*This was originally posted on the now-defunct Faith & Family Live in July 2013, and I've had people request links, so I'm reposting here.*

Have you ever seen the hilarious post at Conversion Diary with the formula for parents to calculate their "sleep index" - how much sleep it feels like they've gotten in a night? (See it here.) It takes into account all sorts of factors, and comes up with a surprisingly accurate number.

After a particularly bad night I like to plug in all my own variables, and I'm always like, "Huh. Yup, feels about right."

So my engineer husband, who loves all things math-y and geeky, recently came up with a similar formula of his own. It's not as complicated as Jen's, but I think it holds up just as well.

He calls it Chaos Theory of Parenthood, and the idea is that there's a state when you have a number of kids of a certain age, where things are chaotic. You're swimming upstream during this time, just surviving, because having all these young children is physically overwhelming. And eventually things even out again, and you're out of Chaos Mode. (That's the point when a lot of families have another baby.)

Bryan came up with formula with his theory, and it goes like this: *A family is in Chaos Mode when the average age of their children is lower than the number of their children.*
You can use simple year-number ages, or you can get more accurate and calculate months (dividing by twelve at the end, of course).

So right now our family has a 69-month-old, a 42-month-old, and two 14-month-olds. 69 + 42 + 14 + 14 = 139. 139 ÷ 4 = an average age of 34.75 months. 34.75 ÷ 12 = 2.9 years. 2.9 is considerably less than 4, the number of children we have, so we are still in Chaos Mode. (I could've predicted that!) The simpler version of our math is 5 + 3 + 1 + 1 = 10, 10 ÷ 4 = 2.5. 2.5 is close enough to 2.9, so it's still pretty accurate.

After further consideration, Bryan also came up with a corollary to his theory, which is: *The greater the difference between the average age of children and the number of children, the more intense the Chaos Mode.*
So when our twins were newborns and the average age of our four children was 1.5 years, our state of chaos was more intense than it is now. (True.)
With a little algebra, you can also figure out when your family will be released from Chaos Mode. My math* tells me that for us, it will be when Linus and Ambrose are about 2 years, 3 months old. That sounds about right. Only a year to go! Woo hoo!

(Note: now that it's July 2013, we have only a few weeks to go before we're out of Chaos Mode. I'm so excited!)

**55 + n + 28 + n + n + n = (4 x 4 x 12) = 192, 4n = 192 - 55 - 28, n = 27.25 months, or about 2.25 years, where n = the number of months that have passed since the twins' birth, 55 and 28 are the extra ages Camilla and Blaise were when Linus and Ambrose were born, and 4 is the number of our children and the average age they'll need to be to move out of Chaos Mode (times 12 because I'm calculating in months).*

I remember seeing this a while ago (before I had twins) and thinking how funny it was. Now that our average is 23.5 months (with 4 kids), it's a little scary to think of how long it's going to be before we're out of chaos mode!!!

Posted by: Rosie | Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Interesting! According to that, we were in chaos mode from the birth of our first child (convenient that everyone is automatically in chaos mode for the first year of their first child's life) until the boys turned 3 and 1. I not-so-fondly look back at the three months when I had a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old (to 2.75 and 9 mo) as the most difficult point of my life, but I wouldn't say it was a cakewalk when they were 3 and 1. I suppose it's fair to say it wasn't chaos anymore, just hard. Things weren't comfortable until they were 3 and 5, when we spend the next 6 months hoping to get pregnant. At no point in my 3rd child's life (he was born when the older boys were almost 6.5 and 4.5) would the equation put us in chaos mode, and I'd agree with that. His babyhood and toddlerhood has been much easier in comparison. Now that they are 9,7, and turning 3, even if I get pregnant now, they're old enough to bump us out of chaos mode via the equation. Hurray!

Posted by: Amy F | Friday, July 19, 2013 at 10:32 PM

I remember this post and have been eagerly looking forward to September 2013 since you first posted it. Everything will be easier then, right? :)

Posted by: Pippi | Friday, July 19, 2013 at 11:15 PM

I like your husband's math on this one, but here's another one for him to work on--the Chaos of a Teen household...somehow relational to the number of teens in the home (4), number of drivers in the home (5), number of cars available (3) and number of jobs and extracurricular activities said teens are involved in (oh, say maybe, 9?). Our method has been to say when the youngest is 19, we might be out of teen chaos mode. ;) Thanks for sharing your chaos with us!

Posted by: Mary Therese | Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 07:44 PM

Only 15 months to go--hooray! Of course, at our current rate, we will have another baby by then...

Posted by: kharking | Friday, July 26, 2013 at 03:10 PM

This is cool!

Posted by: Adeline | Monday, August 12, 2013 at 01:52 AM