So it turns out that life with three kids under the age of 4 can be intense! Who knew?! I have now had a number of full days with the kids with no helping hands and it has been an eye opening experience…
Our first morning together could politely be labelled ‘catastrophic’. Eli commenced the morning by dumping out all the contents of the toy boxes, a massive red flag to a (slightly orderliness obsessed) bull. After being ordered to pack up just one of those boxes, Eli spent the next half an hour crying and saying over and over “I’m tired”. So much fun. The rest of the morning carried on from there, with multiple hauling offs to ‘time out’ for seemingly never-ending infractions. Every time I tried to put Ivy down to do something, I would find Hudson lovingly smothering her or ‘sharing’ heavy toys by placing then on top of her. When he tired of that, I’d find him heading sneakily for the nearest forbidden technology.
In the last month or so I had secretly been impressed by my levels of calmness and hoping that I had succeeded in rewiring my brain to not snap at the kids so much or speak in tones of immense frustration. Apparently it just helps having other people around… for the accountability if not for the actual assistance rendered! I did feel slightly vindicated the other day when Dave admitted that he would be in the loony bin if he had to look after the three full time, after a particularly trying afternoon with them.
Our journey to Tribe on Sunday was a little disastrous to say the least. Ivy refused to settle and decided to scream most of the way, which set off Hudson and at one point we were all crying in the car! I have found that this type of experience triggers feelings from Hudson’s ongoing screaming spells- feelings of frustration, anger and helplessness. I’m working hard to rewire these reactions but it is a little overwhelming when I’m in the thick of it.
I think one of the hardest things is feeling like you are doing everything poorly because you are continually reacting to chaotic situations and having to judge who to deal with first. Then having to hover over Ivy and monitor the boys interactions with her while she is awake gets pretty frustrating when I’m trying to use the time to get things done.
It hasn’t been all bad though! We have created a ‘Surprise Activity Bag’ which the boys can pick an option from while Ivy is sleeping and we have special time together doing a craft/sport/skill/task. They absolutely love it and I have enjoyed the time as well. We have learned new skills on the trampoline, practiced musical instruments, baked, tried science experiments and done face painting! Makes a big difference in creating positive behaviour by investing time into setting up activities rather than attempting to react to and divert bad behaviour.
Eli has seemingly grown up before our eyes in some ways, and is still a highly strung, emotional ‘threenager’ in others. We have decided to enroll him in 3 year old kinder at Dave’s new school and after an initially reluctant reception, he is now pumped to give it a go. We have taken him to see the kinder space a number of times now and he really seems to thrive there. He is understanding humour a lot more these days, and has an infectious laugh and smile. He and Hudson are playing really well together at times, with Eli setting up games for the two of them.
Hudson is as cheeky as ever, flashing incredibly devious smiles at us as he slyly tries to grab one of our phones or computers! He is so sweet with Ivy, tenderly taking her between two chubby hands and speaking softly to her “Iby? Sister? Ohh”. He is also very distressed if she cries and tells her ” it’s OK, Iby, it’s OK”. He is hilarious with the way he sets up his toy phone, computer and water bottle at the big table and pretends to do work like Daddy. His strong desire to model his behavior after ours means he has become my new little helper around the house with tasks and he could spend ages ‘cooking dinner’ or cleaning in the cubby house.
Ivy has settled into life in the Hughes family, mostly following the ‘book’ in terms of feeding and sleeping. There have been rough moments and she often has significant gut pain between feeds but overall she is doing well. It was pretty amazing to see her first real smile today, a big two dimpled grin that was just beautiful!
The adjustment from two to three has been a little rocky, but five weeks in and I’m not feeling as overwhelmed anymore. Our family is growing and growing up and I love watching each of the kids develop into more amazing humans every day!