Large Family – Small Bathroom

Having a large family, it seems like someone is always needing access to the potty in a bathroom. Our large family, small bathroom scenario at home is very manageable even if it is inconvenient.  But the fact that some one always needs to use the bathroom means that I am very well acquainted with the bathrooms around town.  I know which ones are generally clean, how many stalls they have, the proximity of their location in the building of an establishment to the area I want to shop in.  I will even not go into stores or restaurants solely based upon the fact that I don’t like their bathroom facilities.

Being heavy on girls, and light on boys makes a difference in our public bathroom habits too.  I prefer the men’s restroom to have one hole, that way I can send only my son in to the men’s room, and know he is alone in there and safe from any would be predators.  On the other hand, where my girls are concerned, the more stalls the better.  There are a lot of us, and it can take a very long time for everyone to have their turn.

Today,  we went to the big city for Strawberry’s ophthalmologist appointment.  Following the appointment and a trip to the zoo, we searched out a restaurant to grab some grub.  As I don’t reside there and infrequently dine in the restaurants of this city, I was unaware of potty facilities in the eating establishments nearby.   I was completely disappointed when we got there to realize there was only 1 mens and 1 women’s, and we had to go outside to utilize those.  So, what’s a family to do while they wait, and wait, and wait for the bathroom to free up?  We took pictures. A lot of pictures.  I will share just a few. Enjoy.

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Do you have ideas for ways to pass the time while you are waiting for everyone to have their turn in public restrooms?

Parenting Lessons in the Potty Room

Downsizing in bathrooms, I decided we had to get creative in creating privacy while still making our home as functional as possible.  We installed a curtain in front of our toilet, to allow for the toilet to be used, while someone else has access to the master closet, shower, or the bathroom sinks.

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I was behind the curtain finishing up my business, when the curtain flies up, and a sweet curly head emerges, and grabs my neck to engulf me in a hug.  I was in mid-wipe position, and could tell my balance would quickly be lost.  “Stop.  Wait till I’m done to hug me. ” Dewberry crumbles to the floor and dissolves into tears.  These are not fit tears, or disobedient tears, but crushing hurt tears. I try explaining to her that I love her so much and I appreciate her hugs, but it is inappropriate to come up and hug and kiss someone while they are using the potty.

But ohh…I stop.  

Oops.  

Momma misstepped.

I realized what I did.

Somewhere along the road of parenting a larger than average family, I picked up this piece of advice.  I’m not sure if it came from Michelle Duggar or Kelly Crawford of Generation Cedar.  Perhaps it was another large family momma, but somewhere I read to carve out special time with the kids in the routine, including bathroom and diaper time.  This mom made the point that you have to change the little’s diapers or wipe their bottoms anyways. So while doing these things, speak truth and love into their little hearts.  Tell them that you love them.  Let them know reasons you find they are special.  Express gratefulness that they are a part of your family.

I took this to heart and for the last several years, I have tried to make a point to speak kind uplifting words to them, especially in those times that I have most not wanted to be wiping a bottom.  Often times when I finish wiping their bottoms and get their panties pulled back up, I will give them a big hug and a kiss on their face.

Dewberry was offended because she felt rejected.  She was just offering up to her momma the same kind of affection that she’s been getting from her momma.  But Momma was less than pleased.  And she didn’t understand.

Momma had to apologize to her.

This incidence was a reminder to me: our children are watching us and learning how life works, even when we are unaware.

What are some of the unusual times that you look to speak love into your kids’ hearts?

What to do with preschoolers when you are homeschooling older children?

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I had a friend recently ask for ideas on what to do with her preschoolers while schooling her older child. Since I have been in the boat of having preschoolers in the home while teaching school age children for the past five years, I have a few ideas up my sleeve.  I am not the most consistent person.  I like change.  Therefore, I have tried most of these ideas and have found success with them, but we mix things up around here quite a bit.

My 3 preschoolers.

My 3 preschoolers.

School Cabinets

I have special cabinets that hold the school age kids workbooks, teacher books, as well as different activities that are only supposed to come out for the preschoolers while the older ones are doing school.  I keep them in separate containers so I can hand each preschooler a bin.  Sometimes the preschoolers go to the table.  Other times I have them sit on a blanket and tell them they can only get up to go to the restroom.  I have found that Mr. Potato Head, Puzzles, Wooden Blocks, Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoy Sets, Legos, and magnetic dolls all work very well for these types of activities.

Busy Bags

A few years back a friend organized a busy bag swap, where several moms assembled the same busy bag 10 times.  They then swapped their bags with nine other friends.  Each mom ended up having ten different busy bags for their preschoolers to use during school time.

Nabi Tablet time

On some days I will give my little ones the opportunity to play on the NABI Tablet.  They enjoy greatly this time of exploring on technology.

Computer Time

We have a few kid computer games that we picked up years ago.  I will sometimes let them play these.  Or sometimes I will let them play games on Starfall.

Dewberry taking her turn playing Bob the Builder.

Dewberry taking her turn playing Bob the Builder.

Play-dough

On some days I pull out the play-dough. I have found this to be especially effective during read-a-loud times, and I hand everyone some dough to create with.  If I am doing this for the older kids, I try to encourage them to mold something that they hear me reading about.

Paper Designs

I give the preschoolers paper and magazines to cut, tear, and glue.  They can try to make a collage or picture with it.  Sometimes they tear out pictures they like.  Other times I will ask them to tear out items pertaining to a theme such as a certain color or foods they like to eat.

Educational Videos

Some of my favorite are Your Baby Can Read series (If you can find copies.  No, your baby will not be reading great novels as a result of this program, but the program helps develop language and aids young children in their reading skills.  It has been helpful for my children.), LeapFrog: Letter Factory, and LeapFrog: Talking Words Factory.

Spiral Notebooks-Journals

All of my preschoolers currently have a spiral notebooks, just like their older siblings.  They have a sticker book, which is the only place they are supposed to put stickers. I can give them a sheet of stickers which can keep them busy for 30 minutes.  They also have a thankful journal that they are to draw a picture of things which make them thankful.  They later tell me about their picture and I record what they tell me.  They have a nature journal in which they are to draw a picture, make leave rubbings, or collect leaves and flowers to tape on the pages.

Dewberry's thankful journal.

Dewberry’s thankful journal.

Strawberry's thankful journal.

Strawberry’s thankful journal.

Sorting

Kids like to sort and they can sort anything.  I have them sort by color, shape, and size.  Sometimes I will give them things with instructions to put the items in order from little to big.  We sort beans, buttons, beads, Cuisenaire Rods, Pattern Blocks, plastic-ware or silverware, etc.  Really, when it comes to sorting items there is an endless supply of things that they can sort.

Coloring and Drawing

Sweet Potato, as preschooler, coloring while sisters are doing school.

Sweet Potato, as preschooler, coloring while sisters are doing school.

Free Play  – Imaginative Play

Free play and imaginative play is very important for a child’s development.  However, may not always be doable while trying to school other children.  Some days, my preschoolers do an excellent job of having this play time without being a distraction to others.  On other days not so much.  However, this is in my tool bag of appropriate things for them to do during the others school time as long as everyone is getting along and the noise levels stay manageable.

Music & Dance Time

Sometimes I send the little ones to their rooms and let them listen to music to dance to. They listen to a variety of things from classical, to Clifford Music, to scripture memorization music.

KEEPING THE PEACE

On many occasions my older children have felt slighted that they had school work to do and the preschoolers are doing activities that looks like play to the older ones.  For this reason, I try to make a point to let the older ones have access to some of the toys and various materials that the little ones get to use.  This may be achieved by letting older ones use the toys or manipulatives in another room where younger ones are not to disturb, sometimes during nap time, and other times they are allowed to get those materials and work alongside the little ones once the older ones have finished their school work.  I particularly noticed the need for this when my older kids where just barely starting their formal education.  Occasionally, the older ones still ask to use some of the toys and manipulatives that the littles had out during their school time.

Am I missing something?  What do you do with your preschoolers while schooling the older ones?

As Our Family Grows into a Large Family

A few things we have caught ourselves saying and doing as we shift from the normal size family to a large family.

1. ” We are almost out of eggs – we only have fifteen left.”

2.   I use to cook a pound of dried beans and it would last us several meals.  Now when I cook a lb of beans we can eat nearly all of them in one meal.

3.  We now think of our minivan as a small vehicle.

4.  I have started looking for ways to buy everything in bulk.

5. When I first started buying shredded cheese from SAMS I thought the package size was HUGE.  But in the last few months I keep finding myself thinking that the package is shrinking (but it’s not.)

6.  We have found ourselves talking about family size and our idea of a large family has increased from more than 3 kids to 8+ kids.

7. On that note, our kids think that we have a small family.

8. I’m really starting to notice the rise in grocery prices and at the same time, my kiddos are eating more.

9. If the washing machine does not run all day nearly every day we find ourselves with mountains of laundry.

10.   It has become a rather common occurrence to arrive at our destination to discover that in our rush to get out the door one (generally Grape) and sometimes several made it out to the van without shoes on.   So then we scavenge  the van for any shoes that have been left for an extended stay, to see how we can cover the soles of all our kids feet.   Sometimes what we find does not fit them too well.   Oh, and even if we have shoes for Grape she rarely has them on.  But that’s okay, our chiropractor says going without shoes will help her feet to develop better.

11.  When Hubby and I split the kids up between the two of us we both feel like we hardly have any kids at all.   In other words – taking care of three or less kids is now a breeze (though when only had 1, 2, or 3 we felt like our hands were indeed full).

What are some changes that you have noticed as your family has grown?

A Little About Us

We are a growing Christian family.  Hubby and I have been married nine years as of August.  We have five children – soon to be six.  When we first got married we had no idea of the adventures that the Lord would take us on through the convictions He would bring about in our lives.

One of the first convictions that He brought about in our lives was that if we said we trusted Him and His sovereignty then we had to live out that belief in all areas of our lives, including in familyplanning.   That is how we got to nearly five kids.

The next big conviction was of me needing to be a full-time mom at home with our kids instead of teaching other kids all day and then coming home and giving what was left to the family God had given me to minister to.   After a few years of having kids, the Lord changed our heart on the issue of education.  Previous to this change of heart we were most definitely going to be sending our children off to public school.   After all, I believed in it enough to get a teaching degree.   And besides that, every homeschooler that we had ever encountered was just a bit odd.   So, we started our adventure into the world of homeschooling last year.

Then within the last year and half the Lord has moved us from a more “traditional” view of church life to the idea that family integrated worship is more in line with scripture than age segregated fellowship/worship.

So in short, over the last  years, Hubby and I and our family look entirely different from what we thought our family would like when we first married.   But we love what the Lord has done in our lives and look forward to Him challenging us more and more and leading us farther out of our comfort zone – all for His glory.

Our Family w/ our Pseudo Names

Plum – 6 years (birthday in January)

Blueberry – 5 years (birthday in March)

Sweet Potato 3 years (birthday in March)

Grape – 23 months(birthday in November; picture taken when she was 10 months)


Strawberry – 8 months

Hubby & Me