After having gone through potty-training 4 times now, I have determined that flushable wipes are a gift from God! It saves money on underwear, teaches cleanliness, and saves from mommy or daddy having to wipe bottoms!
2. White Noise
We discovered by accident when Gabe was born that white noise is also a gift from God. Gabriel was crying and crying, but I had to get some housework done. I started vacuuming and voila! Gabe stopped crying. I turned the vacuum cleaner off (which was a spanking new Dyson at the time) and he started crying again. I turned it back on, and he stopped crying. You get the point. Needless to say, every time Gabe wouldn't stop crying, I would turn the vacuum on and he would stop. We used the vacuum to teach him to sleep in his own crib! When Xander was born, we didn't want to burn the motor in the vacuum out, so we invested in a White Noise CD. We put our "boom box" in his bedroom and played that CD every time he lied down to go to sleep. Now, technology has once again advanced. Elijah falls asleep with either my iPhone or Dave's HTC which both have a White Noise App on them. It almost always does the trick and he's usually asleep within 10 minutes - no rocking, no pacifier, just the white noise. Had I discovered this when Kaleb was first born, it probably would have saved me several very stressful nights, since I didn't know what to do to get him to stop crying.
This is a no fail entertainer. Whenever one of the toddlers says "I'm bored" I almost always redirect to PlayDoh. We have two tubs full of PlayDoh and accessories. Xander has recently learned he can use things around my house to duplicate making things I have made. He uses plastic forks and knives, tupperware, and cutting mats when he plays with the PlayDoh and often entertains me with his latest meal recipes.
This is almost always a no fail entertainer when kids are bored (even for the older ones). I no longer purchase coloring books and instead print off single coloring sheets from various websites when they are looking for something to do. I also found a great idea on Pinterest to keep these in the diaper bag and car at all times: The instructions on how to make these can be found at the Under the Sycamore blog.
5. Johnson's Head-To-Toe Baby Wash
We use this product from the birth of our kids until they become particular about choosing their own products (about 11 years old). We use it wash hair and body. It's gentle on skin, which comes in handy for kids who are sensitive to dyes and perfumes or have eczema. Johnson's also makes Baby Bubble Bath & Wash, as well as Bedtime Bath which are awesome for the kiddos over 6 months. Most of our kids have some sort of sensitive skin problems, and Johnson's baby products have always been great.
6. A Snack Box
So we discovered this trick when we drove to Disney World in 2008. We used a plastic box to dump a bunch of kids snacks in to keep them in one common, easily accessible location in the car. Once we returned from Disney, we took the box of leftover snacks and put them into the pantry on a shelf that was reachable by all the kids. Ever since, when we buy snacks at the store, we remove them from their packages and boxes and put them all in this one common location. The kids know that they can have any of these snacks for lunch or during the day, but that once the box is empty- it won't be refilled until the next shopping trip (the 1st and 15th of every month). Some more ideas on how to organize kids snacks can be found at the Joyful Homemaking blog.
7. A Dishwasher
I don't really think I need to expound on this one. With 5 kids comes 5 times the average amount of dishes that need to be cleaned every day. I don't know what we'd do without our dishwasher. Enough said.
8. A Washer and Dryer
Saturday's is our laundry day. We are fortunate enough to have our washer and dryer on the second floor of our house, which is where 3 out of our 4 bedrooms are. All the kids know that Saturday morning they need to bring their hampers into our bedroom and sort their darks and lights on the floor. Then dad begins the tedious task of washing approximately 10 loads of laundry, then folding it and sorting it. I've tried to make this a joint effort, however he doesn't like the way I fold, so has taken on the task of doing laundry on his own most weeks. We don't own a fancy washer and dryer, but hope to make the leap into purchasing an efficient set when we move to Hawaii. I also plan to make our laundry sorting a little more organized utilizing the awesome idea I came across on Pinterest (see below).
9. A Bassinet
I learned the benefit of this with my very first child and have used one with every single one of them. A versatile bassinet is so awesome, especially for a nursing mama. Ours is pretty simple and has two very useful features- it rocks and it has one side that can be slightly lower so that you can easily reach in and grab a newborn in the middle of the night. the rocking comes in handy because if they stir at night, sometimes all it takes is a little rocking for them to fall back asleep. With Elijah, the bassinet has come in handy because we don't have room in our house right now for a crib. His bassinet will be in our room until we move to Hawaii. The size of a bassinet has worked out perfect for our current living situation. For anyone who is looking for one, this one (while we don't own it) seems pretty amazing and has some features I wish ours had:
10. A Really Amazing Husband
I honestly could not make our family work without my husband. If I had to come up with one word to describe my husband it would be "Amazing." He is a great dad and an awesome partner. We are a team and we make our family work. He is the ying to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly, and the sweet to my sour. While I have a ton of respect for single mom and dad's who have to do it on their own, but for me and my family, it wouldn't work with a great husband.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.