I don’t know how you do it.” I have heard that phrase a thousand times. My answer is always the same, “I don’t know any other way.” I am a single mom to two sets of boy/girl twins. My older two are 10 and my younger two are 6. It takes all of us working together to make it work.
In our house you earn marbles for doing good deeds and exhibiting good behavior (above and beyond what is expected). You lose marbles for bad behavior. We keep a small white board in our kitchen with everyone’s name and how many marbles they have earned. Once 20 marbles is reached, you can cash them in for $10.00.
Everyone has the responsibility of their own rooms and then one assigned chore. All other household chores are assigned a reward value. Each child can choose how much extra they would like to do to earn their marbles.
This is a great reward system that allows my children to see the value in hard work and reaping the benefits. When they want a book from the book fair, they quickly check to see how many marbles they have and how many they need. When they want to purchase something at the store, they have to dip into their marble fund. I love hearing my children say they want something and then immediately figure how many marbles it would cost. They are learning the value of the system, as they have also turned down purchasing something because it would take too many marbles. It’s fun to see the expression on a bystander’s face when I ask the kids “do you want to lose your marbles?”
A lot of responsibility is put on my children’s shoulders. As a result, I have four very independent children. When we are out (out to eat, shopping, or on vacation), my older two are responsible for taking the younger two to the restroom. If we are walking in a parking lot, they hold each other’s hands. Because of this encouraged responsibility, I feel that they have a strong bond among themselves.
I have to say that my biggest challenges are keeping my house clean, not having enough one-on-one time with each child, and having absolutely no “me” time. Yes the children help out around the house, but I swear my kitchen is only clean twice a year! I can’t ever keep up with the dishes. In the beginning, I would stress over it and apologize any time someone came into my home. I have since learned to let it go and not stress over it, but that was a really hard lesson to learn.
As for the one-on-one time with my children, I make an effort to be with each of them at least once a week, even if it’s only a trip to the grocery store. I want them to know that they are individuals.
I want them to know they have my undivided attention when needed.
“Me” time is another story. When I do have down time, the last person that I am thinking about is me. I have worked really hard to carve out time that is just for me. This might be sitting in front of the television with a cup of tea for 30 minutes, or going to the store and only shopping for me. It’s not perfect or even ideal for most; it’s a work in progress for me.
making it work
We have many examples of making it work, but our favorite are from vacations. Three years ago, we traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It took us two days to get there, but we made it! We had a great time playing at the beach and exploring the area. On the way back and just five hours from home, a deer jumped in front of the car on the Ohio Turnpike. We managed to drive another three hours before the car gave out. The kids were such troopers spending the day playing at a park while we waited for neighbors to come pick us up. The little town that we ended up in only had one diner that closed at noon, so we ate our meals from the local gas station. I was so tired and stressed, but the kids turned it into an adventure and still talk about that day.
So how do we make it work? I would say the same as any other family with multiple birth children. When we find that it’s not working, we put our heads together and figure out a better solution. I tell my children that as long as we have each other and are willing to work together, we can accomplish anything.