Parenting from the couch

The common question I get lately:
"So... how is it with five?"

Five is great. I love five. And I genuinely don't think five in and of itself would overwhelm me one iota.

But five with two of those being babies? Oh my. Now we're talking.

Adelia is wonderfully pleased with and interested in Audra, which means that she wants to give Audra 400 kisses a day, which involves lying on top of her to do so. Or- if Audra is in the bouncy seat? Why not just climb on in on top of her to give her that kiss? Or if she's on the couch, sleeping? How about if we just yank on one of her limbs in an attempt to get her closer for that kiss?

It's wonderful. But challenging. We have to be very vigilant about where those two are at in proximity to one another.

If Adelia is not in one of her adoring-Audra moments, she is emptying the contents of a drawer, or pulling all the tissue out of the box, or hitting one of her older siblings (likely because they've just said no to her about something she truly should not have been doing), or... she's wanting mama. Mama who is sitting on the couch, breastfeeding Audra.

The biggest challenge for me so far has been in my attempt to train Adelia to obey. The arrival of Audra coincided with a newly-mobile and into-everything Adelia, and I foresaw this particular challenge coming. Our days so far consist of me, nursing Audra, and trying to parent Adelia from the couch. Nevermind the other three children.

And I'll just say right now that the parenting from the couch? Not super effective. Being just 12 months old, Adelia is not entirely obedient to the instructions I'm giving with my voice. Saying "No/Don't touch/Put that down" from my spot on the couch isn't really working. And my "Come to mama, Adelia" often goes unheeded. I've taken to having Isaac or Ella carry her into me for the obedience training she needs. (Ie: "Adelia? NO. Do not hit your brother with that block. Bring it to mama, please." She hears me, ignores me. I try again. And finally, "Ella or Isaac, please carry Adelia to me." So one of them does- usually a kicking and hollering Adelia!- and then she'll stand near me (or they'll help keep her near me) while I instruct her to not hit, or to please say sorry, or whatever.) But as many of you know, at this stage, these things are happening every three minutes, so it's been fairly exhausting.

I'll say it now: ANY AND ALL TIPS ARE WELCOME. ~smile~
[One tip so far that is working: Having the pac-n-play set up in our living room has been particularly helpful. Having an enclosed area for Adelia to play for small stretches throughout our days has been great.]

I've been beginning each day praying, "Lord? I feel so overwhelmed. Help me. I don't even know what this is supposed to look like." And remembering- and being reminded- that this is just a season, and to take one day [moment] at a time.

My mantra? I can do this.

Now if I can just plaster a smile on my face and tackle each moment with lots of grace and patience, we'll be set.


  1. You have a beautiful family. These are crazy days right now but also such sweet times. I have four children - all now teenagers - and my youngest two are only 13 months apart. My son was just beginning to walk when my daughter was born. We ended up purchasing a bassinet on wheels so I could roll my daughter from room to room with me. Like Adelia, my son was curious and wanted to love on his sister all the time. It only took a couple times of him getting her down to the floor before we knew some action had to be taken! I also began sitting on the floor to nurse when I was home alone and it would become story-time. My son quickly learned that whenever mommy sat on the floor, he could have my attention if he brought a book over and he loved story-time. Most days I wished for three arms as I nursed and read or played with a one-year old at the same time. Prayers for you as you negotiate this season of your life.

  2. My closest two are 20 months apart. Those extra few months make a world of difference. We watched a LOT more TV back then. We hardly watch any anymore, but in those on the couch nursing days, Blue's Clues and Sesame Street were my greatest allies. I know, not the best advice. I can pray for you though, and I will.
    Hangeth thou in there. It sounds like you're doing a fabulous job. Adelia will soon tire of being carried to Mommy and start responding if you just keep being consistent.

  3. There's no question you have a big task ahead of you, but you are a great mom, Stacy. No, i haven't met you in real life, but your devotion to your family shines through on your blog.

    Yes, you can do it, and He will absolutely be guiding you. Praying for you!!

  4. What has worked well here (2 of my 3 kids were 18mo apart) is cleaning out closets and reintroducing new "things". That doesn't always mean toys, random household things do just fine. Have your older kiddos clean out and each bring you a bucket of things they are no longer using. Throw out any "chokables" and voila - you have 3 new buckets for Adelia to fish through while you are tending to the baby. I would call it my nursing stash. Turning nursing into storytime works for some too, but I found with mine they just wanted to CLIMB all over me and ended up squishing the nursing baby. I can say now that they are 3.5 and almost 2 yrs old they are very close, play together well and are generally on the same with their tantrums. The training does get easier b/c after a while you are training them BOTH to do the same things.

  5. Dearest Stacy~
    I think you are doing the exact thing you need to be doing: relying on the Lord for wisdom. Continue to do that. Also, just realizing that this is a season that will pass very soon is helpful. Just accept some things now will not be how you imagined it would be or even ideal."Parenting from the couch" is needed now. Once your schedule settles down a bit you will be able to handle Adelia the way you would like.
    Give yourself lots and lots of grace right now. More than you think is neccesary. Because HE does. He gives and gives grace even when we don't deserve it and what's more BECAUSE we don't deserve it.
    praying for you!!!

  6. Be strong dear sister...I can't exactly give you any advice b/c I only have one right now but I do know that training your child to obey & honor you when you speak is tough especially at this age! I believe consistency is the key and it sounds as if you have that! Praying for you!

  7. Look at those sweet baby girls! I sure don't have any new tips, but I think you're doing a great job. :)

  8. You CAN do this! Rah! Rah! Sis Boom Bah! Gooooooooo, Stacy!

    I'm the cheerleader who's just a few months ahead of you on the ridiculously-close-in-age babies team. When Mighty Joe was born, Christian couldn't do anything my other kids could do when a new baby came along. I could give them a used diaper and say, "Go put this in the trash, please!" He would just stare at me. He couldn't even walk yet.

    But now MJ is 10 months old, Christian is newly-two, and he can schlep trash with the best of them! He's kinder and gentler, too, so we can trust him a tiny smidge with MJ. Just a *tiny* smidge :)



  9. I am not even going to pretend that I have any worthwhile advice. I am sure am glad Kendra is around though - I read her comment just in case I ever have 2 a year apart.

    Considering my lack of advice though - I will say that my first thought while reading your post was, "Contain her..." And then you wrote about the pack 'n play. Sounds like the most practical answer to me - especially while nursing when you don't have the ability to get up.

    Will be praying - hang in there!

  10. It sounds like God is meeting you wonderfully, Stacy--just by bringing you to that place of desperation and regular crying out to Him! What a hard, but great place to be. Thanks for transparently sharing your life with all of us, as usual--it is encouraging to see the Lord walking with you through these ever-changing seasons of motherhood!

  11. My one piece of advice when you are overwhelmed with so many things to do is just to do the next thing. Don't worry about the 15 things that need to be done just do the next thing, and then the next and then the next. I had 5children 5 and under at one point and it was overwhelming at times. May God's peace and unlimited resources and strength be yours.

  12. Oh, I love the little playpen...we have one in our living room...we plop sweet Princess Mercy in it...when Mama can't hold her. She cries sometimes, but gets over it, especially if her siblings will stay not to far and help to keep her entertained.

    Can you close off a bigger "safe" area. Perhaps that could give you the ability to not worry that she will hurt herself or others (and so she isn't wandering where she could get hurt.)

    I hope you get some more advice...does Adelia have a bouncer or a baby seat that you could put her in where you are nursing (beside the pack and play)...for variety and still being able to confine her.

    Praying for wisdom for you...have you asked your mum for pointers, or some of the grandma's in your church?

    My mum told me that crying won't kill a put her in that pack and play...she will be safe and the good news is she won't remember. Use it when you need to nurse...when you are done- pick her up and have some great cuddle, tickle time. (hey, and borrowing a second one might mean that you can use it in other rooms...which will give you more control of where she is and might make her happy if she is closer to you??)

    Love you and I am praying for you sweet, sweet friend.

    mama to 7
    one homemade and 6 adopted

  13. Oh, Stacy, I'm sorry, but I had to smile at this post. I never had 2 babies at once, but we did bring home 3 children all at once...non-English speaking children from an orphanage. So many of the things you mentioned about Adelia reminded me of those early months with our "Littles".

    You are doing great, hang in there, take all the help anyone will give you and keep up that pray is your lifeline!

    I will be praying for you.

  14. Stacy, well girl, not only can I sympathize but I can empathize too!! You have described me last year to a tee (well minus one of your bigger kids) :-) The first couple of months are SOOO hard because the tiny baby is so needy and your older baby is so “wanty”. I think one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned is that right now is a season…..and for a season it’s ok to let some things hit the back burner and stay there for a little while. It did seem to help to “assign” my older kids to play with Natalie while I was feeding Ben…..I would give Carlos a specific thing (like blocks) to play and entertain Natalie while I was doing the feeding…..and it was usually right there at my feet so if needed I could provide some verbal instruction and correction.

    It also helped my overwhelmed feeling to remove “cleaning the house” from my list of To Do. And I will tell you that I did not vacuum the upstairs of my house for probably 4 or 5 months (my mom may have done it during the 3 weeks she stayed with us, but vacuuming just did not make the must do list). And now a year later we are all alive, no one died from dirt :-)

    It also helped me to lower my expectations of what our day would look like…most days my goal was to feed and cloth my children and discipline….that’s it! And once I realized that those goals were good and right (for this season) I took lots of pressure off of myself and even though it felt like I was not doing “anything” I realized I was doing exactly what God had for me today. And I was much better at loving my babies.

  15. Stacy, you have received such good advice! I don't think I can share anything you haen't already been told, but I can certainly add my prayers and my "you can do it" to the mix. One of the things I love about your blog is your honesty about these things - it is SUCH a help to all of us! You are a blessing, and a wonderful mom, and I know that He will help you through. And I LOVE the playpen too :-)

  16. Aloha Stacy,
    I am just here to say I empathize with you. I just had baby #7 Jan 17th. My other kids are 2,4,5,10,12,16. My 2,4,5 are actually 15 months apart from each other down the line. That was a super crazy time. Some how I almost find this harder. Probably because we just moved from Hawaii to Oregon during my last trimester. So our routines are still being reestablished. And you right it is hard to parent from the couch. I have been doing a lot of parenting from my rocking chair :).

    You have the right day at a time. Before you know it you will be wondering where the time went....for me I allow myself the occasional cry...and lot's of prayer.
    Hugs and blessings from another nursing mama...

  17. I am soooo in the same phase as you are...I've actually had to put Elijah down to discipline Grace! It is nice having those older siblings to assist in the discipline! That is a blessing! I remember when two seemed overwhelming...and I remember learning that I was a lot stronger than I thought I was. But this time, "THE JOY OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH"..because I REALLY need a good dose of that. May you receive extra joy to flood your spirit as you train up all your little ones...and praise the Lord that you have laid such a consistent foundation with your older children! Blessings of encouragement to you, Stacy!

  18. Oh how I sympathize with you! I have five little ones ages 2 to 6they're all 13 months or less apart. You sound like you're doing a great job. I would try to contain Adelia while you nurse. I found that after a while having my older two help reign in the toddler while I fed the baby led to issues with who was in charge (i.e. my older two thinking they were boss over anyone younger...) Sometimes I put the baby bouncy seat in the pack-n-play and let the toddler have some free play time. I also bought one of those play yard gates and used it to gate off a bigger area for the toddler - also saving some of those super fun toys for nursing time helped. Mostly the verse Isaiah 40:11 helped me through (still does!) "He tends His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads those that have young"
    Blessings to you!

  19. So glad to hear I'm not the only one going through this right now. Although of course it would be nice if we were both doing fabulously and having no difficulties. But not so great if only one of us was doing fabulously, even though we would like to think that we'd be happy for the other person who's older baby sat nicely at her feet and sounded out the alphabet while she nursed ;)


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