10 Tips from the Mom of 10
3. Pick your priorities
The Hayeses know not to aim too high at this moment in their lives: "If, at the end of the day, the kitchen is clean and the kids are happy and fed, then I feel like I've accomplished something," says Betty. Eric focuses on coaching or watching the older kids' sporting events. "It's a big deal for me," he says. "I was raised by a single mom who worked two jobs and went to school. At games, there was no one there to watch me. So if no one is there to watch them play, that kills me."
4. Respect the juniors
"People tell me all the time they can't believe how well-behaved the kids are," says Betty, who relies on staying calm and offering clear consequences. For instance, she reminds the little kids that they have to keep a hand on the cart at Costco or the cart stops and they won't get to the end of the aisle where the free samples are. (Yes, that's right: She takes the sextuplets shopping with her sometimes.)
5. Defuse the drama
Though the Hayes kids are usually easy to wrangle, there are times when the going gets tough. "I think every parent has that moment where they think, 'I've simply had enough,'" says Betty. "That's when I tend to take a step back and just laugh at whatever's going on." Then she distracts the crew from their squabbling or whining. On a recent evening when all the kids were going haywire at dinnertime, Betty's defensive-parenting move was to break into song. "I got them engaged in 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes' and 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.' That calmed them down, and they were able to eat."
6. Get creative with a dollar
The Hayeses do the usual shop-the-sales, buy-in-bulk measures to cut costs for their family of 12, but they also find smaller, creative ways to save. For instance, "we don't buy kids' meals at fast-food restaurants for $3.79 each," says Betty. "We buy off the dollar-value menu — everyone gets a burger, and then we get three big orders of fries, which we share."