You know you’re a parent of a larger family when…

 

1.   Every day is laundry day, several times a day at that, and what the bottom of your washing basket actually looks like is a distant memory. Furthermore there is a real and very likely possibility that whatever clothes are actually stuck at bottom of this basket have been outgrown by the child they belong to and in all probability the one that comes after him/her too.

And it’s not just dirty clothes that you’re drowning in. As the washing machine works overtime, the mountain of clean, fresh smelling clothes builds up in your, wherever you store them, until you get a chance to put them away.  Building, building, building waiting for your toddler to sneak past  you in his mucky wellies and recreate that scene from Peppa Pig “jumping up and down in muddy puddles (of clean clothes)” minus the part where Mammy Pig rolls on the ground laughing .

2.   You count how many children you have with you when you leave the house and as you enter and leave all shops, parks and elevators. You in all likelihood quickly check you have predominantly the right gender and do a quick scan on hair colour

3.   You feel completely justified in not remembering all of their names and believe your children should know who you mean when you call “you” “whatyamacallit” or “whateveryournameis”.

4.   People count as you go by and frequently ask “are they all yours? What do you drive? Have you not got a television? Are you done?” and slightly less frequently (but have asked all the same )“are you Miriam O’Callaghan?”and declare “you must be devoutly Catholic”.

5.   You have to motivate yourself to load them all into the car because that task and locating the necessary, shoes, coats and underpants takes longer than the reason you’re actually leaving the house.

6.  You have to label the toothbrushes because toothbrushes only come in so many different colours and duplication is necessary.  This is especially important if you need to identify which toothbrush the three year old used to fish the breakfast waffle out of the toilet.

7.   You watch reruns of the Waltons and find yourself looking for tips on how to make mealtimes run more smoothly.

8.   You find that’s not the only thing that you’ve taken from the Waltons and as you kiss them all goodnight you add in “Goodnight Mary Ellen. Goodnight John Boy” just for good measure.

9.  No-one is quite sure how many children youactually do have – just that you’ve “a load”

 

10.  In spite of the noise, mess, relentless workload and constant battle with certain family members to wear underpants, when you see them all together in a rare tranquil moment – you just can’t believe your good luck.

Escape from Buggy-traz….

I can usually be seen huffing and puffing, pushing my big red double buggy which accommodates my two youngest children, most weekdays, as I head down to the school to collect my junior infant.

Yesterday my mam timed a visit perfectly with collection time, so I decided to leave my baby with her while I went to pick up my son. My two year old asked if he could come along and decided he wanted to walk. I thought it might be a good idea to give him a little practice at it, as I’m hoping to move him to a buggy board type thing soon.  The whole excursion reminded me why I usually restrain him!

 

To somewhat very loosely paraphrase Daddy Pig in his consideration of muddy puddles, “to be at one with a two year old who is free, one must think like a two year old who is free”!

1.   Two year olds are fast, very fast.  Within a micro second of having walked out the front door he was off, insisting there was no need to hold my hand because he was a big boy and there were no cars coming.  I ran most of the way to school in a sideways crab like fashion trying to near pin him alongside the wall while dodging parents and little girls on their scooters who had just left school.

2.   Two year olds are like magpies, well mine is anyway…except things don’t need to be shiny.  All manner of things can grab his attention.  One minute he was belting along the path on the way to collect his brother, the next minute he spotted dog poo, then a worm, then a paw patrol scooter.  The first two he stopped to examine, the last one made him turn in the opposite
direction and run after the child on it!

3.  Two year olds are at the perfect height for parked car wing mirrors and older kids school bags. Both of which he managed to run into on his journey.

4.  Two year olds have an uncanny ability to choose the place of maximum potential audience for a meltdown.  After his collision with the second school bag of a dancing junior infant girl (their school finishes five minutes before my son’s school and is located directly beside it) and my insistence that he was holding my hand the rest of the way, I could sense one building. I started to wonder how many people around actually realised he was mine and, if it all kicked off, could I stand on the periphery with folded arms (once he was safely within the confines of the school playground of course) and pretend to look around for his mother.  Thankfully the crisis was averted –  he spotted a crow.

5.  Two year olds see. Two year olds want. Two year olds go and get. When we arrived at the school he spotted his big brother waiting in his line.  Normally the teacher allows the boys to go to the person collecting them one by one as she spots them.  My two year old bulldozed through the crowd of waiting parents and launched himself at his brother. Quickest pick up ever!

 

We ran the whole way home

 

What’s that in the toilet?

Over the years my children have put various items down our toilet.  Mobile phones, plastic bath ducks, Iggle Piggle and one of my husband’s ties (which was used as a fishing rod) have all met their watery end at the bottom of our lavatory. We had a new one today though.

There was a lot of activity going on in our bathroom this morning and not just the usual meeting of minds that regularly takes place there, when one of my younger kids needs to do a poo. In a house where most of the children have no mute button, silence is always treated with particular suspicion. Upon further investigation it appeared that there was every reason to be suspicious.

My five and two year olds were found examining the toilet bowl where some mushy type something or other was floating in the water. “What’s going on?” I asked “Whats that in the toilet?” Two guilty heads looked at each other. “It’s a breakfast waffle” my five year old replied. “And how did it get there?” I asked. “It popped out of the toaster and landed there” he said. “So it popped out of the toaster, flew up the stairs and landed in the toilet? I asked. “Yep” he replied nodding his curly head in earnest honesty. “It’s in the toilet” my two year old added, just in case I wasn’t clear.

“Don’t worry mammy” the five year old said as I muttered in disgust “I got most of it out with daddy’s toothbrush”…….

One of those nights!

My baby is a terrible sleeper, I mean absolutely shockingly bad and the last few months have involved me functioning in a sleep deprived stupor with several moments of confused dreams versus reality. In fairness none of his older siblings slept either as babies so I can’t claim that I didn’t know what I was getting into but that doesn’t make it any easier when you’re going through the torture that is sleep deprivation.

Yesterday, exhaustion was really catching up with me so I set myself the target of hitting the sack before midnight and preferably by 10:30.  That
is no mean feat in this house! The baby is the only one who tends to wake up at night here, except for bouts of illness, so with no homework or school to get ready for the next day, there was never a better opportunity to catch up (a little bit anyway), on much longed for sleep .

The evening went a bit like this
9:00 p.m. My teenage daughter suddenly decides she needs to know all about quadratic equations, now, not tomorrow or the next day, but at this very moment in time.  Her life practically depends on it (I suspect a maths test is looming that I haven’t been told about – it couldn’t possibly be the Junior Cert because that’s a whole five weeks away!)

10:00 p.m. The two year old comes down the stairs.  He has decided it’s morning time

 

10:15 p.m The five year old calls to say the two year old is
in his bed…..again

10:30 p.m. The five year old comes down the stairs….just
because

10:45 p.m The nine year old comes down the stairs because he
has a cramp behind his knee

11:00 p.m The eleven year old comes down the stairs to
remind me that I have to sign the note for for his school tour (have I
mentioned my primary schoolers have no school this week)

11:30 p.m. Husband goes to feed the dog, forgets he has already put the alarm on, opens the back door, baby awake!

12:15 a.m  baby fed , changed and finally settled, I fall into bed exhausted

1:10 a.m baby awake again, wants a quick feed and cuddle

2:25 a.m. Five year old comes into the room.  Says he has been burping a lot and needed to say excuse me. Apparently he couldn’t just say it to himself. He needed someone to hear it or else it would be bad manners. I look at him bleary eyed. Its 2:25 in the morning, far too early or late to consider the whole “if a tree falls in the wood and there’s no one to hear it” philosophy

2:30 a.m Baby wakes….. repeat 1:10 a.m.

3:00 a.m Two year old appears convinced the Gruffalo is
after him

3:25 a.m Two year old reappears to tell us he loves us, and he loves food and he loves the fridge apparently. He also thinks he might need a wee

3:45 a.m. Baby wakes , just to check I’m still about

4:30 a.m Nine year old appears, cramp behind his knee again and he wonders if we know whether or not he will be going to his friends for a
sleepover this week

4:45  a.m. Baby wakes – weak with the hunger!

5:30 a.m. Baby wakes to check he hasn’t been abandoned

6:25 a.m. I wake to hear the two year old singing in his bed “We dig for diamonds, we dig for gold”, a song from Ben and Holly ………and a new day
begins!

 

Appreciation!

When my first child was born and I realised the pain of childbirth, I found a new respect for my mother. And when my baby never slept and I had to function in a zombie like state, I found a new respect for my mother. When my toddler threw tantrums in the supermarket, doctor’s surgery, bus, school gate and every other place imaginable I found a new respect for my mother. And when the never ending mountain of homework started to arrive and preparing dinner and clearing a bomb site had to be fit in around it, I found a new respect for my mother. When I became the mother of a teenager and found myself in the alien territory of mood swings, strops and general hormonal breakdowns, I found a new respect for my mother BUT since my dishwasher has broken down and I have to wash the dishes myself on top of everything else, I’ve realised that woman, was a bloody saint!!!!

The Ben and Holly effect…

I’ve realised recently, that my two year old believes the rules of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom apply to this house. For anyone who has a pre-schooler or younger school child, you’ll appreciate that magic always leads to trouble so that part doesn’t come into play. The threat of it, however, does. My toddler has threatened to turn me into a frog, with his breakfast spoon, a calpol syringe and our sitting room table lamp, on more than several occasions over the last few days. Reason being, he wasn’t getting his own way. Today he poured his Rice Krispies on the floor – because he didn’t want them, he wanted chocolate eggs instead. When I, in my humble opinion, quite rightly told him off for his behaviour, he put on his best Nanny Plum voice and Nanny Plum did not agree with me. “Yellow card for being naughty”, I was told. As I reiterated that this was not to happen again, he continued “red card for talking back”. Its hard to keep a straight face when I look at his earnest face and hear him quote lines from a programme now much more familiar to me than Eastenders, but I did my best. Once again the breakfast spoon was waved at me. This time I was to be a slug. That was enough to cause the breakdown that followed. “Where’s my wise old elf slug” he said, remembering suddenly that the slug was missing. Tears followed, as did frantic searches under the couch and behind the television. But no slug was to be found. We did eventually however, find the “wise old elf” under one of the cushions. This is my son’s favourite toy. “Silly old elf, back to yourself” he said, pacified once more. As we all know, elves don’t do magic, so now that the wise old elf has been found I am safe from being turned into a frog, slug or snail for the time being. Elves however, do blow bloody loud horns every time they say “and I’m an elf” so the six month old won’t be napping for too long……..

Bye-bye nappies

It’s one of the times most dreaded by parents of toddlers
and small children, but it comes to us all and can’t be avoided forever
(although in fairness, my husband has done his best to try to). It’s the time
you’ll need nerves of steel, the patience of a saint and shares in a kitchen
roll company. It’s potty training time! Potty training is a wee and poo fest
that the whole family can get involved in, so don’t let anyone off the hook! Here’s
my 10 steps to help you with the task in hand and hopefully take some of the
stress out of it.
1.     Firstly choose a time to start when you can be
at home a little bit more.  If you have
to run in and out on numerous occasions be it for school or activity
collections, you’re going to make life more difficult for yourself. Plan in
advance and discourage visitors if at all possible.  Distractions are not great at this time.
2.     Try to involve your child in the choosing of
his/her potty and within reason go along with their choice.  My two year old son is the proud owner of a
Princess Peppa Pig potty.  It has served
us well! Also involve them in the purchase of big boy/big girl pants all the
while reminding them of how grown up they’re becoming now that they won’t be
wearing nappies anymore
3.     Allow your child to go without a nappy or pants
on the first day you start.  They’ll be
very aware of the absence of a nappy if they’re wearing nothing. The presence
of pants however, can confuse them and make them forget they’re not wearing a
nappy.  Make sure the potty is always
visible and offer drinks frequently.  If
possible let them watch a little programme that they really enjoy while sitting
on the potty.  The idea here is to
“catch” a wee in the potty by chance. This can take longer than you might
originally anticipate because the security of the nappy is gone.  Don’t be afraid to use a little bribery here
to encourage your toddler to stay seated on the potty.  You won’t have to do it all the time but for
the first few times it might help. (Is that the mammy police I hear banging
down my door??!!) . When your toddler does produce something, and if you have
managed to keep him/her seated there for a while, it will most likely be just
by chance.  This is when it’s time to
make an enormous fuss.  Involve any other
family members that are around, in the praise giving.  Your little one at least now has an idea as
to what he/she is expected to do in the potty other than wear it on his/her
head!
4.     Prepare to shadow your child everywhere, literally
everywhere.  Small children get pretty
bored with the whole potty thing very quickly and are quite likely to run off
and pee somewhere else.  Move the potty
from room to room.  If there are older
siblings in the house ask them to help with the shadowing.  If your child starts to wee while not on the
potty, just quickly lift them up and place them on the potty.  Anything in there is better than nothing and
it reinforces that wees should be done in the potty.
5.     Throughout the day, keep saying to your toddler
“Where do we do wees and poos?….In the potty” Any success should be heavily
praised and misses met with a reminder that wees and poos are done in the
potty.
6.     When going to bed place a pull up style nappy on
your child but don’t refer to them as a nappy, just a variation on big boy
pants. No one is expecting this to be dry in the morning, but it’s good to make
the distinction between this and a nappy and it prepares the way for pulling up
and down pants which will be introduced over the coming days.
7.     Start day two the same way.  Remove the pull up.  Leave the child without nappy or pants and
keep the potty close at hand.  Day two
can be met with more resistance but praise, gentle insistence and bribery
should help.  Today your child might be
aware after they have produced a wee and may well jump up to show you (or not,
which is no problem either).  Again today
shadowing is very important so as not to miss an opportunity.
8.     Later in day two (or day three if you feel your
child is not ready) introduce the big boy/big girl pants.  You will be pretty much guaranteed an
accident early on but that’s ok because the wet sensation will remind your
little one of what happens if they don’t make it to the potty on time. Make
sure someone is on hand at all times to help pulling up and down pants throughout
the day and any success here should be met with a huge fuss.  This time your child has most likely been
aware of what they were doing and has deliberately used the potty.
9.      Day three
continues much the same as the previous day with hopefully a little more
success.  No doubt however, you will have
encountered resistance to pooing in the potty. 
It’s important to make sure your little one doesn’t become constipated or
holds on to their poo. If your child suggests that they need to poo, remove
their pants again so that they can easily get to the potty at the very last
minute. Again consider allowing your child to watch a favourite programme and
encourage them to sit on the potty while they do.  Hopefully they’ll get so caught up in what
they’re watching that they will produce! Leave the child without pants for a
while to see if this helps.  If your
little one becomes very distressed and still refuses to go, put a pull up style
nappy on them (still referring to them as big boy or girl pants). Continue to
encourage them to poo in the potty but don’t worry if they go in the pull up
nappy instead.  Poo-ing in the potty
always takes a little longer to master.
10.  By day four you should have proper idea as to
how your child is getting on.  If they’re
having less than a 50-60% success rate they’re probably not quite ready yet and
you might be better off just leaving it for a few more weeks (even just 3 weeks
can make an enormous difference).  Don’t
worry that all your hard work will be wasted, it won’t.  Starting again a few weeks later should be
easier, as your child will know what you and he/she are aiming for. Progress
can often be much faster then. 
Plenty of praise and encouragement are essential when potty
training, as are constant reminders throughout the day and reaffirmations that
big boys and girls do their wees and poos in the potty.  If things are going well, keep an eye on the
night time pull ups.  Some children, day
and night train at the same time.  If you’re
one of the lucky parents whose child appears to be dry at night also, remove
the pull up after about a week into potty training.  Remember to make sure your little one goes to
the toilet before bed and don’t offer drinks too late in the evening. If your
child however, is not dry in the morning when they wake, don’t worry, one step
at a time. Night time dryness can be tackled later!

Playdates!

Friday is generally playdate day here. Sometimes my kids go to their friends’ houses, sometimes their friends come here but, because I haven’t quite mastered the skill of managing to farm them all out on the same day, there are generally always other children here on a Friday afternoon. It can be a great way to see how your children mix with their peers. It can be a fantastic bribe (or threat) during the week to get them to focus on their homework, eat their dinner, put their underwear in the wash basket (tick as appropriate). It can also be a great way to keep the kids occupied on a Friday afternoon or, depending on the child who comes over and his/her effect on the group dynamic, throw the afternoon into excited chaos!ng the week to get them to focus on their homework, eat their dinner, put their underwear in the wash basket (tick as appropriate). It also can be a great way to keep the kids occupied on a Friday afternoon, or depending on the child who comes over and his/her effect on the group dynamic, throw the afternoon into excited chaos.

Playdates have changed a lot here over the years as the children have grown up. Obviously we still have a lot of younger kids coming over for the younger children but the older kids don’t have friends on playdates anymore. They have friends over to “hang out”. It can be very funny to observe a cool “meeting of minds” taking place around the dining room table over pizza as my daughter and her friends discuss important things in life, such as the Kardashians, who’s meeting who these days, and other stuff that I couldn’t possibly be cool enough to know about because I’m mam. What’s even funnier is to see my daughter’s reaction when the two year old walks into the dining room and interrupts the deep and meaningful conversation to proudly declare “I’ve done a smelly poo in my potty! Want to see?” After initial looks of absolute horror the girls burst out laughing and my daughter takes her brother’s hand and says “sure baby, show me”. 

Meanwhile, in the sitting room, where the potty has taken pride of place in front of the T.V., boys have gathered from every corner of the house, some related, some not, to admire what has been produced. No looks of horror here! Then after the two year old has been congratulated, everyone returns to what they were doing. It’s like feeding time at the zoo when the kids and their friends are called for their dinner and excited chat takes place around the table. I have to admit I love that part! Collection time involves a mad search for shoes which were discarded literally everywhere, as soon as the kids came into the house. Most recently, one child went home with different shoes, my son’s shoes, not noticed by me or the other child’s mother for several days! In our defence, there were a lot of black similar sized shoes, to wade through. 

Finally when everyone has gone I collapse on the couch, promising myself I’ll check out the playroom later, when I’ve built up the courage, to see what damage has been caused by the human tornadoes that went through it. Playdates are great, but nothing beats the feeling after when you know the kids are happy and the weekend’s really about to start. Good luck to all the mammies having playdates this afternoon!

Time passes so quickly

Without a doubt, for me, one of the most challenging things about having a larger family is trying to meet the needs of the relatively vast age span. Stroppy teenagers, tantruming toddlers and a six month old who just won’t be convinced of the merits of sleep, no matter how hard I try, can lead to a very cranky mammy. Sometimes I find myself in a sleep deprived stupor, unable to correctly link the name to the child and so revert to my mother’s tactic of listing through all our names in the hope someone will come. I have been known to say “you with the curly hair” when I’m trying to get one particular child’s attention or just “you” after a particularly bad night. It’s easy to see why sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture! 

I remember shortly after my daughter’s birth, 14 years and 9 months ago ( but who’s counting) when the mother of my neighbour came to have a look at my precious little bundle who, like her six month old brother now, could not be convinced of the joys of sleep. In addition to this, my daughter (who had colic) could cry, and cry and cry. As I loaded my little pink bundle into the car, my neighbour’s mother said to me “enjoy these days, these are the easiest”. I thought she was quite obviously off her rocker. Now my bundle of pink stands three inches taller than me and I can’t quite believe that 14 years and 9 months (but who’s counting) have passed since she came into my life. My now teenager, brings a whole different set of challenges and not just the obvious ones of mood swings and door slamming, but the balancing act of trying to be her mum and protecting her and guiding her while trying to let go a little, to let her find her own way and to continue to become the wonderful young woman that she is growing to be. 

These days I think my neighbour’s mother was right. They were the easiest years. Difficult when you’re coping with constant feeding and nappy changes and sleepless nights but the time goes so quickly – too quickly. So when my toddler throws a wobbler because he can’t find his magic wand and my baby gets up for the umpteenth feed during the night I try to remind myself of the mantra – this too shall pass ………..but hopefully not too quickly….. 
😊 -Jen ‪#‎mamatude‬

Terror Toddler!

My two year old is quite the pocket rocket. He’s blonde, green eyed and looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. He’s full of kisses and hugs and generally has most people wrapped around his little finger as soon as he meets them BUT in a flash, he has the ability to mortify me like none of my other children yet. He has picked up a couple of “phrases” shall we say. His speech is quite articulate for his age (more’s the pity on this occasion) and so when he decides to share these “phrases” there’s no denying exactly what it is he’s saying.

Most recently in my G.P.’s surgery my little cherub informed my doctor (as my doctor was trying to coax him into letting him look into his ears) that my doctor was in fact “a big eejit”. I cringed and hoped that my G.P. hadn’t heard the remark but in fairness to my little darling, he repeated the comment, loud and clear and with complete defiance! I muffled my embarrassed apologies with explanations as to how my older children were big Fr. Ted fans and that he was just copying them. Now in fairness to my doctor, he just laughed it off, but I thought out of that surgery I would never get. Bad as that was, I knew my two year old had a few other “phrases” up his sleeve that he was and is quite happy to sing along to the tune of the “Wonder Pets”. Thankfully this time the G.P and the waiting room were not treated to a rendition of this same tune but if anyone has any tips on how to make sure my little angel doesn’t, in the future, treat a poor unsuspecting old lady who might kindly enquire as to how he’s doing, to his lovely song, I’d love to hear them! In the meantime we’re continuing to alternate between ignoring, distracting and simply telling him not to say it, just hoping it will pass soon. -Jen ‪#‎mamatude‬ #morto