Family Life – New Challenges

Over the last couple of years I have written a post on how I am finding family life, now that our family is complete.

The previous posts have been:

  • Late 2009 – Does It Really Get Harder?????. I contemplate comments from other parents with older kids who suggest that it actually gets harder as the kids get older! Our youngest was 10 months old at this time.
  • April 2011 – Easier……for the moment!. Not every individual part was easier, but overall I did feel family life was a little easier. Our youngest was 2 at the time.

Our youngest is now three years old and attends kinder for 2 x 3 hour sessions and 1 x 3 session of occasional care. Our fourth son started school this year, our daughter is in grade 3, our second son is in grade 5 and our eldest is in year 8. And we brought a Whippet puppy into the house in February who is 5 months old.

This year has brought some new challenges for me, but it is certainly easier in many ways than the last couple of years. As I have for the last couple of posts, I will look at key aspects of family life:

Running Errands

This is the area where things have become much easier. With the ages of the kids now, I quite comfortably leave the eldest four together at home and just take the three year old with me to do local errands (like trips to the post office to mail out my book to the lovely people who buy it!).

I have written a post previously on leaving kids alone at home, so won’t go into too much detail here about it, but how long and how far I go depends on who I leave at home, the differing combinations of which kids I leave, the day, the time etc.


I frequently have showers with no visitors! Not all the time though and it is mainly visitor free on weekends. I do love that on school mornings the bigger kids will try and help the younger ones while I am in the shower first, before they come to me.

We still have a small selection of toys just near our ensuite for the three year old to play with. So if he does come in, he is quite happy to sit and do puzzles quietly.

After School Activities

The after school activities are easier now, for the main reason that I can leave combinations of kids home and don’t have to put all 5 in out of the car for one person’s activity. This is quite a relief.

On times when we have had clashes of times and doubled up activities, the eldest two at different times have been able to walk themselves there or home from training sessions.

I still factor after school activities into our menu planning and will frequently cook the meal earlier in the day – see point below!

Last year I noted that the homework had become harder, well it raised up a notch again this year. With 4 kids at school now, there is quite frequently times when guidance, assistance is needed by all of them. This is a pretty common scenario:

  • Prep – needs to have his reading heard and work through his word lists.
  • Grade 3 – needs guidance on spelling activities and tested on times tables
  • Grade 5 – needs assistance formatting assignment etc on computer
  • Year 8 – will want to talk through a plan for an essay (or I want him to take me through his plan for his essay, so he actually writes one!)

Especially for the prep and grade 3 children, there is a window of time when it is best to work with them. By the time Mr I gets home form work that is too late.

I had thought this year with the 3 year old in kinder, I could make that my “work time” and have more nights off the computer. What I found in term 1 though, was I needed to use some of this time to prepare the evening meal and getting organised so I would have time to help everyone after school.

Sleep Deprivation

The kids all sleep really well and it is only the odd occasion that we hear from them during the night. Three out of the five enjoy sleeping in when they get a chance now which is completely wonderful. Our daughter tends to be an early riser regardless of what time she heads to bed.

On the weekends if she is the first up, as the table is all set and ready to go, she will get herself breakfast and then play quietly. All of the kids are very keen on audio books at the moment. We have loaded many onto the iPod, so she will play them through the stereo and draw etc until others wake up on the rare weekend morning that I don’t need to up early. The preschooler will even go straight to her and join in when he wakes up without coming into us!

I still do work quite late sometimes, which does cause me self inflicted sleep deprivation. Working on that one!

Lifting, Carrying, Chasing

I know I carry the three year old too much, so the lifting and carrying is really something I actually need to manage better. This is the first time there hasn’t been another bub coming along to bump the toddler/preschooler off the hip. I am making a conscience effort at the moment to stop picking him up and carrying him because it is quicker!

Over all the physical workload is much less now, but I know I spend more time thinking (worrying) about different aspects of each child. See new section at the end – Mental Workload.

The Squabbling and Fighting

This is similar to last year, the kids do get on quite well, but they still do squabble and they do get physical with each other too. It hasn’t increased in terms of volume, but I think the intensity has increased with some of the fighting.

I can see patterns of behaviour where the older kids have worked out how to wind up a younger child. This drives me crazy as they do it for a reaction, which they generally get and retaliation often occurs. All for no good reason.

We have a new house “provocation rule” to try and temper this behaviour. If one child provokes another deliberately, they have to complete a household chore. It hasn’t eliminated it completely, but what it has done has prevent the instant repeat provocation which was sometimes occurring.

Individual Time With The Kids

The challenge of finding individual time each child is a little harder this year. With our fourth son at school this year, I do find that he is asking for individual time from me more often, mainly because is not getting what he used to when he was at kinder last year. He was at kinder two and a half days a week, which left plenty of time with just him and me when the then toddler had his nap time. We haven’t really found a rhythm for fitting that in and it is something I have to think a bit more about.

We have put a desk in the study where I work for our year 8 son. He will often be working on his homework of an evening when I am blogging. We take turns of who has their music playing and hace some fun chats. This individual time with him has been a positive side effect of having to share my workspace!

Time together and time alone

It is harder for Mr I and myself to find time on our own. Our year 8 son is not in bed until about 9.30pm so finding time to talk on our own can be challenging. The flip side to this is that it is so much easier to get out at night and leave the kids with a babysitter!

I continue to use the early mornings to find some time for myself and go to the gym every weekday morning at 6am. While it does make for an early start, it is a great start to my day and something that I really enjoy.

Mental Workload

As the kids get older they do start to challenge you personally. They see through hypocrisy in an instant, they will debate that black is white, their looks of disappointment and anger will make you second guess yourself and they will at times deceive you.

I also worry about lots of things too. Are they getting the best education they could be? What is the best secondary school for them? Am I too involved? Do I not do enough? Then I remember a post I wrote on choosing a secondary school and I worry am I suffering from middle class “anxiety and aspiration”!

Some days this does make my head hurt, but I still do feel that things are easier than when I wrote the first post back in November 2009 :).

How about you? Are things easier or harder for you than a year ago?