© 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.