As a mother of 5, I think one of the most frequent comments I get from people with 3 or less kids is, "I could never do that."
Though, I think some of them mean, I could never do that and...
...still be sane.
...still keep my home in order.
...still get my kids everywhere on time.
...care about life.
Et cetera and so on...
Often, my response is, "you're right".
Ok. That's really just in my head. But before you think I am being arrogant, let me explain.
You could never do this. WITH your current expectations, that is.
You see, with every change in life comes adaptation. You can't always foresee what these changes will be or how they will change your life as you know it. You can't always plan for them. When looking from your current view, some changes appear to be negatives. A loss. But what we so often forget is that sometimes there are unforeseen positives that outweigh these "losses" so immensely, that you don't even notice they're gone.
Once upon a time, I loved to shop. I enjoyed walking up and down aisles, imagining how I might redecorate my home. How I might re-style my wardrobe. I created Pinterest boards. I loved Pinterest. At a certain point, I was determined to become Pinterest famous (if that's even a thing.) I would physically shop in stores until I found things that matched my visions, but before I fully realized it had happened, I phased into online shopping. I had lost the time to walk through the stores. This didn't happen immediately. I didn't have a kid, then stop. I didn't even have 2 kids and stop entirely. Nor 3. I don't think it was until somewhere in the 4 or 5 range that I simply stopped wandering the stores...but I don't notice it. I don't necessarily miss it. I think it has been replaced by sporting events with my kids. By lunches with my friends.
Even with 5 children, I still go to lunch with my friends. I even make it to happy hours or coffee or brunch or dinners. It might require more planning, but I still get to do it. I could exercise more, but if someone asks me to join them for a social rendezvous, that run gets kicked aside. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I occasionally miss being in fantastic shape, but I simply don't miss the work it takes to get there. I've prioritized socializing over fitness (not health, they're not one in the same. Trust me, I'm a doctor.) This is right for me. It makes me happy, it makes me less stressed, it recharges me. If exercise does this for you, then you prioritize it. So, yes, from an outside perspective, the ideal would be to get in both, but from the inside perspective, you don't feel like you've lost anything, you've just adjusted your expectations. Adapted.
I used to write blog posts, with carefully chosen and edited pictures to compliment the story up to 10 times a month! I edited photos and updated albums. I was great about thank you notes and birthday wishes and thoughtful gifts. I hung framed photos or art in my home. I planned elaborate and well-executed parties on the regular. I spent time day-dreaming of home improvements. Now, I get a post up about once a month. There aren't any photos. The last photo album I printed was almost 2 years ago. The last item I framed?? No idea (though, I did, after nearly 3 years, finally update photos to include all 5 of my kids in the existing frames on the wall.) And if day-dreaming about sorting through toys and throwing out broken ones and putting them all in their "place" counts as "home improvements" then, I guess I still do that on a pretty regular basis.
I laid out at the pool for hours on my days off. Leisurely swimming laps if the urge compelled me.
I fed my competitive spirit by being part of adult sporting leagues in volleyball, kickball and basketball. We regularly had game nights with friends. I now find ways to be competitive in the form of competing in corporate challenge, subbing for adult leagues in volleyball, soccer and pickleball. Maybe even playing with my children...but there's a fine line there, that I'm not certain I don't cross over. They need to learn how to be a good sport when losing, right!??
Now, I feel I need to add some perspective at this point. I have never been without a huge commitment filling most of my time. I played sports intensely; swam, lifted, exercised for 6+ hours a day from age 11-22. I then worked 2 jobs until the start of medical school, and after that, residency, and now, a full-time position as a physician. So the time I am speaking of filling, has always been tremendously limited for me. There has never been a point in my life that I haven't been forced to really assess my true priorities...and this might be where most people struggle.
To continue to adapt, you MUST establish your priorities. It's vital. And once you've done this, it's time to manage expectations. And once you've done that. You can do ANYTHING. You can have all the children in the world. Or none. You can marry. Or not. You can run a marathon. Or walk around the block. You can travel. Or never leave your home state. You can make choices and evaluate their impact on your quality of life and keep them up, or leave them. And instead of saying "I could never do that" you will find that you've started to say, "why only 5"?