What has having a big family taught you about motherhood?

It has taught me that I do not know what the heck I am doing.

What tips do you have for meal planning?

None whatsoever. Rest assured that, no matter what care and planning you put into your meal preparation, there will be someone crying at dinner because it isn't what they like. CRYING. It kills me.

How do you get your children involved with chores? Please share what age these tips are appropriate for.

How? HOW? I just tell them to do them. In fact, the one thing I've done right over the past 2 decades is to teach them all how to do their own laundry at the age of 6 or 7. It makes no sense to mix all our dirty clothes together just to separate them out again. Oh, I still have to nag them to move it into the dryer and to bring it back to their rooms and to put it away (seriously, what's up with that?), but they do it.

Other than that, they (not very cheerfully) load dishwasher, empty dishwasher, set and clear table, sweep the kitchen after meals. There were the memorable 2 years or so that we went without a dishwasher, and they had to dry all the dishes after every meal. Let me tell you, those kids elevated the art of bickering to new heights during that dishwasher-less epoch. They're not exactly the whistle-while-you-work type.

What's a great present for a tween?

Suburban Correspondent

You know what's amazing? I've been a parent for 20 years now, I have 6 kids, and I have no answer to this question. None. You see, gift giving on a budget is easy when the kids are little; a quick trip to the dollar aisle, some wrapping paper, some candy - you're all set! But when they get bigger? Well, let's face it, whatever will really make them happy, I can't afford. So Larry and I settle for giving them gift cards - Best Buy for our tech geek, Target for the fashion-conscious girls, maybe one to Lego.com for the 11-year-old who is still enamored of his favorite building toy. Just lowering the bar for parents everywhere, as usual. You're welcome.
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What's your favorite stylish but practical beach- or pool-wear item for a mom? Please include a link to the product (cover-up, hat, sandals, etc.)

Suburban Correspondent

That's an easy one - obviously the only suitable swimsuit for those of us older, oft-pregnant moms whose legs are adorned with varicose veins is the newly popular burquini. Available online in a variety of colors...
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