• Emily Hess

Having Five Kids is Easier than Two

Our oldest three daughters had the wonderful opportunity to strengthen their bonds with their Hess grandparents by spending three days camping with them. I didn’t grow up with grandparents in the same state, so the fact that my children have grandparents very involved in their lives is a precious gift.

Taking little ones camping is a lot of work so my mother-in-law has set the rule that ages five and up are old enough to go away with them. That leaves me at home with my three and four-year-old daughters this year.

We have had a lot of fun these past few days, just me and the littles. We played on playgrounds, took long walks with the stroller, ate leisurely meals, and had a little play-date with their cousin. It reminded me of days long ago when I had just three children under age three. And while it was great fun, it was also a lot of work.

Ruthie and Carrie - they are pretty sweet girls!

Often people will say things like, “Wow! You have five kids! I don’t know how you do it. I have two, and I’m exhausted.” And I agree with them.

In many ways, having just two kids is harder than having five.

There is a lot of beauty in having a large family. One of the things I realize I have taken for granted is just how helpful my oldest three daughters (ages 10, 9 and almost 8) have become.

It’s normal for me to spend much of my morning with the little girls. After their naps the big girls tend to take control of them, reading them books, doing crafts with them, pushing them on the tire swing, and generally keeping them happy and occupied so that I can cook dinner, wash some dishes, or read a book by myself.

Day two into this adventure I was prepared for a quiet afternoon to read a book. Alone. Then Caroline (age 4) wanted me to read to her. So I put my book down and read to her. Then I picked my book back up. Two minutes later she wanted another book. I put my book down and read to her. This scenario repeated itself five times until I finally said she needed to play something by herself.

This resulted in Caroline crying for her big sisters. She recognized that her big sisters play an important role in her young life. I was feeling a little guilty for wanting that time to myself, but the truth is, she didn’t really want me. She was missing her sisters, and Ruthie was still napping. She had spent a tremendous amount of time with me all morning and afternoon and I didn’t want to entertain her.

Having a large family usually means that there are constant playmates around. Mother isn't in charge of creating entertainment. They are quite capable of coming up with their own games and playing nicely. This is not the case when you have only two small children.

Older children can watch out for younger children when playing outside so I don’t constantly have to be hovering over my littles. While it sometimes makes me sad that my kids do not need me a whole lot, it also brings me joy to see them maturing into helpful young ladies who don’t need their mama to constantly hold their hand.

And also, my 3 and 4-year-old are tired of each other and fighting, which they don’t normally do. So, just to keep it real, I need my big kids to come home and help a mama out.

*Update: All five girls are back together and we are quite happy once again with the normality of our larger than average all-of-a-kind family.*

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