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10 Tips from the Mom of 10

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7. Accept what you can't change

Betty candidly addresses the challenges of caring for Rebecca, who cannot feed herself or speak, isn't toilet trained, and doesn't sleep through the night. "Rebecca is the hardest part of this whole thing," admits Betty. "She can't communicate, so it's a lot of trial and error," says Eric. "We wonder all the time if she's feeling OK, or if she has, say, an itch she can't scratch." Betty and Eric take comfort in what they can provide: "We love her, we kiss her, we tickle her, and we play with her," says Betty.

8. Encourage strong sibling ties

Betty and Eric have been careful to keep all the kids on equal footing. "We didn't want the older ones changing diapers," says Eric. "And we didn't want the little kids thinking that there were six big people telling them what to do. It's better for them to go over to the big kids and say, 'Hey, you want to play?'"

9. Create family rituals

Consistency equals security for kids, so find something that works for your crew as a weekly activity. For the Hayes clan, it's church every Sunday that gives the family its center. "I am a believer, and it helps me," explains Betty. "Hopefully the kids find comfort in it, too."

10. Redefine couple time

"We don't need to go out," Betty says. "We'll record a TV show and watch it after the kids are asleep. And we text-message each other like crazy. When we're cooking dinner and we pass each other in the kitchen, there's always a swat on the rear — those kinds of things work." Even after 10 kids.

 

Originally published on April 24, 2009

 

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