How to Survive Life with Four Kids: Systems to Simplify Things

Giving people advice or guidance on parenting is most certainly not my jam. I pretty much feel like a failure 80% of the time and the other 20% of the time is when my kids are sleeping so I’m not sure it even counts. But there are a few systems I’ve started in my house that help me keep at least a little bit of sanity after having 4 kids in just over 6 years. Of course these don’t work for everyone, but they do work for us. I’d love to hear what systems and expectations you’ve created in your house to make life as efficient as possible!

-Simplify laundry
Laundry is my second least favorite adulting task, right behind giving kids showers/baths. Any way to make laundry easier and I’m all over it. I bought four $0.97 laundry baskets from Walmart and wrote my kids names on them. I take their clothes out of the dryer and literally toss them into the correct basket. No folding, no flipping clothes the right way, no sorting of any kind within each kids basket. I ask them to flip their clothes before they put them in the dirty clothes and if they can’t be bothered to do it, then neither can I. I will match and fold socks for them but only because folding socks for little kids is the equivalent of an adult trying to fold a fitted sheet. IT JUST CAN’T BE DONE.

-Baby wipes EVERYWHERE
In the bathroom so the kids can wipe their nasty spit-toothpaste that just seems to ALWAYS be in sink. Also because, let’s be real, sometimes you don’t have time (read: energy) to bathe the kids everyday. Put them by the garage/back/front door too so kids can wipe their feet off when they come in from playing barefoot outside. We keep wipes in the kitchen because everything is messy and everything spills in the kitchen.  We basically use baby wipes for everything.

-Paper plates
I will say that between the baby wipes and paper plates I do feel like Mother Nature might be really mad at me, but I also think she would understand that this is the phase of life I’m in right now. I can feed my kids off paper plates and go play with them, or I can give them plastic and spend 15 minutes doing dishes. Paper plates save my sanity, especially in the summer.

-Names on cups
My kids were each going through 5 cups a day last summer and I was about to lose my mind trying to remember whose cup was whose, how old it was and where it was. Too much remembering for this momma. So I took away all the cups except for 6. Each kid had 2 cups with their name and they weren’t allowed to use any other cup unless it had their name. It worked great and saved a lot of dishes and fighting over who gets the “pink cup”. It worked so well I’m half tempted to only keep two of literally anything and everything for each kid. You get two pairs of socks, two pairs of shoes, two forks… I’m only half joking. 

If you haven’t figured out a calendar system that works for your house yet I’ll share what we do and maybe that can help guide you in the right direction. I have three (you could do two, but that proved to not be enough for me) dry erase calendars- one for the current month and one for the next two. They’re attached to my wall with com

mand strips so I can easily take them down, move, change, and do whatever I need.  I use color-coded wet erase markers to write everything we have going on for the next three months. Wet erase markers are key here because dry erase m


arkers rub off if you look at them the wrong way. And because kids touch EVERYTHING and they will dry erase off your second week of July and then you’ll be completely screwed. All the kids are color-coded and know what color is theirs so they are pretty aware (when they want to be) of what’s going on. I put my calendars in a funny order (top to bottom it’s 3, 1, 2), but that’s because I like to have the current month at eye level and the second month at the next easiest level to see.  I take a picture of each month before it 

gets erased just in case I need to go back and reference something (which happens shockingly more often then you’d think).

-Shoes organizers
Buy all the shoe bins that have ever been invented. IKEA has some really great ones that I love- they come in a three-pack and have various colors. They’ve also held up really well over the past five years of daily use. Open the bins up, throw the shoes in, and be done. I don’t like having to mess with shoe racks or anything that involves shoes being neatly placed somewhere because it just won’t work for us. But give each kid a shoe bin that holds 5+ pairs of shoes that they can literally throw in? Yeah, that works for us, that’s totally our jam.

There you have it- the daily basics that help me save a tiny sliver of my mind everyday. I hope maybe you can find something in there that will help simplify your life. I know I’m always looking for new ways to create simplicity and efficiency in my own home so I’m excited to hear what everyone else does!

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