I never expected to have a big family. In fact, I didn’t expect to have children at all after medical experts had told me as much. How wrong they were (thankfully) as I am now a proud Mum of three, my eldest son is 12 and I have boy/girl twins who are almost 9. However, more than two children can be a struggle, so for those of you who are in the same boat with multiple children, or if you are considering opting for a third let me fill you in on what a challenge it can be!
One Set of Hands is Never Enough
With three children, one always has to hold an elbow at some point. A double buggy is tricky on its own without an extra child hanging off the side and how can people use buggy boards without 8ft long arms?!
When I had the twins my eldest son was only 3 years old, past the age of reins but still needing to be kept in line from running amok and so needed a hand to hold. It may sound silly, but two hands just are not enough when you have three children. With a twin baby in each arm, I became quite adept at using other body parts to do simple tasks. My feet became more dextrous than a chimpanzee at picking up items from the floor, I had to rely on the strength of my teeth to grab stuff and balancing became an art form when trying to hold children whilst simultaneously opening a door with a phone cradled under my ear. In fact, multi-tasking is now an essential way of life, whilst talking to a friend on the phone I can sort a washload, find a missing Barbie hairbrush, clear up a mountain of Lego and make a cup of tea, albeit whilst sounding like a person living with Tourette’s by shouting “Don’t lick that!” at the same time as catching up on gossip with my friend.
Not Built For a Family of Five
Cars, hotel rooms, rollercoasters, bus seats, the list goes on of places that are created for a family of four. When I had my first scan and was given the very unexpected news that twins were on the way, hubby’s first words were ‘We need a bigger car’… Bigger car! I’ve got to grow two babies!! But he was right. Our beloved four seater car just wouldn’t cut it for a toddler and two baby seats. And now that we have a bigger car it is a constant battle to persuade one of the children to sit in the middle seat as they all fake car sickness to be by the window.
A day out to a funfair/theme park often creates a situation of ‘taking it in turns’ to sit next to each other on the rides whilst me or hubby fill the seat next to third child, which is normally hubby as I can’t deal with the motion sickness these days. There has been many a situation where I have shoehorned the three of them into a two seater dodgem/rollercoaster car to save on arguments/queueing which also doubles up as an extra security measure as they can’t actually move their limbs!
Late For Everything
Three or more children can mean that one to one time with a child becomes near on impossible! Before the arrival of the twins, me and my son used to go everywhere together. I’d prepare a packed lunch for us, sling on a backpack and venture out somewhere for the day with him. When three children are in the mix then a day out can look like you’re preparing for a school trip with packed lunches, coats, toys, etc. Just finding three pairs of matching shoes is an impossible task. In fact, spending a night away as a family of five is equivalent of a week’s holiday in stuff to pack.
Parent Guilt x 3
I often spend a sleepless night worrying about how I should be playing with the children more. How I need to be making the most of every minute because it goes so quick and that I really should be playing imagination games with the twins, making Lego creations with my youngest son, making art collages with my daughter or talking through feelings with my eldest. Yet, each day is filled with cooking, cleaning, washing (endless washing), school runs, cooking, finding shoes/school books/special toys, cooking, cleaning, drop offs to brownies/football/tennis, washing, homework, cooking…. Where is there time for ‘special time’?!
Budgeting is Impossible
I feel flush for exactly four days after payday then the money disappears. A ‘big ‘shop often costs the same as a European City Break. A full cupboard never lasts and a packet of biscuits disappears within a day. However, having to constantly put your hand in your pocket does mean you find ways to become thrifty. I have often been left with the challenge of creating three lunchboxes on a school morning when I discover that there is no bread and I will have to fashion a lunchbox out of cold pasta, cut up cheese, raisins and unwanted flavoured crisps.
I Want to Be Alone!
Beds, bathrooms and kitchens are all places that I miss spending time in by myself. I gave up having a solitary wee or a bed with less than three bodies in it a long time ago. Date nights are few and far between and cost a fortune in babysitting. Thankfully I have a very supportive family, but a night away with the hubby loses its appeal when you come home to find exhausted parents surrounded by chaotic children. I constantly moan about needing some ‘me time’ but when I went away for a girls weekend last December I felt a constant emptiness (between the mojitos!) and found myself looking at pictures of my little family before I went to sleep.
It is hard/expensive/exhausting having a big family but every now and then, when we are walking in our group across the park or all squeezed together on the sofa laughing at a movie my insides go all squishy with love looking at my three gorgeous children, all unique in their own little way and I wouldn’t change it for the world.