Reduce your workload and bring your children closer to each other! We call it the Partner System.
I guess, in a sense, it isn’t exactly reduced, but it is changed and truly easier. As I have more children I have found myself doing less of the little tasks and more of the managerial tasks. I have gotten a promotion! 🙂
Each of our older children are assigned to a younger sibling. They help the younger child with most of their daily tasks; getting their breakfast in the morning, changing their diaper, holding their hand when we are in public together, etc. They become their second parent, in a sense.
Some people may think that this can cause resentment from the older child but in fact it has caused our older children to learn responsibility and get closer emotionally to one of their little siblings.
It has also given us (Ed and I) a little bit of emotional freedom. I still constantly count in my head (and sometimes out loud) to make sure I see them all but at least I know that I’m not the only one looking out for them.
And, if you think this will compromise your role with either of the children, it doesn’t. Sometimes I’ve gotten comments like “but, you’re the mom”. Then I remind them that ‘the mom’ just said to take care of their partner!! It’s good for both of them. 🙂
Does it work?
Well, most of the time. I don’t want you to think that everything will be on auto-pilot if you try this. It won’t. It will probably be better if there is effort on both sides. Unfortunately though, you will have to keep up making sure everyone is helping their partners.
For example, at every meal (if it’s buffet style, that is) I announce for everyone to take care of their partner’s first. There will also be a few older children that will rarely need to be reminded. You’re not reminding the group because of the ones that rarely forget but because of the ones that need help remembering their responsibilities.
Also, the little ones will remind their partners when they need something. This is handy because it gets hard to accomplish anything if Mom always has a little one coming to them for something. Yes, I get my children water, etc. when they need it. Yes, I have to periodically remind the older children about their responsibilities regarding their younger partners (daily sometimes!). And, yes, I will ask whoever is in the kitchen to get some milk for a little one, even if it isn’t their partner. We are a family so we help each other out.
But, this little idea has helped streamline a lot of the little things that are always needing to be done with smaller children; baths, diapers, hanging up clothes, dishing up plates. It has also helping me have another set of eyes on my children when we are out in public.
Has anyone else tried this method? What has been your experience if you have? I’d love to hear any ideas you may have that may have worked better in your family!