Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Life with 3 under 4...

"Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow, for babies grow up, we've learned to our sorrow. So quiet down cobwebs; dust go to sleep. I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep!" --on a cross-stitch hanging on my wall done by my great-grandmother
I thought I would write a bit about what life is like with 3 littles under the age of four. I have definitely not figured it all out yet! It is difficult in many ways but absolutely wonderful and I wouldn't trade it for anything! I have to say that the little poem above perfectly describes the stage of life that I am now in :)
First of all, I really believe that 3 under 4 is way easier that 2 under 2. My big girls are able to entertain each other so well and they understand when I need to focus on the baby. They are also really big helpers and love to get things that I need and can clean up fairly well on their own. This is a big difference from when I had Karlie and Karis was only 20 months old.
Honestly, the relational and emotional aspect of being a mother to three has been fairly easy and such a joy! I love each stage that all my children are in and relish the time we spend together. I'm not one to crave excitement or adventures and am quite happy to stay at home and spend time with my girls. So what has been the most difficult or frustrating part about this season? Simply getting things done! I have so many fun things I want to do with my girls (art projects, cooking projects, playtime outside, reading, "school time," etc,) not to mention the housework that keeps piling up. And each day, when I look at my "to-do" list, I find that if I am lucky, I have only crossed off one item. Seriously. How is it that I can be at my house all day long and the only visual accomplishment I see is the 3 loads of laundry, cleaned and folded, but still waiting for me to find the time and energy to put away? (Speaking of laundry, did you know that the amount of laundry you have increases exponentially with each child? Along with the dishes, of course :)

One of the biggest things I struggle with is *losing* at least (and probably more :) 3 hours of productivity during the day due to nursing. Now I don't consider those hours *lost* by any means, (which is why I wrote it with stars :) because I think breastfeeding is so important and such a great joy and once again, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm not complaining; just being honest. And I can read to my big girls or check my e-mail, etc while nursing as well. But when added up, that is a big chunk of time that I used to have to get things done around the house or with my girls! So it has been a real struggle for me to keep the house clean. I have so many things that I want to do with my girls each day and I can never seem to fit it all in!

One other major difference in having 3 vs. 2 is how long it takes me to get everyone ready in the morning! Feeding, changing, and putting Abbi back to sleep adds about an hour to my usual morning routine. I am so grateful that my husband has taken over getting the big girls up and fixing breakfast! He has been so wonderful as we adjust to a different kind of schedule. (And he even fixes "real" breakfasts each day, like eggs and bacon or pancakes or apple omelets!) But even with his help, a lot of days it is 10:00 before all of us are dressed with our teeth brushed and ready for our day (and I'm not going to even admit how often I stay in my comfy pajama pants and neglect to put make-up on!)
So what is the point of this post? Just to remind myself that I don't have it all together and that is ok. What matters is my attitude and whether I am consistently portraying the love of Christ to my girls. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being a mother to 3! But I have to watch myself and not allow myself to get frustrated with the girls for my lack of ability to get things done. When I finally have the bedroom clean but the girls quickly destroy it again while I am nursing Abbi in the other room, do I fuss at them in exasperation or do I pray for patience and calmly instruct them to clean it up? When Abbi is *supposed* (as if an infant is *supposed* to be doing anything! :) to be napping while I am trying to fix dinner, but wakes up every 5 minutes because she is burping, do I take joy in the chance to snuggle with her for another minute or do I grow frustrated that dinner won't be ready on time? I really do treasure this precious time, but sometimes I have to remind myself to just enjoy it and not get upset that my house is a mess. My girls are such a blessing from the Lord and this season of life will pass all too quickly for me to worry about such things...

And since Karis is almost 4, this poem also stuck out to me:
"Time is of the Essence"

Now is the time to get things done. . .
wade in the water,
sit in the sun,
squish my toes in the mud by the door,
explore the world in a girl just four.

Now is the time to study books,
flowers, snails, how a cloud looks;
to ponder "up" where God sleeps nights,
why mosquitoes take such big bites.

Later they'll be time to sew and clean,
paint the hall that soft new green,
to make new drapes, refinish the floor-
Later on. . . when she's not just four.

And many thanks to Kirstie and Miranda for the cute pictures of my girls! (Abbi was 5 days old in the first 3 pics; I took the one of Karlie being silly in the kitchen yesterday, and the pics of Karis were taken on Sunday)

This post is a part of KK's SUYL parenting advice!


Melissa Pearce said...

Great post, Meg!
I was wondering your thoughts on this subject.

Pink Slippers said...

Your blog is adorable. I have 8 children under 11 and what you said about 3 under 4 being easier then the 2 under 2 is true. I was more scared of having 3 then I was having 6. There is just a different element when they can play together. A blessing.

Audra Laney said...

Terrific post. The poem about cleaning at the beginning has saved me many headaches with my two little ones. Those crumbs aren't going anywhere! So we play away! ;) Great, encouraging post!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

You sweet thing. You are doing great!

I had 4 under 4 and here is my advice to you - whip out that video camera and video a LOT. Because you are not going to remember this time. It will all be a blur. So get it on tape!! I really wish I had more videos of when my babies were babies - especially the middle ones.