Today ve a guest post from Karen Bleakley. Karen is a freelance travel writer. She’s currently following her dream of migrating to Australia with her family, pending masses of visa paperwork. She blogs over at www.TalesofaTwinMum.wordpress.
I had my squishy baby girl when my twin boys were two years ten months. A year on, and I’ve survived having three under three, despite people telling me I was mad for having another baby so close in age to my boys.
My boys aren’t angels. They’re natural runners (in opposite directions), their listening is selective (requests to tidy up get ignored, but whisper the word “sweets” and they come bounding from a distance), they can often be found sitting on each others’ heads and lately they’ve taken to carrying toys they can stand on into the kitchen to reach the biscuit tin. Bringing a baby into the equation has been a fascinating, exhausting and – a lot of times – fun experience.
Our logic was that we’d got used to juggling everything – babies, space, time and money – so how much difference would one more make?
The honest truth is it hasn’t been as tough as I was expecting. You adapt quickly because you have to. The baby fits into your routine and you learn ways to cope with the mayhem that is your new life.
My boys adore their sister. Mostly. They get upset if she sleeps in while they’re eating breakfast, they get protective if somebody wants to hold her and they like to kiss and cuddle her so much I have to be careful she doesn’t get squashed. They also steal her toys and sit on the feet of her sleepsuit as she tries to crawl, but that’s what big brothers are supposed to do.
Of course, life isn’t always perfect. There have been times when I’ve been the lady on the street that you cross the road to escape. You know who I mean… the lady pushing a buggy with an over-tired, crying baby in it, while simultaneously trying to juggle two screeching toddlers who are lying on the pavement kicking their feet and throwing the mother of all tantrums. I’ve been that person who you thought about helping but decided to avoid because, to be quite frank, the situation looked beyond saving. When I’m in the full on tantrum ‘zone’ it’s all about self-preservation – getting us all home as fast as possible, where I can inhale some more caffeine and get a five minute break with the help of that amazing childminder that is CBeebies. Putting it into perspective – that moment lasts a few minutes, and if you deep breathe your way through it and haul everybody home as quickly as possible, it’ll be forgotten before you hear the theme tune to Postman Pat. Thankfully those occasions are few and far between now as I’ve learnt to avoid them as much as possible.
I live by a few simple rules:
I avoid places that don’t suit three young children.
I don’t take them all into town or to the supermarket on my own because if I did the boys would get bored and start to run off, they’d start grabbing everything off shelves and I’d end up stressed. So for now, I don’t go shopping with them unless I’ve got another pair of hands, or it’s a fast hit and run job to pick up one thing and get out.
I take them out to burn off energy.
We go to soft play, the local park or I take them out on their bikes down an enclosed footpath. I like to think of multiple toddlers as excitable puppies that need regular exercise but can’t be trusted off a lead. If the space is enclosed, I can relax a bit because there’s less risk of them escaping, which means I get a bit of a breather while they play.
I carry rewards.
I always carry stickers or sweets. I try not to bribe for good behaviour – because with my boys this would be a slippery slope – but if somebody behaves well (which does happen, sometimes) I like to be ready.
I try not to sweat the small stuff.
Having a matching pair makes life difficult because they egg each other on. I try not to tell them off for every little thing because that gets exhausting and they stop listening. I want them to pay attention when I shout “no”, so I don’t want to devalue the word because they hear it every five seconds. It’s not an easy rule to stick by.
Having three close together in age has presented challenges, but I think as my daughter grows up they’re all going to be the best of friends. Hopefully.
The boys have just taken to asking when I’m going to have more babies. This time they’ve put in a request for twins. Can you even imagine the comments that would bring? People already tell me I’ve got my hands full at least sixteen times every day. And yes, I have got my hands full. But I wouldn’t have it any other way because life is pretty great as it is.
What are your methods of coping with lots of small children? If you have any more suggestions, I’d be grateful to hear them!