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.
Its one of those classic cliches that is used many different occasions. ‘Don’t run yourself into the ground’ is another. But no one can prepare you for how overwhelming triplets and a toddler can be. The last weekend was my first real test and I like to think I coped okay. Just don’t think any further than a day ahead!!!
My wonderful family situation works like clockwork…….. As long as everything and everyone is okay, its a pretty smooth operation but any hiccup and oh sweet jesus!
So the week was always going to be tricky. My minder was away and i had arranged a patchwork of helpers for the week. I thought i was doing great, all problems solved until Saturday morning and all let loose again. Weekends are the hardest part of the week for me. I am generally on my own with all four children both mornings. Feeding the girls takes about 2 hours so coupled with my son this can be quite a stressful time.
My mum had agreed to take my son for the night and I knew that he’d have a ball. I was looking forward to some quality time with my ladies. By lunchtime I noticed that Francesca was struggling to breath. At about 4pm she had started to pant. Straight away I knew this was not good. Her temperature was fine, she was alert and was feeding well but the breathing was now very labored. Your maternal instinct kicks in. Brought her to the hospital where she was admitted with Bronchilitis. Apparently this is very common at this time of year but obviously dangerous when baby is under 7 weeks old. The doctors were being over cautious but i was happier with that than going home and something serious happened!
So, single mum of four required an army of help! I have to say sleep depravation was the worst because it meant I wasn’t thinking straight. I had a lot of great offers to step in but I really wasn’t able to focus. As result of our night in A&E I was a bit of basket case. Post pregnancy my health has not been 100%. I have struggled with high blood pressure, migraines, swollen gums, etc etc. I am in need of a good dose of multi vitamins and iron! As the title of this post goes…. this is not a race, its a marathon.
I have recently started trying to spend one on one time with each of my kids. This is actually quite time consuming but wonderful. Each has their own personality and ways. Its great when I get to know them individually. Its also really important that my son knows i haven’t disappeared on him. He is like a different child when we hang out on our own. Although the girls are very young, already they are full of personality and need one on one time. Having help around me has allowed this alone time, I am lucky to have it but would have it no other way. When my son doesn’t get this attention he acts out. He has occasionally hit and bitten me. All classic signs of wanting you. I try not to make too big an issue of it and am just very firm about not allowing it. We have a time out step in the house. He has had to sit there on a couple of occasions. Usually for a minute to let him calm down. Once the minute is up, he quickly says sorry and gets back to playing. Its turned out to be really effective and I am conscious of not over using it. Children like to test boundaries every once and a while but I’m consistent.
Its a juggle parenting four with plenty to keep you busy! My next challenge is to structure my week better. Just like babies, I thrive on routine.