Cameron had his inter school league gala yesterday. Now that he is swimming properly, every official gala where we can get accurate times in a 50m pool is important so I didn’t want to miss it but attending it meant taking all 3 of the other kids with me.
A year ago, I probably wouldn’t have gone or organised for them to go to David’s mom but yesterday I took them. All of them. I packed a lunch box and off we went. We ended up having a really lovely time. The pool has a lovely shady grass area where Emma and Jack can run around and enjoy the last few warm days of summer. We ordered some hot chips and had a mini carb overload and watch Cameron swim. We only finished after 17h00 which is usually when we are bathing, eating and calming down but both babies handled it really well. I did a silent high five as we loaded everyone into the car, because while it went well it is still pretty exhausting and with a toddler any outing is one tantrum away from being a failure.
Generally I avoid taking all four kids out on my own but there are times I have to and you know what it actually isn’t that bad. There is always a general sense of chaos when we venture out but it is chaos that I know how to manage.
People always, always ask us how we cope. The answer really is simply because we have to but also because I think we all learn ways of coping, we learn how to manage our chaos, we develop coping strategies, even in our disorganisation we are organised. There are a few things though that I think have made the transition for me easier than I expected.
The age gaps. I think having the older two able to help out makes it a lot easier. Se7en mentioned it in one of her posts, how an older child takes responsibility for a younger one when they go out. We do the same thing. Cameron watches Jack and Kiara, Emma. Now by watches I don’t mean that he looks after him, I mean he has to get him out the car or into the house or put his shoes on etc. It also helps that 2 are able to look after themselves and 3 can use the toilet. I also think once you have three kids, adding more isn’t really such a big deal.
I have let a lot go. I have let a lot go in terms of what the ideal parent should do and what the ideal family should look like. A few weeks ago at a gala, Emma was wandering around making friends with a young couple sitting next to us, inspecting what was in their cooler box. I was never more than 4 steps away from her but I didn’t keep trying to get her to sit down and leave everyone around her, the couple were ok with it so I let it go. There are times I just can not manage to get cake for Cake and Candy, I let it go. Some days I am late to fetch someone, I let it go. There are always toys all over my house, I have let it go (ok maybe I am letting it go).
Team work! We all have a role, not just the 6 of us but Jane, David’s mom, the mom who fetches Cameron from swimming for me when I can’t, the swimming coach, soccer coach – we all have a role to play. I am very lucky that I have an amazing team of people who help our life function well. Jane is reliable and loves Emma, she enables me to work during the days she is here. Davids mom picks up the slack when there is no way for me to be in 4 places at one time. The coaches make sure we know in advance when there are events on. My circle of school moms are always willing to help out when they can. None of us function in isolation, especially when we have children, having a good team is vital.
Getting everyone into the car is an event in itself but we have a system, we cope and we get it done without me feeling too harassed most days!
Whatever the size of your family, how do you cope? What do you do to make it easier for you?