September 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
The question I am most often asked after revealing that I am a mother of four, is “how do you do it?”
Almost always this question comes from parents of two or less children, or individuals who have not yet experienced parenthood. Their comments fall just short of putting me in the “full-out-crazy” category (that apparently is reserved for those amazing families with more than five children), often placing me firmly in a category that they profess as incapable of ever joining: “ I can barely manage two, how do you do it with four?”
Interestingly enough, I rarely get this response from parents with three children. This is easily explained by the simple fact that it all gets easier after three. No joke! Two was the hardest stage for me. Once we got to three, that’s when all the parenting puzzle pieces started falling into place. Just goes to show if you practice something long enough you are bound to develop some level of skill.
That being said, there are some areas of having four children that are distinctly different than just two.
- Laundry. Nuff said.
- Food. We have not yet entered the teenage years but based on how much our grocery bills have increased already, we are bracing ourselves. It’s easy to buy Costco size snacks and “family-size” food items, and don’t get me wrong, we definitely do, but seeing first-hand the impact that healthy, fresh food can have on balancing out energy levels, we are compelled to follow the uphill climb to moving the whole family towards fresh food: a feat that is both expensive and time consuming, but worth it.
- One-on-one time. When I was pregnant with my third child someone said to me, “you are now going to have to move from man-to-man, to man-to-zone”, to which I responded, “they still haven’t out-numbered our arms”. Kidding aside, it was now true that one-on-one time was going to need a new approach. It is a myth that spending time with your child needs to be organized and planned. My husband and I have each had some amazing and surprisingly revealing conversations with our children, simply running errands or grocery shopping with them. Add to that bedtime chats and prepping-dinner-discussions and you can really connect with a kid and learn a lot about what it important to them while the hands are busy but the mind is not.
- Personalities – one of my favourite things to chat about with other parents is how different their children’s dispositions and personalities can be, given that they share the same gene pool, formative-years environment and parenting experience. Across four children, the diversity is remarkable. Defaulting to a one-size-fits-all parenting style is met with immense resistance, compelling a much more conscious approach.
- Helping each child find their way back to their heart, instead of looking outside themselves for happiness. Each child will follow a different path to happiness, resonating to a different vibration in their own unique way. Impossible to do it for them, but so important to recognize those moments when they are revealing numbers to the combination. And putting the brakes on the expectations we ourselves grew up understanding, so we can allow them to flourish without arbitrary limitations – now that’s a handful.
I read a terrific article recently, entitled “The Sweet Spot”, which is exactly where we are at with our family. We have graduated out of diapers, strollers and sippy cups, but our kids are not yet teenagers, so they are still keen to spend time with us. And it is sweet. Sweet nostalgia of breastfeeding and that newborn smell, as all the memories of sleepless nights fade away. Sweet gratitude that we have these precious moments to shape and understand our kids before they insist on making their way independently as teenagers. And sweet opportunity to live in these moments as they are, surrounded by four amazing souls in little bodies.
That’s how I do it.