Small Children: How a Mother of 4 under 4 Keeps Her Head Above Water!
I met Jessica Grow just a few months ago and was blown away by the amazing balanced life she leads. She has 4 children, under the age of 4! 3 boys, and a precious girl! She is so full of grace, and poise, and has a wonderful depth about her. I know you all will fall in love with her! In this article she shares with us HOW SHE DOES IT! Enjoy! -Whitney J
1. You have 4 under 4? WOW! Could you briefly tell us what it is like being a mother of 4 under 4?
Haha, well to be technical I have 4 kids 4 and under (my oldest is 4 and my youngest is 4 months). But the best way to describe having 4 kids it that is the craziest, hardest, funniest, most challenging, and best thing ever! My husband Ryan and I, always knew we wanted to have at least four kids, so when we started having them, we didn’t hold back… obviously! And four kids later we are truly happy that we didn’t.
Having four kids, our house is loud all the time. I think of it as controlled chaos. We have the entire house baby – toddler – monkey proof and we have nothing valuable anywhere within a chair’s reach. All our furniture is second hand, that way when it breaks (and trust me it will) we don’t mind. People who don’t have kids and come over are pretty overwhelmed by the volume level, but we embrace all the craziness and consider it a compliment when people scratch their heads at us. We love it!
Some weeks are harder than others. A few weeks ago my son Isaac broke my husbands brand new glasses in half, threw my MacBookPro into a tub full of water, cut off half of his beautiful long golden hair, and then jumped off the bunk beds, sliced his chin open, and we had to go to the ER! And that was just one kid in one week. So multiply that by four and that’s my life. To be honest, many times Ryan and I look at each other and laugh. We chose this craziness! What the heck were we thinking?!? But then I look at my kids and I can’t believe that I get to be their Mom.
2. What is the key to you not losing your mind?
I have the most amazing husband in the world. Ryan is the most involved, caring, and helpful Dad I have ever known. When he comes home from work, he goes right into Daddy mode. All the pillows come off the couches and the pillow fights, wrestling matches and tackle games ensue! Ryan takes a good share of the load when he gets home, and on the rough days my goal is to simply survive till he comes home.
My saving grace has been being involved in something that I love. In my case, it is leading worship at my church. My husband will watch the kids while I go to rehearsals and it gives me a creative outlet where I can put “ mommy” aside and just be Jess for a couple hours.
I also love to exercise! Running is my fix. Being physically active helps me to clear my head and makes me feel like a human being and not just a baby making machine. I feel the strongest and sexiest after a good run, and lets face it, after having four kids in five years, it is important to feel strong and sexy. I remember that I chose this life and I love this life. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else in the world.
3. What is the hardest part?
Obviously it can be physically exhausting, and mentally draining. I think every Mom feels that way. But I would have to say that one of the hardest parts for me is to not compare myself to any other mom, or my kids to any other kids. When I just had one kid, it was pretty easy to get involved, buy him all new clothes and travel like crazy. But as the babies kept comin’ I quickly found out I couldn’t keep it up. It was just too much pressure to be perfect.
Sometimes it’s hard when I see so many kids wearing designer clothes, involved in like a bazillion different Mommy and Me activities, babies reading by the time they are two years old, and eating all organic homegrown Brussels sprouts for snack. Meanwhile, at least one of my kids is missing a shoe, another is bleeding, one has something stuck in his hair, and the other is eating something off the floor. I have learned to focus on what I think is most important for my family, and let everything else go!
So instead of trying to be perfect we decided to find our priorities: marriage, family, health and work/ministry. For example, health is very important to me, so a year ago we cut all processed foods and started eating clean. But of course eating all organic is very expensive and would put financial pressure on Ryan. So instead of eating only organic, we decided to stick with “clean food”, that way my husband does not have to take a second job. Family time is more important to us, so we found a healthy balance that works for our family. The truth is that all of children, families, and priorities are different. No family is perfect; at least I know mine never will be! Knowing that kinda takes the pressure off.
4. How has this changed you as a person?
Being a mother of four has completely changed me. It has made me so much less stressed. It’s funny, I know having four kids would stress anyone out (and not gonna lie I do have hard days). But thanks to God, I have more peace and definitely more joy than I ever have. I guess having so many kids has forced me to truly not sweat the little things. I can’t do that. If I did I would be in a constant state of stress and probably seriously depressed.
I am also way stronger than I thought I could be. Something about giving birth four times made me realize that my body can do pretty much anything I want it to. Being a mom has matured me, stretched me and grown me into a much better version of myself. [pullquote_right]Being a mom has matured me, stretched me and grown me into a much better version of myself.[/pullquote_right]
5. What advice do you have for mothers with small children?
First make sure your home is not a child-centered home, but a family centered home. There is a huge difference. When our homes revolve around our kids it becomes unbalanced. Our culture trains kids to be very self centered, they have their toys, their room, their friends, it’s no wonder kids are selfish, we train them to be! Our children need to know that the world does not revolve around them. So make sure to make decisions based on the best interest of the whole family, including yourself. For example, my oldest child does not go to every birthday party because some weeks it will put to much stress on the rest of the family. Not every kid will get what they want all the time, but as a family we will continue to grow and explore together, and we do things that can include all our kids.
Another super key item is to be scheduled so you can be flexible. I know it sounds strange, but the reason I can be involved and active with all four kids is because we keep a tight ship at home. Kids crave structure, so I have every minute of each kid’s day scheduled. This way I know we are all getting enough rest, family time, learning time, and play time. When things come up, like they do almost every day, my kids and I are able to handle it because we live in a stable, structured, healthy and well-rested home.
Pick your battles. When you know what your top values are, hold to your guns and let everything else go. For my family, my kids can be crazy, loud and break things and probably will not get in trouble. However, if they have an attitude or talk back at all it will result in immediate discipline. That is just part of our value structure, and my child’s attitude is more important to me than stuff. So when you identify the values for your home, uphold them like a tyrant and let everything else go because it’s not worth the stress.
In the end it’s really about perspective. We are given these kids for a reason. I constantly remind myself that God gave me these kids because I am the best person for the job. It was my choice to have a big family and I am going to enjoy living my life as a mom. It is crazy and hard but I have a feeling these are some of the best days of my life, and I love them.
Thank you so much to Jess for opening up, and sharing with us HOW SHE DOES IT! If you have any questions for Jess, please feel free to comment below!
For tips on how to save money for your family CLICK HERE!