Being a Mum to Many // by Mums Misbehaving

Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from Caroline, a wife and mama to five, soon to be six (!) wee ones. She has written about her experience of being a parent to more than the average number of children, and you can check out her blog over at Mums Misbehaving! 

 

My name is Caroline and I've been watching Cbeebies straight for 11 years. I have a very large family and I wouldn't change that. Being a mum to many, may look like hard work - and it is - but it is a rewarding experience and my children are the best thing that have ever happened to me.

What a cliche!

I have three older children who are all very mature and responsible, my eldest girl is in grammar school and so therefore we are all beneath her and humbled when we are blessed with her company! My twin boys are eleven and are in their very last year of primary school. Then we have the little ones. My toddler is as unreasonable and demanding as the next toddler but just that little bit worse. She has big hair and big attitude. She is the boss of the entire household and we have to remember that... at all times. The baby is a lovely little thing, she came along two years later and is very much the calm after the storm! Finally, we have bump! I will very soon be mum to three boys and three girls.

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Six children. 

So much has changed since my first child to my last child as well. The shock of my first baby will be an experience I don't think I will ever forget! Then the twins came along. It was hard work, I can't lie. Three lots of nappies, three lots of feeding, three of everything.

Three times the love!

This time I will be doing it again with three young ones and three older ones but I know to relax a lot more and enjoy it. Don't wish that time away, it truly is precious.

It gets easier as you get older though and I find I am much more relaxed and less prone to panic, having several children is much easier than just one - they play with each other and always have company, they learn to share faster and interact well which I think gives them a good head start into nursery. The older ones take a general interest in the younger ones but mostly find them to be an annoyance. I am 20 weeks pregnant right now and haven't been able to find the words yet to explain that there will be another addition to the household.

I am stuck driving a Zafira because let's face it, a two seater convertible is just not on the cards, and holidays are more than likely going to be caravan trips in North Wales for the next few years. Money is tighter, but love and affection is free. One good thing about having a very small age gap between babies is of course, reusing cots and chairs. I will now definitely get my money's worth from the expensive bouncer I bought a few months ago.

With so many kids, the house is always busy and there is always something that needs doing. There is not much sitting around relaxing here! If it isn't cooking, it's washing and cleaning, maybe homework and then chasing kids around to brush their teeth. Actually brush them. Not just dab toothpaste around their chops and hope I don't notice. If you happen to pop in, you won't be offered a cup of tea but you might be passed a bottle for the baby or have a toddler to entertain for a little while. High heels have been swapped for flat comfortable shoes and a luxury really is a lie in. I will miss all this one day so am making sure I enjoy every minute of it.

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The Value of 'Presence' // by DaddiLife

Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from the first blogging daddy to take part in my Parenting YOUR Way series. He and his partner are parents to one little one, and he has been blogging for around 18 months over at DaddiLife. Be sure to go check out his blog!

 

When Max first arrived in my life, I don’t mind admitting that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Sure, I was changing nappies, giving him the feed, looking after him, and taking take of his wellbeing, but only as he’s reached the toddler years (or the rollercoaster tantrum years I like to call them), am I beginning to realise what I really need to do as a dad.

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It’s very little to do with just his physical wellbeing, it’s all about being ‘present’ for him. I’ll never forget the day – Max was coming up to a year old, and I was playing with him in the lounge – or at least I thought I was. Do you ever have that strange out of body experience where you suddenly look at a situation through someone else’s eyes? Well, in that moment I saw the world through Max’s eyes momentarily and I wasn’t playing with him at all – I was physically there in a room with him, on my phone, answering emails, looking through emails, checking that latest notification…while he was looking at me, or the back of my phone more precisely!

There was literally no real interaction. I was failing him as a dad. I was physically there for him, but I was far from present. Ever since that day, I’ve sworn by 3 things to be a really active parent.

Put digital in its place

As parents, we’re increasingly ‘always-on’ to something in the world – a notification on social media, a little buzz of an incoming email, a reminder to do something – all things keeping from the moment of now.

Our children don’t have ‘things to do’ – they just live in the now – they rule things, and don’t let things rule them.

Whenever I come home from work, the very first thing I do is put my phone away. Literally – I put it in a corner and I don’t look at it for at least 2 hours. It’s amazing what you can learn, teach and enjoy with your children when everything else is just silenced for a little while. Nothing else matters to me for those hours before his bedtime.

I know about his favourite toy, his love of aliens in underpants (especially reciting ALL the different underpant styles), how holding the Snoopy toy the wrong way means he’ll get sick, and how much he just loves a cuddle.

Getting Active

Turns out that Active play is a mindset as much as anything else, and one I’ve loved embracing. I try and take Max out as much as possible. Even when the weather makes things tricky, there’s always a way to get outdoors and embrace the world a little differently.

Whether it’s going to the park, or the local farm, enjoying a walk in whatever conditions, climbing a wall, or just visiting a local monument; getting outdoors and active is something I’ll continue to do with him for as long as possible.

It’s that 1-on-1 time that I’ve realized is vital in not just looking his wellbeing but his introduction to the wider world – or at least starting with the ‘dinosaurs’ in the park.

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A bit of humour goes a long way

I love a dad-joke, who doesn’t really (deep down), and I know I can always rely on a dad-joke thinking to really keep present.

There’s never a moment, where I can’t pull a funny face, tell a funny line or have a classic dad joke move ready to lighten things up. That certainly doesn’t mean a lack to discipline, far from it, but I’ve found that part of being present isn’t about all being serious, it’s about seeing the light side of life too. I want Max to laugh just as much as I do, and so this Dad-joke principle is really important to my own giving of as much presence as possible.

What do you do to stay present?

Parenting with a Large Age Gap // by Adventures in Websterland

Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from Angela, a wife and mama to four children, who has been blogging for just over four years! She has shared her story of being a mama to children with a considerable age gap. e sure to go visit her blog over at Adventures in Websterland.

 

had my first baby in 1997 when I was twenty years old, just barely out of my teens and it was certainly a learning curve. I went on to give birth again less than two years later. I married young and enjoyed many years raising my children and nurturing my family. I always knew deep down that I wanted more children but my then husband did not agree. I resigned myself to being grateful for what I had but that niggling feeling that I wasn't done just didn't go away.

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Fast forward to 2010, my children were thirteen and eleven and my marriage broke down. I found myself in a new relationship and things moved pretty quickly. My now husband and I both agreed that we wanted to start a family together and just a year later I fell pregnant.

When Daisy was born in 2011 it had been exactly twelve years since I had held a newborn baby. The realisation hit me that between my eldest child and youngest there was actually a fourteen year age gap. Having another baby after such a long gap was like starting all over again. I had to re-learn all the basics and I had certainly forgotten about the sleep deprivation.

The thing that took me by surprise the most was that I now had children at all different stages of life who each required something different from me as a mother. I will admit that it was hard to find my feet with this issue. My eldest daughter was going through a tough time as a teen. She was struggling to cope with all the changes and in turn I struggled with knowing how to parent her. I dropped the ball so many times and I'm ashamed to say that I feel like at this point I failed as a parent.

In 2014 with another baby on the way I sat down and wrote a list of the things I thought each of my children would need from me individually. I knew there was no way I could meet all their needs but I was determined to change my mindset, I wanted to parent them as individuals instead as seeing them as a collective.

Since that day I have seen myself as wearing four different hats when it comes to parenting. I have developed and adapted my parenting style to suit each of my children. This might sound a little crazy but I feel like it's given them and me exactly what we need from our relationships. I'm not saying I always get it right but I also know that as a parent you never ever stop learning.

My eldest daughter, Jessica is almost twenty, and she's a Mummy herself. I talk to her and respect her as I would any other adult in my life. I listen to her worries and concerns but never force my advice upon her. Her personality is such that she needs a lot of support and reassurance at this point in her life so that's what I offer. I also know when she needs me to be stern and honest with her, she responds better to this than being moaned at.

My eldest son is eighteen and has just ventured into the world by himself at University. he has always being very independent and has a lovely calm, laid back manner. I have at times felt a little lost as a parent as he certainly doesn't need me in the ways my other children do. My feeling at this time in his life is that he needs space to explore adulthood. I might not see him often but I know if he really needed my help he would ask.

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My daughter Daisy is five and requires the usual things from me as a parent. She loves cuddles, tickles and laughter. We have little chats each day about whatever is on her mind. Her imagination is wild so she often needs reassurance and explanation about the things in her world. There can often be sudden emotional outbursts but I've found a soothing tone and some understanding can soon resolve the problem.

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My son Jake is three and he has at times been a little firecracker. I've often described him as spirited. For the first couple of years he needed me to be firm and create boundaries for him. Hugs and kisses have always been on his terms and I've been happy to sit back and allow him to express the things he needs from me. Since starting nursery his needs are changing once again, he has a thirst for learning and loves to know how things work.

Parenting children with such large age gaps has certainly been difficult at times. I wouldn't change it for the world though, I have four very different and very amazing children.

My Breastfeeding Choices // by Mummies Waiting

Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from Jade, a wife and mama to two young girls, who has been blogging for five years! Make sure you check out her blog over at Mummies Waiting.

As I sit here writing this, I realised Kairi is 4 years and 3 months now and my 'baby' Naminé, well she is now 2.5! If you had asked me 6 years ago how I would feed my babies, firstly I would have proabably have told you that I wouldn't have any babies (I really liked being able to give the kids I looked after back at the end of the day) but secondly I would say ' Avent Bottle, Aptimal Milk'.

Working in a nursery I saw many types of families, but I don't remember seeing any breastfeeders. Although my mum breastfed me and my sister, don't remember it and growing up I only saw babies arround me bottle fed. Bottle fed for me was sadly my 'norm', it was what everyone did, I knew bottle types, formula brands and how to make themin my sleep. In the nursery I would make around 30 bottles during a shift, It was just what happened.

Then something strange happened, my sister because pregnant around 12 weeks before me so of course gave birth first. Her and her new friend had these beautiful babies and they were breastfeeding. I had already brought bottles and a sterilizer, but the more I heard about the benefits, the more my mind changed. For weeks I would see our friend feed and then my sister struggle, yet she still persevered and fed through pain. Then it was my turn, my sister was doing it, I could too.

I started breastfeeding and it was perfect I could do this, 1 week later and it wasn't that easy. As my milk came in, Kairi struggled to latch breastfeeding became painful and so difficult, I just wanted to give in. But I couldn't. My AMAZING sister had been feeding through pain for 4 months now. If she could do it I could too.

Fast forward to today and of course I did it. I had an amazing support network in my family and they helped me make it though every day and night that I just couldn't feed anymore, we made it with no formula in sight.

My journey has been a strange one. What started out as a definate for formula has become this crazy extended tandem breastfeeding lifestyle which has changed me so much. I don't really tell people, but we don't hide it either, at 4 years old, Kairi is still breastfeeding. This mum that wanted to use formula so much is still breastfeeding and tandem feeding too. Naminé is 2 and she's now classed as an 'extended' breastfeeder also.

So how does that make me feel? Amazing, great, fantastic. For 4 years I have been able to let Kairi make her decisions, she potty trained when she was ready, went into her bed when she was ready, ate, walked and talked when she was ready and I know she will finish breastfeeding when she is ready too. Breastfeeding has taught me so much too. I've learnt how to emphise with other mums, to support better and I found a carer direction. Through peer supporting I have leart I want to help other people.

Breastfeeding a 4 year old certinatly wasn't the plan 6 years ago, but today I wouldn't have it any other way. I feel honoured to have made it this far and so lucky to have the wonderful support around me. I know our journey probably doesn't have very long left now, but for now, I will cherish every second.

Ending Our Co-Sleeping Journey // by Even Angels Fall

Ending Our Co-Sleeping Journey // by Even Angels Fall

Today's post is a guest post from Emma, a fellow mummy blogger who has been blogging at her current blog, Even Angels Fall for about sixteen months. She is mama to her six year old daughter and three month old sons, and her four year old daughter. She has written a guest post for me today, about how her co-sleeping journey has come to an end!

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From Cot Sleeping to Co-Sleeping // by The Ish Mother

From Cot Sleeping to Co-Sleeping // by The Ish Mother

Today's post is a guest post from Rebecca, a fellow mummy blogger who has been blogging for three years over at The Ish Mother. She is a wonderful mother to her five year old daughter and ten month old son, parenting alongside her husband. She has written a guest post for me today, about how her parenting style changed when it came to how her children slept!

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Controlled Crying // by Eps and Amy

Controlled Crying // by Eps and Amy

Today's post is a guest post from Amy, a fellow mummy blogger who has been blogging for about three months over at Eps and Amy. She is a beautiful mother to her eight year old daughter and five year old son, parenting alongside her husband of ten years. She has written a guest post for me today, about how controlled crying worked for one but not both of her children!

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Induction Can Be OK // by Babies and Beauty

Induction Can Be OK // by Babies and Beauty

Today's post is a guest post from Emily, a fellow mummy blogger who has been blogging for three and a half year about parenting, beauty and lifestyle over at Babies and Beauty. She is a beautiful mother to two gorgeous sons, parenting alongside her partner. She has written a guest post for me today, about how induction can be OK - in spite of the horror stories you may have heard!

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