Having a larger family was not something I had always dreamed of or planned, but now I couldn't imagine life any other way. My husband is, and has always been, a great partner in child rearing. I plan, organize, and fret over every detail, while my husband hops in the car and wings it. I read, do homework, and study with them, while he starts wet paper towel fights, wrestles, and plays Nerf guns. The kids are pretty adaptable to both of our styles, and even the youngest appreciates the balance between us.
The children have also learned a lot from being part of the clan. Each kid has chores that must be completed, more out of necessity than anything else. The chores are traded in once a year and new jobs are assigned. We don't pay the kids...I figure, nobody pays me to do all this laundry! Besides, the life skills they are acquiring are priceless! The kids have also learned to take care of each other. My oldest adores our youngest. Whenever she is home, she assumes most of his care, just because she wants to. She loves getting him up from nap, changing him up, and watching him play in the yard. This relationship is beautiful to watch blossom. Our kids are learning to share our time and attention. We often take one kid at a time out to do errands. During that time, we hear more about their thoughts than we would in a week! They have learned to make wise choices about their activities. We allow each child to choose one sport or activity at a time. They must then see it through to the end of the season before changing or deciding on something else. This has really taught commitment and responsibility.
All in all, having five children is a balancing act...but so is having one or two! So the next time you see us out and think, "God bless those parents!", don't worry, because we know He already has!