- Try to schedule some extra help right away, but also again at about weeks 6, 7 and 8 when you've reached the peak of your exhaustion. It's such a blessing to have someone come and take the olders to the park in the morning so you can rest, enjoy a little quiet, or just get something done that's driving you crazy. If that person can also put the baby in the stroller and go for a walk with all three kids for 45 minutes, you'll be amazed at how refreshed you are when it's over.
- For me, it's sometimes not easier for someone to be in my house helping me. It's actually easier if, once every couple weeks, Chet can take all the kids out for an hour and a half (between me feeding Will) so I can be in the house by myself to get things done or just collect myself.
- Suggestions of spending time with each kid are great. And it's also true that it might only be 5 minutes. Somehow, the Lord multiplies that 5-10 minutes so that it means a lot more than that to the kids.
- Remember that babies don't often die from crying. If you have to leave the baby laying down screaming his/her face off for a few minutes so you can pick up your screaming toddler, that's okay. It's not quiet. But it's okay.
- Try to be conscientious of the fact that you're asking your kids to drop what they're doing regularly to help you... and be willing to drop what you're doing every once in a while to help them too. Not always. I am certainly not kid-centric around here... but I definitely don't want my kids feeling like they're put on this planet just to help me.
- Consistency with discipline is key, and at the same time consistency with attention is key. As you consistently pay attention to your kids, they become assured that your discipline is really for their individual good and not just because they've interrupted you again.
- Make plans and try to improve them when they're not working... but mostly realize that no day can look exactly like any other day. The Lord will challenge you to become more and more flexible, to grow in grace more and more, and to die to yourself and become content in Him more and more every day. As you are growing in this, your kids will see where your joy comes from (helps to explain it too), and you can help them grow in contentment with the things the Lord has given them as well.
- I like to keep this thought in mind: If I sent my kids to a child care center, I wouldn't want the workers to be neglecting my kids in the name of constantly cleaning and doing projects... and I wouldn't want them neglecting the cleaning altogether in the name of playing with my kids. Sometimes the kids have to wait while you get something done, and sometimes the dishes can sit on the counter and pee in the potty seat because you're reading a story to them. It's impossible to be everything to everyone. Only God can be everything to them, so when you feel like you're failing, point them to the Lord and remind them that only He can satisfy the desires of their hearts.
I know that all of these things sound like terrible cliches and like a list of impossible demands. Hopefully, you'll just read it as thoughts to keep in mind to help you balance yourself when you feel like things are out of control. I'm in a stage right now where I just can't seem to catch up. And then I have to remember that, even if it's 5 or 20 years from now, I'll catch up... I just hope that I've spent enough time with my kids along the way that they'll come back when I'm sitting in my clean, empty house.