Our Family Almost Didn’t Make It To Summer Break

We just crawled to the finish line. Our last month before summer break was a doozy! We had such a healthy year and then crashed and burned in June. On top of our family having one illness after another, we were forced to face some big time parenting problem solving.

Having four kids… you can always expect a wobbly plate. You focus on that kid and get them sorted, then triage the family and move onto the next wobbly plate and so on. Well, somehow, some way we had four wobbly plates for an entire month before summer break.

It was so draining for me mentally and emotionally that it began to have a physical affect on my body. Phew. Despite the stress we pushed through and I am happy to say we have restored the peace in our home in time for the summer break. Watch as I share our journey and then implemented a system that helped us changed the narrative in our home and created a positive atmosphere…

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A Day In The Life with Four Kids

It’s been a while since I shared a “day in the life” video with you, but I am so glad I took the time to film one this week. I began creating these types of videos way back when I first started dabbling in YouTube as a way to give you a fly-on-the-wall look into our busy life and how I do things with four kids, including twins.

Although our twins aren’t crawling around and in diapers like when I first began creating these day in the life videos, today with all four kids in school I face new challenges. So grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up, or… let’s be real, pop your AirPods in and watch while you do the dishes, or put it on for your kids too. Regardless of how you watch it, I hope you enjoy!

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Twins, four kids, the truth and why I’ve been afraid to say this out loud

A note to my readers… I have been sitting on this post for almost a year. I wrote it after a particular trying season, while taking a minute to breathe just outside of my daughter’s dance class. I was resistant to share it. Maybe because I needed the clouds to part. Although this still rings true when things get tough, it’s not such an overwhelming sensation anymore. I have updated my kids ages to reflect today. I hope that with sharing this piece, a mother somewhere might feel a little less alone.

Mother and four kids
Christmas portrait with twins and older siblings

I am about to talk about something that is an almost constant thought of mine. It is something that I think about often and I have only said out loud to three people before in fear that when I utter the words, I might not be understood. That I might be judged, or told that I am not grateful.

But I have decided to say these words out loud because I might not be the only parent of multiples to think this.

Maybe you will get it.

I’ve written a lot about our journey, from the moment we found out we were having two babies, to preparing for their arrival and babyhood with two. But the older our twins get, the less I feel I am going through twin-specific phases and the more I feel like we just happen to have two kids with the same birthday.

Truthfully, I forget I have twins half the time. But every once and a while, when we are in a pressure-cooker-situation, like trying to pop into a store and both of my four-year-olds melt down and they are too big to scoop up easily to abandon ship, I remember… oh yeah I have twins!

I should mention to anyone who is new to my blog, that I have two older kids too. An nine-year-old and a seven year old. Which as you can probably imagine, is a very busy life.

So here it is…

There is this sense of relief when I remember I have twins. The fact that I never had the choice to ease into four kids. The fact that I never had three kids and thought, let’s have one more.

Because in those moments, where I feel completely outnumbered and overwhelmed, I find comfort in the fact that I did not choose to jump from two to four.

Now before I get in too deep with this confession, I want to say that moms with four kids, or multiples are not “more of a mom” than moms with one, or two, or three kids. Moms with one kid have their own set of challenges, I get that. In fact I often tell parents that one was WAY harder than four, (no built in playmates, everything is a first, and there’s too much time to overthink every decision).

But we are busier. It’s a mathematical fact.

We have to bring four kids in from the car, who are cranky and hungry and just want to challenge us. We have to do four bedtimes, with four different sleep challenges. We have to satisfy four different appetites and keep track that each one ate at least something other than bread each day. We have four yearly dentist, doctor and eye-doctor appointments. Four different school and friend challenges… and the list goes on and on.

Every fall, here in Canada, we have to track down four sets of mitts, hats, winter coats, boots and snow pants, whether its digging through hand-me-down bins, or running from store to store not settling until you find snow pants with reinforced knee-patches, to save yourself a mid-winter shopping trip.

So, there it is. That’s the truth. It’s out there now.

But here’s the good thing… I wouldn’t have it any other way. I may have not chosen this path to four children, but I am so glad that I was dealt this hand.

Being a mom of four, and twins, has forced me to grow in ways that without my children, I would have never done. It has made me realize that it’s okay to give myself grace when I’ve had a rough day, and be kind to myself when it all feels like a lot.

On the hardest days I, ( after sometimes loosing my cool a little), will remind myself that letting go of perfection, and loving my family fiercely is almost always the solution.

Four kids and the logistics, tips and tricks on how I get out the door to school/daycare safely with them


When I was pregnant with our twins, and caring for our two older kids as best I could with a massive belly in the way, I would think about every logistical complication that could possibly come with having four kids, and make plans.

I made plans for solo tandem feeding our twins at night, (you can watch my tutorial here.) I made plans for where I would place our babies during the day so our big kids wouldn’t trample them, (I utilized bouncy chairs, high chairs and swings all over our house). I also made plans for how I would safely get everyone out the door in the morning.

Everyone has their own way of doing things, but I think that most parents would agree that getting your kids out of the house in the morning is particularly tricky and chaotic. Sometimes just hearing what another mom has found worked can be extremely helpful. Here is our family’s evolution of getting out the door and buckled into our car each day safely…

When our twins were babies, it was pretty easy. I would use their portable bucket car seats, which they couldn’t escape from, and escort everyone out to our car together. Once they grew out of their bucket car seats, I would roll our active twins to the door each safely buckled in their highchairs, and then escort my big kids, and finally each twin out to our car, which was parked closely within view.

twins

Today, as I get our four kids out the door to school and daycare each day, ages 3 – 8, I have a new system. Everyone gets ready in our mudroom, which is sandwiched between our kitchen and our garage. Our big kids get ready first, and to free up some space in our mudroom, I send them out to our garage, which I like to call “our holding room.”

Once all four kids are ready and in our garage, I grab all of the bags, (I prefer to be in charge of the bags), and open the big garage door. This is the part that our large family has become a bit of neighborhood spectacle. But do you see me caring? Not one bit. Some days we are a spectacle because my neighbors might hear me yelling, “get off the parked bike, you are not wearing a helmet,” or “can whoever threw the basketballs all over the garage put them away?”

But most days we are a spectacle because as that garage door loudly rises, my kids automatically know to line up at the threshold of our driveway and wait. That’s right, I have totally taught my kids to line up Von Trapp style, just call me Maria.

getting kids out the door

All right, some days one kid is climbing our basketball net while another is looking for worms in puddles on a rainy day, but you get the gist.

I then announce that whoever is waiting patiently will get their name called first to get into the car. Although this system isn’t always perfect, it sets a standard for what I expect of my kids, and makes the morning a little less chaotic.

Before driving off to school and our twins’ Kids & Company daycare, I often take a minute (or few) while everyone is buckled and sit in the parked car in our driveway. I do this to collect myself and praise my kids on what a great job they did getting out the door. It is a practical way to set a positive tone for the rest of the day.

sitting in car

I’d love to know, what does your morning routine look like? What are your tips and tricks to get out the door safely?

This post was created in partnership with Kids & Company.

Finding a childcare that not only gives me time to build my career, but that my kids also love, has been such a wonderful aspect to having more of a work/life balance. Kids & Company has the flexibility I need with my schedule, but also the unique programming, learning opportunities, from-scratch meals and sense of community they provide fills me with such confidence in my choice in childcare.

With locations all across Canada, Kids & Company is a high-quality care and early development centre that parents can trust and kids will love. It started under the leadership of two moms (one with 8 children!), who felt there was a need for flexible care options in a setting with amazing teachers, community, proven development programs and an understanding of today’s families.

Whether it’s their Grab ‘n’Go snacks, parent workshops, or their complimentary care for date nights and shopping days outside of regular hours, nothing has been forgotten.

Here’s where it gets exciting… right now Kids &Company is waiving the registration fee (a $150 value) for Nesting Story readers! Just email amcnaught@kidsandcompany.com to access this exclusive offer.
One waved registration per family for a newly registering child before December 31, 2018. Subject to availability.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kids & Company. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of Kids & Company.

What we do about behavioural obstacles with our four kids

Sometimes when I scroll through Instagram or Facebook and once again start to think about how I really need to “up” my photography game, I also start to think, I wonder if we turned the camera around in that beautifully styled room, or if we could rewind time by just five minutes, to see the build-up of the photo of the adorably happy children sitting on chairs in matching outfits, what would we see?

When I used to attempt perfection…

family photo

mother and daughter

mother and daughters

Would we see a three-year-old refusing to wear the perfectly curated outfit and insisting on wearing pajamas… all… day… long…? Would her twin sister be running away, suddenly tripping and hitting her head and begin to sob? Would you see a seven-year-old picking apart your idea for the staged photo, or an impatient almost-nine-year-old sighing loudly asking “how much longer?”

That’s what you’d see in my home. Seriously. That is our home on a daily basis.

The reality…

worried mom

outtake

outtake

(To be honest, I loved the beautiful chaos and the humour of our family’s outtakes so much that I stopped going for perfection and started to document real-life)

Oh right, that is why I don’t have a stunning and beautifully curated Instagram feed. I like to call my Instagram, real-life with a filter.

Seriously though, my kids misbehave. With four kids I have learned that there will always be a wobbly plate, (as I like to call our child that is struggling). Every time I get that kid figured out, sure enough another child starts to push my buttons and their limits.

Our family has faced everything from lying, to stealing, hitting, biting, ignoring, rudeness, property destruction… I could go on but I think you get the point.

These are regular kids, just testing the waters, and their parents. Sure, our kids can also be incredibly kind, sweet, caring and generous. But everyday life is peppered with behavioral problem solving as a parent.

So, what do I do about it?

I pick my battles. When it comes to tattle tale-ing and minor offenses, I often say, “work it out.” Or if I can tell that this minor offense is a bid for my attention, I will ignore it and then be sure to make a fuss when I see that child doing something good.

I talk to my kids, other parents and caretakers. Communication in our home is extremely important. I think that regardless of what transpires with bad behavior, it is very important for our kids to understand not only what they did, but what our family’s expectations are. Sometimes a conversation and some understanding can go a long way.
When I am really struggling with a behavioral problem, I will talk to other parents and even the teachers at my kids’ school and at Kids and Company. I’ve had more than one situation resolved with help from a teacher giving some useful advice at our twins’ daycare. Also, it is important to hear that your kid is not the only one going through this particular stage.

I revoke privileges. There’s a bit of a debate about tablets and kids. I, for one, am a fan of kids ages four and up having their own iPads. That means that two of our four kids have iPads. Here’s the beautiful thing, iPads are a great tool for discipline, at least in our house. When action must be taken with our older kids I will give a warning and then follow through with an iPad being taken away. Depending on the seriousness of the offense our kids will lose their iPads for hours (and earn it back with good behavior) or weeks.

I let them cool off. Occasionally a fight will break out so intense that there needs to be a cool-off period before even doing anything about it. In this situation, when a kid can’t cool off, can’t talk and doesn’t even want a hug, we guide them up to their room and give them five minutes.
Almost every time I will go back in and they are not only calm, but they act like nothing even happened. I think we can all use a little space sometimes.

Whether it’s a biting phase with a toddler, or a call home from a teacher, I want you to know you are not alone. We all go through it. It is important to keep perspective, lean on your village and know that you are doing a great job!

This post was created in partnership with Kids & Company.

Finding a childcare that not only gives me time to build my career, but that my kids also love, has been such a wonderful aspect to having more of a work/life balance. Kids & Company has the flexibility I need with my schedule, but also the unique programming, learning opportunities, from-scratch meals and sense of community they provide fills me with such confidence in my choice in childcare.

With locations all across Canada, Kids & Company is a high-quality care and early development centre that parents can trust and kids will love. It started under the leadership of two moms (one with 8 children!), who felt there was a need for flexible care options in a setting with amazing teachers, community, proven development programs and an understanding of today’s families.

Whether it’s their Grab ‘n’Go snacks, parent workshops, or their complimentary care for date nights and shopping days outside of regular hours, nothing has been forgotten.

Here’s where it gets exciting… right now Kids and Company is waiving the registration fee (a $150 value) for Nesting Story readers! Just email amcnaught@kidsandcompany.com to access this exclusive offer.
One waved registration per family for a newly registering child before December 31, 2018. Subject to availability.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Kids & Company. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of Kids & Company.