Last year I wrote a post outlining some of the things that really frightened me about the prospect of mothering triplets. So, I have to say, I really had a pretty good realistic expectation of how it was going to be. I knew it was going to be hard. And it was. I knew there would be much joy. And there is.
Since the triplets are now one year old, I thought it would be good time to go back and re-cap on how it has been. If you want to see my original post, check out Part One and Part 2 (I’ll only address Part One today.)
1. Having 5 Children 5 and Under.
Oh man. It’s been tough. But wonderful. I just look at the five kids some days, and marvel that they are mine. It just seems normal having them all around. I sometimes wonder why this is a big family. I just couldn’t imagine life without any of them, and having lots of kids around is our normal.
It did make it easier with the babies, as I had expected, having been there done that before. As with any mother who has 2+ children, you can just apply what has worked before and move on from there. My sister once made a comment that I seem more relaxed with five than I did with one. Perhaps it is true. Sometimes first time mother’s feel overwhelmed by me and they question why they find it so hard when they only have one and I have five. I try to explain, that I too found life difficult when there was only one child.
Having said that, I’ve often thought how much simpler my life would be if I did not have to deal with the older two kids and could just work according to the triplet’s schedule. Dealing with the behaviour issues with the older two is a constant juggle. At the moment we are struggling with T-Star being rough with the babies. He throws things at them, hugs them too tight around the necks, picks them up and throws them and rolls around the floor holding them while they scream desperately trying to escape. People have chuckled as they have heard me say things such as, “Don’t stand on the baby please.” And I understand why it is a funny statement to listen to. (Once it has been verified that the baby has survived the ordeal.) But my goodness. It’s so frustrating trying to teach a two year old gentleness, especially when the lesson does not interest him in the slightest.
J Boy has own moments when he has had mammoth tantrums that have needed to be addressed. This will than put out the whole routine of the home, which will result in screaming babies which only escalates the tension in the home. Also, because this is J Boy’s first year of full time schooling, we have found homework a real challenge. This is such a disappointment to me. The teacher in me was so looking forward to doing homework with my kids. I’m afraid some days it can only be described as hell. It doesn’t matter how many fun ideas I try to implement, J Boy refuses to participate in the spirit of frivolity when learning. I have to push aside my own agenda often and just let him read the flashcards, because he would prefer to do homework in the ‘boring’ way rather than participate in the alternate games I have suggested. But even still, there is great wailing, moaning and gnashing of teeth from both of us before homework is accomplished. (For the record though, I still believe in it. The exercise of practising learned work really does help a child consolidate his/her learning and help increase achievement and confidence.)
Then there are other issues. The triplets get a lot of attention and the boys will often be ignored by some people. The triplets get things given like lots of baby food, milk, clothes, even today there were smash cakes for a photo shoot. (Can’t wait to share that one with you!) The boys don’t want the things like baby food or baby clothes, but they do notice that the triplet’s have been given something and they have not. Luckily they are very loved boys and do receive attention from many people, so they remain confident and (generally) well behaved boys.
I have never experienced anything like the level of sleep deprivation I have endured throughout the last year. When they were newborn, it was common to only get four hours sleep, and that was interrupted sleep. I can remember wistfully thinking that all I wanted was to sleep more than two hours without being interrupted.
|3 weeks. Sleeping newborns, so precious. Never through the night though.
|I was right about it being hard to cat nap through the day also. When they were young, the same rule applied. They would need to be fed in three hour cycles. That normally only left one hour before the next feeding session began. And if you wanted to do anything for yourself like pee or eat, your time was reduced. And ther
e was also other children to consider also.
I didn’t like going to sleep during the day, and found it very uncomfortable to just say to whoever was in the house that was what I was going to do. I did do it. I probably should have done it more. I wanted to. I would often spend a feeding session pep talking myself that I needed to just get a power nap in, even if it were only 20 minutes. And then I didn’t. If I were to do it all over again. I don’t know if I would improve though. It’s just the way I felt and sometimes I would prefer to be tired rather than uncomfortable. That’s just the way it was.
Alex was an amazing help, and I truly don’t know how he functioned at work some days.
As for the books I read before I had the babies on rigid sleep routines which would help them to sleep through the night earlier.
It maybe works some people. But it didn’t work for me. One year on and we are very almost (fingers crossed) at the point where they are sleeping through. It has been a ridiculously long process. Much longer than the first two children. Which is the ultimate irony. If I was going to chose the worst sleepers of my five kids. Probably wouldn’t have chosen the triplets! Oh well, you deal with the hand you are dealt.
Update: Since writing this, at 12 1/2 months the babies started sleeping through. Hip hip hooray!
So this has been either as bad (I imagined it to be pretty bad!) as I thought it would be or surprisingly, quite often it’s heaps better than I imagined.
I have been so embarrassed from time to time when people came to visit because there was (is) just stuff everywhere. But to be truthful, I can remember being embarrassed for the same reason before multiples as well. The biggest difference I’ve found in my current situation is that when I know people are coming, I do what my friend Belinda defines as a Panic Clean. (Go on read her post. It’s a brilliant little phrase she’s coined up, and she gives some helpful hints on how to Panic Clean well.) Most of the time I used to make my home fairly presentable before people came around. (So long they didn’t open closed doors.) These days, the Panic Clean, well …. often you wouldn’t really know it happened. It often still looks like chaos when people arrive. Or it really didn’t happen because the kids interrupted me so much. Or it happened too early and got messed up again before people arrived. Sigh.
|Normally I try to throw things out of the way when I take photos, to make it look a bit tidier than it really is. Or take the shot from another angle. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. Like this shot taken in the playroom on the weekend. The playroom is often such a mess it’s difficult to walk into it. Oh, and in case you are wondering what’s happening in this picture. Missy is mad at Joey for taking her chair so she is in the process of trying to reclaim it. (She eventually sat on him.)
In the early days, it was almost a hopeless cause getting housework done. I died a thousand deaths when people came into the house, (even if they were coming to help), especially after the weekend. So often I literally didn’t have time to do anything. The only way it got done was thanks to a lovely older lady who volunteered to come in once a week and clean my house, and the paid help that we had pitching in. According to In Home Care guidelines, the carer is only allowed to clean up after children. I justified this to the co-ordinators that it was to include things like sweeping, mopping and cleaning the toilet after the boys (Yuck. Boys make such a mess.) After all, it is the kids mess. We are also very lucky that Miss Rachael is a tidy person. My Dad always said it makes sense to staff your weaknesses. In my case, being a “messy”, I sometimes just marvel that Rachael walks into our house and half an hour later it is remarkably tidier. It makes everything instantly seem a bit calmer. Although I’m watching carefully, I kind of don’t know how she does it, because I just can’t seem to replicate it. It just illustrates that because of the extra help, it can certainly be better than I thought.
When I’m left to my own devices, things go pear shaped quickly. It also doesn’t help that when I’m on my own I often have five kids and often if the babies are asleep, the boys start demanding attention. This is justified. It’s only fair that children get as much as their mother’s time as possible. Throughout the year, T-Star in particular, has watched a lot of TV. Sometimes it’s the only way I can get anything done. It’s always my goal to counter-balance the screen time and give him other opportunities again. Alternatively sometimes if I’m on my own with sleeping babies, I choose to ignore the housework and do things (like blogging) that I feel guilty doing when other people are around.
In many ways though, the triplets are helping me to be more organised, even in the cleaning department. I’m more aware of keeping on top of things. You just have to. Catching up is almost impossible.
I’ve coped with this better than I thought I would. If I’m feeling frustrated, I just paint a picture in my head of what life would look like if I didn’t have the extra people around. It helps me get over any feelings of frustration pretty quickly. Like I said above, having people around has often made things better than I expected.
|Miss Rachael when she first begun working with us.
Of course, I do really wish sometimes that it was just the kids and I. I think about all the fun things I did when it was only J Boy and I in the house. We played hard building block cities, roads all around the house, making hospitals, and doing grandiose box constructions of castles, crocodiles and space shuttles. Play got less extravagant when there was another baby in the picture, but with five kids, I really try to play as much as I can with them, but there’s always so much to do. And absurdly, even though I’m grateful there is someone with my kids and keeping them very happy so I can get much needed tasks done, sometimes I just can’t help but feel a little jealous. I would always prefer to be playing with my kids rather than doing jobs! I sometimes worry that they will love me less because maybe I’m ‘not as much fun’, or I ruin it all by having to discipline them, but then I have to kick myself out of self pity. I know I’m the Mummy, which includes the good the bad and the ugly. There’s always going to be a bond with my children and I, and because I work at strengthening that bond we’ll always be close, even if I am busy in the meantime. And because life is full of contradictions, I’m grateful that I have help around the place, because often it means that I am able to play with my kids more because someone else is doing that task for me.
Or sometimes, no kids, just myself. I have had many daydreams about being sent away to a day spa and receiving massages, facials and manicures. Heaven. Alex and I have decided that when the babies are all weaned and sleeping through the night we will have a little overnight getaway, leave the kids with Mum and Dad, (Mum has also conscripted my sister to come over too for re-inforcements!), and we will have some time to ourselves to dine elegantly and SLEEP UNINTERRUPTED! (Hopefully in a swanky hotel room.) You don’t know how often I have thought about this. Must anticipated overnight stay ever.
5. Being Stuck At Home
We do spend an awful lot of time at home. I don’t mind much. I’m a homebody at the best of time, (50% introvert) and because there has been so many people passing through the doors, the 50% extrovert in me stays satisfied.
I do feel sorry for the triplets sometimes. Like the time I took them to the park and they were acting like cats who are placed in a new situation. They were so cautious and wary of the grass and when they hit a new surface like sand or dirt they would freeze and cautiously assess the new situation. As they are now getting older and the weather is getting warmer, they are starting to get outdoors a bit more. Which has the disadvantage of three little bodies diving bombing and trying to rush out to fresh air and freedom when the door is opened.
|Being stuck at home all the time means sometimes you have to get creative when finding new places to have fun.
They also are starting to need the extra stimulation of alternate activities. It’s very hard though because to go to playgroups, etc. They are always scheduled in the mornings. Right during their daytime sleep. It takes a day (sometimes two) to get over any outings. (For instance, Mondays are always a fall out day around here from having gone to church on Sunday.) Then there’s people coming and going at set times that we have to work around as well. It makes life very complex.
Me time is now often when I have been able to sneak to the grocery shops without T-Star. Having people around does mean that grocery shopping is easier for me than most mothers with five kids because I will often leave them with a carer and head to the shops by myself or with one or two kids. I do sometimes yearn for the days of old though where I could dilly dally around the shops with a child in a pram for half a day (or more). I miss browsing and being able to shop for myself. I now shop like a man. I go into somewhere, see it and buy it. No looking at another store. Speed shopping I call it. Surprisingly this type of shopping means that I can spend just as much money (if not more) as I did after all my carefully considered purchases of old, even though I’m shopping a lot less.
I’ve never gone shopping by myself with the five kids or even with just the triplets. There’s two reasons. Firstly there’s almost always someone around the house, so I would be a glutton for punishment if I took all the kids with me when they could be looked after at home. Secondly the triplet stroller is so ridiculously heavy that The Accountant has advised against me using it. He probably doesn’t want to pay for extra sessions at the chiropractor. I’ve got scoliosis and sometimes get a bad back just pulling a double stroller in and out of the car. The few times I’ve attempted to fold it up, I’ve failed. It’s very sticky, rusted in a few spots (the one drawback of an awesome 2nd hand deal) and I can’t remember which lever to pull and fold out where.
Can you remember something that terrified you? How did it work out for you? As expected, better or worse?
Today I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT (I Blog On Tuesday)