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.

My winter weekday and weekend morning routines

Busy mom of four morning routines by Nesting Story

As a mom of four (and a puppy) my morning routines are constantly evolving. Whether it’s my twin toddlers waking up earlier, kids with colds, or needing to taking our puppy out to pee, there always seems to be something disrupting my morning rhythm. Until lately.

Recently, despite all of the above, I seem to have found my groove in the morning. I have been consistently setting my alarm clock in the morning, and getting myself going before the rest of the family.

I wanted to share with you what my current winter weekend morning routine looks like. The meltdowns, the wins and everything in between.

Morning routines during the week…

Busy mom of four morning routines by Nesting Story

and on the weekend.

Busy mom of four morning routines by Nesting Story

Join me and be a fly on the wall in my home in the mornings.

I’d love to know, what does your morning routine look like?

I’m actually enjoying Christmas vacation… well, so far

toddler playing with doll

I am a routine freak. I don’t try to hide it. I need my routine. When pulled out of it, even for a weekend, I unravel.

But here I am, Thursday December 28th, and I am intact, mentally sound, and have not crumbled. Not even during the three straight days of family events, (some with two events per day). Nope, I’m as cool as a cucumber over here.

At least for now.

Maybe this is the sign of the times. I have emerged from the baby haze and can actually cope with life. Okay, okay, our twins went back to full-time daycare yesterday, so maybe I am cheating just a little. But hey, I have learned what works for our family, and I am taking full advantage of childcare so that Mike and I can spend some rare one-on-one time with our big kids.

Christmas morning

Despite the plethora of toys our kids were given for Christmas, I have still heard, “I’m bored,” already at least ten times. My response… saying you’re bored buys you a ticket to play in the mounds of snow in our backyard. This redirects them pretty quickly, especially since it is -23° C outside here in Canada.

So, I survived Christmas. It was pretty great actually, despite some kids getting over colds, and Beau having a bad fall on Christmas morning. It was mostly magical. I’ve added our last couple vlogs below in case you want to catch up on our Christmas vacation.

Fingers crossed I keep going with the flow, and can survive the next week. But for now I am going to enjoy the all-day pj rule, the midday movie outings (we saw Wonder today, it was incredible), and Mike and my evening movie dates enjoying our new basement home theatre.

kids playing

I hope you are surviving the holidays too, and are finding the unstructured days manageable. Fingers crossed!

My top tips on how I have raised four great sleepers

This post was created in partnership with hydraSense®. To make sure hydraSense® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.

Bedtime. Every parent wants to crack this one. Not only can sleep be hard to come by as a parent, but it’s your job to teach your kids healthy bedtime habits and how to sleep through the night. Not to mention that depending on the age and stage of your child, sleep is constantly morphing and it’s up to you to decode it and figure out how to tweak it to your child’s needs.

Twin nursery

Having four kids with good sleep habits hasn’t come without hard work and occasional hiccups. But for me, healthy sleep for our whole family is a priority and I have been fiercely protective of it from day one.

Here are some helpful trouble shooting tips I have picked up along the way that may just help your family too.

Have a plan. Before I get into the importance of having a plan, I think it is important to say that it’s okay to throw your plan, or someone else’s suggested plan out the window if it is just not working for you. I did. When I first became a mom I tried to fit our son Holden into this very strict sleeping schedule that I read in a parenting book. It drove me crazy when he just wouldn’t conform to this generic formula that had nothing to do with my baby. It felt so good to let other people’s rules go and just follow my gut, knowing that finding what works may take some trial and error.

new mom

When I found out I was having twins, I thought of everything, including how to create an optimal sleep environment in their nursery, to rehearsing (using dolls), our future night time routine. This might sound a little overboard, but after being through the baby stage twice I knew that a plan and having a goal made a big difference. For me it was having my twins sleep in their cribs, in their own room from day one and that I would be able to independently do night feedings from the beginning. This plan paid off and actually worked really well.

sleep training twins

Get creative when you hit a bump in the road. Just this past week, Mia (one of our three year old twins), started into some separation anxiety and a fear stage. This caused Mia to wake up nightly crying and screaming for hours on end. Despite what we would try, Mia’s hysterics would escalate keeping her twin sister, Everly awake in the bed beside her. Eventually, we began taking Mia into our bed, (something we try to avoid); just so that we could all just get some sleep.

After a few days of this I decided something had to be done. What could help Mia stay in bed all night and avoid the tears? That’s when I came up with the idea for a sticker chart. So that day I set out to buy special poster paper and stickers and created three charts, one for each of our girls (our son didn’t want one). This little reward in the morning has changed everything. Since implementing a sticker chart, we haven’t heard a peep from either Mia or Everly at night.

toddler sticker chart

Be consistent. This is probably one of the most common rules to babies and kids sleeping well. Have a schedule and stick to it. Our schedule was something that I was fiercely protective of which has created very predictable sleeping patterns and happy bedtimes. Anytime we’ve been forced out of routine because of special events, or trips we see the ripple effect. So, we make sure that whenever possible we can try to schedule life around our sleep routines.

Relax and be ready when your kids get sick. All of my tips above are great… when your kids are healthy, but every once and while an illness settles into our home and disrupts everyone’s sleep. Often, when our kids get colds, it hits Everly extra hard. She has always been more prone to congestion than our other kids and it’s our job to make sure I can reduce and relieve her nasal cold symptoms to help her breathe better.

Toddler

I have always relied on hydraSense for all of our kids, especially Everly. hydraSense Baby Nasal Care can be used up to 4 to 6 times a day when your child’s nose is blocked due to colds, or allergies. This is especially helpful when your child is under age two, and is not able to blow their own nose effectively. For more information on hydraSense, including Ultra Gentle Mist, Easydose vials and Nasal Aspirator, head to http://www.hydrasense.ca/ .

hydrasense

hydrasense

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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by hydraSense®. While compensation was provided, all opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily indicative of the opinions of hydraSense®. To make sure hydraSense® products are right for you, always read and follow the label.