1 kid vs 4 kids (what I learned!)

From the first week of June until June 16th, I had anywhere between 3 and 4 kids. The first week was 3 and the 2nd week was 4.

Normally, I have one!

Every Summer, we invite my niece and nephew to come stay with us to help their mom out. This year, because all the kids were finally old enough, we invited my other nephew to come along for the week of VBS. Our church will only allow them to attend if they have finished Kinder-5th. So this was the year they all got to come to VBS!

I learned some very interesting things while having 4 kids instead of just the one. I felt like I should share them with those who may be interested.

Eating out can be expensive!!- When you are used to one kid and eating out, it is no big deal  normally. But, add in three other kids and it will start to add up. So, what we did was look for places that had deals. Like Wendy’s has their 4 for $4 meals. That worked perfect one of the days. We also did the kids eat free from Ihop a couple of times. We would get an adult meal along with P. Then the 3 younger kids would all get their meals free. We also did this at Applebee’s. They are doing Kids eat Free with an adult meal purchase for the month of June. So it was great for us. Most days for lunch we stuck to eating at home. We would do sandwiches, chips and drinks. We also had fruit on some of the days to throw in there.

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While in Wendy’s one of the days, a sweet older lady came over and handed all the kids Frosty’s. She said she wanted to do something sweet for them because they were so well behaved!

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Along with saving money on food, we also saved on treats. While getting gas, the kids noticed that the gas station had slurpees on sale. No lie, I did not even see the huge poster till they pointed it out. So, we all went inside and I got them each their own! Y’all, $0.99 for these huge ones!

Also, we had a few gift cards that we had been saving. Those came in handy as well. We went to the movies one day, ate ice cream after and they were both paid for with gift cards we had laying around. No lie, one of the gift cards I had been carrying around in my wallet for nearly 9 years. Money still on it and still good!

The house is going to get louder! When it is just P and I he is pretty good about hanging out and not screaming thru the house. I mean why would he? He has his moments where he gets excited and yells, but then he calms down. Now having 3 extra kids in our house, that is completely different. Most of the day you can find them all playing well together, but loudly. I was actually ok with all the extra noise. It was great to hear it in the house for those couple of weeks.

They will fight like brother and sisters. Yes, two of them are actual brother and sister (twins), they are actually cousins, but man can these kids argue! For the past 10 years, P has been an only child. He is not used to the arguing and the younger ones wanting to follow him around. He is very much a “stay out of my personal space, but I can be in yours” kind of kid. Most days it was good. Someone would argue, I would redirect and that would be it. But, days where I heard, ” she is looking at me!” “he is copying me!” “he called me a name!” a million times, I may of thanked God for only giving me one kid.

Find Fun ways to keep them entertained. When they were younger and I would go watch the kids or they would come to our place, I always had fun crafts to keep them busy. That way the preschool teacher in me. Now that they are older, they are not so much into crafts. I had to come up with other ways to keep them busy when we weren’t on the go or at the pool swimming. One neat thing we made was a huge slip and slide in our backyard. They loved it. I got a huge piece of plastic from Walmart. The kind that you would lay down if you were painting, but did not want paint on the floor. So it was pretty big. We ordered a sprinkler off Amazon and then set it all up. They loved it. Plus, it worked better than most slip and slides we have bought over the years. I did throw on some Dawn Dish Soap to help them slide as well.

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(please ignore the grass, our lawn guys skipped out on us that week!) As for the bricks around the edges, I did not even think about a way to keep the plastic in place. Thankfully, we had these laying around. Most people would say, ” what if they ran into them?” Well, they didn’t. They had enough room for all 3 of them to be on at the same time and still stay away from the bricks. That is how big the plastic really was!

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Water balloon fights kept them entertained for like an hour. We had a friend purchase a HUGE box of those easy to make water balloons. They had so much fun with them! It was great too for playing in the water without having to take all of them to the pool!

The pool. Our community has a community pool the kids love to go swimming at. So, several days they went swimming.

Amazon Pantry is now my favorite thing. Who knew this even existed? I didn’t until my husband got online and shopped it. The first day we took them swimming, they were constantly asking for snacks. Um, we literally just ate kids. So, Hubs got online and ordered snacks for us to take to the pool. Sure, we could of driven to the store, but we already had a gift card in the amazon cart and we could order larger sizes than our store was carrying! Just a plus for me. The fact that they also shipped it to my door in under two days was the cherry on top!

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Getting kids ready is so much easier when clothes are already picked out and laying out ready for them! I learned this fast. Instead of asking them to go find something to wear, pick it out the night before and have it laid out and ready to go. This was only a big one because the last week we had them we were doing VBS every day. We also had to be there earlier than everyone else due to the fact that we were working at VBS. So, every day after VBS I would wash their VBS shirts, grab them shorts, undies, socks and shoes and lay them out. Once their shirts were dry those went on each of their stacks. Still, had we not had VBS, I still feel like this method would of been the best one to have. That way there was no fighting over not being able to find socks, or not knowing where their shoes were! Made mornings much nicer!

They will put themselves to bed if tired enough! I have to laugh at this one. These kids would go and go and go if we let them. Most nights we had to calm them down after dinner so they knew it was nearing bed time. A child friendly movie, their warm blankets and pillows, our cool house and they were usually out very quickly. However, one night Hubs and I were sitting on the couch before we were going to have them all come in to watch a movie and chill out, and noticed that it was really quiet. I went looking for the kids. P was on the computer in the office, and the twins had literally put themselves to bed. I laughed. I mean they had to have been so tired to go put themselves to bed. It was only 9pm. Those two are not used to being on the go all day long like we are. It was greatness. Wear them out and they will put themselves to bed! Lesson learned!

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Car rides are completely different with 4 kids. Our two weeks flew by so fast. It was great having all the kids here. But, that last day, I was tired. I still had to take them back to Houston by myself. Hubs left for a work conference the same day to Louisiana. So I figured the best thing to do was drive thru a drive thru, grab them each lunch, let them eat on the way and then crash in the car. That is just what they did! They mostly all slept for a good two hours. Right until we hit our mid point in the trip. It was perfect timing too. Stop for potty breaks, get back in the car and no more stopping till we get to their houses. This was the agreement. I told them beforehand, don’t drink all your drink because we are not going to stop again till we get home. Having one older kid, he gets it. This is normally for him. Having 3 kids all aged 6 with us, what was I even saying?! For the next 2 hours they played great together. Two in the very back kept each other entertained, 2 in the middle kept each other entertained, the extra balls we got from VBS kept them all entertained. Then, one needed to potty. Literally, 30 minutes from her house. I am like ok, let me find a place because if you had said that 5 minutes ago we could of stopped, but now there is nothing out here. Then another one has to pee too. Then the first one is crying because she has to pee so bad. I finally pull off the highway and come to a stoplight which of course is red. Then I hear her say, ” Why do they have to have stoplights?” I am trying hard not to laugh at her, but I mean come on kid! Tell me earlier! So, now I have to rush to find a place before any accidents happen! Thankfully, we make it. Unload all the kids, everyone goes potty, everyone loads back up. That took the time it would of taken me to get to the house… That wore me out.

As crazy as those two weeks were, we would do it again in a heartbeat. So, stayed tuned. We will be getting two of the cousins back again tomorrow night for another week!

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Also, I am pretty sure he enjoyed having the whole back of the car back to himself.

 

 

 

How do we afford to Homeschool?

That is a great question for any homeschool family.

I have several friends that have said in the past, ” We would homeschool, IF we could afford it!”

GUESS WHAT! YOU CAN!

Homeschooling

Most people who don’t know much about homeschooling believes that you have to spend thousands of dollars and buy the absolute best curriculum out there. You don’t.

When we first began our homeschooling journey 5 years ago I went to my first conference. It was very overwhelming to see all the different curriculum we could choose from. Who knew there were SO MANY CHOICES!

We went from booth to booth in awe of every curriculum. We saw curriculum that was way out of our price range and some that was right in our price range.

Did you know there is even FREE curriculum you can get? Yes, FREE!

I am going to share some ways that we afford homeschooling in our one-income family.

First and foremost: I am not a huge spender. As a teen I was. I would go clothes shopping for myself with almost every paycheck. As soon as I got myself into the “real world” that changed. I do not spend if I do not have to spend. By that I mean, I don’t go clothes shopping when it is not needed. We buy the clothes we need and we don’t spend more than what is needed on clothing. My child has enough clothes for each season and so do we. I don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes for him to wear once either. I buy clothes I know will last and will be useful to us. I try not to buy things we do not need.

We live in our means: We do not live in a house we can not afford. We do not have car payments anymore. My car was given to us from my mom. Our truck was paid off a couple of winters ago. Both vehicles are drivable. Both get us from point A to point B and that is all we need. I don’t want to have to buy a brand new car every other season just because someone else got a new car. I don’t work that way. Never have either. I know one day we may have to buy a new car, but it will not be new. I have never bought brand new. I am perfectly fine with buying used to get a lower payment as well. Saving money where we can. We also buy groceries every time hubby gets paid and we make our plans for lunches and dinners for the weeks. Sure sometimes we will also go out to eat, but not every day and not every week.We really want a patio in the backyard, but instead of spending the money to have someone come build us one, we are saving for one. Then we will use plans we found online and build ourselves. There are many things we “want” however, we put aside our wants and think about our needs before anything else. We know we plan to homeschool for awhile, so that comes before material objects we can do without for now.

Curriculum: This is where you can spend some money or not. When Preston was little and he stayed at home with me before starting Kindergarten, I would find ways to have him learn, but for free. Free online resources, Free games online, Sand box activities, hand games for example. Now that he is older, there are still free curriculum you can find ( for example: Easy Peasy ).

Now there are ways to get discounts for curriculum too that you want to purchase.

  • Buy at convention- Most of the time vendors are doing discounts or free shipping at convention. Even the free shipping is savings.
  • Buy used- Thats right. There are several Facebook pages you can find others selling their used curriculum. Also, stores like Half Price Books have tons of homeschooling curriculum you can buy used.
  • Borrow- If you have homeschool friends in your group, they most likely will let you borrow their curriculum when they are done. Just make sure to return it when you are done using it.
  • Price match- Places like RainbowResource.com and Christianbooks.com may have the curriculum you are wanting for cheaper than what the actual company sells it for. It may only be a few dollars cheaper, but hey, that is a few dollars saved!
  • Save year round- This is something I tell myself every year I need to do and don’t. If you know you want to buy a curriculum that may be a little more, save for it. We use Teaching Textbooks for Math and that is our most expensive curriculum at $149.90 each year. Knowing this I should be saving for this. Even if you have a change jar and just throw your change in the jar each day. It will end up adding up and helping you when it comes time to buy curriculum.
  • Timberdoodle.com- If you can order your curriculum from this website, they give doodle dollars. Saving these will you get money off your next purchase. I use this site for some things. Right now, my plan is to order Math from them and a container. I have enough doodle dollars for $6 off my order. It may be only $6 to some, but that $6 can go towards something else.

Field Trips: Most places like the Zoo, Aquarium, Theme Parks, have homeschool days. Sometimes, they will even give discounts. We always do the Dallas Zoo in the months of January and February because they do their penguin days and its way cheaper than a normal priced day. On of our local Museums does a homeschool day and actually plans out stations for the children to have an activity. One of our Aquarium does a homeschool week. They give discounted tickets to homeschoolers. We go during that week. Same for our local Great Wolf Lodge. They have one week they discount for homeschoolers. These are when we plan our trips. Discounts help any kind of field trip.

We also look for places with free admission. Dallas Museum of Art, Klyde Warren Park, Downtown Fort Worth, which is one of our favorite places. It has a ton of history, plus the atmosphere is just wonderful itself. We could literally go and spend a whole day there.

Of course, not every place is going to give discounts and that is ok. If you are willing find other homeschoolers in your area and the more you have in your group most places will give you a group rate. Which may save a few dollars again.

Again, these are just some of the ways that we save to be able to homeschool. We make sacrifices to be able to teach our son the way we feel like we were meant to teach him. I just want others to know if you are struggling with the though of homeschooling because you are worried you can not afford it, I promise there are ways to do so!