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!