One of the hardest things about having four children is the amount of waiting they have to do to get your attention. You're attending to Child A and Child B wants something, so you say 'just a sec' while you complete the task for Child A. Meanwhile, Children C and D decide they need you too, so you quickly wrap things up with Child A, attend briefly to Child B, turn your attention to the most urgent request from Child C or D and finally sort out the last child's issue, meanwhile, Child A needs something new.
It is never ending. I certainly don't have all the answers (I wish that I did!) but, having just
Having a rough family routine helps tone down with some of the urgency. As does having, and communicating, a plan for each day so that each child is aware of what is happening now and what will be happening next.
Feeding and 'watering' all the kids at the same time (rather than a each one's whim) also cuts down on some of the repetitive 'nagging'.
Getting the children to take turns (e.g. to sit on Mum's lap) helps to certain point, as does having a designated child who is 'in charge' for the day so that they become the fall-back guy for decision-making when disagreements ensue.
Encouraging them to work together, rather than against each other can be helpful (especially to reduce some of the accidents that occur when two boys go head to head in battle).
Sometimes the older kids are able to help the younger ones, so I encourage that when I can (eg. Nugget can open doors for the Minx and Dew Drop). And I have desperately been trying to teach them all a bit of independence. You know of the try-to-do-it-for-yourself-before-you-ask-for-help variety. It is amazing how well that works on a good day!
We implemented the family charter a few weeks back and I refer to that from time to time when children are whining and being disrespectful to each other. I've even heard them reinforcing the 'rules' with each other (we won't discuss the tone of voices they used because that would be embarassing really...)
When we need to go somewhere that the kids aren't thrilled about e.g. supermarket, I find being prepared and being proactive helps me (like not taking toys into the supermarket so I don't have to spend 10 minutes on my hands and knees searching for them with a crying child mourning the loss of their favourite super hero). So called contingency planning.
I try to be a consistent, patient and positive mother. Some days it is truly harder than others. Some days you just wake up with your cranky pants on. But I find that if I behave, so too will my kids. They feed off my energy and if I yell and scream and carry on like a two year old, so will they (which is acceptable for the twins who are in fact two year olds, but not so for the other two!).
When all else fails,
What are some of your parenting strategies for dealing with the whinging and attention seeking behaviour in your household?