Ten weeks ago my beautiful baby girl was born, making me a mumma to three kids under five. With two boys aged four and two, our latest edition has completed the trifecta we have always wanted.
While this makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the world it does mean I need to figure out how to do this parenting gig truly out numbered.
With hubby back at work and the in-laws returning to Queensland, I’m officially starting my first days wrangling this mob during the day on my own.
So come along with me on this crash course by reading what I have learnt so far. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE I’m begging you, share your tips with me also, because this mumma needs all the help she can get! Oh, and this is just based on a two month old baby, I’m sure it will be a different ball game when Bub is on the move!
Baby Carriers are the shiz
Seriously, I don’t want to live without one. Two hands = two kids but with three it can be tricky, especially when one is a cute slug who wants to be held lots. I looove baby cuddles but sometimes you just need to get s*** done! Chuck that baby in a carrier and you can make lunches, fold clothes and hold kids’ hands in a busy car park. I even slipped the nip in a food court and fed Bub on the go. Make sure you invest in one that supports your back and is easy to get on and off by yourself. They aren’t cheap, but see if you can borrow one or go second-hand. Trust me, you won’t look back, unless you like carrying Bub on your back 😉
Get out while you can
Out of the house that is! I have quickly realised my biggest challenge is the two older kids fighting or seeking attention. I find if I can get them out for a few hours things are a lot better. When getting out consider these factors:
1. Morning is best. If you can get out in the morning everyone is in better moods and you are setting yourself up for some quality “quiet time” when you get home.
2. Netflix and Chill. Some kids still nap, mine don’t so we do a Netflix and Chill session staring Mister Maker, Dinotrux or The Good Dinosaur after lunch. This means you can sort out Bub a bit and perhaps have some sweet, sweet silence in another room.
3. Burn Baby Burn. You need this outing to be fun for the kids and energy burning. Go to a park, feed ducks, or visit a soul sister and her kids. This is the best, because you get to catch up in an easy, kid friendly environment that doesn’t cost a cent, whilst kids are entertained. Another great option I use often is our local indoor trampoline centre. It is weather friendly, I don’t have to climb up a slide to retrieve a toddler (remember you are on your own and have a newborn to care for) and they do a cheap deal for weekdays. Plus it is connected to our main shopping centre. So afterwards we grab sushi for lunch before heading home.
4. Don’t over commit. Been trampolining, had lunch and now want to do a few quick errands at the shop?? STOP! ABORT MISSION! This kind of thinking is asking for trouble. Now your kids are tired and starting to get cranky. Plus the Bub wants to have a massive cluster feed session or do a pooplosion. A quick duck into Kmart with one tired kid is doable, two tired kids is pretty tricky, two stroppy kids and a baby…well, it ain’t pretty… don’t say I didn’t warn you.
It is a numbers game
With a nearly five-year old, nearly three-year old, and a 10-week old baby it is all about the numbers and how to play them. Sometimes it is worth doubling up and doing things together, other times divide and conquer.
Perfect times for doubling up include:
1. sharing a room – means storytelling and bed time cuddles all happen at once.
3. Bath time
4. Sports and other activities
Times to divide and conquer:
1. All other times!
Well this is our reality at the moment. My boys are true brothers who love each other fiercely and fight all the time. This fighting makes for a loud house, lots of time outs, stressed and tired parents and a baby amongst it all. Giving them space apart seems to suit everybody in these trying times. Weekends make dividing siblings easier when a hubby, partner, ex, friend, ANYONE can take one on an adventure for a few hours.
My eldest goes to preschool a few days a week, and my second attends child care a few days as well. This allows me two lovely days just with Bub to bond and nap. Truly saving graces worth the dividing and conquering.
TV is the third parent
I hate this but I do use it when desperate. In fairness, they only watch age appropriate stuff. I’m that mum who hasn’t introduced the kids to super heroes yet and no toy weapons are allowed in the house. I figure they physically fight enough as it is, I’m not going to fuel the flame. This may mean I’m raising ‘wimps’ who are scared watching a lot of movies other kids are fine with, but at least the pacifist in me is content. It also means I can escape to another part of the house for five minutes tops.
Go back to basics
Then there are the days when it is hard or damn impossible to apply the above tactics…My house is da bomb – as in it looks like a bomb has hit it. The two-year old who is toilet training has pissed on all the puzzles, I have been spewed on by Bub, the eldest has been locked outside twice for bad behaviour, the baby won’t get off the boob or sleep and I haven’t had breakfast yet, all before 9.30. No joke, that was my morning. In these anxiety inducing moments I’m trying to go back to basics and:
1. Breathe. I often find myself holding my breath or doing shallow breathing when stressed. Taking some deep, yoga style breaths helps a lot.
2. Eat. I have a history of not eating properly when home with the kids, because I get so busy with them I simply forget or snack on not great food. I’m now trying to ensure I get in three healthy main meals in a day, stay hydrated and get some good snacks in.
3. Survive. This looks like whatever needs to be done in the moment. Go back to the priority list. Everyone safe? Everyone fed? Sweet. Now do whatever else it takes to get through the day. For me, this means hiding in another room and eating spoonfuls of Milo. If all else fails, start a dance party with the kids. No one can be sad when busting out some moves.
It sure does take a village to wrangle this bunch. If you are raising your crew with a partner work together. For example, if I have had a rough night with Bub, I ask Hubby to get the boys breakfast and dressed before work. This gives me a precious hour of rest and makes the morning soo much easier. If you don’t have live in support, figure out your support system and use them. Every bit of help helps.
Finally, love it all up. Three kids means three times the work, but also means three times the love, three times the fun and three times more of this crazy beautiful life.
Ps. If all fails, remember wine, or in my case cider, hour is never too far away.