We have all watched TV reality shows on multiple children - Kate Plus 8 and Outdaughtered comes to mind. Having more than two children of the same age comes with a lot of blessings and laughter but also a lot of work, disorderliness and general chaos. From getting everyone clean, well fed and proper to going out shopping, everything has to be properly planned out and at the end, all those plans go straight into the bin. Aside from spending more time, efforts, more energy and having a world of patience before getting tasks done, it is the classic case of always expecting the unexpected every single day. Remember, there are no older siblings, everyone is of the same age so whatever you do for A, you have to do for B and then C as it is in my own case. No one wants to be left behind, otherwise, there will be a revolt and you’ll most probably feel bad as a parent anyway. I will go over how I manage some aspects of my life with my three.
GOING OUT – Going out with all three even if it’s for shopping is grueling and usually means I need at least two assistants. Don’t forget we are like a circus show, people will be looking at all three and greeting us and asking a lot of questions, trust Nigerians. I usually wait to answer all. I hear a lot of “Madam, how do you cope?” “Madam, please pray for me, I want triplets too.” I sometimes wait to answer questions and pray too. Since we discovered these, I tend to go out less with the children especially if I have limited time.
SHOPPING FOR GEARS – Most of the baby gears – car seats, pushchairs, high chair are only for a few months or years, most especially in our climes where it is unsafe to use a pushchair on the streets for example. So if you are buying three push chairs that will be useless after a short period, you begin to question the rationale. We have opted to buy fewer gears except those for safety like car seats. The other plan is to make eating/reading tables and that will be it. So unless you have a lot to splurge and you have family or friends to give, don’t buy what may be unnecessary just to keep up with the Joneses. As my friend says, the days are long but the years run fast. Buy what you absolutely need and leave the rest is my candid advice.
BATH TIME AND BEDTIME – We have managed to establish a routine for bath time and bedtime, but I need to do much better sticking to that program. The whole process starts around 6p.m. with the bath, diapering, brushing and grooming, wearing the night wears, eating, reading and then sleep. My mum is of the opinion that from 8p.m. we should start putting them to sleep. From my observation, these children are still very active and sprightly till around 9 to 9.30p.m. and sometimes till 10pm. Going to bed at 8p.m. means they are playing and disturbing one another and no one sleeps, so we tend to leave them in the living room which has a much larger space till they are all asleep before moving them to the bedroom. I'm told this is the wrong approach but I believe it is best for now. Staying in the big living room means we can separate them a bit until each one falls asleep and then we move them all to one room where they all sleep. One or two persons can manage this. Separating all into three different bedrooms means we need one person to be with each child in each room. Herein lays the dilemma. With time we will work out what is best for us. I’m sure mums with multiples babies experience this and much more as well.
MEAL TIMES AND DOWNTIME – My three are good eaters, almost everything we have introduced to them has gone down well. The few things that A doesn’t like, the rest do not eat too. They tend to have the same kind of baby palate – semi-solids, solids, purees, drinks, and snacks. It will be interesting to see if this continues to adulthood. I imagine they would grow and evolve into having different preferences, we will see. And also when there is a down time; maybe vaccination days and they have a temperature, are being sluggish or maybe malaria, all three have at once. So we treat for the same ailments even if it’s only one showing real signs. They are exposed to the same environment; eat the same food so the treatment is for all.
ONE-ON-ONE TIME – My trio are always together; they do everything together, sleep in the same room, eat at the same time, they are three peas in a pod. So on some weekends, I try to spend time with one at a time. They are happy to spend some time with me alone but after some 30 or so minutes, guy or babe wants to leave to go back to the rest. I try to make our time together fun and interesting and stretch it to a couple of hours but they are uninterested and want to go back to their siblings. I find this intriguing. The plan is to take each one to my office for a full day or maybe we will sleep on a bed together for a night. While I’m happy that they want to be with themselves other always, I want each to be complete as an individual too. Hopefully, with age that will happen.
TANTRUMS, SQUABBLES AND SIBLING RIVALRY – I spend a lot of my waking hours settling squabbles and then cuddling, lap holding, carrying and caring for all three, one after the other. This has become a favourite pastime. There will be several toys in the room, but all three want a particular toy at the same time. Mummy comes into the room, and all want to be carried at once. I only have a pair of arms and at this point, the nannies are rejected. They are at my feet, screaming until I drop one and carry the other and the dropped one starts the tantrum all over again. That is our typical day.
What I have learned in all of these is to establish a routine for every hour of each day and try to stick to it. Also, always ask for help and support. We can’t do it all; I for one cannot do it all. I have a two-woman strong nanny gang but I still do a whole lot. And please, don’t forget to take care of you. I look forward to reconnecting with some old friends soon, we’ll probably go to a decent spa and spend real time together. It is important to give ourselves quality time off to rejuvenate, revitalize and refresh. There was life before babies, there should be life with babies and when they are gone and the nest is empty, there will even be more life.