‘My home isn’t quiet or as clean as I’d like. There’s always an appointment or task on the to-do list. My husband and I are clearly out numbered.’: Stay-at-home mom chronicles life with 4 kids

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“Four kids is a lot of kids. There’s no other way to put it. Yes, the number might be small, but when we are talking about the number of humans to take care of…it’s a lot.

My home isn’t quiet or as clean as I’d like.
There are unfinished art projects and coloring pages that will go forgotten.
Messes in places that make no sense.
There’s always an appointment or task on the to-do list.
Baby socks scattered around like hidden eggs on Easter.
My husband and I are clearly out numbered.

But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. People stare when they find out we have four kids. They ask why. I don’t have an answer; this is just our life and the way we choose to live it. If you ask me, it’s exactly how we were supposed to do it.

Now, before I start, I feel I should point out between each of my children their is either under or just over two years age difference. Ages 6, 5, 2, and 10 months, so my experience with 4 children is going to be vastly different than someone’s else’s.

Everyone’s motherhood or parenting journey is going to be different no matter what, and in no way am I saying mine is more challenging either because they are small, it is simply to help show my situation.

My husband I talked about have baby number four, and then we talked about it some more. We talked to family and friends, and in the end decided we would wait till our youngest was about 2. However, the universe had different plans. We were about to find out in just a few days after deciding we would wait that we were indeed pregnant.

While I was pregnant, nothing really changed. We had to rearrange the house and upgrade our Honda Civic to a Mini Van. I would highly recommend one, even if you only have three kids; the amount of room is fantastic. But it wouldn’t be until she arrived that things would really change.

She came as perfect as perfect could be. We got home after a nights stay and waited for my parents to bring home the other 3 kids. I was so worried and excited for them to meet her. My older two already knew the drill when it came to babies, but our youngest…not so much. She wasn’t even going to be 2 until the following month.

Mom holds her newborn daughter while she sleeps in her arms in the hospital
Courtesy of Ashley Cirka

As you may have guessed, they absolutely love their baby sister. They all got a turn to hold her and give her sweet little head kisses. Talk to her and just enjoy the moments as they happened. To say my heart has never been so full is an understatement.

Big sister holds her newborn baby sister while sitting on the couch
Courtesy of Ashley Cirka
Big brother holds his newborn baby sister on the couch while she sleeps
Courtesy of Ashley Cirka
Little girl hugs her newborn little sister while sitting on the couch
Courtesy of Ashley Cirka

It wasn’t until about a week after we brought her home that my husband had to go back to work. Then things start to feel completely overwhelming. I was now alone most of the day and most of the night 4 days a week, juggling all four kids, and all the household needs. And on top of this, my father-in-law got very sick, so when my husband wasn’t working, he was needed at his parent’s house. (Now before you get the wrong idea: I have no ill feelings, no negative comments nor do I hold any anger towards my husband for hardly being home. The first month or some of her life, his father was sick, and I would have done the same if it was me.)

This was the time I realized she came into the world when she did so her GiGi would be able to have met all of his grandchildren. However, the situation left me to figure things out and how to manage it all on my own. This is when our household and daily routine became non-negotiable.

Family of five take a photo with their kids' grandfather in a driveway
Courtesy of Ashley Cirka

Now I would love to sit here and tell you, ‘It was so easy,’ but it would be a lie. In the beginning, I struggled with mom guilt. And honestly, sometimes I still do. My husband still works that same shift so it’s just me and the kids a lot. I often find myself juggling life and stretching myself thin. I mean, there’s only one of me and four of them.

Groceries are now something that has to be done with two carts, or at least one with a double seat. Going anywhere has to be planned to a tee so we can just simply get there on time. Not to say we have to plan every single thing out – we can wake up in the morning and decide we are all going to go on a family walk – but when it comes to really going out or to someone’s house, it’s a full game plan and a long process. You’d think Adding one person wouldn’t make this much a difference, but it really does.

We’ve come to find just keeping the diaper bag constantly stocked for all four kids is what works best. This way we just grab and go. We gave up the normal diaper bag and went for a backpack one. Game changer! It’s so much easier to carry and it holds so much more.

Stay at a home mom takes a funny, chaotic selfie with her four children
Courtesy of Ashley Cirka

Now, as you could imagine, things started to also take a lot longer. Things like bath time for example, with all 4 kids being small I still need to at least be there. My oldest (6) showers on her own and only needs me to come to wash her hair for her. She’s very big on wanting privacy, so I will respect her and that she no longer needs reminders. Because, and I quote, ‘I’m almost 7 mom, I know what to do!’ I’m always just in the next room, but I must respect her wanting to do it on her own.

It is basically the same thing with my 5-year-old. However, he’s 5, so when he showers I’m in my bedroom getting the youngest two dried off and dressed for bed while giving him reminders on what’s next. And of course, I’ll wash his hair for him, too.

The younger two, well, they’re obviously too small for them to be left alone. So that is always where our nightly bath/shower routine starts. What went from 15 minutes with one child and about half an hour with 3, is now roughly an hour-long nightly escapade. It blows my mind how simply adding one more person could make it so much longer.

This also counts for bedtime; each child has their own bedtime, but they all have roughly the same routine. I’m only human. I’ll never forget the day my brother called about 6:30 p.m. and when I said I’d call him back around 8, I have to start bedtime routines, he was shocked. I get it sounds surprising, but the bath, PJs, snack, story, and tucking everyone in takes up a lot of time, especially when there’s four of them and one of me. ( I can’t lie, by the time I’m done getting the last child to bed, I am also ready to go to bed.)

One of the biggest changes, however, did not come to how our routine flows or in the amount of food we buy when doing groceries. No, it came in redefining how we spend one-on-one time with the older kids. It’s not a simple, ‘Oh, come with me, we will sit and read a book, let’s play a game.’ Yes, I do those things with my children, but to get that one-on-one time is important. So now we plan a special day or activity that’s just myself or my husband and one of the older kids so they can still get their special time.

Father takes his son to a hockey game
Courtesy of Ashley Cirka

Life with four is what we needed. Baby number 4 is still so small and will only just be a year old in April, but it feels like she has been here forever. Yes, we’ve had to learn new systems of getting things done. Yes, I feel out numbered, even when my husband is home. At the end of the day, though, 4 kids feel just perfect. It’s like our family was just meant to function this way. We just didn’t know it until she came.

Having a 4th baby changed our family, but it was for the better. There’s one more person who smiles every day, one more hand to hold, one more giggle to be heard throughout the house, one more beautiful soul. Four may seem like a lot, but really she is just a lot more to love.”

Family of six take a photo while enjoying some sun on a farm
Courtesy of Ashley Cirka

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ashley Cirka of Canada and originally appeared here. You can follow her journey on InstagramFacebook, her blogTwitter, and PinterestDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Ashley:

10 Things I Wish I Knew During My First Pregnancy

‘My kids are annoying. I love them, but oh man do they get on my nerves.’: Stay-at-home mom hilariously shares parenting confessions

I Don’t Want A Perfect Marriage – I Want The One I’ve Got

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