Originally Posted by mumblemama
Several of us here, yes. I have three. They are all 6yrs and younger, and were all 4yrs and younger when my ex and I split. I had them about 80% or more then (we now do 50/50 split...) and yes, it was hard (and still is), but you figure it out. And it gets easier.
I don't have the luxury of letting my kids do whatever they want. I have explicit rules I had to put in place when this began. We go to the store, you sit here, you sit there, you walk and hold onto here, and if anyone complains about it, fusses, or ignores my request we leave immediately. So in a lot of ways I had to become more "no nonsense" about certain things, because how the heck else would it happen? And it wasn't fun and games, but nowadays, they know what's expected and it just happens (most of the time).
I don't think this is exclusive to 3 or more kids, but when you are outnumbered by kids at all, I think the best thing I learned was just to let go a lot more while having certain things I will absolutely NOT discuss because they are rules (of personal survival!). The apartment is gonna be messy, kids are gonna fight, as long as nobody is hurting one another I feel like I did pretty darn good.
I was a single mama of 3 - all under 5 at the time. DP and I just had #4 - we don't live together and I still consider myself a single mama.
Mumblemama, I'm the exact same way. I'm incredibly strict about my childrens behavior in public. Not because I'm a naturally strict parent, but because it is the way it has to be. My kids can not be out of control in a parking lot, or the grocery store. I have to be able to get the shopping done, leaving isn't an option most of the time. If I didn't NEED to be at the store, I wouldn't. If I don't get the groceries, no one else is going to, and I don't usually have the option of dropping the kids off or hiring a sitter and going later.
We started as toddlers with the 'one hand rule'. In the parking lot, while I'm unbuckling the other kids, you must keep one hand on the car at all times. Then once in the store, my kids know they have to follow me and can't wander off unless they ask. My older two are quite adept at following directions and helping these days. I also talk to the kids about the behavior I expect while we are out on the way to where ever we are going. If I'm dropping #2 off at girl scouts, I'll let the kids know the situation..."#2 is going to girl scouts, we are dropping her off and then we are going to run to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner. "
About a year ago, I had a huge falling out with DP's brother and his wife. We were all at IKEA, and their son (an only child) was running around the store jumping on furniture. My children followed suit - even though behavior like that is expressly against our 'rules'. After asking my children to quiet down, behave etc...I eventually yelled, realized we couldn't keep shopping and left the store with the kids (they continued to shop for over an hour while we waited in the parking lot, we were visiting them). We have a line around here 'Just because other kids are misbehaving, doesn't make it ok for you do misbehave'. BIL, SIL, and MIL were very upset that I hold my kids to a higher standard of behavior - they always let nephew go nuts at IKEA (I might add, I originally thought the kids would have more fun in the play center, but SIL wouldn't let nephew go, so my kids came along while we shopped). BIL and SIL haven't spoken to me in over a year - despite the birth of #4 (their biological nephew). They think I was critical of their parenting. Which, I am not - I could care less what they do with their kid. The issue, was that the next time we go to the store - I NEED my children to behave. They have 2 sometimes 3 adults to control one child. I am one adult, with 3 children who I can't just leave at home to go grocery shopping. My children must behave.
My strictness in public has paid off - my children are polite to waitresses, they quickly order their food and say thank-you. They have good manners when people stop us to chat, they are able to wait in a line without having a breakdown, the older two help to make our shopping trips more efficient - IE: helping #3 out of his carseat while I get #4 in the sling.