Monday, October 26, 2015

What I've Learning Being a Mother of Four

Eliza is just over four months old now and I get asked all the time what having four children is like.  Here is what I have learned so far.

1.  Being a mom of four is not really different from being a mom of three.  Jim and I are still outnumbered.  There is still an insane amount of laundry and lots of little mouths to cook for and a house that never seems to be clean (or quiet).  I think it's having a newborn and any number of children that is an adjustment.  While the older three can entertain themselves, Eliza has her own schedule.  The kind of day that Eliza has strongly impacts the kind of day that I have.  On days where she has wonderful naps, I get so much accomplished.  On other days when she doesn't sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time and wants to be held while she is awake, my productivity is severely limited.

2.  Everything that happens during these baby days is a phase--usually a short lived one.  Because I know how quickly these phases pass, I can appreciate even the fussy days.  Sure, I may be ready for a glass of wine at 4pm instead of 5pm and I'm not saying I love the days when nothing goes according to my plans, but I try to make the most of them.  As soon as I realize that a day is not going the way I intended it, I abandon any ideas of productivity.  I remember these days with Lilly--I used to spend hours trying to get her to take her proper nap and would get so frustrated if all fell apart.  With Eliza, I try my best to follow a schedule, but instead of spending hours getting frustrated, I find myself more often than not putting Eliza in the stroller and taking everyone to the park or for a walk while they ride their bikes.  Either she naps or she doesn't, but we all get some fresh air and move on.  

3.  The early morning hours--while all the little ones are still sleeping--are like gold.  No matter how exhausted I feel when my alarm goes off, I need to get up.  Time to myself doesn't come easily these days.  Even on days when everything goes according to plan, life is still busy.  Having a quiet cup of coffee and being able to read for half an hour, or sitting with Jim and having time to talk without little people climbing all over us is time that impacts the rest of my day.  I'm a happier person when I'm up before the children--this is something that I remember Mum and Dad saying and having four little ones has made this time even more valuable.    

4.  I need exercise.  I've always had sports in my life--for as long as I can remember, I was swimming or rowing or triathlon training.  I have enjoyed working out during all of my pregnancies, and even though the intensity of the exercise shifts, it still made me feel good.  People were always amazed that this pregnant woman with a gigantic stomach was at the gym lifting weights (not heavy ones!) but for me,  working out while I'm pregnant is the easy part.  I could always guarantee that if I went to the gym at 5 or 5:30 in the morning, the little ones would be asleep.  Post pregnancy working out is much harder for me.  While I love working out, the time of day that Eliza wakes up is still unpredictable and there's nothing like lying in bed in the morning with a sleepy baby.  I keep reminding myself that there will be plenty of time for early gym mornings in my future and during this interim period, I go to the gym when I can but more often than not, I settle for long walks, runs after Jim gets home, or a quick DVD workout during nap time.

5.  To take each day as it comes.  I'm a planner--I have everyone's school and sports schedules on my google calendar, along with all my tutoring and SAT classes.  I also have a planner that sits out so I can see each week in front of me and I plan my meals for the week there.  I have a love/hate relationship with to do lists--they're vital in my life at the moment but they seem to be never-ending!  When I look at the entire month at a time, I get overwhelmed and have no idea how everything will get accomplished.  So I try not to do that anymore.  Life is busy and I've found that as long as I sit down on Sunday, look at the upcoming week and plan meals, I'm good to go for the week.  As busy as the week may look on paper, it's always doable when I focus on taking things one day at a time.

digging for fossils

6.  Savor these days.  As cliche as it sounds, the years fly by.  When pictures pop up on the computer of the day Lilly was born, I can picture it all like it was yesterday.  Now Lilly is off at "real" school for almost the entire day.  Even though she seems so grown up, I know in the grand scheme of things, she is still little; they all are.  They love to play dress up and have dance parties in the dining room after dinner.  They love marching around the house before they get in the bath at night singing a song they so accurately named, "We Are Naked." (I have this pre-bath parade around the house on video to show them when they're older, when I'm sure they'll all be mortified)!  They love their cuddles when they wake up in the morning and it's such a treat when we let them bring their blankets downstairs to lounge around.  Sure there is name calling and full sprint chases around the house and plenty of not listening and not cleaning up...but the good outweighs the bad and we're all having fun.

school picture day!