Sooo…number one question I’ve been asked since baby number four born? That’s right, you guessed it, “So how is it with four kids?”, “How are you coping with four?”, “what’s life like with four?”….you get the point.
Now with Remy-James being 2 months already, I have SOOOO much I want to share with you (honestly, just so much – Im bursting at the seams already) but such is newborn life that I don’t ever get the time to put ink to these thoughts, and when I do happen upon that rare free moment, the mental perspicacity is never there to truly paint an accurate picture of my thoughts. (and on the super rare moments that the stars align and I actually have both, I realise my tits are rock hard & I need to pump…That’s so very hashtag breastfeeding life for ya!) Needless to say, Im currently sitting with two hard knockers as I type this and figured, with so much still to share but so little time, this is the best place to start: How is life with Four Kids.
Now, I almost get it. I can kind of understand why people ask this: because, I suppose most wonder, how on earth could anyone cope right? Now, in the beginning, like in the first 3 weeks, if you had asked me this, I probably would have told you that actually four is pretty much like having three. ( and If you want to know how that is, have a read over here). Its like three in that it’s a busy life. And you’re outnumbered. Sure, it’s more than a touch chaotic – in the begining. And that just like with three, we have to learn how to juggle this new act.
But now, 6 weeks (now 11 weeks) in, truly thick in the newborn life trenches, it’s dawned on us…this aint Kansas anymore, Dorothy! Yes, there are great days that flood me with gratitude as I get to witness the dream of having this family manifested right before me. It’s so sweet that hit has me pinching myself when I look at these four littles gathered around the man I love and call hubby. But oh yes, make no mistake there are days that bring me to my knees. That have me counting down the hours till when mike returns home from moment he leaves. There are days that have me so utterly shattered and exhausted to my bones that there’s no energy left to cry or complain.
And then I realized: That’s what life with a newborn in general is like, anyway, right? At least, that is for me (for us)… so maybe it’s less about how many kids I have and more just newborn life.
Because, whilst I know there are those rare special puppies out there that absolutely love the newborn phase, like nothing about it is hard for them (yes, you do find unicorn humans), I’ll tell you straight up, for me, it can be hard on the body, mind and spirit whether or not you have an “easy” baby. That’s purely just the new mother skin you grow into with each kid,by the way.
So you see, for me, the rub lies not in THAT we have FOUR kids. Although it also doesn’t help that the last two are essentially Irish Twins. (well not quite, but almost, and it’s just as wild!) A newborn, and an extremely wild, busy baby just over a year old. And both are at such young phases of life that require every bit of you to be present, with 100% of your focus. But if you did your maths, that’s pretty impossible!
But that’s what parenthood is all about right? Doing the impossible – every damn day.
Now before you give me some side eye (about moaning about two kids close in age), let me remind you that I have parented a newborn and a small baby before with Morgan-Lee and Parker-Grace. Maybe not this small a baby, but close enough! And trust me when I say, it was nothing quite as challenging as this little duo of Remy-James and Yuriko-Mae is now. To be honest, with Morgy and Parky it was quite a breeze actually – minus the mastitis sagas and extremely clingy baby of course. Because the thing is, there’s not quite a baby like Coco – our little TNT package. I’m not kidding! Our home is a source of loud, perpetual chaos that’s powered single-handedly by her alone.
She’s nifty, agile, curious and sharp…and a combonation like that in little baby who has yet to develop any sort of self-preservation practice is dangerous. (For her) And exhausting. (For us.) I think she alone would leave us this exhausted even if we never had the other three kids and just had her. She is a force to be reckoned with, and a stocky little ball of pure love that will charm you. She deserves a post of her own, but the point is, she adds quite a demanding dynamic to having to parent four kids. ANd I only bring this up as sh honestly adds a different spin to it all.
So yes, having four kids is loads of fun. But yes, right now it can be very demanding. Very rough going some days.
And for us it’s for layered and multiple reasons.
It’s not just that Yuriko-Mae is still so small, a different kettle of fish and exhausting. And its not just that newborn life in and of itself is a trip and half. And its not just that its at the same time, but we also still have 5 year old and 7 year old – each with their own current life stage challenges – needing us to be all in, all the time, at the same time.
It’s all of it together that can often make it tricky right now at this stage. (And I use “stage” because I know it’ll evolve as our kids grow)
And just to give you a smidgen of the dynamic with the bigger two: Usually our big two are always such understanding kids; patient with me when Im pregnant because I cant be as active with them, and even more understanding with newborn stage, accepting that there’s a much slower pace in our home because it. But asking them to remain so patient and understanding for two YEARS in a row?! That may be pushing it with even the most understanding kids in the world. Their needs also have to be tended to. And right now, they both have a lot they’re going through, and no doubt need our steady hands to hold.
So how is it with four?
Well, right now at this very unique stage we’re in, with four kids there is absolutely no down time. There is no tag-teaming. Only subbing and swapping – as in, essentially, you have to choose which task are you more mentally capable of completeing, without wanting to run off & join the circus. Is it the one you’re currently fumbling with, or the one your partner is currently fumbling with. Although, sometimes (most times) I actually don’t get to choose. (Hello, breastfeeding!)
There’s no time to feel sorry for yourself. It’s either cry in your self-pity postoasties or grab that ‘free’ time to go pee or brush your teeth – ’cause Lawd knows when you’ll get another chance again. Can’t waste these opportunities, man.
With four kids (where there are no twins or multiples involved), you’re parenting four different age groups. Which means you’re having to deal with four very different development stages – so one activity for them actually equates to four different variations of that activity for you as the mom. (Along with the patience needed to execute it all.) There are four different temprements to navigate…which can become even trickier when you have to navigate them infront of each other – as in, you don’t want anyone to feel like they’re being treated or loved less than the other. And along with all of that, each kid has their own unique set of challenges, in their characters, natures and lives, that they’re needing you for. And each letting you know they seek your presiding love and presence in their own unique way.
So yup, you bet hot butter buns there’s no space for five minutes downtime here – sorry hubs. And there is absolutely no me-time here…if there is, it’s purely for hygiene purposes.(to get a chance to put on moisturizer i consider a luxury or a fluke). It’s all in, all the time. Well, at least for now with a newborn in our midsts. Later there will be. There always is. This aint my first rodeo, I know how this rolls. But for now, the season that we are in, is one of intensity, survival, rawness, and sheer willpower, fueled purely by love…And caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine. Like a sh*t ton of it – if that’s what you need.
So how do we cope?
Its that love, and a very good sense of humour that carries you through. And Mom and Dad’s very necessary team work! Lots of days we’re muddling and fumbling through an exhausted fog. But we’re there together. So hells yeah, team work is definitely one of the magic ingredients. (And caffeine. Don’t ever forget the caffeine)
But also in there is also so much of this…
…like pretty full
…We gonna need a bigger bed…
Still alot of this..rough housing with dad (and mom)
And my resident cac-aanvanger doing what she does best…
Doing normal life…like prepping for back to school first days…
So there’s also so much of this ..and I can’t get enough of it…
And she’s not the only one…
And of course a whole lot of this…
Gahd…so so so much of that…
Life often looks like me nursing the baby, whilst listening to one child read, while the other child is smashing blocks together right by newborn’s ear, singing at the top of her lungs, with me trying to stop her without breaking the story’s rhythm, but also doing it in a way that doesn’t piss her off, which would make her then scream in newborn’s ear instead;Whilst also calling the other child to get off from the dangerous position she’s climbed into yet again – despite the fact that I already explained that she is to never ever do that again only 30-leven other times before. Or throwing an eye from the lounge to the dining room table that’s half covered in laundry, scrap paper and colouring pens as one child embarks on her acrylic paint journey, while im doing laps around my coffee table trying to bounce baby calm. Then realize the one year old needs a nappy change, another needs a bum wiping and a baby really really wants to sleep…on my arm only. And THEN having the delivery guy ring the bell – but I’m neither dressed nor sporting brushed teeth yet. And it’s 2.30pm already. #winning
And other days look like me helping my big girls pack their cricket/ballet bags the night before because Remy-James is asleep in our room and because the stars aligned will be so until about 2am. Prepping cut up fruit and veg and butterfly shaped sarmies for the weeks’ pinteresty school lunch; Then pumpping 180ml milk in a spare 10min I had. Then prepping lunch for everyone, labelling the girls’ closet racks for easy pack away, repacking each girls book rack. Collecting each girl from the school drop off driver, with a smile on my face, and energetic “welcome home’s”, “how was your day’s” and chatting to the driver in my driver– with newborn attached to my boob. Spending one on one time with each girl, including a one hour dance party with my Coconutty – whilst sweating like a pig and laughing like a nutter with her. Cooking dinner. Pumping again. And feeling like I won that day. And savouring it. Knowing tomorrow’s victory is not at all guaranteed.
And that’s ok. I know as crazy as it can get in these manic newborn days, they wont be for long – even though I think they might kill me before then. 🙂 But yes, I hold onto the fact that just as fleeting as the beautiful tender days are, so are the hard ones. And yet, as crazy and chaotic as it can get it’s still a life I’d choose.
Because I love the perpetual chaos of our home caused by busy little minds and letting their imaginations take over.
Because I love the sound of the laughter echo in my home as my kids take joy in each other.
Because as crazy as this sounds and as overwhelming as it can get, I actually do enjoy the “stress” of four kids, as it makes me feel needed and wanted, as I carry out a critically important life task – mothering. ANd I get great satisfaction in fulfilling it.
Because I enjoy the juggle and having to flit between the various and many hats that this mothering gig requires.
Because I love watching our kids start to weave their life long bonds with each other…
And because these kids…these four incredible kids of ours, mean the world to me. I adore each and every one of them. Each of their unique selves. I love getting to know them and feel blessed that they chose me to be their mother. They amaze me constantly, and teach me each new day about love and forgiveness. So yes, my reality as a full time working mother of four is very different to many others…and my stresses and strains can be vastly different. And as hard as the demand may get at times, and sometimes feel like I could break under the sleep deprived state, I never regret pouring all of myself into them.
For they are mine and I am theirs.
But, ask me again in 6 months time… 😉