I have always been enamored by large families, and now I have one. I love to see how large families work and get everything done, and I have learned a lot from them. If you are considering sibling adoption (or already have done so– bless you), then you likely suddenly have a large family, too. Here are my top tips for all the things that used to be simpler:

  • Plan your meals (and try to shop only weekly). It does take time but ends up saving so much time and money. I plan on Sundays because that’s my most free day. Put planning time on your calendar.
  • Accept help, especially at first. When those kids arrive and people ask how they can help, say, “We could use some help with meals.” You will need help for about three weeks, so accept it all. Every other day works well because people are so generous in what they bring. Or ask them to take out one child for a few hours. It’s not logical, but one less child for a while changes everything, and they can benefit from the extra attention too.
  • Say yes to hand-me-downs of all sizes, but don’t think you have to use it all. Used clothing is more than a money-saver, it’s a time saver. If your child has 14 sets of clothes instead of six, you don’t have laundry worries. When you get the clothes, sit right down with a “give away” bag sort out what isn’t “you.” Then store the rest by size, well-marked, in the attic. Don’t shop for the next size until you pull these down and go through them again. Do the same for the smaller children as the bigger ones outgrow them.
  • Have your own priorities. Your mom or mother-in-law might think your towels should be folded just so, but if you prefer to spend your time making more elaborate meals, that is really okay. If you need your house spotless but don’t love cooking, that’s okay. For me, it matters to read to my kids every day. Sometimes that means I don’t vacuum, or leave the dishes till morning. You cannot do it all, so you have to make your own priority list and stick to it– lovingly, of course.
  • Plan for interruptions. No sooner do we get in a good routine than someone gets sick or gets a new job or it’s a holiday or company comes. Life is a series of interruptions interspersed with quiet periods of routine. If you plan flexibility into your life– though it sounds like an oxymoron– it makes the interruptions easier.
  • Most of all, know you can do it. If it’s hard right now, it will be easier soon. If it’s scary to think about, remember things are always easier than they seem. Trust what’s within you that wants to love these kids, and let the love lead.