My toddlers have become all consuming (hence the lack of posts!). Definitely think every phase has its highs and lows. At the moment the highs certainly outweigh the lows but it is not easy with four toddlers all at once.
A few months ago the naps disappeared completely from our house. This is the final connection to baby and that’s now gone. We have a full day to fill! In my experience toddlers have plenty of energy that needs to be burnt off by the end of the day to ensure we get a good sleep (more about that later). So if we are not running around the park at least once a day, everyone suffers. Winter weather can mean this isn’t always easy to do. So twice a day, every day we have some sort of activity. Some days this includes playgroup (girls in three mornings) or montissori (my son) but mostly means I am constantly planning and trying think up ways to keep us on the move. This is definitely an exhausting phase. I generally get to the end of the day, after hearing “mum, mum, mum, mum” a thousand time and collapse in a zombie like state on the couch.
So with this in mind and activity needed no matter what the weather, I brought three with me to the local shopping center. It’s a large, vast space generally packed with people doing the same thing when it rains. At the start all three stayed reasonably close to me while I repeated ‘stay close to mummy, don’t run, stay close to mummy!’ Over and over. Until one had a tantrum and the other two ran off. So I became that frantic woman, struggling to hold onto one screaming child while running around calling my kids. They completely disappeared out of my sight. It might have been a minute but it felt like eternity. So lesson well and truly learnt! We will now rule out shopping centers for a while. Thankfully the weather has started to improve which means there’s more options.
So sleep……… oh the biggest nightmare in this house. Honestly I am getting to end of my patience (which after nearly four years isn’t too bad!) Every single night, bar one or two odd lucky occasions, I am woken at least once or twice or three times. It’s clear why this is used as a form of torture. I could list off the reasons but I would be here all day, just to say that every night is different. If I get two nights sleep I start falling into a false sense of hope and then on the third night – here we go again. I tried to do the ‘win a golden star’ if everyone sleeps but that just became a competition between them so had to cool down on the awarding. My mother suggested ear plugs but as I’m the only adult in the house I reckon this might be slightly irresponsible. However, if I do come up with a solution I will happily share but for the moment I contend with a grateful supply of melatonin.
I started this post by saying the highs outweigh the lows and this is so true. Recently I’ve noticed we have started to really cement together as a family. It’s wonderful when this starts to happen. My relationship with each child is very individual but when we come together (and there’s no arguing) it can be magical.
I can remember so many changes and milestones when my son was born but when the girls came along it seemed to blur. I always thought it was so important to remember key dates and put pressure on myself to be that parent who would be able to recall key seminal moments. However, once another child comes into the family (or three!) this quickly becomes a thing of the past. In reality I have come to realize it’s not actually important.
It’s not about remembering the exact date and at what time your child spoke a three word sentence or even their first step. For me it’s about being present to them when I am with them. Yes gradually over time they have developed speech, run the legs off me and can have conversations with me and each other. Every once and a while I sit back and watch them becoming independent people. Today I noticed that they had there own separate conversation without me, came to their own conclusion and continued on without needing me. I’m sure this isn’t the first time this has happened but it’s the first time I noticed.
So although I don’t remember all the little steps, every once and a while (if I step back and watch) I see the people that are emerging.
It is the week before Christmas and everyone in this house is getting very excited. It’s the first year that all four can enjoy and absorb all the festivities and build up. They don’t quite understand Christmas ‘day’ but for them it’s a month long celebration of lights, songs, parties, Santa etc… This frenzy of excitement has meant our daily routine has gone slightly. Daytime snoozes were never great in my house and this time of year isn’t helping.
My girls share a room and as a result nap time tends to become a bit of a party. The sound of singing and chats streams down the stairs while they’re supposed to be having ‘quiet time’. I am not giving up though – they’re only 2 years old so still need sleep and some days it happens.
Anyway, at the moment there’s too many distractions. As a result they are tired by the end of the day and devilment kicks in. Of course, by now I should know this and should learn! Seems I forget easily these days. So on Monday, for our afternoon activity, I thought a trip to our local shopping center to get shoes for everyone would be a great idea. Under normal circumstances, when everyone’s slept well and it’s not Christmas shopping madness, this could work. However, that’s not how it played out….. the girls saw this as a great opportunity to play chase and show mummy how fast they can run through crowds. While opening the car door in the very busy car park one of my girls bolted just as a car was headed our direction. Obviously the chances of this happening with one of the four is high but I never believed it could happen. My minder was with me and we were both on high alert but even with that she ran. All it takes is one split second and your life could change forever. In this case my daughter lives to tell the tale but how easily it could have gone so so differently.
After the initial shock we all got, it was absolutely gratitude that I felt. Here we are another year is closing and I am blessed with four perfect, healthy children. Each is full of their personality, creativity and curiosity.
I thought I’d end this post with a picture of all of us meeting Santa. I love this picture. It’s not perfect and certainly doesn’t paint everyone in a great light but it does show all of us in our individual glory.
I am blessed with a brilliant gaggle of kids. They each have so much that they bring to the house and our family. It’s not a quiet house and there is plenty of drama. Noise levels are generally raised and occasionally (a lot of the time!) there is a battle over a toy. This stage requires a whole new level of patience. I thought being a parent of three babies and a toddler was going to be the tough part but what I’m learning about parenting is nothing prepares you for the next stage and the next and the next. When you’re in the middle of it it’s hard to imagine anything tougher than what your experiencing at that time. Many times I think it’s never going to change but it does and that brings its own new challenge. So when my triplets were born there were plenty of things I grappled with – lack of sleep (still no sleep!), lack of time, being all to all four, learning the be a mother and so on. But here we are two years and two months later and it is a whole new level of challenge and fun!
About two months ago I went to the park for the last time on my own with the four of them. Up to then it was still possible to go to the park keep them close and rely on the buggy to hold them when need be. But now we have scooters! Which, it’s important to note, are brilliant and generally they know to follow a couple of rules – don’t go too far ahead when walking to park, always get off the scooter when crossing the road etc… But!!! It also means they can disappear easily when they want to. So there I was – the ‘perfect mother’ on a beautiful Saturday morning believing I’ve got this! Well my children had a completely different plan.
There are plenty of times when I think it’s great to have such independent, strong willed children. This wasn’t one of them. While I frantically ran from one end of the park to the other my little ones continued to be very strong willed and independent. I could see other parents look in horror as I tried to round them up like cattle. ‘Oh god, look at her!’, ‘oh god, glad my little Henry isn’t like that!’. Then to top it off with a cherry on top my son wet his pants (he’s only 3!). Being the oh so organized mother I forgot a change for him. The only way to save the poor child’s dignity for the walk home was to put one of the girls nappies on. So now I had four screaming snotty kids, one double buggy, four scooters, one bare legged child.
But here’s the thing – children’s behaviour doesn’t change. What changes is how you respond to it. In other words, me being tired, feeling I’m struggling is going to effect how I react to something. Thinking that I am more than what I am is going to have impact. So thinking that going to the park with four toddlers under the circumstances was ridiculous and certainly not being kind to myself. I think that’s the biggest lesson for me, if I’m in a happy place nothing and no one can phase me. I do this by minding my self! And not bringing my toddlers to wide open spaces. (For the moment)
I think that’s so important because otherwise you would miss the magic of parenting.
Okay, so up to now having four little ones has had its tough moments. Lack of sleep being a major issue but honestly the woes of four babies is nothing on the trials of four toddlers. All of a sudden I find myself having to say ‘no’ and ‘stop’ a lot. This coupled with the fact that everyone is talking and expressing their opinions makes for a very interesting household.
To be completely honest, up to now was like the honeymoon period in comparison to this phase. It’s really tough to not loose myself in the moments of madness. I find myself saying no a lot. Can I have juice? Can I watch cartoons? I want chocolate. I want to chew the charger cord. I want to pull everything out of the office. I want open the fridge and pick at things. I want to go this way. No mummy I’m not doing that. Etc etc…
But the toughest challenge so far is trying to stop them from killing each other!! It’s one thing saying no all the time but honestly nothing prepares you for the fights little ones can have. I’m told rise above it, don’t let it get to you. All sound advice but what do you do when one child is whacking the other with a stick or another is biting a chunk out of the others arm?!
So I find myself in a house with three 2 year olds (nearly) and one 3 year old all presenting themselves to the world, each with their own determination and self will.
I have plenty of patience and most of the time I can get through tough times but occasionally it gets under my skin and I feel anger and frustration rising. I know I’m not alone on this but it can be really hard to be a ‘grown up’ and not get lost in this anger and frustration. I am trying to use different techniques i.e. Ten deep breaths, walk out of the room, pause before reacting, ignore until i need to step in. However, this is a tough stage. There are definitely moments when i feel like i am lost and it is at these times when my alarm bells are ringing – I need to look after myself. Yes, I am devoted to being mum but I also know that when I am most frustrated it is because I don’t have any breathing space.
Time apart is not so easy to arrange but is very necessary. As the summer ends and a new school year starts, I know that in order for a happy mummy – playgroup and Montessori are essential!
Time really does fly by when you have a house full of little ones. Seems every week it’s Friday by the time I realise another week has gone by. We have had loads of adventures and everyone is getting really big now. My little boy is not so little anymore and is now a whopping three years old! How did that happen!
So he’s Mr Cool these days and FULL of personality. He knows how to voice his opinion and is a determined man. In love with football and all sports involving a ball – as someone who knows very little about most of these sports, he is becoming my teacher.
My three little ladies have found their voices also and all with very different personalities. It makes for a great house. Triplets are fascinating to watch. They have an incredible connection with each other. My two identical girls have their own language and speak to each other in this foreign tongue. It’s like baby talk but has purpose and meaning to them. I have no real clue of what they are saying to each other but occasionally I get the idea. They are also learning to talk and I know it’s only a matter of time before their special language disappears. I remember when Red was a baby learning to talk, he had all sorts of words for things. Water was this garbled word that had no association with the word water but we all knew what he meant and this was the way with many things, demands, until slowly they disappeared and English became his language. There’s something very special about this time, when they are absorbing so much. Their minds are incredible, little sponges soaking up the world around them.
Life balance is something I’m very conscious of at the moment. I know when I don’t get any break from the day to day, I start to struggle and everything gets really hard. A simple park excursion feels like a mountain climb. However, once I plan out a couple ‘me time’ activities my energy returns.
We go through tough sleeping patterns all the time and this can be incredibly tough on my body. Waking two to three times a night is really hard. This is usually associated with teeth or illness. I think most parents know this part of parenting is not the most fun. But it doesn’t take much for recovery. Amazing when I think back to how I experienced tiredness pre babies! But one night of sleep and all of sudden those sleepless nights are forgotten.
I can’t believe how long it has taken me to update my blog – but then I recall all the madness of having 4 toddlers in the house. Yes, I did say toddlers! The girls are no longer babies anymore. I occasionally get a pang for a little baby – oh I love babies!!! But don’t worry I do also know my reality. I have no intention of having anymore children. I have reached my fill. The kids are so wonderful and keep me nice and busy in a way that ensures no more pregnancies for me!
All of the girls have taken their first steps. The house is now filled with wobblers and one running boy. The girls are still not completely steady on their feet but each day their confidence is building. I am building up their walking outside but teaching three ladies the rules of the road is not an easy task.
Today I am celebrating the first month of no sickness in the house. There is still plenty of nose wiping but after lots of temperatures and sleepless nights, stocking up on tissues is nothing.
The girls are now full of chat and this is a wonderful new dynamic in the house. Each of them are learning the face ‘nose, eyes’ while poking at your face is very cute. Their ‘baby’ is an essential accessory and Red is followed everywhere he goes.