Raising children may no longer be cheaper by the dozen, but it certainly remains confusing. Here are some pointers:
*Give each child a day, and assign privileges and responsibilities on a rotating basis. In the Loveless family, for example, each child gets to choose his seat in the car, answer the telephone, make breakfast, and go first in line on his day.
*Give each child a color -- one child will have a blue bowl, blue cup, blue towel, blue toothbrush, etc., to avoid confusion and arguments.Give each child access to parents -- one-on-one when they need it. Scott Loveless takes one child each Saturday to run errands; the Muhammads occasionally take a child out of school for a day alone with Mom.
*Give each child a place to escape -- anything from a comfortable, out-of-the-way corner to his own room.
*Assign younger children to their older siblings. The oldest typically winds up with the baby, while the middle children are given clear limits -- all so parents can take a little time off.
*Get outside help. Joyce Daniel, who must be free 24 hours a day to go on her midwife calls, has full-time, live-in help. And the Koehls hired an au pair for six months when the birth of their twins gave them four children in 28 months.
*Find other parents. Mary Lou Koehl joined a local Mothers of Twins Club, and Joyce Daniel says she calls a supportive friend in Boston who has saved her "hundreds of dollars in psychiatric care."