1. People yell.
Sometimes you have to yell just so others can hear you. Sometimes you get yelled at. You may deserve it, and that’s ok. You dust yourself off, fix your mistake, and try again. Sometimes you don’t deserve getting yelled at, but that’s ok, too. Sometimes you yell at people, and it’s really not nice to yell, but we all make mistakes. Life isn’t always fair as a child or an adult. Forgiveness is key.
2. Nobody’s perfect.
Think you are? Ten other people will gladly point out your flaws. Don’t waste your life trying to be perfect. The only way to fail in life is to never try. Keep trying hard or Dad will #1 yell at you.
In general, it’s so stinking loud in this house (see #1) that Mom and Dad won’t notice if you keep asking and asking for the same thing. Even if one of them says no to your request, usually the other will say yes. Eventually, they are both so worn down they finally say yes anyway. Some would call this bad parenting. I choose to believe my kids will never back down and never take no for an answer.
4. You’d better take care of your stuff.
Special crayons. Lego masterpieces. Rainbow loom bracelets. Model horses. The iPod touch you saved three years to buy. With toddlers and preschoolers running around, you’d better put special things way up high out of reach, or else. If you forget and it gets destroyed, it’s your fault. Mom and Dad won’t pay for a new ______ ,you will have to save and buy it yourself.
5. Be flexible.
You wanted to watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood for the ten millionth time, but Daddy wants to watch baseball. Mom and Dad really wanted to send you to bed early and watch a grown up movie, but we watched a family movie instead. Everyone wants to play computer games, but we only have two computers. Sometimes #1 yelling happens over this, but we all have to take turns and compromise.
6. The world does not revolve around you.
This is a sad truth that is learned early on at our house! Babies come first—they cry to communicate their needs, so a baby’s cry is always, always answered. Everyone else must stand in line. Learning patience is key.
Better yet, help each other out and learn to do for yourself. My 3-year-olds can climb up on kitchen counters to get a cup of water and a bowl of cereal. My toddler instinctively plays with the baby when he is fussy. Clothes may not match, hair may not perfect, and homework isn’t always 100% correct, but my kids are pretty darn good at helping each other figure stuff out. Messes are inevitable, so Mom must not #1 yell when they happen.
7. Everyone pitches in.
Want to make your dance class? You will need to babysit while I run somebody else to their basketball game. Want to go deer hunting with Daddy for the weekend? You must help catch up on chores before you go. Dying for pancakes? One person must mix up the gluten-free batter while another mixes up the regular.
We have TOO MANY things that have to get done around here. It takes everyone’s help just to have clean clothes and food ready for the week. Helping is not optional, and you won’t get paid for it. If you don’t help, #1 yelling WILL happen.
8. Less is more.
At least when it comes to “stuff.” Toilet paper and food are more valuable than gold! We don’t need a lot of toys because we have so many people to play with. It’s hard to be lonely around here because we are all bumping into each other.
Everything we have is broken, fixed, or will be broken—even Jesus is broken! We may not have a perfectly decorated house, but anyone and everyone is welcome—don’t stress about messing things up.
Believe me, I know that Santa brings your friends iPads for Christmas but you have to save two years for a knock off. I try really hard not to worry about this, but I am very, very proud of how hard you work to get the special things you like.
9. Everyone has a breaking point.
For Mom, it’s a messy butter container and having too many toys. For Dad, it’s couch cushions on the floor and going to bed with a messy living room. Figure out each others’ grouchy triggers and work really hard to avoid them! If not, #1 yelling WILL once again occur.
10. The more, the merrier.
People, that is. Relationships are what’s important. Friends are always welcome. With each baby added to the family, love is not subtracted from the older children—this can be a hard concept for others to understand. Instead, love is multiplied all around! Life is challenging and busy, but also amazingly fun and full of love!
Most importantly, God made you to be in this big, crazy family. As much as Mommy and Daddy love you, God loves you a gazillion times more.