Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Attachment Siblings

For all of you who are busy with one or two children, and look at me and wonder, How does she do it?, I'm going to let you in on a little secret that mothers of four or more children know.

You might even know this if you spaced your three children widely apart. I didn't, so I'm only starting to experience the real benefits of a larger family now that I've had four.

In a house where the children outnumber the adults, the parents learn to creatively delegate the work (which really feels like play to our children). I've heard people say that in larger families, it isn't fair to expect older siblings to help. Seriously? It's not like we're taking them out of school to pick rocks in the fields or something. It's always voluntary, and we always relieve them when they don't want to do it anymore.  

Last week I left Norah in the girls' room with Margot for company while I washed the dishes. Surrounded by pillows, she played for twenty minutes while Margot repaired the undercarriage of her bed (in a ballgown, of course). Making breakfast is a cinch if Norah is driven around the kitchen in a cardboard box. Jude proudly wears his alien pajama pants and his little sister (and I think of the wonderful dad he'll be someday). Violet takes her responsibilities seriously, and handles the baby with all the gentleness and confidence of the mother I hope she'll some day be. 

So, for those of you who wonder, that's how we do it. We wash the dishes fast while an older sibling plays peekaboo. We send them upstairs to entertain her when she wakes up in order to finish folding the laundry. We know that through Norah's eyes, the world is full of loving faces and arms that want to hold her. 

It's a beautiful world, through her eyes.

(Thanks to my friend Erin for inspiring this post!)


  1. This is the magic of having a larger than normal family. Your kids are awesome.

  2. Even with two, I can see the awesomeness of my older child caring for my younger child. She loves to help change her diaper, distract her, and carry her around :) Now that they are 3.5 and 8mo old, I often hear loud giggles coming from the living room while I'm doing the dishes. It almost makes me want a third...haha!!

    1. So far 3 is great! I have found the transition from two to three much smoother than it was from one to two (for us anyways!) :)

  3. I am just discovering this myself. My 6 week old has recently been showing off his 'true' smiles and my older two are constantly trying everything to see them again and again! I love the picture of your son, so very sweet!

  4. So very true, Stephanie. The love just goes round and round. It is not a love divided, but multiplied...exponentially!

  5. Yes, yes and yes! Why is it that we have not hung out lately with our crazy big families? I need to give you a call. Love the photos. My house is pretty much the same with lots of baby giggles heard while big brothers and sisters entertain my little one. So much love surrounds these baby girls of ours!

  6. yes, indeed- agreeing with Rebecca ad Erin above.

    The love is almost palpable through the pictures. Modeled after their parents' example...

  7. so well said! as a mom who gave birth to four as well I found that the older children could amuse the younger ones so much better than I ever could.

  8. Our third has been "parented" so much by his siblings. It is such a sweet thing to see him turn to them for help when he is sad, or for them to notice when he needs help with something without being told, and for him to call for them to join him in bed when he awakes from nap. The other day when our refrigerator broke (on the hottest day of the year so far) my man and I had to spend an hour at bedtime defrosting it manually. The older two snuggled in bed with the youngest (9,7, and 3) and read him bedtime stories until we could join them. We were so proud of them.
    Children who care for one another make the household run more smoothly--and I'm sure the world will run more smoothly from all this love as well.
    Thanks for sharing!

  9. This is so sweet. We have three children and are thinking of a fourth. I love the sweet stories you tell about your family:)

  10. I really wondered how it was done! My oldest who is almost four is already planning when we will have our next baby and what it will be! I'm thinking how can we do this? If we wait just a bit longer she will really be able to help out.

    Thanks for the telling the secret!

  11. So THAT is how it works!!!!!! I love it. Get right OUT of here with that picture of Jude carrying her. What an AMAZING partner he will make someone one day. Lucy and Soleil are spaced out nicely for me, and I am blown away by how helpful she can be! The older sibs are soaking up so many great life skills/lessons while Norah gets to soak up all the love: perfect.


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