Friday, 2 January 2015

What it’s like to have four children - Part 1: the crazy-making stuff

The hardest thing about having four delightful little people under 5.5 is that they are all highly dependent.  They all need me for nearly everything: going to the toilet/changing nappies, getting food, drink, washing hands, help with getting dressed. Help with brushing teeth and combing hair. Help with changing clothes once I realise what they’ve got on is filthy and was put away in the cupboard without being washed.  Mr B is 5.5 and getting more independent every day, but he’s at that age where you have to constantly remind him of things he needs to do. Or you need to repeat yourself 10 times because he doesn’t listen. At any one time, all four of them can need me for a variety of things. And no sooner do I get through meeting one lot of needs, the next lot present themselves.  I’ve been known to hold in my own wee for HOURS because I just can’t get 2 minutes to myself.

And then there are the constant reminders that we have to dish out: ‘finish your breakfast/leave the babies alone/stop crawling up the stairs/leave the Foxtel machine alone/stop arguing!!’  Put all this together with trying to get general stuff done like a load of washing, changing the bed sheets or even making a freakin’ cup of tea, and it gets CRAZY-MAKING.
Gawd, it exhausts me just writing this stuff out. Sometimes I pretend I’ve got a family day care business. Only I’m really bad at it. And I’m prone to the sudden urge to run out of the house screaming at various intervals throughout the day.
I won’t bore you with a ‘day in the life of’ us, because we would be here all day. Our days are full, chaotic and only mildly interesting to other people. But just to give you an example of what it’s like, this is what happened at dinner-time yesterday:
I start cooking sausages, rice and vegetables.
The babies whinge incessantly, being hungry themselves. They crawl between my legs, each wanting to be picked up. I start making them a sandwich alongside the sausage-cooking, thinking I can swiftly get them eating and quiet.
Miss P comes into the kitchen and says, ‘Mum, I want to paint.’ I quickly say, ‘No, you’re about to have dinner.’  She comes back with, ‘Mum, I need a poo!’ Dammit. The deal-breaker. I stop what I’m doing and rush her off to the toilet, then leave her there to do her business.
The babies continue to cry.
Mr B comes into the kitchen, balancing a bowl on his head. The bowl falls off and breaks on the kitchen floor. Husband and I quickly remove all children from the kitchen due to sharp bits from the bowl being scattered everywhere.
Husband gets cross with Mr B for being silly with the bowl. Mr B cries loudly. He seems to be competing with the noise from the babies.
The kitchen is getting a bit smokey from the sausage-cooking.
Miss P doesn’t do a poo. Instead I go into the toilet to help her off the seat and step in a massive puddle of wee. She has missed the toilet bowl. I hop around with a wee-drenched foot trying to clean myself and the floor up.
House is very smokey.  Babies are still crying and Mr B refuses to speak to Husband.
I put the fan in the middle of the room to move the smokey air out. The babies immediately gravitate towards the new dangerous object.
Babies are put in their highchairs. Dinner is served.
During dinner, all the children make a huge mess with their food. Mashed up broccoli and carrot, and thousands of individual rice pieces are scattered all over the floor. After they're finished, I painstakingly pick up every morsel of food as I can’t be bothered getting the vacuum cleaner out. It’s buried in a pile of crap in the cupboard under the stairs.
I’m not joking, it takes me longer to clean up all the food than it did to cook the stuff. When I have it all collected in the kitchen bin, the total amount looks suspiciously the same as what I’ve just served up.
Finally, the floor is clean, and the highchairs and kids' table is spray ‘n wiped. The children all seem a bit calmer. I think about putting the kettle on.
 Baby J goes exploring in the kitchen, tips over the kitchen bin, and the food I’ve just disposed of spills all over the floor. It’s mixed in with old teabags and a couple of dirty nappies. I get down on the floor and start cleaning it up again. It is a massive and evil case of déjà vu.
Ah, the urge to run out of the house screaming. It’s like an old friend that lives in my brain. Right next to the one that tells me I need a drink. 

 Stay tuned for Part 2: How having four children is actually pretty great. No, really!


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