There was a time when I would not have believed that we would end up with three kids, especially having them in three years. I really couldn’t have begun to imagine what that would be like – I mean that just sounded completely hideous. Who would do that?
Well we did and I now know exactly what its like.
A life full of chaos and pandemonium, plate spinning and head ringing noise is now the norm and simply what we have accepted as part of our lives. We never seem to come quietly and our family dynamic rarely allows us to blend into the background and go unnoticed. We attract plenty of interest into how we get by and how this all works. So if you were interested, let me tell you what its like to have three kids in three years.
1) We get A LOT of attention. I get a lot of double takes when we’re all out, from people who want to make sure they weren’t imagining things and actually did see three kids squashed in the double buggy. It’s almost always followed by questions about their ages, a gasp of horror, a little curiosity about our sex life and concluded with some contraceptive advice. I politely chuckle, give them a wink and using the probability of one of the said children’s impending melt downs as an excuse, I make a sharp exit probably muttering something under my breath like, ‘I’m going to put a frigging sign around my neck’.
2) I sometimes envy, ok I sometimes dislike, the one child parents and how much time they have to focus on raising their amazing and intelligent only child. I feel like I have just about enough time to raise three children, that if I’m lucky, will be marginally intelligent and at least be able to tie their own shoe laces one day. With three small humans, all with conflicting needs, sometimes all I can do is just get through the day. Some days I just plant my head in a cushion and ignore what’s going on because I am losing the will to live. Craft sessions, phonics and flashcards, trips to the park, play groups, soft play and exploring nature just have to knob off because keeping this up can be exhausting. Sometimes the best I can do is throw some crisps at them and plant them in front of the telly until it’s bed time (when I just put them in bed because they never actually got changed out of their pj’s).
3) Its hard-core multitasking; the kind of multi tasking that I didn’t think was possible but has become possible because I have, or didn’t have, no other choice but to do several hideous tasks at the same time. Like, feed a new-born, wipe a pooey arse (and remove it from the floor) and grab the tube of nappy cream that is just about to enter the toddlers mouth. I have learnt to prioritise fast and jump into action in a nano second, which has made life similar to one long game of whack-a-mole. I have to do what I have to do to get through the day and if that means taking a poo with an audience or, all of us piling in the shower at the same time then that’s just how it has to be.
4) Its milestone mayhem. I have dealt with (still dealing with I should say) a toddler, terrible two-er and a threenager combo. All of a sudden there was an explosion of brain development and I woke up one morning and the whole house had gone freaking crazy. Emotions are high as tantrums, negotiations and assertions of independence are firmly rooted into our daily routine and fly at us from all angles – EVERY SODDING MINUTE. There’s always a clash of development and an overlap of the phases. You know the ones; those wonderful times when they decide that they don’t want to go to bed anymore or just decide to start pissing on the floor. Or my personal favourite where one child is waking up with night terrors and the other two are teething and up all night. As much as I try to coordinate these developmental progressions the little buggers just want to throw stuff at me at the same sodding time (I actually found myself weaning one child and potty training another which was especially fun at dinner times when catching piss in a potty and dodging carrots that were being lobbed at me).
5) Life is all about logistics and planning every sodding element of the day. With three small kids involved even the smallest of tasks takes a bit of thought, like getting down the frigging stairs (believe me, grabbing the toddler opening a stair gate, rounding the other two up and coaching them down one step at a time is a task in itself). Making sure clothes are all ready so I can get them dressed quickly and not having to spend vital making-sure-the-toddler-doesn’t-flood-the-bathroom moments running around getting three outfits together. Or there’s the small things that may assist me in leaving the house quicker like the strategic placing of shoes and coats ready for wearing. Again all in aid of reducing the time spent finding nine shoes and having to re-herd them (its like herding fucking puppies sometimes) to a place in the house where I can simultaneously help all three of them get their shoes on. I spend my time analysing every element to our daily routine to cut out wasted time in the hopes of becoming more efficient because to me the faffing is a waste of our potential ‘fun’ time and sometimes is all we seem to do (I’m really gonna smash our current ratio of 20,000:1 one day – time spent getting ready to go out: time spent out). The constant merry-go-round of planning, organising and multi-tasking makes it hard to switch off and I feel like I am constantly thinking and sweating the small stuff.
6) You have to embrace the chaos as if you don’t it will break you. On many occasion, I have found myself a blubbering wreck in the middle of what can only be described as Pre-School carnage (painted walls, play-doh stuck to the floor and chewed up remnants of Orchard games scattered across the house). There’s always some form of emptying, spilling or wrecking going on which is just typical of having three Pre-School brains in the house. Trying to create a sense of order or calm in the midst of this nearly drove me mental. I just have to go with it, accept it and hope that one day they will be able to tidy up after themselves, they will be able to draw quite happily on paper and not the walls and maybe the toddler will stop trying to eat every craft item that the other two are trying to use. Until then the house will resemble a badly run Pre-School and we will live from one melt down to the next making sure we try to make the most of the in-between bits of joy.
7) You are outnumbered; which is typical of any family which consists of more kids than adults. There’s no balance to life as one parent will always have to manage two kids or there’s more kids than you have hands, legs or feet (which believe me comes in useful sometimes as you develop creative ways to intercept a ‘potential fire engine in the face’ moment whilst dealing with a new-born poo explosion). It’s definitely made it more challenging due to their ages as there’s never really been a scenario where there’s been an easier, older child who just gets on with stuff while we deal with one child per adult or we’ve never been able to divide them up equally in terms of their manageability i.e two easy kids with one parent and the more challenging kid with his (or her, as it frequently changes) own dedicated parent.
8) We do sod all for the environment. With the diesel guzzling farm type machine we use to transport everyone around plus equipment and the constant use of the dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer I imagine we have the carbon footprint of King Kong. It preys on my mind as I leave the bathroom light on at night so the eldest child can go to the loo without one of us having to get up. Or I forget to recycle the plastics because it means I have to spend extra time outside the house at the bin sorting them and the kids are left unsupervised to destroy something in the house. I admit that I just have to do what’s easier for my sanity which is unfortunately at the expense of the environment. I will hopefully repay my overuse of the earth’s resources one day and our carbon emission debt (I have a plan to make the kids have cold showers and do their homework by candle light when they are older).
9) I have never experienced tiredness like this before. Its basic maths, the probability of sleep or a break are reduced the more children you create. There’s the night feeding a new-born, a teething one year old who is awake most of the night and a two-year old who seems to need a wee every five minutes. It gets hazy as Bonjela is administered to the two-year old, the new-born is placed on the on the toilet and a bottle is shoved in the one year olds gob. Every phase takes its toll and each stage moves so quickly. It then becomes physically draining running around after a toddler and emotionally draining being double teamed by the terrible two-er and the threenager. Coffee keeps me going until I hit the wine which brings me back down from the caffeine high.
10) Every day (usually when they are asleep and looking really cute) I realise how blessed we are to have had three amazing and healthy children so quickly. Conception, fertility, carrying a child and giving birth is not a walk in the park. It’s frightening when you become aware of what can go wrong. It’s devastating when it does go wrong. There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have thought all this was possible. In the moments where they are playing together, laughing at each other as they compare fat bellies or making mud pies in the garden together I am unbelievably proud of what we’ve created – against all odds.
Like most things in life the more you put in the higher the rewards and this is one of those moments.
It takes everything out of me but I wouldn’t change it for the world*
*ok so sometimes I would just for 5 minutes though so I could drink a cup of tea or listen to the news in peace or even go to the toilet on my own .