Oh sweet Jesus! Day one done and that is a day I don’t want to repeat. I can’t even say it was a full day because the girls were in playgroup all morning but training three is no walk in the park.
They say bring them to the potty every 45min and that would be fine if all three had bladders in sync but they don’t!! Each wees at there own pace (like every normal person!!). So once the ‘let’s go potty’ at 45 minute intervals was broken that was the end of it – game over. However I do have one daughter (thankfully) who seems to be relishing the potty training challenge. Abigail has had very few accidents today and seems to embrace this new rite of passage. My other two don’t enjoy this at all! Stella had a few ‘star sticker’ moments on the chart (I frantically made up today as motivation). Francesca is just having none of it. In fact I think it’s been all too overwhelming. Lots and lots and lots of tears later and we are now compromising with pull ups. I feel we both won!
In the meantime my son is furious with this carry on, taking all mummy’s attention away from him. How dare they!! So there has been plenty of aggressive moments and expressive sighing.
Now the next part I already know is entirely my own fault!! Why I picked tonight to broaden their taste buds – I honestly put it down to a slight moment of insanity! I decided tonight was the night to make a chicken curry with rice. All three elements are hated by all four. The rice, the curry and especially the chicken created an explosion! It was above and beyond any previous gastronomic disaster. Red threw a grand tantrum – spat out food, threw things at me and across the room. The girls just continually broke into unison crying. In the end I had to send Red to bed for what can only be described as momental roars and fits. He didn’t really complain too much when sent to bed which makes me think – he’d had enough too. Today needed to end. After 60 minutes of patiently coaxing I managed to get the girls to eat their dinner.
So day two is tomorrow. A few lessons I have learnt from today:
1. Not everyone pees in sync
2. Each girl is independently strong willed
3. I need to compromise with Francesca. She’ll get there when she’s ready!
4. Comfort food (pasta, lasagna and sausage) are on the menu for the rest of the week
5. Reward charts only create a minefield of competition and disappointments
6. Best to not have toddlers wear Disney ballgowns while potty training.
There are so many drafts sitting in unpublished so I can’t guarantee this one will get published either but at least I have some sort of documentation of what’s been going on.
Myself and the kids have had a busy summer and everyone is growing up fast. My son is now 4 going on 14! And the girls are ‘big girl’ two and a half.
Summer is a time when routine gets thrown up and can be extremely tough at times. I have learnt a lot about myself these last couple of months. The house is FULL to the brim with toys, clothing and added furniture so order is really important. Summer holidays have meant that this order slips. I can handle the world if I have a tidy house so I have been known to just sweep anything still lying on the floor at the end of the day and just deposit it into the bin. I am trying to instill work ethic into my children’s routine but their idea of tiding up their toys and my idea of clearing LEGO, cars, dolls, jigsaws and bits of plastic are very different. As for routine, holidays has meant later to bed, lax daily routine, treats slipping in. I now realize that I need routine, never mind my kids! My stress and anxiety goes through the roof with an untidy house and no normalcy. It is not that kids change or that their behavior all of a sudden becomes a nightmare it’s that they need normal too! So in the last few weeks I have tried to put in a good routine and stick to it (sort of). This has really helped me.
But being a mother of toddlers is naturally going to be tricky at times. They are determined to express their independence and want to push boundaries to discover for themselves what is safe and what’s too far. I recently visited the supermarket with one of my girls. She didn’t want to sit in the trolley (none of them do anymore). So I said that was fine, but stay beside me. The trip started fine. She was being a great helper. Then she started to get bored so ran down the aisles on her own and then would reappear thinking this was a great game! All fine – until she didn’t reappear! In those moments you try to stay calm, try to say she’s only hiding, but time passes so slowly and security we’re searching, I was frantically calling her name. After a few minutes, there was real fear. I could hear a child screaming – in a logical state I would know this wasn’t her but in this case I couldn’t ignore it – was that Abigail? Had someone taken her? Where was she? Oh god who has her?! Security! Security!
Thankfully in this situation she reappeared. But as I say being a mother of toddlers is tricky. I definitely had a few more grey hairs. Children disappearing on me seems to be a running theme in my life at the moment. Each of them have done a runner at one point or another and all come back with a grin, thinking this is a great game. I just hope it remains a ‘game’ and nothing serious happens. I have been thinking though … stranger danger is a very real thing! All of mine love saying hello to everyone they pass, telling these people all their news. When they were still staying close to mummy and not running off this seemed very cute but now I feel this will need to change. That lovely innocence will have to end, their world is becoming bigger now and I am not always going to be right beside them to move them on. At the moment if someone offered them some jellies I have no doubt they would hop into the black van waiting to speed them off! Horrific thought!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
So this is more a milestone post than anything.
The big news this week – Francesca and Abigail have broken their first tooth. Hard to believe that 8 and a half months have passed since their arrival!
All of the girls are now shuffling across the floor. This means you need to watch them constantly. Before you know it, one is under the table, another is behind the tv stand and last but not least one has managed to squeeze under the couch.
They’re getting much more independent and very happy to play amongst themselves for a little while. My son is still the most exciting person in the world as far as their concerned.
Red is getting very proficient with a ball and entertains each night with his kicking skill.
Since being away, his language has really come on and he now has a good grasp of sentences.
Stella is showing great coordination and concentration. She likes to observe first whereas the others love to dive in! I suspect she may be first to walk. Slow and steady!
The girls are now on a new schedule that seems to be working really well. Last night Stella slept all the way through till 6am. Woohoo!!!!
Here’s the routine:
Up at 6ish – bottle
8am – breakfast
9am – sleep (40 min approx)
11.30 – lunch
12.15 – bottle
12.30 – 2.30pm sleep/quiet time
2.30pm snack and bottle
In fact, we more than survived. We had a fantastic holiday but it definitely took a bit of perseverance to get there.
Over the last decade or so, I have been fortunate to do lots of travel so know that things don’t always go to plan. This pales into nothing compared to travel with babies. There is a lot of planning and organising required. So here are my learnings from the trip:
Packing – best not to over pack!
- We’ve all been there. You always think that summer dress circa 2004 is going to have to come with you – even though its practically a rag and you never wear it other than on the beach and really should you be wearing something you wore clubbing in Ibiza ten years ago?! Not just that, if your Irish, you feel the need to pack for all weather (just in case) and pack coats, jumpers, scarfs for your two weeks in the sun. So if like me you already over pack for one – just imagine the over packing for 5!
- You can buy everything there. Unless you are jungle bound, there is everything and more in the supermarkets abroad. Pack enough wipes, nappies, formula and breakfast cereal/food pouches (they can eat this for every meal if needed – wont harm them) to get through the first day or so.
- They only need a few outfits or vests. Most of the time, if going to the sun, it will be too hot for clothes and trust me they won’t want to wear much. My little boy became a nudist for the two weeks.
- Bring colouring pencils, paper, play dough, story books. There are times when you want to stay in doors and they will need entertainment.
Flight – break it down to 15 – 30 minute sections
- So this might sound a bit over kill but it helps to keep everyone occupied.
- For example – my flight was 3 hours long and heres how it broke down.
- 30 minutes – take off and taxi – have a look around get used this exciting new place. Feed a bottle (helps their little ears)
- 30 minutes – sleep. Hopefully at this point they will sleep. Long journey to airport and through the check in etc.
- 30 minutes of story books, play dough, cars etc etc and oh here comes the coffee cart!
- So now we are one and a half hours into the flight and thats when it all starts to unravel unfortunately. Boredom hits, food has gone everywhere, snot and tears are now all over my once immaculate top. The lovely sun hat I purchased is now a squashed mess and the once organised bag is all over the floor in a not so easy to reach order. But deep breaths and a reminder that this is only temporary.
- 30 minutes later and we are already well through the worst of it. Everyone has calmed down a bit and back out with the toys, play dough, ‘lets draw an airplane’.
- So now for the final decent. Have a second bottle ready for this – there ears can get very sore on the way down. (I learnt this the hard way – on the way out i forgot to pack a second bottle. Thankfully the air hostess gave me some milk.)
Routine, Routine, Routine and one more time Routine!!!!!!
- So here is the tough one. I found it hard to adjust to the difference between holidays gone by and holidays of the present and future. Children don’t unwind like us grown ups. They have absolutely no interest in lounging by the pool and snoozing on the beach. My four all need a lot of attention and need your help in ensuring there is lots of fun and activity. You also want to do lots of things to ensure they tire and sleep. The girls found the adjustment especially hard. My son thought the holiday was incredible and had a ball.
- For the first week us girls were a bit miserable. Trying to look after three babies without all your paraphernalia is tough. They need those toys and bouncers! I have grown a new appreciation for the plastic that has taken over my house. It serves a wonderful purpose!
- I also must have been insane when i thought going away without help would be fine. NO!!! Even though I had a lovely local girl helping, it was a disaster. All I did for the first week is run to the pharmacy every five minutes (streaming noses, food poisoning, mosquito bites, teeth!), stress about sunscreen, clean up continuously and do laundry. I can do that at home! So by the end of the week my minder from home flew over and thats when it clicked. Simple is best – routine, routine, routine.
- Heres what our day looked like (i did not deviate)
- Up at 6am and a bottle for all
- Breakfast at 8am
- Down to the beach. Sand castles, run around, girls played on the towels, dip their toes into the water.
- Home by 11.30 and lunch
- 12.30 Nap time for everyone
- Two hours of bliss
- 2.30 Up and play. Swims for everyone
- 5pm Dinner
- 6pm – 7pm Bath and Stories
- 7.30pm Glass of wine and peace
So thats it – keep a routine, don’t stress over the small stuff, no they won’t sleep properly and whatever you do – don’t wear white jeans traveling (a mistake i will never repeat!)
Word of warning to all. Never go away with a young baby and hope they’ll keep to a reasonable routine. Add another two babies to that and all I can say is HELL!
Week one down and nope this is not fun. Constant crying, no sleep at night, teething babies… I could go on but won’t. I’m in the middle of a nightmare. Our beautiful simple routine has been swallowed up and spat out in Costa chaos! I’m currently sitting outside my triplets holiday bedroom trying to ‘cry it out’ with three highly strung, wired babies. This is not what I signed up for.
It’s not their fault at all. I feel like the biggest idiot thinking this would be a great break for us all. Nope!! Wrong there!!!!
This is single mother hell.
On the plus side my two year old is having the time of his life. Loves the water. Loves the sunshine. Best holiday ever – for him!
Us four ladies are being slowly tortured.