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“For me it’s about patience … I just accept that my kids have to learn, and that’s not something I could or should try to stop.”

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Managing my four-child family

Ana-lissa, Melbourne


Ana-lissa, Melbourne, Australia

I didn’t always think I’d have a big family, but once we started having kids, we knew we wanted loads, and now we have four - two girls and two boys aged 8 months to 9 years.

People assume life must be really stressful, but in my family it’s honestly not. Andrew and I were saying just the other night that life feels about right - we’re not overwhelmed, we don’t feel too busy, and we’re not stressed - which seems pretty unusual these days.

For me, it’s about patience. I’ve always been a pretty patient person, but I’ve got more so with every child. Andrew says if I was any more laid back, I’d be lying on the floor! But I just accept that my kids have to learn, and that’s not something I could or should try to stop. If Bowie makes a mess at lunch, that’s because he’s two and he’s learning to eat. If he wants to put his own pants on, it takes longer, but again he’s learning - and that’s great. And in the long-run it makes life easier - Bowie feeds himself breakfast already, so that’s one less thing for me to do.

You also have to be super organised. I gave up work when we had our third, as I was pretty much working to cover childcare costs, and that seemed crazy. But now I think of looking after the household as my job, and that’s how I treat it. I get up at 6.15 to get myself ready, the older kids’ lunches ready and get the house straight. I don’t always like getting out of bed, but once I’m up and about it’s fine - and the older ones can now help now, which makes a big difference.

There are a few downsides - we had to leave our old terrace house which I loved, and date nights don’t really happen these days. Having so many kids, there always seems to be one sick at any given time too - lots of trips to the emergency department! Just last night Ryder came into my room at 3am with a raging fever, and I was with Marlo through the night giving her asthma medication. I got about 2 hours sleep! But it’s the life we chose so I’m not complaining about it.

Since the last baby came along, I also have to try extra hard to share my attention with all the kids. I still give my eldest boy hugs every day, even if he shrugs them off, and I have to make sure I’m not expecting too much of my toddler - he’s still only two - I’ve got to remember that. I can’t expect him to be quiet just because the baby’s sleeping - that’s not how toddlers work!

But for us, the joy of having a big family makes up for all of that. Seeing the kids cuddled up on the sofa watching a movie or playing with each other is the best thing ever. They’re growing up with so much love. The oldest two even want us to have another baby, but I think we’ll draw the line at four! 

Looking back we had made a lot of changes that didn’t seem a big deal but must have been pretty big for her.
Read Vanessa's story
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