With the recent 4th birthday of our eldest, I have have been reflecting on the last 4 years and how our lives have changed from the days of being on double incomes with just a labrador, to being a crazy, chaotic family with 3 kids (and a labrador) on one income.
I get asked all the time how I cope with having 3 kids, people are especially interested in the fact that they are so close in age (21 months between the first and second and 20 months between the second and third). My usual answer is that number 3 is a breeze, it’s the other 2 that are tough going! In all honesty the age gap is a personal preference kind of thing, we had a long journey to have our first baby so were slightly older than we had planned to be when starting our family so it made sense to us to try and pop them out in pretty quick succession. My theory is also to get all the ‘baby-ness’ over and done quickly without leaving too much time for the body and mind to get accustomed to long stretches of sleep!
Honestly though, 3 under 4 has really not been too bad, we have a good daily routine including the 2 big kids going to preschool 3-4 mornings each, compulsory sleeps/quiet TV time at 1pm and a pretty strict dinner, bath, story, bed routine between 5.30 and 7pm. Oh yes… it feels like groundhog day everyday, but it’s just what we have to do for the foreseeable future to maintain our sanity and make sure we get some time together in the evenings. It might seem like a bit of a random thing but… I do washing everyday… yip everyday… rain, hail or shine, if I miss just one day I tend to feel like I am drowning and it becomes the catalyst for feeling like life is getting on top of me.
Each week we each try to spend some time 1:1 with the kids, especially the boys. Louis has 2 and Willem has 1 “Mummy Day’, a morning spent with Mummy and their baby sister while the other big boy is a preschool. Louis loves to help me bake or prepare dinner, while Willem has a swimming lesson and a cafe treat in town. Daddy also tries to slip in some time during the weekend with one or both of the boys, he takes them out running in the buggy stopping at the beach to hunt for crabs or they take the dog to the beach for a swim and try to skim stones. They are all growing up so quick so we really try and make the most of these precious times.
Sometimes the hardest thing in such a busy house is to find time to connect as a couple, the moment Daddy comes in the door the boys want his undivided attention so they can tell him about the songs they sang at preschool or show him their latest Duplo creation. This often frustrates him as he often wants 5 minutes peace to get changed and wind down after work, he has learnt though that it is best to give them some time and the last of his energy before setting them up in front of TV. We then find ourselves with a 20 minute window to catch up on each others days while one of us puts the finishing touches on dinner. And as I said we are real sticklers for the 7pm bedtime, so that we catch a couple of hours together before hitting the hay. Thanks to my husband’s awesome parents who live relatively close we get to treat ourselves to the odd ‘date night’, although we do find ourselves home and tucked up pretty early in preparation for our gorgeous little early risers!
Oh how our lives have changed in 4 super short years… from sleep inns, late dinners with friends (and copious amounts of wine), weekends of going our separate ways to play sport and early morning walks together with the dog to arguing over who lies next to Mum in the big bed, McDonalds Happy Meals, weekends doing the rounds of the local playgrounds and sneaking down the hallway hoping for that first cup of tea alone and in peace! It’s crazy and chaotic, fast-paced and at times frustrating but I firmly believe the keys to making it look easy are… Routine and teamwork.
If the last 4 years are anything to go by I am sure the next 1 will absolutely fly by… so crazy, exciting and nerve racking to think that in less than 12 months our dear wee man will be off to “big school”, I know he will be well and truely ready and we will all embrace the next crazy and chaotic chapter of our lives.