CHAT: Life with three children

We’re sitting comfortably in the ‘life with two children’ space but have debated, and often hear friends debate, whether to up our crew with number three.  This week I reached out to my lovely friend Lucy, mama extraordinaire, who has done just that with style and grace.  Take it away Lucy…

I am a 35 year old, married SAHM to 3 young children; Amelia 6, Ollie 4 and Jack 2. Becoming a mother was something I had longed for from a very young age and it’s although it’s been harder than I thought it’s also been fulfilling beyond my wildest dreams. I am fortunate to have a loving and supportive husband alongside me to help navigate through the rollercoaster ride that is parenthood.

How would you sum up life as a family of five?  From the very beginning, I knew I wanted to have a big family. Being the middle of five children myself, I was always keen to give my own children the same experience that I had enjoyed (most of the time!) when growing up in a very busy household. I was lucky enough to fall pregnant very quickly with my first born and was very keen to expand our brood once I’d got the hang of dirty nappies and sleepless nights.

When our second-born, Ollie, came along almost exactly two years later, we faced a big adjustment to family life. I often laughed at my former self for stressing over looking after one child, I wish I had known then how easy I had it. Once again, through good teamwork, my husband and I soon got into the swing of caring for two children and once Ollie turned one, I knew I was ready to try for number three. Convincing my husband (who only had one sister) was a bit of a challenge but once he realised he was fighting a losing battle, he relented and Jack was born just over a year later.

Everyday life is a little crazy for us but I love it. I am thankful that our third was born before our eldest had started school. I was pleased that we had almost a year as a family of five before having to get organised for the daily school run and after school activities. Although, there were obviously a number of occasions when having 3 children under five years took its toll!

What was trickier, the transition from one to two children or from two to three children?  Everyone had told me that the biggest adjustment was the jump from one to two children and I would tend to agree. When a second child is born you have to learn to delegate and multi task for fear of being outwitted by the little people! Once number three arrives, they just have to slot into the routine and as you are already catering for the multiple needs of older siblings, adding another into the mix didn’t really seem that much of a deal. (Tell that to my sleep deprived husband just after Jack was born!!!) 

If you had it to do over again, would you stick with a similar age gap between the kids? Definitely.  Having pretty much exactly 2 years between each child has worked well and we have reaped the benefit of not having gone so far out of the baby stage when the next one has arrived so it hasn’t felt like a massive step backwards with the sleepless nights and dirty nappies! Also there was little room for jealousy from the older sibling as they were still young enough to not really comprehend the effect a new baby would have on their lives. And now they are all close enough in age to enjoy playing with one another and being interested in similar things i.e tv programs, day trips out to Peppa Pig world and imaginary play.

What lifestyle changes came with moving from two children to three children?  One of the biggest, and most expensive, impacts to our daily lives would definitely be the vehicle situation. We soon realised that my four door Golf would not be suitable and that very few cars on the market could cater for a young family of five (the main problem being that the rear seat wasn’t wide enough to hold 3 child car seats safely).

Health and safety rules advise that none of the seats can touch each other and neither should they rest on top of the seatbelt clasp when in place as both or either of these scenario’s could prove fatal in the event of an accident. So the hunt was on to find a car that fit this criteria within our budget. We finally settled on a Volvo XC90, 7 seater.  It doesn’t however solve the problem when grandparents want to take them all out for the day as they too are faced with the same problem of fitting three child seats into a car. Something to bear in mind for those considering having a third child!

Other things that we noted after having our third was the fact that two children can easily be walked across the road, one in each hand, however, when adding in a third this can be tricky! Activities such as days out and going swimming are an art form too as invariably they will all want to go off in different directions, hence why we have recently booked our summer holiday with the grandparents! Also although you think by this point you would have everything you need, I found this not to be the case with a number of things, for example a rain cover for the travel system car seat (the one that clips into the buggy) important for rainy school runs and a ‘playnest’ that could entertain and ‘protect’ a newborn baby with a two year old and a four year old running about the lounge. 

What would you tell people on the fence about going for number three?  Go for it! I was once told that you will never regret having another child but you will regret not having one. Yes, life can be crazy and on certain days I long for 7pm to roll around just so that I can have 5 minutes to myself but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. You only need to see the smile on their face or feel their arms around your neck to know that it’s all worthwhile. 

Thanks so much Lucy!

Have you gone for three (or more) or are you sitting on the fence about adding another?  I’d love to hear your views.

CHAT is a weekly interview series and throwback to my journalism days, where I loved the art of writing questions that evoke interesting, insightful stories. CHAT will run most Mondays on the blog and topics will vary. Drop me a line at bump2basics@gmail.com if you are interested in contributing.

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I wrote my children’s book! Now what do I do with it?

Today I’m again linking up with ‘What I’m Writing’, this week hosted over at The Muddled Manuscript.  I received helpful advice last week when I reached out about how to get started in real terms, and I’m pleased to say it has paid off.  I’ve drafted my first children’s picture book, which has been floating about in my head for some time.  But now it’s actually written here on my computer!

Thank you everyone who commented last week.  Beyond the advice given directly to me, I read some really insightful posts via the Linky.  I tried to comment on the majority of last week’s posts only to subsequently realise I’d fallen victim to Askimet and none of my comments had actually posted!  Grrrr….. That should be sorted now.

So how did I finally make progress?  I set aside a dedicated writing session at the weekend with no interruption, no phone(!), no children, nothing.  This was the easiest time for me as my Monday – Friday is spent either in London at work or at home with children dancing around my ankles.  I just wrote, and tried not to over edit as I went.  Once I was in the zone, the words flowed fairly easily but I suppose I’ve been thinking about them in various iterations for the last couple of months.

My children’s picture book is Christmas themed, written in verse and currently 18 pages with one line of verse per page in its raw unedited format.  I need an illustrator because that I definitely am not!  It’s called Santa Trap and I tried it out on my four year-old and she seemed to enjoy it, sans pictures and all.

What I’d really like advice on is now that I’ve got this draft, what do I do with it?  Would you share the draft on the blog to get other opinions on it?  I have some longer children’s books that I’m itching to write (think Charlotte’s Web length) and I guess I’d feel more comfortable sharing the first couple of chapters of them as opposed to the whole picture book text.  How careful do I need to be to protect my ideas/words and how do you copyright the writing that you put up on your blogs?

Beyond that, should I share the draft with my couple of friends who work in publishing?  Or write an introductory pitch and send it out to some select publishers (appreciating that I’m a very small fish in a very big pond)?  Would you try to independently find an illustrator first?

Your thoughts and advice would be really appreciated.

Muddled Manuscript
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Drama Queen

When I was a little kid I asked my mom to take me to Manhattan because I wanted to be in a commercial.  She didn’t.  And that was the end of my showbiz career.

I’ve mentioned before that C, now nearly five years old, is a bit of drama queen.  When her Reception teacher described her to me as vivacious I knew that she understood my little girl.  Like her mom, she doesn’t tell jokes but she’s got a sense of humour.  She’s very expressive and whether it’s freaking out at a fruit fly next to her seat in the car or acting out a scene from her reader we get many an Oscar winning performance.  Even my mom suggested that she’s be right at home in some type of amateur dramatics class.

The dance studio where C takes ballet offers drama classes as well a talent agency.  I asked C whether she had any interest in the drama class, or the drama club after school and she didn’t.  So for now we’ll leave it at that.

It got me thinking though…if she had had similar inclinations to my younger self and asked to be on an advert, would I say no?  Or would I have a chat with that talent agency?  My gut reaction is that I wouldn’t.  That I would’t want to open up that whole can of worms  on C at such a young and tender age.  I feel like it would come with a certain pressure that’s she free of at the moment, and I worry that she’d become too quickly aware of needing to look and act the part.  Overall it just doesn’t sit well.

But there are loads of families out there that do go down this route and hopefully with more grace and sense than those childhood beauty queen pageant people (sorry but I just don’t understand that at all).  It would be a nice way to build a savings/University fund and if your child is keen, why not explore it?

What’s your view?

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Writing more often

I’d describe myself as a wordsmith.  I love words (silhouette, zephyr and tarantism being some of my favs), correct grammar and writing in generally.  It’s thus really frustrating that despite the mix of children’s books, blog posts and poems floating around in my head, I find it so hard to…get…the…words…out.  As in written.  Instead they live a maelstrom in my head and I’m on a mission to change that.

I’ve been writing this blog in various incarnations since 2008.  It started out as Random Musings and that it was….from politics to my marathon training to the demise of Woolworths it delivered sporadically on its namesake.  Then in 2009 my first pregnancy became my catalyst and inspiration to pull my finger out, document the experience and finally write more regularly, my goal all along.  It was at this point that I discovered the wider blogging community and all the inspiring food for thought it had to offer.

Fast forward several years and two children later, this blog and my writing in general became increasingly shelved and generally lost its vim.  But I’ve never given up on it either.  Ditto a handful of other ‘offline’ writing projects suspended in a latent phase.

Following some soul searching of late, I’m yet again back on the writing/blogging bandwagon.  But I’m a bit daunted, and I’d love your advice on how you carve out time for writing and blogging in busy hectic everyday life.  Do you consciously think about carving a niche out for yourself, or do you just go with what you love, or both?  There are so many inspiring other bloggers/writers out there that sometimes I wonder if there’s even a point…will anyone even read my words, and connect with them?  It’s hard not to compare but in my gut I think it’s the way forward.  One consistency across the years I’ve been writing is that I’ve stayed true to myself and I don’t want to lose that.

One of the reasons my writing has always fallen by the wayside is that I’ve treated it as an enjoyable hobby with little commitment.  But I finally recognize that a book or blog won’t get written by a flight of fancy or all the ideas swimming around in my head.  If I want to write more often then I’ve got to just do it (sorry Nike), to get more organised, to make it a priority.  I hold myself to a high standard in other areas of my life so why shouldn’t I here when it’s for something that makes me tick.

I’ve linked up with What I’m Writing over at Writing Bubble this week.

Writing Bubble
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Books we love: The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business, by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch

LittleMoleWe first read The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business ages ago at our friends’ house and the kids were in stitches.  The book finally found a place under our Christmas tree this year and continues to be a definite win.

Though I’m not a great lover of toilet talk, I’m a realist and particularly with a little boy in the house, it happens.  And if it’s going to happen, I’d rather channel M’s fascination with poo through a book than through insults hurled at his sister.

The poor little mole in this tale is just minding his own business when he pokes his head above ground and a poo lands on his head.  Thus follows his quest to find the offender, which involves an exploration of various animal excrement without ever overtly mentioning poop, poo, etc. as such throughout the whole story.

It’s silly and enticing for kids, a pretty good overview of various animal crap should you want to hone your id skills for future(!),  and a story of determination, detective work and ultimately retribution (in a don’t mess/bully me kind of way).

Check it out!

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