It was just a few weeks after having my fourth baby that my back completely went out. Just existing was incredibly painful, let alone nursing a newborn and dealing with 3 other kids 4 and under.
As I sat on the couch, tears streaming from my face as my children ran rampant through the house and my baby tried to latch, I wondered if I had made a mistake.
Was I even capable of raising 4 small kids so close together?
I had had 4 kids in under 5 years–while still working part-time–and I just didn’t see how I was going to be able to keep my head above water, let alone grow and acheive my goals.
Whether you have 1 kid or 6, being a mom is tough. The moment you become a mom, suddenly your entire existence revolves around caring for your child. How you sleep, eat, and live is suddenly completely at the mercy of this tiny little person.
And that’s just one kid.
So how do you manage multiple kids without losing your mind?
I’m here from the trenches to tell you that not only can you survive 4 kids 5 and under, you can actually thrive.
I know that look you’re giving me. It’s the look I get every time I go to Costco with my gaggle of energetic kids. While every day is not unicorns and rainbows (unfortunately), raising 4 kids 5 and under can actually be an absolute blast.
But it doesn’t just happen on it’s own. It takes discipline, planning, and prioritizing YOUR health.
11 TIPS TO SURVIVING & THRIVING WITH 4 KIDS 5 AND UNDER
1) Make your health a priority. No excuses.
This is most important thing you can do, and yet it’s the first thing to go when overhwlem hits.
When you get on an airplane, the flight attendant always goes through that spiel where they remind you that in case of an emergency to put on your own mask before helping anyone else.
This absolutely applies to motherhood.
So many moms put their needs last, afraid to take care of themselves thinking it will take away from their kids. But it’s not a win-lose game where if you are focusing on yourself, your kids are missing out.
It’s actually the opposite: The better care you give yourself, the better equipped you are to take care of your family.
In other words, it’s win-win.
You can’t give your kids everything if you are running on empty. Take care of yourself mentally and physically and you can become even better.
2) Get enough sleep.
Okay, stop laughing. It actually is possible. But it’s not going to happen on it’s own. It’s gonna take some effort (here’s some strategies to get better sleep).
Have you ever been so exhausted after you put the kids to bed that you can’t do anything but sit and zone out? So you sit in front of the TV and binge-watch a show for 3 hours because you can’t muster the energy to actually go to bed.
Then, the kids wake you up the next day and you are totally crabby because you are exhausted?
Oh boy, been there and done that.
Or have you ever stayed up late to clean because it’s the only way you can keep you house from looking like an episode of Hoarders? That’s productive, right?
Let’s break this down: sleep is 100% linked to basically every part of your health (weight, energy, level, skin etc). It’s also directly correlated to the amount of patience you have.
Think about it: if you were bleeding profusely, you wouldn’t be like “Oh, let me just finish these dishes and then I’ll go get something to take care of this bleeding.” You would take care of the bleeding immediately.
If you are seriously sleep-deprived, sleep is the most important thing you can do.
3) Wake up before your kids.
Waking up before your kids will supercharge your productivity and give you important “me time” when you are energized.
Call me crazy, but I wake up at 4:00am most mornings. Oh, and I am NOT a natural morning person. But once I started doing this, it changed my whole life.
I find that waking up early, exercising, and getting a few thing done before my kids are awake honestly makes me feel like there are more hours in the day. For tips to wake up early, check out these 9 fail-proof tips.
4) Set your intentions in the mornings.
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. This is especially true for moms. You’ve got a million things coming at you at once and little people to keep alive.
So how can you manage your home, family, AND prioritize your health? At the start of your day, you’ve got to determine what the most important things you can accomplish today. Where will your focus be?
This can take many forms:
- to-do lists
- talking it out with your spouse
The key is to decide, right off the bat, what is important in your day.
For example, if my goals for the day are to be an attentive mom and to get some meal prepping done, then a dirty house or an unexpected phone call wont throw me off. I’ll snuggle my hurt child and know that I’ll get to the house on another day. I’ll find a way to end the call and get back to making meals.
Exercising does wonders for mental and physical health. It boosts your mood and gives you more energy throughout the day. Even 20-30 min a few times a week can make a huge difference.
As a mom, your average day is like an olympic event, so working out is like conditioning to mentally and physically handle your long busy days. If you have trouble getting motivated, check out these 3 fail-proof tips to get motivated to workout.
6) Pick your battles wisely.
Every day, you are faced with a million different challenges. But you decide which are worth even dealing with.
You can’t do it all, but you can do what is important and valuable to YOU.
For example, I do not battle over my kids clothes and hair. It does not affect my happiness one bit. Instead, the fact that they dress themselves from about age 2 and on makes my life considerably easier.
Do they look like they were dressed by a blind druggie? Sure! But they love having control and autonomy over how they look. And I skip any battle over brushing their hair or making sure they match.
(Note: We do “brush our hair for Jesus” so they look presentable at church.)
On the other hand, I am really concerned about creating healthy eating habits. Therefore, I put a lot more energy and effort into preparing healthy foods and encouraging them to like things that are good for their bodies.
Pick your priorities and let go of the rest.
7) Shower & get dressed every day.
Showering and getting dressed for the day will make you more productive and efficient.
Mind you, “dressed for the day” does not mean you need to be ready for the Oscars or Instagram. It means you are clean, clothed (in not pajamas), and have brushed your teeth.
This shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes. Remember, dry shampoo is a busy mom’s best friend!
8) Give individual attention & snuggles to each child daily.
Having 4 kids 5 and under means that this takes some thought. But this goes a LONG way to create a happy home.
Lot’s of snuggles make happier kids. And crabby kids make for a crabby and frustrated mama.
Remember, most crabby kids don’t need a lecture: they need a good long hug. More snuggles usually translate into a happier day.
9) Live by the 1-minute rule.
This is simple: If a task will take only 1 minute or less to complete, do it right away.
Whether it’s putting something away, responding to a text, throwing away junk mail, or making a doctor’s appointment, do it immediately.
This gives you 2 boosts: you get the satisfaction of getting something done plus it creates momentum to accomplish more tasks. And it keeps small tasks from building up and becoming overwhelming.
10) Use the “10 minute clean” philosophy.
When you have huge messes to clean and no time (i.e. every moment of your life), this strategy is perfect. Especially when you’ve just put the kids down for bed.
Muster whatever strength you have for just 10 minutes and do a whirlwind clean. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 10 minutes of focused effort.
It’s usually enough to get areas of your house in good enough shape to feel fine moving on to an essential task or going to bed (see #2).
11) Declutter, declutter, declutter.
The more things you have, the more messes you have to clean up. So the more clutter you have, the more time it takes to manage it.
My favorte decluttering stratiegy: Marie Kondo’s The Magical Art of Tidying Up
This book literally changed my life. Not only did we get rid of 1/3 of our possessions and make hundreds of dollars selling stuff, but it made my home a million time easier to manage (and more pleasant to be in!).
FOUR KIDS 5 AND UNDER IS TOTALLY DOABLE
Having 4 kids 5 and under doesn’t have to mean living in survival mode. Making small changes to your routine, prioritizing your health, and focusing on what’s important will allow to to actually enjoy life.
You’ve got this, mama!