Three and a half is a magic number

13 Jul

Last week a blogging buddy of mine, Grace -fellow mumma of twins and person I have grown to admire, had a bad week.  Make that a sleep deprived with sick, whiny 17-month old twins, at-the-end-of her freakin’-tether kind of week!

Today, they are all doing a whole lot better (thanks for asking) but the anxiety and overwhelm Grace reported feeling brought a lot of ‘raw’ back to my present. I couldn’t help but reflect on how different my life is now that my twins and eldest daughter are all over three and a half years old.

Three and a half is my magic number.

That’s when my girls started to ‘play’ by themselves for more than five minutes without insisting that I remain right next to them. That’s when they had learnt to master the art of self-feeding to the point where the kitchen no longer required an industrial hose and vacuum cleaner to clean up afterwards.

By three and a half, my girls demonstrated empathy and a deeper understanding of human behaviour:

when I hit my sister on the head with the block, her screaming seems to suggest pain and anger, so maybe I will just do it once instead of over and over just to test the validity of my cause and effect experiments.  Plus I can see that mummy is watching and has that ‘no good can come of this’ look on her face.

The twin factor finally becomes a bonus instead of a hindrance – instant playmate, cheer-leader and partner in crime. They may
be more interested in gaining each other’s approval than their parents, but the delights of watching twins interact so closely and intuitively are huge!

Your over-threes will still get sick (especially if they attend some form of pre-school), but lengthy prior experience now ensures you are more adept at dealing.  You will still feel concerned but not so worried that you sleep fitfully on the floor by their cot all night.

For those of you who are struggling through an existence of sleep deprivation, small babies or the extra challenges afforded by twins and multiple kidlets….Hang in there!

Life does get easier or at the very least, it evolves to find you in a more relaxed and familiar space.

A few extra suggestions:

– Join a mothers group as early as possible and get involved.  It’s such an affirming experience to be able to share your parenting journey with a bunch of big and little people going through similar challenges and milestones at exactly the same time.

– Eat healthy and get fit. Your body sucks up extra nutrients and vitamins when stressed and given that sleep deprivation is going to be your long time companion, you will benefit so much from daily exercise and healthy meals.  Looking after yourself ensures you have more energy reserves for those times when mummyhood gets really ugly.

– If you are isolated from close friends and family, join an online parenting community, keep a journal or start a blog.  Record your experiences and share them. You can always garner support and advice when you need it from an online group, and if you blog, you will have a valuable record of your early parenting days to later share with your children.

– Ensure you have a family doctor you like and feel comfortable with. Preferably someone who is also a parent and with whom you can build a history with.  This is particularly important if you are at risk of depression and/or anxiety.

– Take some time out every day just for you.  So many mums wait until they are at breaking point before realizing that they are at breaking point!  Even if it’s a walk around the block, a coffee date sans kids or lounging in bed with a good book and pot of green tea. Make a concerted effort to relax regularly.

And, in the back of your mind, when you think that you really can’t take another day…

Repeat the mantra:

Three and a half is a magic number



14 Responses to “Three and a half is a magic number”

  1. LisaW July 13, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Great post Kirri! I remember what it was like with two young bubbas…not twins, but challenging nonetheless. Three and a half is definitely a magical milestone! Loved the interaction between my children and the fact I could finally put my feet up occasionally!

    • Kirri White July 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

      Hi Lisa. I like to think of the first three or so years of mummyhood as ‘apprentice-ship served’. It’s hard work, you learn so much and its takes you to new limits you may not have previously thought you were capable of reaching. But, you do it, you qualify and then you get to sit back every now and sample the fruits of your labour – at least for 10 minutes or so 😉

  2. Kirsty July 13, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    We are finally getting to that 3.5 year number with our twins which is such a blessing…its our 2.5 year old that can still be the feral child!! She then can set off the twins again which makes for a noisy household and a stressed out mumma! Thats what I love about the online community, there are other mums going through the exact same as me!!!

    • Kirri White July 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

      Kirsty – The noise levels in our house peak either when dinner is being made or straight after, just when its time for eveyone to wind down for bed (me at least!)…I’ve also found a lot of solace in online communities – you can always share a kind word or an identical experience that makes you feel that little bit more sane. Hats off to you, Mummy of five!

  3. mamagrace71 July 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    “three and a half is a magic number, three and a half is a magic number…”:-)
    You are too awesome for words, my friend !
    Great advice you’ve listed here. And we may have come across some of them in the past, but I tell ya…having a friend to remind them back to you is without a doubt, priceless.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Kirri.
    I love how our friendship is growing from strength to strength with each day xxxxxxxxx

    • Kirri White July 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

      You’re so welcome Grace! I just know that every mum has that moment when she is floundering and exhausted. For me, the sharing of these experiences bind us together and encourage us to keep moving forward, no matter how challenging things may be right here and now. I’m sure your post resonated with many others and you are so right, sometimes we just need what we already know to be true, reflected back to us.

  4. Holly Homemaker July 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Three and a half is very trying for us at the moment – Attitude beyond belief but I keep telling myself to take a deep breath and not be too hard on her or myself. I’ve never parented a 3.5 year old and the Bug has never been a 3.5 year old before 😉

    • Kirri White July 13, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

      Aww Holly…well, you have to let me know what your magic number turns out to be!

  5. Maria Tedeschi July 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    I found 18 months was a turning point for me and then 3 years was the other. At those 2 ages there was just this enormous leap. My youngest (of 4) is 20 months and it still rings true for me.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  6. Terry Murphy July 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Well done, lovely post. Wonderfully colourful description of a great time in your life…:)

    With only one child (at a time…16 yrs between), I can’t relate entirely. However, I miss that neither of my girls had a ‘running mate’.

    I do remember in Friends, Phoebe’s brother was bringing up triplets as he confides to Phoeb’s “I haven’t slept in 4 years”.

    Props to all of you for coping so well.

  7. countingducks July 14, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    I remember between the ages of 3 and 9 I used to refer to my girls as Apple Blossoms so much the same thought. It’s worth it in the long run but I still remember the sleepless nights. My eldest was like weeping gellignite and used to start to cry again as soon as you began to lower her into the cot. She’s lovely now so the struggle was worthwhile

  8. Penny Whitehouse July 18, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Ah, that sounds like bliss but it also sounds like a while away. My twins are still at the 6 month mark *sigh*. I must admit they are good little girls and they have an amazing big sister to help keep them entertained! I can’t completely complain.

    Kirri, that was a beautiful post with wonderful suggestions and really enjoyable to read.

  9. Gemma @ My Big Nutshell July 18, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    And to think I was aiming for 5 as my magic number. I am certainly struggling with a 6, 3.5 and 15 month old. I think it is the baby that is doing my head in. He is gorgeous though.

    Found you through Jolene.

    • Kirri White July 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

      Sounds like you have your hands overflowing there Gemma! Three and a half is a lot closer than five….sending you p-vibes and best wishes that your lucky number comes up early!

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