Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You Sure Have Your Hands Full! Guest Post by Amanda

© 2014 Amanda Plouzek

I have four kids, ages five, three, two, and 20 weeks. They are two years apart, 16 months apart, and two years apart. And I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. Harder than I bargained for, harder than I considered.

I’ve had three in diapers at the same time a few times over now. It takes at least over an hour to get everyone ready to leave. Almost everything I do, I do four times in a row. Put shoes on, put shoes on, put shoes on, put shoes on (ok, socks for the baby). Wash, rinse, repeat. By the time I finish doing one thing, something else comes up that needs my attention.

If I’m nursing the baby, you can be sure the three year old needs something at the same time. I don’t go to the bathroom alone ever, I don’t have (much) time to read, I don’t usually get showers or even get dressed until later in the day. When I do get a shower, a fight will occur right at the moment I really can’t help.

The dishes are a non-stop mountain and the laundry could probably stretch around the world at least once. My two year old called four different people yesterday on my cell phone. It’s loud and chaotic and bustling here all the time. I’m not complaining. This is just life.

Recently, it’s dawned on me that somehow, some moms have gotten the impression that I have it all figured out, that I’m supermom, that I can do it all. This is not true and I want to dispel this myth. My husband works long hours and a good portion of his time is also spent on the commute to work and back. So for much of the daily work, I fly solo, although thankfully my husband jumps in to help when he is able.

I go through cycles, and at the present moment I am burnt out, worn out, exhausted, whatever you want to call it. How do I (usually) do it? I let things go. I (re-) organize. I breathe. I simplify (more). I re-evaluate priorities. I LAUGH. I pray. I cry. I ask for help; no shame, no guilt. I make time for self-care.

But mostly, I try to lean into life as it is happening NOW. I’m not always successful. I get frustrated and have to reel myself in and seek a different path for that day. Practically speaking, I focus on what is causing me stress, and I attempt to solve the problem. So, I keep clothes pared down to a few things so laundry isn’t too much, and I regularly go through toys and put some away to rediscover later or give them away.

I involve the children, asking them to help sort clothes, and they put away some of their own items (and they love helping). I recognize when we all need to get outside, or lie down, or snuggle on the couch. We live in a smaller house and utilize our space wisely. We are switching to a family closet soon.

I don’t cook elaborate meals regularly and I use a slow cooker and rice cooker often. But I will tell you I wouldn’t change it if given the chance. My kids have given me a chance to grow, to s-t-r-e-t-c-h myself, to learn important skills that I lack.

When I see my kids playing together, holding hands, or learning together, I am filled with such joy I wish I could take it out and box it up to share with others. Since they are close in age, they sometimes go through similar phases at similar times, which can be helpful and special. They teach each other skills without knowing it. They play together quite well. Having them close in age is difficult at times, no doubt about it, but it’s also wonderful.


6 comments:

  1. Knowing what you know now, would you keep them at those age gaps or if you could do it over, would you space them out a little more?

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    1. I would keep them the same age gaps, as noted: "But I will tell you I wouldn’t change it if given the chance." I love having them so close in age. My husband's siblings are all mostly very close in age (16ish months apart), and my sister and I are close in age as are her and my brother. We always knew we wanted them close in age after we had our first. :)

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    2. I have to chime in similarly. It's been a wild ride, but the closeness is something that can't really be described. :) I'm sure siblings farther apart have their special highlights, too. There's more than a 20 year difference between me and my youngest sister, for example, and she's almost like a daughter to me. I was present at her birth, potty-learned her, now I help w/ her homeschooling and take her along to field trips, etc.

      But that snuggly, pile of bodies, chaos and noise of children spaced together is just really something else.

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  2. I guess I'm on a different boat to everyone else re age gaps- I WOULD put more space between mine given a second time around.. but I would also never put a child back. it's just that having done it with less than 2 years between- I would prefer a 3 year gap just so that the children are a little more independent before I add another. My experience with close children was not good. for the first four months my eldest tried his hardest to hurt the new one, he needed me constantly too. I tried so many things from routines and distractions, being "more understanding" right through to bribery.. I never spanked but I thought about it. Nothing worked it simply took time. My eldest just wasn't interested in having a sibling.

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    1. I'm sure others agree. We have the midwifery urban legend of "kids making room" over here. But, for example, I think of my adorable nephew at just over a year old. If his mom so much as holds another child, he wails and throws things lol. He is NOT ready for someone to come along behind him, no matter how much AP parenting is involved.

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  3. Haha! my boys BOTH had their noses out of joint if I so much as LOOK at another baby! (the above comment under Anonymous is mine I just couldn't be bothered logging in) When my sister had her son almost a year ago.. wow.. just wow.. I thought DS1 was bad but OMG DS2- He threw himself on the floor and would not stop crying because I had stroked this newborns cheek.. DS1 at least had the decency of waiting for me to pick up DS2 before he lost it. Ooohhh... DS2 may need to be the last kid. I think a newborn in our home would not last with him around. He's 2 years old now and hasn't changed.

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