Christine at Welcome to My Brain is considering the possibility of adopting several children at once and asked for hints on dealing with an expanding family. She laughed at herself because her biggest concerns at the moment seem to involve drippy things: bath towels and snow gear and such. I thought I’d answer her specific questions and also share a bit about the things that are hardest for me.
In the bathrooms we have hooks for towels, and towels are tossed in the laundry once a week or so. The little kids don’t care if they share towels, and the big kids keep their own towels in their own bedrooms.
For wet boots and muddy shoes my husband made a tall skinny shelf in the garage that sits right next to the door coming into the house. He sized the various shelves to fit different sizes of shoes: short shelves for muddy soccer cleats, mid-sized shelves for little-kid snow boots, and tall shelves for adult-sized barn boots.
We have hooks in the garage for dusty barn jackets– if we didn’t have a wood stove that sped the drying of snow gear, I’d put drippy coats out there too. But since we do have a fireplace, after a romp in the snow I spread wet coats and snowpants on barstools all around the fireplace and lay the hats and gloves on the hearth. It makes for a bit of clutter, but everything is usually dry in an hour or two, and it works OK.
I personally think the hardest thing about having a large family is finding individual time with each child. The youngest kids tend to get the lion’s share of my time during the day, but it is important to remember older kids need time to chat with mom, even when they seem pretty self-sufficient. We stagger bedtimes and let the big kids stay up a little later. which gives us a little chance to chat. I also rarely run errands alone– almost always I take one or two kids along. I’ve found that it is much easier to have a nice chat when there are only a couple kids along with me, and it feels more special to the child as well.
It is really important when you have a houseful to train everyone to help out in some way (more on that here). Although I keep very busy with cooking and homeschooling and advising and helping kids get along, I rarely do dishes. The kids also vacuum and clean bathrooms and do laundry. All the help saves my sanity AND it trains my kids for real life as well.