than anything else I have tried. They especially hate it when they lose a reward and all their siblings get to do something.
Now, like everything else I've discussed so far, consistency is key! If you are not consistent with your methods of discipline, kids will not respond well to it. I have also found that if you take the time to explain what they did wrong, why it is wrong, and what their punishment is, they tend to accept it better and learn from it.
I will admit, sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of who is or isn't doing what. So, I have made rule charts (see below) for each one of my kids. Every time they do something on the list, they get a smiley face sticker next to the item. Once they do 4 things on the list, they receive one reward. The next 4 things, they get a second reward and the final 4 things, they get a third reward. If they don't complete the items on the list, they don't earn their reward. If they do something really bad, they lose a reward that they have already earned.
These are my tried and true methods of managing 5 kids. Some people call me too strict but my methods work and I have a happy, calm, family at thome.
Sample Rule Chart
Rules / Chores
Brush your teeth
Eat all of your meals
Clean your bedroom
Do your homework
Take a shower or a bath
Take care of your dirty laundry
Use your manners