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.
Sometimes it is hard to believe that I am a mother of four. When did that happen?! But it most definitely did happen. Now I wonder what have I learnt about myself and the challenges of being a mum. I think the hardest part has been sharing myself with all four. When my boy was born I could snuggle, hold and be with him all day long if I wanted to. With four little ones the stretch is my biggest challenge. I want them to all feel the same amount of love and have the same sense of security. I am not alone on this. I think every mother or father feels the same. They want to do the best for their children. They want their child to feel loved and hold them tight, make them feel safe and grow into confident adults.
But getting there!!!! Well that’s the challenge.
So 1 year later and here I am. Most certainly not an expert in rearing children but there are some things I have learnt –
- It’s just a phase! Even the toughest times can be got through. I thought I would never sleep again and here we are – I had 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night. Now that is something to celebrate. Certainly doesn’t happen all the time – but today I will take it and embrace this energy.
- They grow up too fast! Blink and you will miss it. Stella took her first step on Tuesday (3 Oct 2016). Soon she will be walking and soon she will be running out the door.
- Mess is not the end of the world! Now this is something I am still working on. As someone who is very particular about keeping things neat and tidy, having an explosion of plastic in the house has been a challenge.
- Dinnertime is chaotic! A sub lesson of point 3. This is an age thing but little ones like to explore their food. I have to let go and let them. Although, I still struggle with the idea of raspberries or tomatoes as finger food. And toddlers spill lots of things!
- Stop every once in a while and just play! Play is such an important part of growing up but once we get to a certain age we forget how to. Embracing play has been liberating and I think is why I’m enjoying this time so much. Not always easy when in a house of chaos, nappies to change, dinners to be made, sick or crying children but one I try to remind myself to do.
- The hugs and snuggles are amazing! This part is just fantastic. I absolutely love all the hugs and kisses I get and give. Unconditional love given by your child is something to embrace.
- Plan everything! So this is a good tip for all mums to be. Try and pre-empt as much as you can. Most children can do 15 – 30 minutes at each activity. So if I am going anywhere I think in 15 – 30 minute slots. This allows me to do anything within reason – including dinner out with all the kids. By bringing books, toys and ensuring food arrives quickly, dinner out can be a really enjoyable experience (big bonus for me is no clean up! see point 4).
- The ‘Good Enough Mother’! This is the biggest lesson after 1 year. No matter what I do, perfectionism still niggles away at me. However, slowly I am learning that I am not perfect but I am happy and that is enough.
As the saying goes every day is a school day. So there is a little known fact that many children can regress when a baby comes into the house. This is something I did not know until it happened to me. Three little ladies have meant my son is now behaving more baby like. As a result, the nappy is back on, he was wants me to spoon feed him with a baby spoon and have baby bottles.
After a couple of weekends of constant cleaning poo and wee I had to put the nappy back on. My little boy didn’t even bat an eyelid! Quite happy to go back to nappies (no long term damage there then!) for the moment so we will have start again in another while. It seems he has no interest in being a ‘big’ boy just yet, so until it looks like he’s ready I will continue to keep Pampers in business and hope they don’t decide to stop making size 6+ any time soon.
The girls are now into everything!! Climbing is their new past time. Each of them gets a great kick out of climbing into nooks and crannies but frustrated when they get stuck. When I had the girls many recommended getting a playpen. Although I can see some merit in it, I am trying to see can we mange without. I just don’t like the idea of containing when all they want to do is explore at this age.
Keeping everything afloat at the moment is requiring stealth and determination. My beautiful brood have revved up a notch and testing mummy is a new past time. However, this is where my stubbornness has come into great use.
So they say that it is the ‘terrible twos’ and to expect lots of drama and emotion. Well of course I am not a fool to think my little one will be any different but wow! This is like having a teenager (or what I think having a teenager) in the house is like. Up down, up down, up down. To add fuel to the fire, I agreed to potty train him during this very complicated stage. I say agree as it was the ‘gentle’ persuasion of his play school. Most days have at least one battle included – stop throwing toys, don’t kick your sister, let’s go to the potty, no you can not have a stamp, come over here please, no, I said no, do you want to go to the thinking step, you need to eat your breakfast, please don’t do that, stop that, I could go on ……. All of this is speckled with you are the best boy, well done, here’s a stamp for doing that, yes, you’re brilliant etc etc. The thing is I genuinely believe he is brilliant and the best boy but just wish we could skip the negotiations and arguements. I know that it is important to stand strong so that he learns boundaries, just hate the battle. So hormones are at an all time high and it’s a very confusing time for a little boy. We get absolute hysteria if a song finishes that he likes or his favourite cartoon (dinotime- now watched over 2500 times) ends. I limit TV to Saturday and Sunday only – which, for all is a blessing, especially considering the tears and drama when the ads come on.
So we have managed to potty train despite all of this and everything else (more about that later). The approach that seemed to work for us is the slow and steady approach. Bit by bit the nappy time has been reduced. It started with just school, then afternoons and evenings at home. Now we have no nappy on all day – including park, walking or shopping etc. It’s a huge step and has taken a while to get there. He has slowly become nappy free over about 4 weeks. The accidents are few and far now but I still have to remember to bring him to the toilet every hour and we haven’t done a poo in the toilet yet. I am extremely proud of him but also pretty pleased with myself. So one out of four is now nappy free (mostly).
Big changes have happened for the girls too. They are now in their own bedroom and sleeping (almost) all night. To get to this has been a lot of heart ache and tears. Lots of tears!!! In fact crying it out has been the only successful method. There are lots of people who would be horrified at the thought of leaving a baby to cry but when you have three babies and nothing else has worked, needs must. Desperation for sleep is a horrible place to be. One of my girls is still not fully there, last night she woke at 3am and settled at 6am by which time her sisters decided it was morning. There have been some nights where I am functioning on about 3 hours sleep but since getting advice from a sleep specialist this is becoming less and less. Things have changed quite a it for all. Now breakfast happens before the morning bottle and everyone goes down for 2 hours mid afternoon. Due to strict schedule we have become pretty limited in where we go, when we go out and for how long but all worth it for sleep.
My mantra ‘it’s just a phase’ is on constant repeat in the my mind.