Being a parent is no easy task. Things can get especially challenging when you’ve got a full house, and then some—because while more children means more love, it also means more messes, more squabbles, and less time to address it all.
But even those with smaller families can benefit from the wisdom of parents who can keep things running with a crowd. Here are some parenting and household tips from moms of big families that you can start using today.
On staying organized:
- Take inventory of which toys your kids actually play with, and toss or donate those that no one uses, or any that are broken or have missing parts. Plan an annual or bi-annual cleanout to keep things pruned.
- Use low-hanging hooks in or near the coat closet or front entrance for smaller children to reach, and institute a rule that all coats and book bags must be hung there the moment anyone walks inside.
- Organize toys into boxes (Legos, blocks, dress-up dolls, cars, etc.) and limit the number of boxes that can be in the family room at any given time. If kids can’t agree on which boxes to play with, have them take turns picking one.
- Give your kids more room to store their stuff by getting baskets or boxes that can slide under beds—and install high shelves to display and protect collectibles.
On keeping things clean:
- Store cleaning supplies (except for toxic chemicals) on low shelves or in bottom cabinets to help your little ones become self-sufficient at pitching in.
- Keep a “chore chart” prominently displayed, like on the fridge, and assign at least one small, daily task for each child that must be completed before dinner.
- Install cubbies or shelves in your laundry room—enough to assign one to each child—and have them each responsible for putting away his or her own clothes once they make it to the shelves.
- Spend 10 to 15 minutes in family cleaning mode each night before bed, and have everyone pitch in to clear away clutter. This keeps messes from getting out of hand.
On sibling rivalry:
- Tame tattling by not responding when a child “tells” on a sibling. Unless the situation requires your intervention, ask them to find out if there’s a way for them to work out the problem for themselves.
- Cultivate sibling harmony by holding a regular family night during the week, where everyone hangs out together—play board games, watch a movie, or have a house-wide game of hide and seek.
- Schedule one-on-one time with each child during the week, so no one feels left out or deprived of attention.
- Hold “family summits” to air grievances, discuss solutions, and make plans for big events like vacations.
Families may come in different shapes and sizes, but they are the same essential unit with the same basic challenges. Try some of these big family strategies to bring order and balance to your household.