I get asked this question so often. The simple answer is “I just do!” My husband and I didn’t exactly plan the age differences between our kids. We wanted 3 years between the first 2. They are almost exactly 2 years apart. We wanted 2-3 years between the 2nd and 3rd kids, and they are 7 years apart! I’m not sure what our plan was for the 4th, but it definitely wasn’t less than a year after the 3rd! lol For some reason, the universe decided to bless us with these 4 wonderful children born at unplanned times. I adore each and every one of them, and I am delighted to be their mother.
That said, yes, it’s tough! What little sanity I had before has completely abandoned me. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since my 3rd baby was born. I live off coffee and adrenaline. Sometimes, like the last few weeks (moving, holidays, falling down the stairs), I feel I’m barely surviving. Here are some things I have learned in my years of motherhood:
– Laugh. Often. Otherwise, you will cry a lot. My mother always told me not to cry over spilled milk. What she didn’t tell me was that you might as well laugh before cleaning it up. You’ll feel a whole lot better if you do!
– Embrace the crazy. One day, your children will be grown and gone. Believe it or not, you’ll miss the constant noise from talking, playing, and arguing. You’ll miss finding toy frogs in the towel drawer and towels on the floor. You’ll miss searching for the pacifier. You’ll miss having a toddler around to rearrange the decorations on the Christmas tree. You’ll miss seeing their smiling faces at the crack of dawn. So embrace it, enjoy it, tuck each memory away for the day the last child moves away.
– Hold your kids. I know it sucks to have a baby who wants to be held constantly. You just would like to pee alone, and take your time eating a meal while actually sitting at the table. It would be nice to shower for longer than 2 minutes or at least wear clean clothes every now and then. But sooner than you realize, that clingy baby will be an independent toddler, and you will honestly feel sad that you don’t get to rock them to sleep several times a day anymore.
– Don’t forget to play. Be silly. Make your kids laugh. Build with blocks. Go down the slide. Run! Don’t grow up, it’s a trap. 😉
– Notice the little things. Stop to see the little bug your son discovered. Take time to watch it and imagine being that small. Watch the clouds go by. Find the dragon your daughter sees. Watch the leaves falling from the tree. Rake them up, then jump in them! Rediscover the joys of a bouncy ball. Play hopscotch. Sit and stare at the Christmas lights.
– Let it go! I know that’s so overstated right about now, but it’s true. Stop worrying so much. When your kid discovers something new to play with or do, ask yourself, “will it make them bleed? Will they break a bone?” If the answer is “probably not”, then go for it! Yes, they are going to fall. Yes, they will hit their heads. They will get bruises and scrapes, and they will cry. Your job is to be ready with band aids and kisses. But please, by all means, let them play!
Yes, there are a lot more things I could add. I could talk about chores, cooking, sleeping. But all those things are going to be different for each family, each child. You have to figure those out by trial and error, by what works best right now. And it will constantly change and adapt to your family as the years pass. Most importantly, wake up every morning determined to be happy, no matter what. And you will. =)