My Morning

Joining Chris and Carmen in telling about morning in a busy household with many children.

6:15 am– I awaken to the baby crying next to me. 3 year old is asleep on the other side of me. Both are crammed as close to me as they can get. Hubby left for work an hour ago. I’m hoping the baby isn’t thinking it is morning already– I’m certainly not. I offer her a bottle and she falls back asleep.

7:00– 3 year old definitely thinks it is time to get up and is chattering loudly enough that I worry she’ll wake the baby. But for the moment baby is still snoozing. I gingerly untangle my arm from under her head and sneak out of bed. 3 yr old and I go to the bathroom, then head out to the living room. I turn off the fan in the hall that we use to blow wood-stove heat back to the bedrooms, so I’ll be sure to hear the baby when she awakens. The fan turning off immediately wakes both 7 year olds, who drag themselves out bleary-eyed and park themselves in front of ‘Arthur’ (on PBS). I pour coffee that my hubby made before he left (wonderful man!) pop another log in the fire, and settle down on the couch with email. 3 yr old cuddles in next to me on the couch as i sip coffee and read. Ah, bliss.

7:30–Baby stil sleeping. Utter silence still from upstairs. The big kids rarely arise before 8.

7:50– Baby wakes, fussing, and one of the 7 year olds who has gone back to get dressed grabs her and brings her to me. She smiles, sleepy-eyed, and cuddles on my lap a few minutes before getting down to play.

7:55– When she gets down I realize her diaper has leaked and she and I are both wet. Darn those size 3’s– I need to switch her up to size 4’s but since I only use disposables at night, that last pack of size 3’s is lasting forever. I get up to dress the baby and myself. On the way I pass the laundry room, which is overflowing with dirty clothes. I backtrack out to the bottom of the stairs and call for all the big kids to get up. Then I call the 11 yr old to come toss a load of laundry in, since this is his week on laundry duty. He agrees sleepily and I head back to first dress the baby, then myself. i try to remember when I last took a shower…yesterday.. good enough.

8:05 –While dressing myself I keep the baby in with me, so she won’t get into mischief. This morning one of my 7 year olds has a prosthetic leg fitting appointment–at 10:30 in The Big City, a 40 min drive away. I’ve got to get a move on. I pull on a pair of black velour flare jeans, a grey and blue sweater, and my favorite clog slip-ons.

8:15– Back out in the kitchen I put a pot of water on to boil– we’re having grits, OJ, and toast for breakfast. I assign a 7 year old to set the table and another 7 yr old to make OJ. The 17 year old goes out to feed the horses. When she comes back in she grabs a loaf of bread and starts making toast without me even asking. Big kids are wonderful!

8:20– I tool around the kitchen with the baby on my hip, drinking a little more coffee, and stirring grits. 15 year old comes down and washes some pots and pans that did not get washed last night. 14 year old goes to get the newspaper. Not much talking. Everyone is still sleepy.

8:30– The 7 yr old going with me is cheery. The one who isn’t coming is cranky about not coming. He tries to get me to allow him to play video games before his school. No dice. The 3 year old, surprisingly, takes in stride the news that she is staying home, and sits on the living room floor playing with one of the baby’s toys, til the cranky 7 year old comes over and picks a fight. Within seconds both are screaming and the 3 year old calls the 7 year old an idiot. I redirect both, giving each a job– since it is laundry-folding day, he starts in on his basket. The 3 year gets a wet rag and a 3 minute session of floor-scrubbing for name-calling.

8:35– 15 year old serves up the grits, to which I’ve already added butter and brown sugar.

8:40–We all sit down to eat. During breakfast grumpy 7 yr old nags a bit more about computer games. I tell him if he doesn’t shape up he’ll spend the morning in his room.I ask 15 yr old how she feels–she had a migraine last night but says she’s feeling better this morning. Then I remember 11 yr old stubbed his toe really badly last night (on a baby gate). I check that. It is black and blue but not too puffy and he says it feels better.

8:50– The baby is pretty much refusing the grits and has gnawed only part of a piece of toast. But she’s now throwing food, so I wash her and take her back with me to do my makeup. Before leaving, I remind the 7 year olds to empty the dishwasher so the 14 yr old can load it. 3 year old follows me back to the bedroom and I pull her hair into a quick ponytail before starting my makeup. She runs off to play, delighted that this AM she got an easy hairdo. The single ponytail will be looking wild by midday but she’s not going anywhere so it doesn’t matter. 5 minutes worth of makeup and a quick brush of my hair gets me as good as I’m going to get today. By the time I get done, the baby has one drawer almost totally empty. Ah, well.

9:05– Almost ready to leave the bathroom, I remember that the baby IS going with me, so I definitely need to do her hair. Often I just stick in two hair clips, but she is getting a really BIG ‘fro these days. Once I pik it out and look at it, I decide to do 4 ponytails instead. Not hard with a stationary subject, but as soon as I get the right amoun of hair divided and pulled together, ready for a ponytail, she shakes her head back and forth, wailing for me to quit tugging on her. Thankfully I got hairdo experience with her more tolerant big sis. I hang on, following the movement of her head, quickly twisting in each ponytail in spite of her movements.

9:10– Half way into the hairdo, the 15 year old comes storming into the bedroom, almost in tears over the grumpy 7 year old. She declares if she has to be in charge of him, she knows her migraine will come back. Since the kid has almost given ME a headache this morning I sympathize. When he gets in a funk like this, it is hard to pull him out. i call him. He comes in hollering about the injustice of the older siblings in his life. I listen for a minute, then address his responsibility in the matter. But he is too peeved to hear anything of it. By now I am finished with the baby’s hair so I let her down. I tell the 7 year old to grab a banana and a water bottle, along with all his school books, and bring him into his room. I write a list of things for him to do this AM– math, handwriting and reading. When I see the state of his room, I add room-cleaning. I set him up at his table with his school books, and tell him this is where he is spending the morning. He can come out only to go to the bathroom. he is upset but after some talk, a couple hugs and a little bit of crying, he settles down and seems like he will be OK.

9:30 Back out in the living room, I tell the 15 and 14 year olds the plan and set the timer for noon, when the 7 year old can come out. The 15 yr old will check on him every now and then. I think– I hope– this will work better than putting him in close proximity with the other kids while I am not home to referee. I hope to be home by 1:00. (Later note: In fact, this solution DID work beautifully. The big kids reported that he got all his school done, played Legos, and came out in a very pleasant mood when the timer rang. Yeah!!)

9:35 I do a quick inspect of the going-with-me 7 year old and am relieved to see he’s in something clean and matching and has his school books to bring along. The 17 year old is ready to go too (she’s coming along because we are going to buy party supplies for her birthday after the prosthetic fitting this AM). While I get coats on the baby and myself, 17 yo fills a couple bottles and restocks my purse with diapers.

9:45– 15 yo is settled in the living room with her school books so she can keep an eye on younger ones while ding school. As I run out the door with kisses all around, I remind everyone to work hard on school, & be kind to each other. Then, feeling a pang over leaving the 3 year old, I assign the 15, 14 and 11 yr olds one 15 minute span each to play something fun and special with the 3 year old. That along with Sesame Street, her coloring books, and her Betti Spaghettis will keep her occupied til I get home. She’s such a cheery kiddo. (Later I was told that the 15 yr old made cheerio necklaces with her, the 14 year old read her stories, and the 11 year old played one of his new Christmas games with her– a good deal all around.) A reasonable amount of school got done as well.

Anyway, this morning was a little unusual for me, since most mornings I don’t have errands to run. But it kinda gives you an idea of life at our house! And it does let you in on on of the biggest keys to a happy life at our house– lots of help from the kids!


  1. I loved reading this! It's so neat how your kids pitch in and take care of each other. And the 15 minute play assignments with the 3 year old — what a great idea!

  2. Having had a houseful at various times, I can imagine every word you said.

  3. too, fun, I just found your blog and I LOVE IT! The baby (how old is she?) sounds just like my just turned 1 yo with the pulling everything out of the drawers, I stoped folding her clothes because they just end up all over the floor! 🙂

  4. Great post! You have such a neat family!

  5. Wow I'm tired just readin 🙂
    We are just starting our first adoption & have 3 bio kids. I love your web site. It keeps me motivated to bring our baby home I know it can happen!!!

  6. Hi #NAME#. Just found your site via gourmet. Although I was looking for gourmet I was glad i came upon your site. Thanks for the read!

  7. I am reading through your archives. I have found your POTTY MOUTH – bathroom cleaning chore SO helpful with my older boys. I wrote to you not that long ago about having big boys and figuring out consequences for them. You gave me two suggestions and I LOVE practical suggestions!! I have never had cleaner toilets!! LOL. Not that they are rude all the time, but it is a good consequence and with three older boys – it works like a charm!

    I have two questions for you: one – what are grits? I have heard of them before. I thought they might be hashbrowns, but you are serving them with butter and brown sugar. You have me intrigued cause I am always looking for new things to feed my tribe (6 boys – soon to be 8 or 9 children).

    Second question. Have you thought about (or perhaps you have posted on this) posting on raising big kids? For instance, your great ideas on consequences for not speaking kindly, or cleaning mum's room because their behavior made you tired. What about a post talking about this stuff and/or the wonderful things about your teens that can encourage us who are behind you?

    I know you are busy with your troops but thought I would throw it out anyway!

    Thanks for your blog. It is inspirational!

    Blessings, Justine