2016 has been the start of many new things for us as a family. Generally speaking, these new things have meant that we have had to meet a whole lot of new people. Like in real life. Without the social filter being applied.
When random strangers find out that I have not one, but three children, they can’t help but stare at me in shock. Once they regain their composure they generally blurt out something like, “But you’re too young to have children!”. Some people are just so freaking tactful it’s beautiful to watch.
I used to be downright offended by this. It was the same sort of feeling you’d get if someone told you that you were too stupid to be doing the job that you’re doing.
When you think about it, that doesn’t really make that much sense, but feelings don’t always make sense do they? My thought process took a long look at the route that could take this as a compliment (because you know, when I’m 50 I’m hoping to look like a 30 year old – BONUS) and instead, chose to go down the road where I second guess every step I’ve ever made. From their comment about my appearance, I obviously inferred that they were questioning my parenting ability and life choices. A logical approach if ever I’ve heard one.
But that’s really irrelevant isn’t it. The age thing I mean. There are loads of people that are pumping out babies who are much younger than I was when I pushed Kyla into the world at 22. It is what it is. Parents at 18 are learning the same things that parents learn at 40 – how to put yourself second and how to get vomit out of the couch covers.
What really blows the mind of “people” is having more than one child.
One child and people are like, “When are you going to have another one? No-one likes a single child.”
But when you do have another child, say 1 year and 2 weeks later then people are like, “Wow, you didn’t waste any time did you? They are so close together how do you cope? What were you thinking? How much wine do you drink to get through the day? You should think about covering up those dark circles under your eyes. Do you even sleep? Are you actually a vampire?”
I get it, we didn’t stick to the 2 year gap. It’s pretty much unfathomable.
And then, well then you have another kid (after the 2 year parenting approved gap as recommended by all sane mothers everywhere) and then people just can’t help but voice all their opinions, “Got your hands full there! Don’t you have a TV? Why do you have so many little versions of yourself? Seriously though, three kids, how do you do it? No really? How? I can’t manage one, HOW do you have three and still look like a normal functioning person?”
And to that I ask, what is normal and what is functioning?
Lame jokes aside, I’m often floored when people ask me this. Firstly because it means that I am giving off the illusion that I have everything under control (historically not the case – just ask any of the school secretaries who have to hound me to get anything done). And secondly because it makes me think about how we are actually doing all of this.
After lots and lots of thinking about this (prompted by the 4 million times I have been asked over the years), I have realised that there is no little secret that I can share with you. No foolproof way of making sure that things always turn out OK. No, no. We have three kids and manage it all because we have to. That’s really the long and short of it. I mean, if you suddenly found yourself waking up in a hospital bed after a horrific accident and finding half of your leg had been amputated, you’d probably take a couple of months to mourn, to regroup, to recover and find your groove, but you wouldn’t just give up. You make the best of a bad situation.
Not that having kids is like being in a horrific car accident or like losing a leg. That’s probably a bad analogy. Having a kid is more like cutting out the important bit of you heart and then letting it run willy nilly in the big wide World without your ribcage to protect it.
But back to the point – having three kids is what it is. It’s the same as having one kid, or two. You keep going because that’s what you have chosen to do. You make it work for your family. For us, that means that we have a pretty set routine and chores delegation. So here are some things that might help you decide to up your family number to the magical three:
- We stick to our seemingly random routine. If we don’t the wheels fall right off and it takes forever to get back in the swing of things
- We divide and conquer. Three kids means lots of parties, extra murals, homework and attention. But usually you are not in this alone. Seth and I divvy up all of these things in a way that works for us, or we enlist the help of a doting granny of trusted friend. It takes a village, so use (don’t abuse) yours.
- Teach your kids to be self sufficient. You really shouldn’t be wiping a 6 year olds butt. There are so many things that our children can do to share the load. And no, we’re not turning them into little slaves, just children that are capable of putting on their own shoes or throwing cereal into a bowl.
- The more kids there are, the more likely they will be entertaining each other, leaving you to finish your favourite book.
- Close your eyes when you pay the school fees. You’ll still feel the effects but at least you won’t see it.
Do you have any tips on surviving parenthood of three (or more)? I’d love to hear your handy tips.