Julie and I have had four kids in a little less than four years. Not a remarkable feat but still a little different when compared to the average American family these days. Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't ask, "So how do you guys do it?"
And I always answer the same way: With love and tenderness and a little Barry White playing in the background.
Just try and delete that image from your head, friends and family!
Ahem. Anyhow. Having this many kids doesn't seem that out of the ordinary to me. I myself am the oldest of five children. And I come from a clan of prolific procreative Irish Catholics -- one aunt tops the charts at eleven kids. Depending on who you ask, we've had a lot of kids relatively quickly. Of course, having twins, a completely unexpected event, sped things up a little. But, it is what is. We have multiple offspring.
So how do we do it?
The real answer is: We don't know. We just do.
There's not really a good answer to that question. You just do what you gotta do. In so many ways, having multiple kids forces you to live in the moment. The crying, the sharing, the barfing, the hugging, the fighting, the meals, the bedtimes, the trips, the stories, the questions, the revelations -- it all just keeps coming at you. Each one a challenge and opportunity. Each moment precious and fleeting. It's kind of like being at the batting cages. Whether you whiff or connect, you can't sit around analyzing or admiring your last swing for too long or you'll miss the next pitch. You have to make adjustments on the fly, dig in and get ready for the next pitch. Over and over again.
That's not to say you don't get better along the way by learning from your past performance. Planning ahead is also beneficial. And there are definitely tips, tricks and tools to help make the whole experience better. Same goes for the other kind of "doing it" too, by the way.
Sorry. I couldn't resist.
Maybe I'm really just dodging the whole question of how do we do it, but I will at least give you a list of the top five things that help get it done.
1. The Evenflo Travel Highchair
This is the single greatest purchase of my entire parenting experience. It is especially key for anyone with multiples. This beauty is lightweight, sturdy and ridiculously compact and easy to carry. It works great indoors and out. We have two of them and at least one of them is in the back of the minivan at all times. They're so easy to open and the kids can be secured in one in seconds. At picnics, they're the difference between chasing kids around trying to shove food down their throats and actually sitting down to enjoy a meal. My kids would honestly weigh 24% less if we didn't have these high chairs. When out, I have been asked by strangers about these high chairs more than I've been asked about my actual kids by at least a 3 to 1 ratio.
2. The Breasts
They're functional. They're convenient. Your wife always has them with her. They never fail to sooth even the crankiest customer.
And they're not just for the dads.
Not every mother can or will breast-feed, but when available, they're indispensable. Sure, bottles have their advantages, but it's hard to top breasts. They provide the original comfort food and are damn near perfectly designed for feeding infants. Breasts don't need to be sterilized, refilled, heated or prepped in any way. You can't run out of breasts. You can't lose breasts. True, you can't borrow breasts in a pinch, but as long as mom's around, you also won't need to run out in the middle of the night to buy more breasts.
And best of all, dads don't have them, so it's the single parental duty that as a father you never have to handle.
3. The Bjorn
No, not Bjork. Bjorn.
You only have so many hands. (Well, two specifically. I guess I don't need to be vague about the number of hands you have.) Anyhow. Regardless of the number of hands you have, eventually you need to stop carrying your tots and start strapping them to your body with a complex system of straps and pulleys. There are a bazillion contraptions out there for affixing babies to your body parts and I certainly have not tried them all, but I have tried a few and none of them compared to the Baby Bjorn. The things are so comfortable that you could probably strap one of those giant tabloid babies to your chest and still shoot a 79 from the black tees. When your kids eventually outgrow it, the Baby Bjorn can also conveniently hold a mini keg. Or so I've heard.
4. The Nut Cup
I've been bashed in the onions more times since having kids than I had been in all the previous 30 years of my life. Seriously. It's a near daily occurrence. It's a wonder I was even able to have more kids after the first one. First of all, all little kids have this fundamental design flaw of being just the right height for kicking your nards when you pick them up. Secondly, they have no concept of genitalia pain, so running and jumping knees first into your lap doesn't register as a critical hit in their minds. If you're a guy with kids, you might as well slip one of these in your shorts every night before going to bed. Why before going to bed? Because it's a statistical fact that 83% of all ball bombs come in the form of leaping children eager to wake you up in the morning via the pain train straight into your crotch.
5. The Red Bull
Red Bull. Lots and lots of Red Bull.
Some time around my junior year in college, coffee completely lost it's ability to keep me awake. Now I can drink coffee in bed and still fall right to sleep. I need something with a little more kick if I'm to keep up with my pack of hell raisers. Dozing on this job doesn't mean nodding off face first into a computer keyboard while hoping that the person in the next cubicle didn't hear you just type "asdfjjjjjjjj" with your left cheek bone. On this job, snoozing means things get flushed down the toilet that shouldn't be flushed down the toilet. It means someone experiments with cutting their own hair. It means something expensive gets broken.
So bring on the Red Bull. It's not the trendiest and maybe not even the most effective. But it's the original. And it mixes damned well with Jägermeister.