This week we’re going to answer your questions. This is my favorite post of the month because it feels like 5 or 6 posts in one, and I didn’t have to think up a topic for a single one.
Or you can start here. That’s fine too. In fact, I’m flattered, unless you’re the sort that saves the best for last. In that case, starting here means you don’t really like my blog and just want eat your vegetables first so you can move on to dessert.
I am having baby #7 (at 42 ) yet am starting over as there is a 6 year gap between 6 and 7 and so we got rid of most of our baby items. Space is limited and the budget is low. What are your top 5-10 products that you just can’t live without? Do you use a full size crib? Any advice would be appreciated.
Congrats on baby #7! Isn’t it amazing how each can be just as exciting as the first?
I gave up the full size crib a long time ago. Now I love to use a travel bed while the baby is small enough, then move up to a Pack-n-Play when it becomes necessary. Those 2 items are at the top of my list. I think a changing table is utterly unnecessary, as is an extensive wardrobe.
Here’s my full list, off the top of my head. If anyone thinks I missed something crucial, feel free to speak up.
Must Have Baby Equipment
- Infant car seat – I love the standard bucket style with a separate base, so it snaps in and out.
- Travel bed – Much smaller and more portable than a playpen or crib, and good for several months until your baby can pull up, sit up, or becomes otherwise mobile.
- Portable playpen – I’ve always used a pack-n-play but there are other brands available. This takes the place of a full size crib beautifully if you don’t mind bending over. If you use a travel bed, you won’t need this until later.
- Drawstring gowns – Not as cute as fun jammies but infinitely more practical. These make diaper changes so much faster and easier in those early days, especially when you’re working around an umbilical stump. I wish I had discovered these several children earlier. I find that just 5 or 6 is usually plenty.
- Blankets and burp rags – Babies may not need a lot of clothes, but I do find we go through a lot of these. Plain cotton diapers make nice burp rags, but it’s even nicer if a friends wants to give you some cuter ones.
- Diapers and wipes – Cloth or disposable, but one way or another you’re going to need them. Don’t waste time or money on a fancy wipe warmer; just warm it in the palm of your hand for a second if you’re concerned. You’ll probably find your baby doesn’t acknowledge the difference either way.
- Ergo baby carrier – Yes, there are a million choices out there and most are cheaper than the Ergo, but I wish I had discovered this one back when my first was born. No learning curve, and no aching back or shoulders no matter how big your baby or toddler is. I’ll never love another baby carrier again. I own another less expensive carrier with a very similar design and much cuter fabric, but the quality just isn’t the same. You get what you pay for; buy an Ergo.
How do you manage to use the bathroom?!?
I’m having a hard time just sneaking away for the one single minute it would take me to use the restroom and then I get frustrated and irritated because for pity’s sake I just need to use the bathroom and I keep getting called away to take care of needs even more urgent than my own.
When all my children were young, I resigned myself to using the bathroom with the door open so that I could address problems while taking care of personal business. Just think of it as one more way that God uses children to sanctify us and keep us humble. This too shall pass. Once they get old enough that modesty becomes an issue, they’re old enough to live without you for 60 seconds, right?
I’d love to see you elaborate on the nitty-gritty of how having all of your kids in one room actually works. For instance, do you have any little ones who wake up much earlier than the others? And how to do get them (especially young toddlers) to stay quiet so as not to wake their siblings in the morning? Are they allowed to leave the room as soon as they get up, or is there a certain time they need to wait for? What age does the baby move into the big kids’ room? etc….
We don’t worry about some children waking others. While we do require some basic courtesy (keep the lights off and the noise level low when others are sleeping) I tend to believe that if a child needs the sleep, she’ll sleep through whatever is going on.
Of course this takes a little patience; at first they were more sensitive to noise and activity, but we have found it surprisingly easy to adapt to new surroundings and situations.
To answer some of your specific questions, some of our younger ones are often the first out of bed, and if the house is quiet they usually come straight to my room. If it’s too early to get up, I just send them back to bed. If it’s a reasonable rise hour, we all start getting up one by one as we’re awakened.
The babies usually move into the big kids’ room(s) as soon as they reliably sleep through the night. While most of my babies begin to sleep through the night at a very young age, I don’t consider them reliable sleepers until much later, usually some time around their first birthday.
As a couple who have decided to allow God to do your family planning, do you ever have trouble relating to other Christian couples who do not share this vision? We don’t regularly fellowship with anyone who shares this vision and it breaks my heart to hear the way many Christian women talk about children as though they’re such a great burden… I often feel that I would like to share the joy of remaining open to pregnancy but I don’t know how without sounding “holier than thou” or judgmental of their choice. Is it best to just keep your mouth shut, smile and let your life speak? We only have three, at this point, under the age of 5 so it isn’t immediately apparent what our birth control philosophy is.
While we are not shy about expressing our views, we do tend to keep our mouths shut and let our life speak, as you put it – until somebody asks a question. Then all bets are off! As you mentioned, in the earlier years your birth control philosophy isn’t immediately apparent, and we have many friends whose position we don’t know. However, it is always a joy to find others who share our view or at least are interested in hearing and considering it.
I am much less shy, though, about addressing hormonal birth control, which can act as an abortifacient. I haven’t found a good way to bring it up myself but when the subject is broached I don’t mince words. It breaks my heart that so many Christians are aborting their own children for want of knowledge!
I have six daughters and would be very interested to know how you handle contention between daughters. How do you handle bossiness? Or do you even have that problem???
What’s your take on dealing with bickering, fighting children? Some days I want to pull out my hair at the cycle of pester…scream…pester…scream…etc. That the oldest two get into. They can play wonderfully together at times, and then at other times just seem to spend all day getting under each other’s skin. How do you maintain (relative) peace and keep the bickering to a minimum?
Actually, I don’t really have the answer to these questions. Yes, we have our share of bickering and bossiness. I like to think our children are best friends and get along wonderfully, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. They do bicker and squabble over the most ridiculous things. They remind me of a couple of other people I know, whom the children also happen to look like.
The important thing is that they also admit fault, ask forgiveness, and keep being best friends.
That doesn’t mean we tolerate or condone strife and contention. We try to nip it in the bud, and we emphasize that one person’s sinful attitude does not justify the sins of another. We are each responsible for our own sins. At the same time, when arguments happen I try to impress upon each child that she probably could have ended or defused the situation by exercising humility, and her pride led her sibling into sin as well.
I would love to know what type of vehicle everyone drives, and what everyone has driven as their family has grown. We have four children, all still in car seats, and our minivan is absolutely FULL.
Faced by the prospect of outgrowing our 9 passenger Suburban with the birth of our 8th child, we ruled out a 12 passenger van because it has absolutely no cargo space unless you take out a bench, and then you’re back to 8 or 9 seats.
Instead, we moved directly up to a standard issue Ford 15 passenger van in white. It’s a very common vehicle for large families, Baptist churches and smugglers of illegal immigrants, especially after the windows are darkly tinted.
I love my big white so much that I’ve been considering a post titled, “Top Ten Reasons to Drive a 15 Passenger Van.”
How do you take such great photos? Not the posed photos but the ones of the kids in action – playing, cooking, making faces, etc. Of course all the photos are great, but I can’t seem to get the right light and focus with my natural setting photos. I assume you have had loads of practice and could share a few tips. (and help me save money on professional photos).
Thank you! Most of our best photos are taken by our older children. We have some very accomplished photographers with a lot of natural talent. One resource that has really helped to develop that talent is Me Ra Koh’s instructional videos.
I love the title of the first, Refuse to Say Cheese. It’s all about not collecting endless photos of people smiling woodenly at the camera. I credit that simple phrase with much of the charm of the photos my daughters take – they really capture the young ones’ personalities and emotions by catching them in the midst of real life.
Beyond the Green Box goes into more depth about the technical details of the camera and using more advanced features to really get the effect you want, but Me Ra does a good job of keeping it light and goes easy on the math.
How do you manage to look after your own health while looking after a large family and staying within a tight budget. I have 4 children between 7 and 1 yo and am having health issues from neglecting myself for too long. How do you do it?
I try to eat a healthy diet, take a good quality prenatal vitamin, and maintain a basic level of activity. I know getting enough sleep is very important, though I don’t always do it.
Over the years I have done some intensive exercise for limited periods of time. Some cost money, some were free, and some even made money: a year of karate, a summer of lawn-mowing, a gym membership, a year of bicycling, several months of weigh-lifting, etc.
But I have to give God the glory. He has chosen to bless me with sturdy health so far which has enabled me to do all these things. Indeed, every breath is from Him!
My husband also takes his role seriously and takes care of me in every way he can think of, including my health. He knows when I need more sleep and does his best to help me get it. He reminds me to take my vitamins because he knows I’ll forget. He encourages me to exercise because he knows I dislike it and will procrastinate, but he also knows that I like the results and will thank him when I’m done.
Likewise, I know that it pleases him for me to take care of myself and so I do it not just for myself but for him. Sometimes this is more motivating than my own desire to lose a few pounds or have more energy. Sometimes I’m lazy anyway. :)
Do you have a question you’d like to see here next month? Ask in the comments on this post and I’ll give it my best shot.
Upcoming topics for 4 Moms 35 Kids:
- February 3 - Teaching reading, because it’s so much easier than teaching them to use the toilet. Do not request a 4 Moms post about potty training, do you hear me?
- February 10 – Cooking with little ones. With, I said. Not Cooking Little Ones.
- February 17 – Spending individual time with your children: isn’t the very topic enough to make you feel guilty?
- February 24 – Q & A. Got a question? Leave it in the comments on this post. Or you can email me, but I promise you right now I will lose your email and forget to answer your question for 15 months. By then, you probably will have found your own answer.