Preventing Marriage Breakdown in Families With Multiples

Preventing Marriage Breakdowns when parenting twins or triplets

It is Multiple Birth Awareness Week this week from March 8-15, 2015. This week celebrates the joy of having twins, triplets and other higher order multiples and also seeks to increase awareness of the unique challenges when raising children for families with multiples. Because I was speaking about family breakdown yesterday, I thought that I would continue this theme today because one common challenge for parents of twins and triplets is a strain on their marriage.

I really do believe that having twins and triplets is twice, thrice, (or more!) as much love. However, the same applies to the workload that is suddenly thrust you. So many nappies, bottles, washing to be added to the normal household responsibilities. Combine that with a dramatic decrease in sleep and often an increased strain on the budget. After all, as well as doubling all the normal baby costs the rapid influx of children in a family often requires larger accommodation and transport requirements. This financial strain is often extenuated if there has been a high risk pregnancy where the income of the mother may have abruptly stopped before planned.

It’s no wonder why there is a higher rate of divorce for parents of twins compared to other families with a new baby.

To be honest, I always found having a newborn to be a difficult time in our marriage. On the one hand you are celebrating this new life together and are united in such a deep love for that little person. On the other hand you are SLEEP DEPRIVED and hormonal and stressed and exhausted. No doubt about it, the intensity was insane when the triplets were newborns.

Yet, one of my most precious memories during that newborn period was in the early hours of the morning. Alex and I were feeling completely smashed. We had been bickering with one another the past few days (maybe longer) and I was feeling completely emotionally depleted to deal with any more antagonism with one another. We sat opposite one another, me crying and breastfeeding two babies, and Alex not so patiently waiting with the third wailing child, deep rings under his eyes and the pressure of having to be a professional and function in a job the next day that demands high concentration.

All of a sudden we began to talk to one another. We stopped blaming each other for everything going wrong and started understanding one another’s perspective. It started with acknowledging that yes, having triplets was plain hard work and there was no easy way around it and it was a stage we just had to endure. But then the lights just started to illuminate to me as Alex explained that he was feeling impatient because we had a plan of how to do things before we had the triplets and he was prepared to execute that plan, but all of a sudden we weren’t going by the plan anymore. I suddenly understood why he was being snappy with me, it was because he wanted to help and was feeling helpless instead. I could then explain why I had abandoned some of the plans. (Primarily because planning for triplets is tricky when you don’t know what it’s going to be like and at that point in time I had never received any advice from another triplet mother.) And so at 2am in the morning we formulated a new plan and resolved to be supportive of one another. It was one of those turning points in our marriage for me. Our communication was already strong, but it reached a new level of mutual respect and resolve to understand one another’s perspectives.

The next three years have continued to be difficult, but we are committed to putting safe guards in our marriage to ensure it stays divorce proof. Here are what I would consider the three top actions that have helped us survive and remain happily married as parents of multiples.

  • Roll up sleeves and get hands dirty. Work together as a team to do the jobs.
    Husband’s, we know you work hard all day. We appreciate all that you do. However, we are working hard all day too. (Whether it’s in the home or in the workplace) Parenting doesn’t finish at 5:30. It would be lovely to clock off sometimes, but it’s just not possible. Children need to be fed, dirty faces washed, teeth cleaned, stories read and bottoms wiped. Get into a routine of sharing the duties. My husband is wonderful. He is brilliant at loading and unloading the dishwasher. It’s a chore that is so helpful and when he doesn’t do it, I really struggle trying to find the time to fit it in. Alex also brushes the kids teeth and reads them stories at night and gives the children breakfast in the mornings. We’re a team.
  • Find ways to enjoy one another’s company.
    Alex and I love dates. We love to leave the home and just be “us”. Movies, dinner, a getaway. We just relish those times. Dates are not always possible though. Finding a babysitter can be extra hard when you have multiples. We had very few nights alone in the triplet’s first year. Apart from that, it was just too hard to go out at night when there were three babies at home, especially when those babies had reflux and would normally spend several hours screaming before settling down for interrupted nights sleep. But we still found opportunities to enjoy one another. We didn’t consciously do a ‘date at home’ type of thing, although that may have worked had we thought of it. We just made an effort to slow down and took small opportunities to enjoy one another. Sometimes that was simply collapsing on the couch, turning off the TV and me lying down with my feet in his lap and we would talk. Other times the TV was on and we would watching a movie together, or we would have a baby (or three) cuddled in and we would sit there companionably and watch our favourite show, “The Amazing Race”. Grand gesture or simple things, remember you are only parents because first you were (and are!) a couple. Slow down enough to enjoy one another. Keep the connections that made you fall in love with one another strong.
  • Communication
    One of my favourite times of the day is when Alex gets home from work and I’m finishing off dinner while the kids are somewhere else in the house and we just talk, talk, talk in the kitchen. We talk about our respective days events and our feelings about what had gone on and then whatever else.
    Another important aspect about communication has been talking with one another if we’re feeling there is a problem. It’s much easier to explain how we’re feeling while the issue is still small so we can deal with it. If we are snappy at each other, when things are cooled down, we will try to deal with the root issue rather than letting it ferment. That way we can dismiss the superficial issue we fought over and our relationship stays strong.

I asked some other triplet Mums about their marriages and this is what they said.

Roxanne: In the early stages we worked together as a team as we had next to no support available. Being confident that we were on the same page with tasks meant we could each take turns going out alone to do jobs and have some breathing space. This helped keep us sane. We have struggled with our relationship especially as the physical care demands have decreased and the more mental and emotional demands with the kids have increased. We get through it by talking issues through or recently where we sought professional help and after the first session we both agreed the person was not for us, we committed ourselves to working harder as a team but respecting our individual needs.

Samantha: We talk and spend time with the kids. I found it hard not having family close to me and trying to juggle 3 newborns and 2 older kids.  My partner is a truck driver and not often home to help with the kids but our marriage had been good all around. But I would not change anything for my kids.

Paulette: After having multiples the marriage seems to take a back seat, it’s rare to find someone who would mind all three so you & hubby could go out… And even less when 2 out of 3 have Autism. We generally feel pretty tired especially when they were younger. And that’s about that really!

Clare: Not long after my triplets were born a friend told me that “Your children are your first responsibility and your marriage is your first priority”.  That advice really helped my husband and I to keep our perspective right. I think the consuming nature of raising multiples means that everyone involved gets squeezed to capacity all the time and the ‘dregs’ are what the spouse receives. Keeping this in check with open communication and making time out for each other we found really vital to surviving and thriving. I’m blessed with a great husband who helps me in all sorts of ways. I’ve found it really important to have the emotional support from him too. We’re there to pick each other up and keep on encouraging. We are both committed too. Like minded in realizing that we want to care for each other and thereby care for the children well.

It’s so easy to take one another for granted during the busyness of life with multiples in the family. When we consciously remember our partners and work on our relationship it might be difficult at first but in the long run it makes life easier, more fun and more beautiful. Sometimes the best way to love our children is to first love one another.

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A Rainy Day with Triplets

Rainy days can be challenging for children and parents. Rainy days with twins, triplets or beyond, as in all things with multiples, can present another level to some parents challenges.

Rainy Day Triplets

Friday was such a day for myself. Currently there are cyclones sandwiching Australia. We are mindful and praying for those who are effected by the devastation that cyclones bring, especially those in Yeppoon who bore the brunt of Marcia’s Category 5 force. We are not affected by the cyclones at this stage, but Cyclone Marcia may graze us as a Category One cyclone before it heads out to sea. What we have been experiencing is A LOT of rain.

This has resulted in cyclonic conditions WITHIN our house. Three year old triplets are indeed a destructive force and being cooped up indoors on multiple rainy day has increased the level of mischief they are getting into.

On Friday, after the rush of getting the big boys off to school, our day at home started with the slam of a screen door. The triplets are supposed to ask before going outside, so I instantly went to investigate. We had a sudden downpour of heavy rain, and the triplets were all standing on the edge of the carport watching the rain. Being a fan of rain watching myself, I was happy for them to continue watching the rain, so they stood there chattering excitedly and reaching out their hands to feel the drops plonk onto their little hands. While they were doing this, I took a phone call. As I was talking, I decided to start cleaning the back door with a rag that was in my hand. When I turned around. This is what I saw.

twins discarded clothing

Of course, this meant only one thing. Sure enough, it didn’t take long to locate two small boys in muddy puddle.

twins in mud

During that time, the small girl had returned inside and I could see her nose pushed up against the screen window and she was yelling at the boys to get out of the rain. I told her they were fine and would she like to jump in muddy puddles? She said, “No thank you”, but must have changed her mind because after a little while she appeared in her swimming togs and gumboots. She didn’t really jump in the puddles very much because the boys were making far too many dirty splashes! The boys continued to have a marvellous time, including sitting in the puddles. Ugh.

Triplets in a muddy puddle

As I carried the boys into the bath, the mischief reached another level and for the rest of the day I felt like I was chasing my tail. I never caught that darn tail.

While I was carrying boy number 2 in, boy number one went to the toilet and sprayed wee everywhere. As I cleaned the toilet, the splashing in the bath became too enthusiastic and the floor got wet. As I dressed the boys, the girl got into glue and flooded it over the table. As I cleaned up the glue, the boys tipped buckets of toys out in piles. As we cleaned the toys I noticed the small girl had disappeared. I found her in the pantry helping herself to a second breakfast.

Small girl getting into mischief

This became a theme for the rest of the day for Little Miss. I found her several times hidden behind locked doors eating. Cake. Cucumber (at least that was a healthy choice), her father’s box of chocolates.  She also has a fondness for playing with liquid soap at the moment and has been so engrossed with pump packs. We have had many containers completely emptied by her (the boys also have been culprits at various times). The kids now only have a cake of soap to wash their hands with. Obviously this wasn’t enough fun and I discovered that Miss Im had deposited a bottle of baby massage oil down the basin. So naughty.

Throughout the day if I tried to get anything done, I was constantly being interrupted to break up fights and patch up broken hearts and bodies that had suffered the wrath executed by their sibling. (Three year old triplets can be particularly vicious to one another.) One of the triplets had an enormous bruise on his forehead by the end of the day and I had no idea how it happened.

We did have some lovely calm moments when I decided to get them to make puppets and try and calm everything down. They’ve been preoccupied with The Big Bad Wolf at the moment, so I thought we could perform Little Red Riding Hood in their little puppet theatre. The kids didn’t want to use textas but requested paint. I was sitting with them, so thought there would be no harm.

Three year old triplet painting

It was a valiant attempt of mine to halt the mischief. Toby, who is not as academic as the other two, (Painting counts as academia when you are three), abandoned the project, but was playing peacefully in the playroom.

Three year old with Duplo

It was all so calm. However, then Miss Im. needed help going to the toilet and while we were gone, Master J spilt the paint water everywhere and rolled his picture into a sodden ball.

We had 10 adults and 13 children coming around for dinner that night. It was such a scurry by the end of the day trying to get the house in order. Thankfully dinner had been prepared in the slow cooker the day before so I just needed to heat it up. The end of the day also included the challenge of getting the five children bathed. I don’t know why I turned my back on her, but the desperation to get the stinky toilet clean (Again. Boys are gross.) before guests arrived had me my preoccupied with disinfectant. When I came back into the shower the small girl had emptied two large containers of bubble bath down the drain. I have locked away all liquid soap, but because the triplets normally have baths, I had forgotten I had let the big boys leave their special Christmas soap in the shower. Unluckily the big boys discovered the misdemeanour at the same time as I did. This (and rightly so) because a great source of consternation. Eventually the girl was firmly scolded, the big boys and settled down and I finished cleaning the toilet to the tune of another basket of toys being upturned in the playroom as the first guests arrived. Smile and wave Caitlin. Smile and wave. (I don’t think I masked my exhaustion well.)

Even when I thought I could finally relax after the children were all in bed and the adults sat down together, it was not to be. The triplets are delaying their bedtime every night by turning on their light and playing with one another. It finally seemed like they had settled down when one of the parents told me that my girl was up still and had turned the light on again. When I went down to the bedroom, I was frowning at her as I walked in the room, switching off the light and demanding she get into bed. She seemed to be frozen and refused to move. In the dark, I patted the bed as I told her to get into bed. There was something soft and squishy. I thought it was vomit. I was starting to feel sorry for my little girl thinking I was getting mad at her and she was actually sick. I yelped and switched on the light. (Woke one of the sleeping boys by doing so.) No, it wasn’t vomit thankfully. But it was a large pile of moisturiser deposited on her quilt and over her sheets. My little darling had gone into a room (occupied by another child), had opened a drawer, cleverly bypassing a child lock on the drawer, (ah, that’s how she obtained the baby massage oil earlier…) and had helped herself to a lotion. Of course I was delighted, (insert sarcasm) to miss out on adult conversation and change a set of sheets at the end of a long day.

Did I sleep well that night? Sadly no. How on earth did I have insomnia after a day like that?

It wasn’t even over the next day. I was trying to write this post Saturday morning while Daddy was around. Well Daddy disappear, didn’t her and while writing this, my identical boys filled a bath tub with two litres of moisturiser. (I had hidden all the soap, so they have moved onto the next liquid. Why did I not think of this!!!) I broke up numerous fights. While breaking up one fight, a child squeezed into a small spot behind me and smashed my full cup of tea. While I was sweeping up this mess, one of the triplets did a wee all over the kitchen floor. It just continued…

I’m eight and half years into this parenting gig now. I’ve learned that these busy times that are full of disobedience, mischief and mayhem surface regularly. The thing is to keep your calm, well actually, I fail regularly at keeping my calm, my temper is fast and furious. It is ideal to remain completely calm, but more than that, I mean you need to remain steadfast. Know that these seasons will pass. The weird thing is that once they do, there will be a tiny part of you that misses certain aspects of the hard parts of life. For instance the baby years have passed in our family. The baby years are difficult, but even though I don’t miss interrupted sleep, I do miss late night snuggles with my beautiful little babies. I miss that my breasts no longer nourish a small life. I miss the utter dependance on precious little human relies on you for even though I am grateful for the new levels of independence my children keep demonstrating at each stage of development.

I find that survival during these early years of parenting (and I suspect that this is in fact a life long survival technique) comes from remaining consistent keeping in mind the bigger picture that one day these little children will be adults changing the world and in the meantime finding the silver linings and cherishing your blessings. Yes there was mess and dirty little bodies to clean and pandemonium to recover from. I deal with the troubles one by one and guide the child’s heart to be repentant of their errors and build a desire in them to do the right thing. During my own tiredness, I choose to delight in the innocence of their exploration of life and how despite the work they are creating, how these little people I love so dearly and just so darn cute! If you are a Mum who has been struggling with rainy days, take a deep breath in, look at your little ones dimples and soft skin. Drink in their big eyes and their chubby cheeks and keep on soldiering on.

Triplet's muddy feet


Linking with Essentially Jess for I Blog on Tuesdays.

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Two Year Old Triplet's Routine

Two year olds like their routine. Triplet two year olds are no exception and for Mummy, routine and multiples can be quite the necessity. Routines and toddlers is can often result in more settled children because there is a comfort and security in them being able to predict what is happening in their little lives.

Since the triplets are ‘the youngest’, their lives also need to be flexible enough to fit in with the older boys routines. I am fortunate that because of In Home Care I am able to get somebody in to stay at home with the triplets when I am out and about running errands, helping out  or doing drop offs/pick ups at Kindy or school and doing soccer practises and swimming lessons.

So at the moment my 34 month old triplet’s routine is:

7am – Their bedroom door remains shut until Mummy or Daddy comes in to say Good Morning. Beds are made and then they come out for breakfast.

8am – Say Goodbye to Daddy and Jonty.

Somewhere in between 8:00-9:30, depending on what day it is, the triplets get dressed. When we need to be out and about, getting dressed if often rushed and frantic and they need to be dressed before 8:30, even if we need to be out of the house by 9:00 it’s very busy. (The worst is that they are all dressed and then we need to go shoe hunting? What is it with shoes going missing out and odd socks?) On days we don’t need to be out of the house in the morning, (my favourite type of days!) We take it slowly and if the children are playing nicely, I don’t rush the dressing process.

8:30-10:30 – On home days, the children will often play independently and very happily with one another in the morning while I get jobs done.

10:30 – Morning Tea

10:45 – 12:30 – Craft time and Outdoor Time.

Two Year Old Triplet routine includes craft. Painting is a favourite
Painting is a favourite craft activity.
Two Year Old Triplets Routine going to a park
Sometimes outdoor play will include a visit to a park.

12:30pm – Lunch

Two year old triplets routine at lunch
Lunchtime! Vegemite sandwiches are the most frequent demand request.

1:00 – Nap – if I’m lucky. The triplets are not having naps every day anymore. It’s very sad and makes for a more exhausting day for all of us. If they don’t nap, I try to do quieter activities like reading or puzzles. Although often they will elect to do puzzles during free play in the mornings. Puzzles are a big hit around here at the moment. Sometimes I still put them in their rooms and just let them play. They actually just have a really great time in there together, and if they aren’t tired, there’s no point pushing the issue, otherwise they won’t sleep in the evening.

2:30 – Start waking. Do a quiet activity as they wake up. This is also a good time to do cooking with them if it’s not a kindy Pick up day. If it’s a day the triplet’s need to come with me to the Kindy, (thankfully most of the time I have it covered) I may have to wake some toddlers up. Last week I had to wake three up out of a deep sleep. It was heart breaking.

3:15 – Jonty home from school. Afternoon Tea. Outdoor Play. Imogen has started only having a short play outside lately and comes inside and does a colouring-in. While they are happily playing I also supervise Jonty’s piano practise and homework.

Two Year old triplets routine outdoor play
Eating afternoon tea defensively. They put their apples on their heads in between bites so the dog doesn’t eat it!

4:30 – Bathtime. Because it’s winter and the days start getting cold as the afternoon progresses, we have been bathing the triplets earlier. In the summer it’s 5:00/5:30.

two year old triplet routines in the bath
Triplet bathtime!

5:00 – Tidy Up and Play as I get dinner ready. If I’m lucky. Some days they will pester me in the kitchen more then others! I try not to turn on the TV because Immy has established an addiction and absolutely melts down when it is turned off and refuses to eat dinner. However some days I just need to turn on ABC2 and cross my fingers when it’s time to turn it off.

6:00 – Daddy arrives home from work. Is greeted enthusiastically. Unless the TV is turned on. Another good reason to not turn it on.

6:15/6:30 – Family dinner around the dining table.

7:00/7:30 – Take dishes to the sink, clean teeth and read stories before tucked in bedtime prayers are said.

Two Year Old Triplets Routine includes reading stories.
Almost ready for bed!

That’s the rough plan for each day. A rigid plan would not work for me, and I also think that it is good for children to be adaptable enough to cope if there are differences in their day.

Part of our routine is Playgroup on Monday and Wednesday mornings. On Fridays we will often get out of the house with Trent (it’s not his
Kindy day on Friday) and go and visit great grandparents. The children are lucky enough to have two great grandparents in town and we normally alternate visiting Great Nana and Great Grandad. On the odd occasion we have travelled to a nearby country town where my grandfather is in a nursing home and visit their 3rd Great Papa. Some mornings we may do the Kindy drop off and I will go for a walk with the triplet’s in a pram and then we end the journey with them spending an hour or so at a park, or we might travel into town and go to a park. I need to be very careful of the parks I choose to go with three toddlers to, but we have a few that they are now familiar with.

Two Year Old Triplets routine visiting great grandfather
Balancing on the bricks on their way to visit Great Grandad

Mummy’s routine of course is to relax/collapse/drink wine once lights are out at 7:30. Fortunately they are fairly good at going straight to sleep. When they don’t, I need to pray for extra grace and patience because by 8:00 I do not want to be dealing with kids!

What are regular routines in your house that make things tick smoothly? Do you have regular outings also?

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Breastfeeding Triplets

It’s World Breastfeeding Week. To acknowledge the importance of breastfeeding, I thought I would relate my story of breastfeeding triplets.

The breastfeeding journey started immediately in hospital, I’m thankful that all the midwives at my hospital assumed I would breastfeed and were very encouraging with getting the whole process underway. I know this is not always the case, so I was fortunate there. I had decided while I was pregnant that I would like to breastfeed, I wasn’t really sure how this would happen, so I read up as much as I could find on the internet about breastfeeding triplets, it wasn’t very much and I think even since I’ve had them, there is already a lot more on the internet now as well as Facebook groups for Mums (or Moms) breastfeeding triplets which can be very helpful. I had somewhat of a plan in my mind but when I was in hospital, the midwives actually suggested a much better routine, so being a flexible person I happily adjusted my plans.

I’ve already written in more detail about Beginning to breastfeed the triplets during the first week, so feel free to go and check that out. I’ve decided to give a broad overview in this post of our experience breastfeeding triplets for 14 months. This is just my experience. Everyone’s breastfeeding journey will be different, but if you are pregnant with triplets, be encouraged that it is very possible!

Initial Feeding Cycles
For the first four months, we managed to breastfeed exclusively. The first few days in hospital we needed to give them formula, but as I’ve explained in my first post, once they began breastfeeding, they took to it really quickly. By the time we left hospital, the babies were breastfeeding in four hour cycles. They only did that for a few days, and then they slipped back to three hourly feeding sessions. I was pretty well constantly breastfeeding. It would take around two hours to feed all three babies. In that one hour before they next feed I would rush around, going to the toilet, grabbing something to eat or if it was night time – sleeping! I was so tired. During the first few weeks I was averaging four or five hours sleep, and all of that was interrupted.

breastfeeding triplets
Jayden and Toby tandem feeding together for the first time. 

Reflux and Cholic
The babies also had bad reflux, so they often would find it difficult to get to sleep. They liked to be held in an upright position, and most nights Alex and I would be holding all three babies between us until 11pm at night. As the weeks progressed, they got better at sleeping for longer stretches, and got back into waiting 4 hours in between feeds after 11pm. When the first baby woke, I would get up, feed that baby and then wake the next two if they were not already awake and feed them. The ideal was for me to wake them to feed them, because when they woke up altogether hungry and waiting for a feed, Alex would also have to get up and hold a crying baby while it waited for the other two to be fed. I was so grateful for his help, but I would feel bad for him too though, because he needed to work the next day, and accounting requires you to be switched on all the time and he had to remain alert with also suffering severe sleep deprivation.

Breastfeeding triplets
Alex holding 1 month old reflux and colicky babies. Can’t you see how tired he was?

Single Feeding vs. Tandem Feeding
Some triplet Mums say they need a third boob. My kids and I only needed one boob really. Right from the early days in the hospital the triplets and I all agreed that we hated the breastfeeding pillow. I hated how big, bulky and awkward it was. I really felt like I was a walking hot dog stand/milk bar with it wrapped around me and protruding.  “Fresh milk, get it here. Roll up, roll up and nuzzle on in to milk on nipple.” I never got used to it.  As young as they were, the triplets began to display sibling rivalry when they were on the pillow. They would often pull off and look at the other baby, (not common behaviour for newborns!) they would wriggle and fuss and generally not settle. I decided that feeding them one by one would work better for us. It of course was more time consuming, but they were so much more content feeding individually, and I quite liked spending that one on one time with each baby. If two (or more) babies were really hungry at the same time I would drag out the breastfeeding pillow and we would all endure it because you have to put up with inconveniences when you are starving hungry. Over the months I worked out that if I held one baby as if I was feeding normally and then tucked the other baby under my arm in a football hold with a cushion propped under him or her, it was a tandem feeding compromise. Especially once we got older, it was even more rare to feed more than one at a time.

Feeding Routine and Record Keeping
Our method with feeding was to feed Baby A the right side, Baby B the left side, Baby C both sides and then pump afterwards to try and get a store of milk. Then we would rotate everyone so they all had a go at the different breasts and getting the hind milk and the fast flowing side. In the first couple of months, I began to get a nice little stockpile of expressed milk. This was useful particularly at night when two babies woke at the same time so Alex could feed one and go back to bed. The only thing was that we never knew when that would happen, so we still had to thaw it out before he started feeding. We had a little stockpile, but it was hard work getting it, so I didn’t want to use up EBM (Expressed Breast Milk) unless we really needed to.

I had a great little book that I bought from the US and a friend sent it over for me. That way we could keep a track of which baby needed which side, it gets confusing after awhile, especially when you are heavily sleep deprived. (You can buy the book I used here at Just Multiples)

Breastfeeding triplets
12 week old triplets. Life was just starting to get more of a rhythm.

Supplement Feeding
When we went to the paediatrician for the triplet’s four month old check up, Toby wasn’t gaining enough weight so she said we should start
supplementing his feeds and give him the breast still, but top him up with some extra formula at the end of each feed. I didn’t really want to, but I decided that I didn’t want my baby to be hungry just because of my pride. I was already taking motilium to increase milk supply, and I didn’t think I could do much more to increase what I was already producing.

Toby seemed very happy to accept the extra milk. He always had the weakest suck, and he seemed quite happy to accept the bottle. (They were already familiar with bottles because of having EBM in it.) A week or two later I noticed that even after the other two had drunk their fill from the breast, they still seemed hungry, so I tried giving them extra milk, and they guzzled it down and started putting on extra weight. By now, I didn’t have any extra milk to express after feeds and didn’t have all that much milk when the final baby fed both sides. We started feeding the third baby both sides and then breastmilk and rotating them so every third feed a baby would get the majority of their milk from formula.

Toby very abruptly stopped breastfeeding at 11 months. He just didn’t want anything to do with the boob anymore and wanted his bottle instead. It was a bit of a shock. By this stage they were in a good routine with breastfeeding. Once they were older, every third time a baby would have formula and they would still rotate having left and right breasts. By that stage we were down to two breastfeeds in a day, morning and evening. Because it had all worked out smoothly, I didn’t think I would finish breastfeeding until at least the 12 month mark. But Toby had other ideas. Since he has always been the smallest, he is probably the last one I would have chosen to finish first. However, right from the start, he was always the child that found breastfeeding most difficult, particularly latching on in those first few months. I don’t know whether he always got less milk then the others?

The other two finished feeding at 14 months. Once they were over 12 months, I thought I would just continue while it felt OK. Especially they were a little smaller than other children their own age, even though there was nothing to be concerned about. When they were 14 months, I went away overnight with some girlfriends. I took my pump with me and expressed and Alex had some EBM to feed each of them while I was away. (Even though Toby finished feeding at the breast, he still received EBM regularly.) When I got home we were at a child’s birthday party and after that we raced over to a park for the local Carols by Candlelight. I breastfed Jayden and Imogen during the carols, but they didn’t have a good feed because they were distracted. It turns out this was their last feed!

Breastfeeding triplets
Waiting for the Carols by Candlelight to start the before Jayden and Imogen’s final breastfeed!

The next day we were very busy and at the end of the day the children were tired and grumpy and not wanting to be held so I put them into bed with their bottles, thinking they were fine while I was away anyway. The next day after that, they were asking for bottles at bedtime, and I realised there really wasn’t any need to feed them. Because they were used to bottles, weaning was a non-event for them. (Weaning them off bottles was another story.) I had been growing tired of breastfeeding and it just seemed like the right time. A part of me wanted to have one final feed when I knew it was a final feed, but when I offered, the two of them weren’t really interested, so I decided it was far less of a drama to run with what had naturally happened! The oddest thing was that I had no problems whatsoever with weaning, unlike the older two boys where my breasts were very painful after finishing. It was ironic, because I didn’t ever breastpump, or even own a pump before the triplets. Now that I did have one, and still had children using a bottle, there really was no need to use it. I expressed a few times with the pump, just to leave some milk in the freezer, but I was getting very little milk even then. Maybe that’s why the triplets were happy to stop, they may not have been getting too much in the end anyway.

I’m so glad I had the opportunity to breastfeed triplets. It was relatively easy for me, (apart from the physical tiredness) and I’m grateful for that. Others have not found it easy, but have persisted and have successfully breastfed for extended periods of times, so it’s definitely worth giving it a hot shot. Read my friend Jennifer’s breastfeeding story at Growing Up Triplets if you want to hear how one woman’s persistence paid off when breastfeeding higher order multiples. Jennifer has also just launched an e-book, so that is going to be a great resource for HOMs. Some HOM’s would like to breastfeed also, and like so many women, it really doesn’t work out. Those women need our love and support also.

I find it such a comfort that my babies were able to receive those extra nutrients and antibiotics from breastmilk. Do you have a breastfeeding story?

Linking with Essentially Jess

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Potty Training Triplets – Update

Potty training triplets is not for the faint hearted. It seems that my mantra during these days is, “You can wash your hands with soap.” I say this to myself constantly as I encounter all types of undesirable outcomes and my hands often come into contact with all sorts of elements and germs. Oh my, the germs. Best not to think about them for too long. Although it is very necessary to think about them because the triplets certainly do not think about the wealth of virus, germs and diseases that can be associated with toilets and all areas within its vicinity. I am not a germaphobic my heart is so often quivering as I see them enthusiastically embrace the toilet bowl and put their hands in regions that hands should not be.

When I started potty training I thought I would follow the triplets progress here on the blog. Then my blog got broken and I lost the momentum. So, I will give you an update of what has been happening in the month or two since.

Firstly. My success story. The girl.

I’m so proud of Imogen. She was pretty well potty trained during the day within the first month. A lot of people had said that she would be easier to potty train. I made no assumptions. My sister has three daughters and two sons, and her sons have been far easier to potty train then the daughters. I’m very happy for her that she fulfilled the stereotypical prophecy and is confident going to the potty, and in fact now she favours the big toilet. Go girl power!

It was obvious right from the start that she had excellent bladder control. Initially Immy found the whole concept of the toilet abhorrent. Therefore, she was holding on for hours at a time until she had a nappy put on her or until she just couldn’t hold on anymore and then the currents would gush. I had stopped her sleeping in nappies during the day so she wouldn’t be waiting for them, but she was still holding on.

The first time we had a waterfall in the potty she looked at me, completely disgusted as it happened and then gave me the cold shoulder for about an hour afterwards. I had been sitting watching a TV show with her while she sat on the pot, stroking her back because she desperately needed to go, but didn’t want to do it and didn’t want to sit still enough for it to happen. When it did happen her looks and actions communicated very clearly, “That was so disgusting. I can’t believe you made me do that. Peeing into a nappy is so much more civilised.”

potty training triplets
During the ‘Make Imogen Relax So She Does a Wee’ period. Big brother Trent was very caring. He’s stroking her back for her while she grudgingly watched TV.

The breakthrough moment came when I started dishing up bribes. We now have potty lollies situated in our pantry. They are housed in this particularly stunning one of it’s kind art on a jar. Made by eldest when he was in Kindy. Despite it’s looks, it isn’t anything sinister. It’s a self portrait, and at the time, he was keen on including bones in all drawings of people. The poor love also worked out at a later stage of his development that his arms don’t grow out the sides of his head.

Rewards for Potty Training Triplets/Multiples

It turns out that children will do amazing things for an M&M, not the least of which includes peeing in a potty. After the first day of potty lollies, Imogen was up bright and early, parked her potty at my feet while I worked on the computer and sat there for almost an hour until a wee was produced!

Girl on potty
OK, so it was first thing in the morning, she still had bed hair and breakfast on her face.

Within a day or so, she had worked out what the feeling was and knew when to head to the potty. By the end of the week she was taking herself to the toilet to wee and poo. Champion child. She still does love her nappies which she wears at nights. She is known to immediately do a wee in them when she gets it on after bath time, which is a little disappointing, but hey, I haven’t had to clean up any dirty pants for over a month now of hers, so I can easily forgive her transgressions.

Potty Training Toddler Girl
Proud big brother again.

The boys on the other hand. Well, it is discouraging work to say the least. They also love receiving potty lollies. They will go to the toilet most of the time when asked, and are very good at peeing on demand in order to receive chocolate. However they hardly ever take themselves to the toilet and will happily wee all over their clothes and remain that way until discovered sopping wet and smelly. Never, ever have they done a poo in the potty. Which means that I have cleaned countless dirty pants. And my boys are great at dirtying said pants many times a day. And to gross you out further, they mostly don’t produce the lumps that you just drop into the toilet. There pants are more likely the take into the backyard, put in a garden bed and hose down with a high power hose. Come springtime, our garden is going to be positively blooming with all the organic fertiliser I am dosing it with.

On Saturday I declared that I was giving up and putting them back in nappies. They have worn nappies the previous two days, but really it didn’t have anything to do with my declaration, we were just out of the house both days, and I only take the boys out of the house in pants for short trips. For obvious reasons. Imogen always leaves the house in pants now, because when she needs to go she asks. The boys don’t and while I clean them up, there needs to be someone else around to watch the other two. Also, ever since they were newborns, the identical boys mostly toilet in sync. So while I’m cleaning one up, the other is normally waiting dirty or wet, so it’s a very time consuming process while out and leaves me spending far too much in public bathrooms, which are one of the least desirable places to hang out in.

The reason why I am hesitating, is the can go to the toilet for wees. They just need the prompting. It seems a shame to go back on all our hard work. Also, my in home carer, Miss Stacey, has been doing a great job with toi

let training, and it feels like I would be giving up on her work too. (Sidenote: I’m grateful that she has also cleaned up her fair share of dirty pants also. One of the yuckiest jobs in the world.) To be truthful she’s a lot better and reminding them to go to the toilet. Normally I am so busy doing other things I will forget. Either that, they will be really focussed on an activity, so I give them a bit longer before insisting on them doing the trip to the bathroom and the inevitable happens during that time.

Another reason for persisting with the pants and just putting up with cleaning dirty and wet pants is that triplets are all about equality. This is one of the reasons we have been potty training together. They are very good at looking at each other and demanding the same treatment. I’m afraid that if I start putting nappies on the others Immy could regress, because like I’ve said, she still loves her nappies. She may have meltdowns and stop going to the toilet in defiance to being the only kid in pants.

I have a feeling that come the warm weather the boys will go a lot better having no pants on. I think it will give them a better awareness of when they were going. That’s the way it was with my 2nd son anyway. He would go to the toilet (he never used the potty, which was fine with me) if he had no pants on, but if he had pants on then he would always wet them.

And so, here I am today. They are still in the jammies and I’m trying to decide which way to go pants – nappies. Let me know what you think!

Toddler Triplets Eating
I thought I should include a photo of the triplets fully clothed. It does illustrate the triplets are all for equality though. Look at Immy checking out she had the same lunch as Jayden!

Linking up today with Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesday. (IBOT)

PS. If you are having trouble commenting, please feel free to copy that comment and leave it on my Facebook page, I love hearing the feedback.

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Shopping Trolleys for Multiples

This is a post that has percolating at the back of my mind for quite some time, and especially after some recent visits to the grocery store, and in my mind I am having a good rant over trolley usage, or rather abuse. (I must specify for my US readers, I’m talking about shopping carts.)

This is the thing. When you have multiple children and you need to visit the grocery store, trolley choice becomes crucial. The success of your shopping expedition will have a direct correlation to the shopping trolley (shopping cart) that you are able to use. At this point, I would like to take the opportunity to applaud Coles. Coles is by far my favoured grocery store to shop with the triplets in tow. It is also my 7 & 4 year olds favourite shop because it has child sized trolleys that they LOVE! (I must admit, they can be a hazard to other customers though.) Coles have these awesome trolleys that can sit two toddlers in as well as the normal trolley seat. It is ideal for triplets and the beauty is that there is enough room to fill a whole trolley full of groceries.

Going shopping with the triple seated toddler trolley. It made even shopping with 7 kids (my neighbours kids were with me that day) manageable!

I have not seen these trolleys at Woolworths, but my local Woolworths does have a twin trolley with two seats at the front. Which means the third child has to sit in the trolley, which will inevitably end up with groceries being squashed, a child standing up and leaning over the edge or general discontent because the two at the front start fighting. (Well, they fight in the awesome trolley at Coles as well, but not quite as much.) I am very particular when I go shopping at grocery stores, I’ve recently stopped shopping at a Coles in town because they have shut an automatic door in from the carpark and it’s now only used after hours. This means I now have no way of getting the trolley for the triplets before I get out of the car unless I walk them all through the shopping centre to get to the grocery store. At the risk of a toddler meltdown as we walk through to the shops, I now only go to the Coles closest to our house and will not get groceries if I’ve got the kids in town and just make do with what is at home. There is just so many different contingencies when there are multiples. You have your little routines and you rely on them to be able to accomplish what was once a simple task.

The twin trolley. As you can see, it’s not as much fun.

Which gets me to the issue I would like to rant about. People, I would like to announce: There is trolley etiquette. There is. Believe me. If you don’t respect trolley etiquette people like me cannot go shopping. Or, if I’m truly desperate I will load three toddlers and two big boys into a normal trolley and try to rip in and out with whatever is necessary. Normally it doesn’t go well. If you are the person who is letting their eight year olds go for a joy ride in what I call the “triplet trolley” (which it of course isn’t, there are Mums that have two very young children and a baby, and they need to use this trolley as much as I do) I hope while they are joyriding, my tripletst screams, protest, whinging and crying give you a headache for the rest of the night, because that is what I will suffer. I apologise sincerely to the rest of the public that had to witness the unruly behaviour of my brood. I am so sorry, I am also mortified and embarrassed. I’m trying my best to train my children to be considerate of each other and the general population. I’m hoping that soon they will learn patience, I’m trying my best, but they just aren’t there yet all the time.

Shopping with a normal trolley is a lot easier when you have Grandma accompanying the shopping trip. Toy section distracting in place.

So, if you haven’t thought about trolley etiquette, here is an outline below. Please adhere to these guidelines.

1. If you have one toddler. Do not use the three seat toddler trolley. I know it is a lot of fun for your little cherub, (because hey, the seats are far more comfortable), but you will be able to do your shopping with that cherub in a normal trolley. If I go to the grocery store while you are using the triple trolley, I will have to turn around and go home. It would be great if there were more trolleys like this so you could take it for a joy ride, but there just aren’t, so please think of those who need it first.

 2. If you have two toddlers. Think about using the twin trolley with seats up the front if it’s available before you use the three seat trolley. If those with three small children arrive at the store while you are shopping, they will be most appreciative that you left it alone so they could use it.

 3. Reclining baby cradle trolleys have been made for babies who cannot sit up unassisted. These trolleys were NOT designed as a convenient spot to take your handbag for a ride. To the lady I saw the other day. I know you had a toddler, but that did not qualify you to take the toddler/newborn trolley so you could put your handbag in it. If there was a mother with a newborn and a toddler, her baby would have been so much more comfortable in it than your handbag. (Mainly because handbags can’t feel, unlike babies who begin to feel prior to 8 weeks gestation)

4. Reclining baby trolleys were not made for toddlers to sit in. In fact, often toddlers in them are kind of dangerous. Just sayin’.

5. OK, so this is my opinion here, but if your child is five and above, there really is little need for them to go in the toddler trolley. (I would go so far to say that school kids don’t need to go in those trolleys at all.) Once again, I know your kid probably enjoys the trip, but, once again, think of the bedraggled mother of all those children who might arrive at the store while you are waltzing around with the Rolls Royce of toddler trolleys. Of course, there are some days, where things just aren’t working out and your kindergartener and/or possibly a Prep child is just on the verge of losing it, (and you have two or three children), plonk them in and God speed to you. Just ignore the pointed glances that a multiple Mum like myself might give you and hold your head up high with the knowledge that on this occasion it was necessary. Because after all – what do I know? (Even if I’m in a world of pain as I try to wrangle the seven vegemite jars my toddler is trying to load in the trolley and catch the jam jar my other toddler is about to drop and we won’t men

tion the copious squeals, protests and tears from the third child who wants the small peanut butter put in the trolley instead of the economical large family sized jar… Yes, I may be talking about a real life incident here.)

So, have you witnessed any shopping trolley infringements that you’d like to report below?

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8 week old triplets

The triplets have this thing going on where they have a good day/night then it will be followed by a bad day/night. I suppose at least they are consistent. But the bad days mean that you spend the good days recovering. It’s totally full on. They normally need to be held until around midnight. You just can’t put them down, when you do, they scream and scream. Of course then you do the whole round robin thing. Hold one baby for as long as possible until you need to pick up third neglected child. Console neglected child until the consoled baby becomes neglected child and starts campaign to for a bit of alone time. Round and round it goes… We do hold two or three at once, but often they aren’t able to settle down because one starts wriggling and wakes the other up. The wriggler then finds it’s comfortable position, falls asleep. Meanwhile the baby who has been freshly awoken needs to wriggle to find new comfortable position, in doing so, wakes baby who has fallen asleep – yep, you guessed what happens… Merry Go Rounds, that’s what our lives resemble right now people. Merry Go Rounds. We continue to go round and round doing the same thing repetitively.

Someone get me off!

The only drawback of escaping the merry go round, is I just know it’s going to be replaced by the roller coaster. Oh yes I do know it. Just you wait.

Enough complaining because there are plenty of things to be excited about this week. For instance both Jayden and Toby have started smiling. Meanwhile Imogen is really perfecting this art and starting to smile for even longer. Even long enough for me to catch a blurry moment with my camera. I’ve already blogged about it, but gosh, since you asked, I’ll show you another one.



After Alex and I spent all Saturday trapped holding babies we were more than willing to take advantage of my brother when he showed up for Sunday lunch. After eating pizza, Alex went and mowed the lawn while Jonty and I dressed the Christmas Tree. The bare tree had been sitting there all week, driving Jonty crazy with the desire to adorn it. Unfortunately I just could not find a minute to trim the tree. Anyway as my brother jiggled this baby and that baby for 2 hours while we embraced the Christmas spirit.

We then further embraced the spirit of Christmas by deciding to go to the local carols by candlelight that evening. The triplet stroller got it’s first outing! We bundled all the kids into the car. My brother followed in his own car with our stroller. Our stroller actually can’t even fit into our car, Buster. The Accountant is starting to realise that a van might be in our future. It is not a happy moment for him. He has always declared that he would never own a van.

The night was fantastic. The babies laid in the pram very happily, then fed and were content being cuddled by Mum, Dad and Uncle Adrian. The only near catastrophes of the evening was that we almost lost each of our big boys. Firstly Trent decided to follow another mother taking her kids to the toilet. (Unbeknown to the Mum) Luckily we realised he wasn’t in our group, just as he was disappearing over the top of a hill, so we caught him in time. I shudder to think what would have happened in such a big crowd of thousands with a 2 year old walking by himself. I didn’t think that I would need to worry about 5 y.o. Jonty.

Not so. Halfway through the evening I noticed that Jonty was missing. Just as we were starting to panic a friend appeared with him. She had been standing with a security guard that Jonty had walked up to asking for help. Phew. So glad it happened this way. She recognised him and brought him back to us! Somehow Jonty, (he doesn’t know how, in the clueless way of a child), just wandered away during the middle of the service. So strange. So scary.

But, at the end of the day, we were so glad that we got out of the house and enjoyed a beautiful family evening with half of the city! Gotta’ love Christmas.

During the week we had new in home carer begin. For a few reasons, the lady we originally got didn’t work out. It has been a bit stressful, however we now have two carers coming 3 full days and 2 half days instead of 2 days. It has made such a difference, Alex instantly remarked how less stressed I was, so that must be a good sign! Both ladies have been fantastic and the boys love them both. Even better sign. The triplets are enjoying the extra arms to hold them throughout the day. Happiness all around!

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2 Year Old Triplets in Public

A blog written as a reminder to my future self. (If my children are also reading this in the future. Please come and hug me and say thank you for keeping us alive after you are finished reading. Incidentally older children of the future. Very proud you can read. At the moment it seems like that day will never happen.)

Remember these days self? When the triplets were only two. Self, so glad you have made it into the future, I knew we could do it. But oh my, days like these, remember how it was simply putting one foot in front of the other.

The morning starts as usual. Flurry of activity. Lots of crying as Daddy gets breakfast and children object to certain coloured bowls or the cereal they are given. We have been to a parenting course that says this should never happen. But it does happen. We don’t want it too, but it does.

I avoid the kitchen until I surface showered and make-up on, because I know once I emerge there will be no time left to do things for me.

Eat cereal child.
Sit down boy.
Stop crying girl.
Put your uniform on oldest.
Mean Mummy starts barking out the orders.
What you need to wear a red t-shirt because it’s cross country today? Your red t-shirt is dirty. Here roll the sleeves up on this long sleeved shirt.
Stop crying toddler.
Stop touching your brothers things little sibling.

The experts say I shouldn’t be giving so many instructions as a negative. I should be phrasing them in a positive way. Stop being so bossy, experts. Don’t you know you are giving us all guilt trips? Constantly.

Change nappy one.
Change nappy two.
Change nappy three.

Dress the four year old so he scampers out the door with school boy and Daddy. Out to the cross country. “I’ll meet you there”, I call out. He queries, “You sure you don’t need help?”

Dress Triplet 1.
Dress Triplet 2.
Dress Triplet 3.

All in red. Go Graham Go! (Graham feels like such an odd house name to cheer.) We all look like tomatoes.

Find shoes. Gosh I hate finding shoes. Find several red shoes. Yay me! Cannot convince blue triplet to wear red shoes. Somehow blue triplet doesn’t realise that he is in fact in red shorts and a red top with a red hat. And now blue shoes. Never mind, you can still tell what house he represents!

Load into the car.
Triplet 1, Triplet 2, Triplet 3.

Zip across to school. The race is about to start soon. Hurry, hurry, hurry. No time to get a big heavy, cumbersome triplet pram out. Hold three hands at once, walk slowly up to the oval. Still quicker than the stroller. I’m sure.

Cheer big boy on! Go, go, go! Race is all over. Kiss goodbye. Back in the car. It’s slow walking with two year olds. It’s OK I reassure myself, there is no big agenda today. There is no time schedule to keep. It’s OK to go slow.

Four children buckled in. Off we go. It is time to visit my grandfather. Haven’t seen him for a few weeks. In we go. Holding three hands at one time, fourth child holds a triplet hand. Walk up path together. It’s OK to go slow. Model children. Old folk glance out from them units and most of them smile. Proud Mummy moment. Arrive at Great Grandad’s. He beams. A little bit of sunshine for him during those long lonely days. The children sit down and have their obligatory great grandparent treat of a chocolate and juice. Great-Grandad gets concerned that so many chocolates are disappearing. A child gives him one of the chocolates like the children needs help opening the wrapper. They all eat happily.

Back to the car. Model children once again. Patting self on the back. I did this too soon.

Last errand. I want to start potty training in earnest next week. Pants need to be obtained which weren’t bought when I planned earlier in the week because annoying things happened like car batteries dying. I also want to buy shoes. Feet keep growing and there is much wailing as I keep on forcing shoes that are too small onto growing feet.

The last time I went to Big W and put the trio in the trolley. It was a disaster. Much crying. Standing in seats, hanging out the ends, chucking in unapproved items. Surely the triplet stroller is a wiser choice. Except they all like to sit in the top seat. She gets to sit there today. She is happy. Blue shoe him is not happy. A conciliatory cuddle, a word of explanation, he stops crying and is gracious. Allows himself to be seated in the pram. He is my easy going child, although I have seen easy going children in other families, and they don’t bite and bully. You can’t be a push over if you the only laid back personality in a family full of feisty individuals.

Red boots emerge from the car demanding to be seated up top on the seat of glory. Request denied. There is no gracious submission. There is loud screams, indignant wails, kicking and general thrashing about, only contained by an amazing little device called “The Houdini Stop“. I only wish I knew about these straps when I was trying to get the triplets to sit still in highchairs…

I walk towards the shops. Tantrum in progress. All seated waiting for the bus turn and stare. As if the bulk of the triplet stroller doesn’t already attract enough attention. I cross the road, head towards the door, then turn around. It’s OK to go slow. (One day I will be convinced when I say this to myself.) I don’t need to go into the shop straight away. If I walk around to the other side of the centre. Maybe he will have cooled down by then. No. I walk out to the road. Perhaps a walk around the block? Keep walking. Still crying.  Crying settles down a little, we’re at Aldi. Aldi sells cheap sultanas. This could be a good thing for getting through the rest of the expedition.

You can’t zip into anywhere with a triplet stroller. I should know that. The ramp is long and has corners. It doesn’t look like I can fit, I wait until the trolleys come down. Old lady stops and talks. She had triplets too. Her boys are 38 now. She survived. And she didn’t have triple prams. Third child squeezed in behind another in a double stroller. Mine is having a breakdown because he can’t sit in his chosen seat.

There are no photos of today. Obviously. Small girl is not up the top. Today was survival mode. We don’t have time to take photos when we are in survival mode. But in case you would like a mental image of what the triplet stroller looks like, here it is.

Up the ramp. Uh oh. Someone came down the ramp. Phew could squeeze pram past the trolley, only just. In! Grab sultanas. And some pop top juice. Tantrum starts again. People staring. Line up. Man in front whirls around and starts talking to Red Boots. Red Boots is startled. The old fellow is a larrakin, reminds me of my own grandfather. Non-Aussies. (Larrakin=mischievous, funny and lively old fellow.) Takes Red Boot’s mind off his woes. Relieved mother. Until old larrikan takes forever loading his 14 cans of peaches onto the conveyor belt. What does an old guy use 14 cans of peaches for? Half a dozen cans of baked beans. Ok then. Next are plum queries. He has bagged every variety and now wants them weighed and priced before he decides which ones to buy. The troops are starting to get restless. Finally, he has paid. Shoot. I can’t fit through the aisle. Everyone needs to back out of the aisle and I need to go through another one to pay for my juice and sultanas. Old larrikan decides he wants to give the

kids change each. They all get a $2 coin each. Old larrikan starts panicking that they will eat it. Takes coins off children and gives to me. Tantrum starts again. Quick! Sultanas. Sultanas rejected. Now littered over Aldi floor. I’m scrambling around on hands and knees picking them up. Old lady looks down, “I wouldn’t mind love, I’m sure worse has happened.” Yes I’m sure, but if they are going to talk to me after they leave, at least they won’t be complaining that I didn’t even pick up the mess…

Back down the ramp. Phew. No people. Red Boots starts eating sultanas. Peace is restored. Best and Less. Where are the training pants? Finally located. Where are the size two? Why isn’t there size two? Why? Find something. Tantrum resumed. Pay. Tantrum subsides. Risk going into Big W. Probably not good move, except I accrue more toddler underwear. Red Boots throws a fit because Small Girl gets pink Dora pants. He is insistent that he wants pink Dora pants. The little bugger gets out of the Houdini strap. What the hell? Red boots is now trying to climb upstairs to sit in the top seat. In process kicking Blue Shoes. Blue Shoes starts crying loudly. Head toward exit.

Out of the corner of my eye see a Lego Notebook. Plastered across the front is the phrase, “Everything is Awesome”. Not in my world. Kindy Boy also spots same Lego book. Picks it up and insists he needs it. I insist he does not need it. Kindy Boy now drops to the ground and starts wailing. I have three wailing boys. They are not quiet. God bless Small Girl. I don’t want to serve myself. The last time I went to the Self Serve at Big W Red Boots somehow reached out of the trolley, grabbed the scanner and scanned his eyes. The line is long. There is only one staff member on. The children are screaming. Red boot has taken his boots off and thrown them. Everything is not awesome. I move onto self serve. Positioning my body to block scanner. Scan, drop in bag, scramble, for other items stashed quickly under the pram. Scramble. Scan. Finish. Holy Dooley? It costs that much? The Accountant will query this shop when the credit card statement comes in.

“Scuse me” I hear, “Can you keep your kids under control?” Shamefacedly I turn around to face the accuser. My cousin stands there smiling. I sigh, relieved yet still embarrassed. Make a few wry comments. Pay. Get the heck out of there.

Red Bootless, must sense we are leaving. He transforms. Suddenly he is cute as a button. Hanging out over the side of the pram beaming enormous smiles at everyone, waving as he is wheeled past as though the triplet stroller is his royal carriage.

That is until the royal carriage wheels past the automated car ride. His majesty wants a ride. We exit and the sound of screams once more is injected into the shopping centre and its surrounds.

The day continues. There is more drama. More dirty nappies. Missed sleeps. Blue triplet finally realises he is wearing red. More crying. Daddy arrives home, Mummy runs out the door to meet sister for fabric shopping for bridesmaid dresses. Of course nothing is suitable and the night has been unproductive. Except for the bit where I raced in the shop next door and bought myself some cute flannie PJ’s. The Accountant frowns when he sees me carrying a bag in the door.

Bed beckons. I cannot go. Yet. Places to go tomorrow. Bags need to be packed and ready. There will be a morning rush. I need to prepare. And it will not be enough. Tomorrow I will be scrambling. Of that I can be sure. But something prepared is better than nothing.

Future self, can you remember these days? Aren’t you glad they are over?

But somehow, I can feel that even though future self is relieved the toddler tantrums are no longer, future self misses the toddler cuddles, the future no longer has Red Boots grasping her face, pulling it to his so he can talk to her. Future self misses the snuggles as books are read. Misses the sound of children’s laughter echoing through the house. She wishes she could sneak up and secretly watch the toddlers playing with one another and she recollects the smiles that come to her face as she listens to them communicate in toddler gibberish. She wishes she could see the chubby legs running around naked except for their nappies. She wishes those little arms would once again throw themselves around her neck and hug hard.

You just have to take the good with the bad. Future self tells me that this fact never changes.

Once again, not today, but this is what today looked like at times.

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Playing Each Day

My friend Juanita, from Wife Mumma Life, has been running an Activity and Photo Challenge in March.

I have done simple activities with the children, but it’s been nice looking for specific opportunities to participate in play, kind of gets us out of our comfort zone in a non stressful way. You can play too if you want, or feel free to follow our play on Instagram.

Day 1 – Painting.

The kids painted on an old door. (The other half of the door was being built in a tree above their heads as Jonty’s new treehouse!)

It started with two
And then there was four.
Before finally all five contributed!

Day 2 – Um. We had a really busy Sunday with church, a party and then tired kids sleeping while big kids went to look at motorbikes with Daddy. No time to play with string!

Day 3 – Water Play
This was delightful. I just loved the way the play progressed on this day. I hadn’t decided what to do according to the prompt, “Water”. But the kids wanted to play outside, I said they could then opened the door for them while talking on the phone and realised it was raining. I shut the door, but it was too late. Their hearts were set on the outdoors. We put raincoats on (so cute!) and headed out. I figured at that point that technically I could claim this as water play. But once we got to the sand pit, I saw a watering can. Perfect. I filled it up and gave it to Immy. She adored tipping the water into the sand.

Then one of the boys asked her to tip the water into the back of his truck. Which she happily did. The other boy that this was a great idea and before long there was a queue!

After finding a second watering can, they became happy filling the cans up over at the tap, and then traipsing over to the sandpit to empty it. I don’t know why the sandpit needed to be the empty spot!

I was a watering can short, so Jayden got a glass. He was hilarious carrying it over to the sandpit. I hadn’t prompted him, but he carried it oh so carefully so not a drop would spill. He had such a funny walk while he did it!

 Meanwhile Toby got bored (Typical of Toby) and started walking with the umbrella.

Their last play with water turned scientific as they watched carefully as they poured it down the slippery slide.

Day 4 – In the Kitchen
I had my doubts about what we could do this day. I had people coming around in the evening and a lot of cleaning up to do. Cooking with triplets is very time consuming and messy. It turned out, they loved their time in the kitchen, and I didn’t need to do a thing! We’ve had a dodgy oven that has been both burning things and leaving things raw. Not ideal. The electrician turned up to fix it (Huzzah!) and the triplets were rivtetted by the man fixing oven show.
I didn’t ask the fellow what he felt about being in-home triplet entertainment, but he had confessed that he himself was a triplet so I felt that it was only fair that since he made it to adulthood that he give back to the Higher Order Multiple community. (Us Triplet Mummys call ourselves HOMmies.) And so I allowed the triplets to sit watching him while they sucked on their lolipops.

Day 5 – Chalk. Another missed day. It’s a lot harder to do this when you have been out during the day – and don’t have any chalk and no time to visit the shops. Serious lack of planning!

Day 5 – Explore

I know it sounds really simple, but nothing is simple with triplets sometime, so our simple exploration was walking around our yard and pick

ing flowers on the way. The triplets normally are confined to a small fenced area, for obvious reasons. So when they get out in the larger garden, they love it. 

Although you have to be very careful. It really is easy to lose them in our very large block. But altogether, it was a lovely little walk with them.

I’m glad we did it too, I discovered that a little pineapple had ripened in our very over grown weed garden vegie patch. Mind you, a possum had got to it first, but when we got back in the house, the rest of us enjoyed it. Incredibly sweet and very yummy!

There’s plenty of days left. Do you think you would like to join in the #wmlplayeachdaychallenge ? I’m loving that the prompts just make me think a little more, and even though I’m doing very easy things which fit easily into our days it’s getting out of our comfort zone and rejoicing in the importance play has during childhood.

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Road Trip! With 1 Year Old Triplets, 3 year old Boy and 6 Year Old Boy

Sometimes, when you have a lot of children, especially at such young ages, it’s tempting to crawl up in a hole and stay in safe places and wait it out before entering the big wide world until they are more responsible and less inclined to run away and in need of a parent in eternal pursuit of mischievous bodies. Being a homebody, it hasn’t bothered me all that much that we have spent a lot of time at home in the past year. However, in December, we choose to venture out into the big wide world in spectacular fashion.

A good old fashioned road trip. Only with air conditioning included. Oh, and DVD’s and Nintendo DS. No sense losing some sanity to go completely vintage. Except for our youngest passengers. Poor kids had a brand new DVD player to watch and it stopped working by the 2nd day. They travelled 5 other days keeping themselves entertained with toys. Bravo babies, bravo.

The journey was a December trip from our home in South East Queensland to have Christmas with family at Cairns in Far North Queensland. We drove an impressive 4,405 kilometres (2737 Miles) from start to finish. One van, (our Kia, Grand Carnival), and seven people packed into it. Three 14 month old babies, a 3 year old, a 6 year old and a very brave Daddy and Mummy.

Our trusty Kia Grand Carnival. We borrowed the pod, and it was fantastic! Exactly what we needed for this trip.

It was actually so much easier than I had thought it would be. I had imagined a lot of screaming and crying, getting into places late at night because of so many stops to let children stretch their legs and having to provide endless in-car entertainment.

Our children, as it turns out, are awesome travelers  Unlike a memorable road trip to Sydney and Canberra when Trent was a three month old baby and had cried/screamed the majority of the drive time, and I came back needing chiropractic assistance to the damage done by twisting my arm back to hold a dummy in for hours. This time, all five children were content to travel the long distances with minimal fuss.

Our strategy was to get in the car and drive. (Profound, huh?) Minimal stops. It became apparent that our kids would just get in the ‘travel zone’ and we knew that it would start getting tricky getting them back into the car if we started letting them out too often. Mainly our only stops were to get petrol. Most toilet stops were on the roadside. (So easy with boys… and nappies for the babies) Our goal then was to let them have a swim in the morning before we left, so we didn’t leave ultra early. This made them nice and tired to start with. Then we would go hard during the day driving virtually non-stop in between 6-8 hours during a day and mostly arrive in time to have a swim in the late afternoon as a reward for getting there.

The Christmas mobile all packed and ready to go!

Our travel itinerary. The time is the estimated time to travel without stopping, so of course it took us a bit longer. It was pretty well a good break up of time for the age group we were travelling with. Next time, we will probably take two days (one night) to get there if we drive again.
1. Toowoomba – Rockhampton (6.4hrs)
2. Rockhampton – Ayr (6.4hrs) – Took a lot longer this day to get there because we stopped to visit my Uncle and his family in Mackay.
3. Ayr – Trinity Beach (Outside of Cairns)(5.13hrs)

On the way home:
1. Trinity Beach – Townsville (4.17hrs)
2. Townsville – Yeppoon (7.55hrs) This was the biggest travel day we did – no time for swimming that evening!
3. Yeppoon – Bundaberg (3.6 hours) We stayed in Bundaberg simply because there is a barber who has become a family friend there. The little boys were getting scruffy and I simply wouldn’t let anyone else to give Jayden and Toby their first haircuts!
4. Bundaberg – Toowoomba (4.19 hrs)

OK. So even with an ultra nice barber, first hair cuts can still be very scary. I love it that Matt cut the two boys hair at once. He was literally snipping a bit from one head and then going back and doing the other!

If you are interested in the details of how we travelled with the five kids, I’ve put it under headings below.

A common sight travelling with kids!


We would get takeaway and keep driving for lunch. I know it’s not fashionable to admit that, (espcially on blogs, which you are more likely to hear the virtues of organic homemade meals!) but I have an everything in moderation policy. Plus, it was a treat for the kids and it made the trip more exciting. (As well as being great for bribery during the day!) Because my children don’t get junk regularly, it really did make the trip more of an event.

I packed an insulated lunchbox full of snacks for the big boys each day. They also had water handy to sip on throughout the day. That way they could just nibble away when they were peckish or bored. I packed packets of several sized zip lock bags, this way I could pull them out each morning and fill them. I had a rule that fruit always needed to be eaten first.

Travel snacks suggestions are:
GRAPES! (By far the babies favourite!)
Cut up fruit, (that wouldn’t mush) for the babies and Jonty. Trent prefers to eat his uncut. I wish Jonty did also, it would save so much time. 😉
Yoghurt Buttons
Dried fruit
Tiny Teddies
Muesli Bars
Cut up sandwiches. (I also brought a jar of peanut butter with me.)
Fruit nuggets
The packaged lunch box items are great, because they are easy to store, especially in the heat, with minimal preparation.

I had bought the triplet’s “gyro bowls” for the trip. They turned out to be the best thing ever for travelling. Basically the bowl is designed to minimize food being tipped out by having two bowls that swivel, encased in a larger easy to hold casing  They look like a little alien spaceship, and I was worried they would just be a gimmick, but turned out to be spill proof for big brothers to pass around the car. I had an insulated bag of triplet snacks near my seat, so at regular intervals I would fill a bowl up and pass it to Jonty, who would give it to the two babies sitting next to him. Then the third one would get passed back to Trent who would lean across and give it to the baby who was relegated to the back seat. (The babies don’t have set seats, so we always made sure they had turns at sitting in the different postions.) Any bowl that can be passed by a six year old and a just turned 3 year old and still make into a 1 year olds hands with the food still within, really does deserve to be applauded. And I have spoken the gyro bowls praises loudly to all who care to listen.

This picture was obviously the first day – the only day the triplets had working DVD players. We’ve since solved the problem (why couldn’t we figure it out en route?) and they are now developing a set of square eyes during trips. But anyway, check out their groovy gyro bowls! Perfect for containing special travel treats!


 To be truthful, I had organised a whole lot of activities to keep the children busy, but we didn’t do most of them. The two older boys were more than content playing their DS, Leap Pad and watching DVD’s. Of course we didn’t let them do this all the time, and controlled their screen time, breaking it up into chunks throughout the day. In between using the screens, they were more than happy to talk and look out the window. It’s quite boring to report about really. Except the boys didn’t think so, and that’s the main thing.

Another favourite past time for Jonty was posing for photos!

The triplets were pretty much legends. They were so patient. I did have a bag of toys always in the front with me. When they started to grizzle, I would pass them back a new toy. Whenever we stopped, I would retrieve all the dropped toys and then rotate them to a different baby. Because there was a baby in the very back seat, I got an expert at throwing soft toys so they would land in the car seat in the back right hand corner! We did get Trent to hand toys to the baby also, but the toys would often not make it.

The baby in the back. This time it’s Toby.

Some ‘old fashioned’ things I did prepare in advance. (As in they didn’t require a screen!)

1. I loved this Travel Bingo from The Organised Housewife. We printed them out and laminated them so they could be used with whiteboard markers.Unfortunately Jonty’s headspace was firmly entrenched in Super Mario when I pulled this out. So I had to threaten there would be no DS until the bingo was complete. At all. Zilch. No more arguing. At all. I mean it. (etc. etc.) Eventually he begrudgingly played a game. For awhile there, he was enjoying it. Until we were stuck with bland scenery and couldn’t find a dog to cross off the list anywhere. The atmosphere in the car got tense. Eventually he was able to shout a triumphant bingo and in two seconds flat the car was filled once again to the tunes of Mario jumping and catching coins.

2. Towns and Cities Lucky Dip.

I spent so much time before hand searching out little knick knacks. I then divided them into paper bags that had names of some of the towns or cities that we were travelling through. I gave Jonty a map, which he marked our route as we progressed. I was also going to give him laminated cards with various place names on. When he saw we were travelling through that place, he could trade the card in for a prize for him and Trent.

Except, I left the bag full of prizes at home. I cried when I realised. I had stayed up really late the night before getting all the last minute things in order, so I was ultra tired. So when I realised that all my carefully prepared goodies were sitting on the dining room table at home, I pretty well bawled. Which rather alarmed the boys, and they talked about Mummy crying the rest of the trip.  But anyway, if you are looking at things to do on a road trip, I’m sure it would be a great activity to fill in the time!

Some of the bags which are leftover. The others have been used for bribery..

There is no doubt that road tripping is a fantastic opportunity for hours of family time. Even if the kids are playing electronic games or watching DVD’s, there is still a sense of community. We are all locked into a confined space, and we make the time pass together. (Plus, while the kids play, it’s an excellent time for Mum and Dad to chatter away about grown up things.) The moments that the devices were turned off, gave us unique opportunities for in depth discussions on life. We discussed death as we passed cemeteries, the upcoming fears and expectations of the upcoming school year as we passed rural school houses, the environment as we drove through our vast country, natural disasters as we drove through communities recovering from major cyclones. We discussed our expectations of behaviour at the various places that we were visiting, we talked about how our family works and the different personalities. Road trips certainly offer a wealth of opportunities. It’s a reminder that it’s not just the destination, it’s also the journey that will last in our memories.

Today I’m linking up with Essentially Jess

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