4 Moms on Fairness, Cheerful obedience, Exercise for Mom, Toddler arguments, Low milk supply…

4moms35kids 4 Moms Q&A
1. From Shannon:

I’m wondering about hotels with large families. What do you do since their room policy is 4/5max?

Shannon, that limit was a huge frustration to use back when we had all little ones.  I remember at least once leaving an entire room empty, because Perry and I didn’t want to split up and we didn’t want to leave any of our young children alone in a hotel room for the night.  Ugh!

To begin with, we very rarely use (or used) hotels on our own dime.  But occasionally it has become necessary, so we do the best we can.  First, we look for hotels with a limit of 6/room instead of 4 or 5, so that we can fit in 2 rooms now.  Depending on the circumstances, we sometimes follow a don’t ask, don’t tell policy.  If the limit isn’t clearly posted and nobody asks, we don’t volunteer the info that we had ___ little ones.  If you do ask, you might be surprised to find that they sometimes aren’t concerned about an extra couple of young ones.

Of course we don’t try to cram all 12 of our family into a single room now, but 2 might be enough – and if we’re not scarfing down an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the hotel’s expense or requesting 11 more bottles of shampoo and conditioner, then we don’t feel bad about it.  When there is food or other consumables involved, I think we need to stick to the limits.

This is largely a matter of conscience and many people will have strong beliefs about it, so whatever you decide to do, be clear in your conscience.

2. From Mae:

I was reading about another mother who trains her children to obey joyfully. I train mine to obey immediately, thoroughly, and without actually grumbling/complaining, but how to get to the cheerfully/joyfully? And is that realistic?

Mae, I think it is very realistic, although I haven’t been faithful to train my children that way.  My sister-in-law deals with a bad attitude by disciplining, then reenacting the scene.  Not only does this give the child a do-over, it often provides a good laugh and ends the incident on a happy note.  Your question reminds me that I need to do the same with

3. From Jenna:

How do we teach our Children that life isn’t always about being fair? I would like to see them grow to be more selfless, and less selfish!

Jenna, we have a saying in our family: If life were fair, we would all go to hell.  Aren’t you glad life isn’t fair?

The first way is to model selflessness.  I’m sure you are doing that already, and I’m saying it mainly to encourage you.  I also think that for children, it is important to do it in a way that instructs them but doesn’t make you sound prideful or like a martyr.  This can be a difficult balance to strike.  If they are oblivious to your service, they will learn to take you (and others) for granted, rather than learning to serve as you do.

It is also important to fill their heads and hearts with Christ.  Remind them of His selfless service at every opportunity: both when praising a child for being selfless, and also when correcting selfishness.  We are commanded to be like Him, so we need to keep the example in front of us.

Be sure to remind them that acts of kindness are not just for the benefit of others, but are our service to God.  We please HIM when we love others above ourselves.  HE loves us far more than we deserve, and we show HIM how thankful we are when we give others more than we think they deserve. sucker

One more thing – many times, children are willing but just don’t know how to start.  Gentle suggestions can go a long way.  Give children specific ideas of how to be kind and selfless, rather than waiting for selfishness to rear its ugly head.  The more you can get them to think about it, the faster they learn.

Jenna, if this answer wasn’t quite what you were asking about, you might like these posts better: Life Isn’t Fair or 7 Kids, 1 Sucker. Now What?

4. From Amy:

Do you still not use shampoo and how is it going?

Amy, I’m a quitter.

Our water was so hard that we eventually quit fighting it and went back to more traditional hair care.  However, my scalp is far healthier because of that experiment!  I used to shampoo a minimum of every 24 hours just to try to keep the oil under control.  I knew frequent shampooing was making it worse but didn’t know how to get off the hamster wheel.  I also had a lot of dandruff if I tried to go more than a day.  Yuck!

Now I can shampoo every 3-5 days and my hair looks and feels clean in between.  I’m sure it’s much healthier, too.  Our 15yo Megan also spent a lot of time experimenting and learned that the best way to care for her hair type did not involve shampoo.  Now instead of coarse, dry waves, she has soft shiny ringlets.

So even though we didn’t stick with that particular method, I do think the whole experience was good for us and for our hair.

5. From Sarah:

different tolerance levels between the sexes for crying babies? how to handle it?

Sarah, in our family tolerance levels for crying babies don’t seem to be gender-related.  Still, differing levels have to be addressed.  Basically, the amount of crying the baby does is largely determined by who is in charge at the moment.  I don’t let them cry much at all; the rest of the family says I’m getting soft.  🙂  This means I either spend a lot of time with The Fat Tyrant (his official nickname) on my hip or I recruit help.  Others are content to let him fuss, but eventually the noise level forces the person with the lowest tolerance to bow to his wishes.

So…how to handle it?  I guess it’s a little like a game of chicken.  Who’s going to break and pick him up first?  Don’t feel bad for him; with so many people in the house, it never takes long.

6. From (a different) Amy:

How do you psyche yourself up for preparing for a new year of (home) school? (Can you tell I am dragging my feet?) P.S. I asked Smockity this question too.

Over the years, I have tried many different approaches to find what works best for our family.  I now use a combination of several methods: unschooling, year-round school, denial and procrastination.

Seriously, we don’t finish up a year all at the same time, so I don’t have to plan an entire year for every child all at the same time.  They work mostly independently, taking as much time as they need on each course, and when they finish we start a new one.

7. From Amanda:

What are each of you, respectively, doing for fitness or exercise right now? What about when you had 3-4 smalls and no bigs?

I’m so glad you asked this.  After years of hating exercise, I have just begun to love it again!  So much, in fact, that Perry heeded my heavy hinting and bought me a weight bench (Craigslist special) as an early anniversary gift!  I am fitting in quick sets of push-ups, pull-ups (can only do 2), squats, and various weightlifting as I am able throughout the day.

I have a membership at a nearby gym for just $10/month, and Perry and I sneak off for a gym date a couple of times/week.  I am also taking Krav Maga class with Perry and three of the older girls three days/week.  This is often quite strenuous, and I usually have an assortment of bruises to hide – or show off.  🙂

Perry and the girls got me a bicycle this year for Mother’s Day, so I am also sneaking off for rides when I can.  I recently picked up a double bike trailer from Craigslist that will allow me to pull two of the little ones behind me when I go, for a better workout and a fun outing for them as well.  We live near a big city park with extensive trails and lots of wildlife, so they will never tire of rides.  Bonus: getting the little ones out of the house makes it easier for the rest of the kids to do their school.  🙂

When I had lots of littles and no bigs, I did it differently.  I actually had a bicycle and trailer years ago, and also an infant seat.  This let me take 3 little ones on bike rides and gave me a great workout in the process.  I also used a double stroller and baby carrier to get a good workout on foot, sometimes piling 3 kids in the stroller and taking a quick walk to the library or park.

Another way I got exercise back in the old days was by volunteering for heavy duty.  I cut our grass instead of letting Perry do it.  When we mowed other lawns for extra income, I asked him to let me do it while he stayed home in the evenings with the kids.  I got paid to exercise while he had some quality time with the kids!

It’s often easy to include kids in exercise.  Just be prepared for interruptions!  Some of my young ones can already do full pushups, and they love to try to copy some of the other exercises we do.  I also find that kids are handy weights for lifting.  Last week, I did several sets of squats with progressively heavier children on my shoulders, maxing out at 105 lbs.  I may go for 135 lbs soon if the appropriate child will cooperate.  🙂

Of course we’re more likely to get the exercise we need when it’s easy and pleasant, but there are always options if we’re creative and determined.

8. From (a different) Amanda:

How to deal with low milk supply when nursing?

Amanda, you probably know that diet and hydration are very important to milk supply, but I have also found that rest plays a huge role.  I was once hospitalized for 2 days and 2 nights and was not allowed anything at all by mouth.  For some reason, they didn’t give me an IV either.  Nonetheless, I was able to nurse without interruption, presumably because I was able to do very little besides rest.

When your supply needs a little help, it is also crucial to nurse as often as possible.  This gives your body the message that baby needs more milk, so that supply can be increased to meet demand.  Supplementing may help get over a temporary difficulty, but can make supply issues worse in the long run, so do it carefully if at all.  Nobody wants a baby to go hungry, but a hungry baby is exactly the stimulus your body needs, so find your balance carefully.

Remember that your baby will be especially hungry during growth spurts, and may seem dissatisfied and insatiable for several days at a time.  Don’t panic.  This is completely normal, and your body will adjust to the new normal as your baby’s appetite grows.  This is a good reason to hold off on supplementing for at least a few days when you think you don’t have enough milk, because baby’s growth will slow again soon and your milk will increase as the two of you will find the right balance.  Growth spurts can vary, but big ones commonly happen at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 3 months.

And if for some reason you just don’t have enough milk, there is no shame in bottle feeding!  Breastfeeding is a big job, and sometimes our bodies just aren’t up to the job for one reason or another.  Just please don’t give up too easily if this is important to you.  Like c-sections for moms who want to deliver naturally, I think bottle-feeding is too often avoidable for moms who want to breastfeed; the key is sticking with it and finding the help you need.

9. From Lauren:

Arguments. How do you handle them? Silly, toddler arguments, like:

Boy #1: “I’m tired.”
Boy #2: “No, you’re not.”
Boy #1: “Yes, I am.” 
Boy #2: “No, you’re not.”
Boy #1: “Yes, I am.” 
Boy #2: “No, you’re not.”
Boy #1: “Yes, I am.” 
Boy #2: “No, you’re not.”
Boy #1: “Yes, I am.” 
Boy #2: “No, you’re not.”
Boy #1: “Yes, I am.” 

Yeah … that kind. ;D

Lauren, I have to confess that unless tempers are flaring I usually stay out of those conversations.  If they get angry or impatient I remind them to speak kindly and tell them this isn’t a good reason to be mad or cry (“Did he sin against you?”).  If there is sin or offense involved, I moderate.  If not, I assume they are both enjoying the discussion and chalk it up to immature conversational skills.  I guess I’m a pretty low-key mama.  🙂


Your turn: How would you answer the questions above?

See what questions the other moms are answering today:


  1. Concerning the hotel issue. When all the kids were home (9), we could always get just 2 rooms. It was best to call the hotel directly and not use online reservations. Try to find one with connecting rooms, that way you can keep the door open between them and you and hubby can still sleep in the same room. Remember to ask for queen, not double, beds so more little ones can pile on 🙂

  2. Hippie4ever says:

    I absolutely love the comment to Lauren 😉 Awesome!

  3. We live in San Antonio as well. Could you share where you go for a gym membership of $10./month? Really enjoy your blog. Thanks..Monica

    • Monica,
      Fitness 19 is the gym I was referring to. I think they have 2 locations in San Antonio, and also in many other major cities around the US. There is a one-time sign up fee of $49, but they often run specials in which that fee is waived. If you catch a good special, the price can’t be beat!

  4. Especially if we’re staying in an area more than one night, we check around for a vacation rental house. With some hunting, we’ve often been able to find a nice place that’s slightly more than then cost of 2 hotel rooms. You get much more space and a kitchen so you can save money from eating out. We’ve done this with our last few road trips.

    For example, we just got back from a trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Actually, it was half vacation and half family missions trip through Youth Works, which I highly recommend but that’s another story. For the vacation part we found a place called Edelweiss Mountain Lodging and the 8 of us stayed in their “Pretre Cabin” for $150 per night. It was perfect for our family and budget. You can get especially good deals when its a house being rented directly by the owner. There’s a few sites out there with these kinds of listings.

  5. My parents took us on a road trip, and my dad has turned into a person who likes to have a itinerary, needless to say it always has more on it than a little can handle so I insisted that I not be stuck in a room by myself with 3 crabby kids every night. We found that Holiday Inn Express hotels have decent prices and rooms with 3 even 4 beds, allowing for much larger room occupancy. I also found that most hotels don’t count my toddler, the general rule of thumb seems to be two people per bed, but a crib aged child doesn’t count.

  6. What a great post! I was cracking up reading Lauren’s question because that happens all the time with my littles! And Kim, great response. I need to try just letting it go instead of intervening.

    With the no-poo, I quit as well. The water here is just too hard, and I could not get the amounts right. So I’m on a chemical-free shampoo and conditioner now, but don’t have to wash nearly as often as I did before going no-poo! So it worked out well.

    With milk supply, I agree with Kim: nurse a LOT. Example: With my first child, I got into the habit of feeding a full bottle of pumped milk after her late afternoon nursing, starting at about four months old. (It helped her sleep through the night better, and I had an excess of milk in the morning, which rapidly depleted by afternoon). Then, at nine months I decided to wean her off the bottle again. She wasn’t taking solids yet, so it was all breastmilk. Anyway, we ended up quitting cold turkey. I just nursed her every two-three hours for two days and one night, and by the end my milk had increased, she was completely off the bottle, and she was back to sleeping through the night. 🙂

    BTW, love the “if life was fair, we’d all go to hell” statement. I’m thinking that would be good to start using around here.

  7. I love the idea of re-enacting the scene with a grumpy child, and am definitely going to start using that with my increasingly sullen teen. Brilliant!

    Thank you for coming clean (no pun intended) on the shampoo experiment. I, too, gave it a try and since our water is hard I had the same problems. Like you, I’ve been able to shampoo less often, and I do still use a baking soda & water wash now and then, along with regular vinegar rinses. My hair has never been in better shape!

  8. I lost 15 pounds in 12 weeks just by carrying 2 toddlers around all day- no diet changes. Most parks have a tennis court or some kind of cement slab for sports. I have had success getting bigger children playing at the playground and then walking laps around the outside of the tennis court with the baby or the dog. Ten laps around the tennis court ( or basketball court) while your kids play is better than no exercise.

  9. Ooo. Megan, can you give me your secret? I shampoo every day because of the oil and dandruff. I also have rather coarse wavy hair and would love to glean from your experience.

  10. Suzanne says:

    Yes, I love your blog too! With this post, you made me laugh twice and gave me a quotable quote. 🙂
    I just wanted to add my two cents worth on low milk supply- PROTEIN is SO important!!!! I would also highly recommend taking a calcium supplement, a prenatal vitamin, and a DHA supplement. Keep in mind you are a bodybuilder (and a brainbuilder) when you are nursing. I have found sometimes I have to make a choice between exercising and making milk, my body can’t always handle both and I really believe milk for baby is the most important. On the mornings I wake up full of energy I will exercise but I refuse to beat myself up on the mornings I don’t feel up to it. After all, I will be weightlifting baby throughout the day! 🙂
    I don’t have quite as much experience as Kim, 🙂 but I have been pregnant and/or nursing my 5 babies for 10 1/2 years straight. I’ve nursed them an average of 19 months each. If I’m just nursing I will take a 1/2 serving of a protein supplement once a day if I’m feeling physically low. I promptly have lots of milk! DO NOT take protein supplements if you are pregnant though! It makes really big babies- my fourth was 11 lbs 10 1/2 painful ounces! Just stick to protein rich foods if you’re pregnant.
    Sorry for all the exclamation points.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    About the low milk supply – I second your advice. Also, I experienced a surge in my supply when I started bringing the baby to bed with me for nighttime/early morning nursing sessions. I think the increase in supply came from the baby remaining latched on even when I was asleep, stimulating the hormones that increase milk production. And, I’m sure the extra rest I was getting helped as well.

  12. Joy @ Caspara says:

    I only have four kids, but we ran into the hotel issue already. I agree with everything you say, but would also suggest looking into hotels that have a “Kids Stay Free” deal going on. A quick Google search should show some.

  13. I’m a long time reader and just wanted to pop in and say I love your blog. 🙂


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