Everyone always told me that when my triplets were babies everything would get easier as they got older, but that was beginning to feel like a lie.
Just wait until they are five-years-old, they would say, and you will be living on easy street. Only then will you be basking in the glory of getting your multiples through the infant and toddler years.
Except my triplets were easy babies and decent toddlers. They slept a lot and hardly argued with each other. They potty trained in one weekend. They loved going to preschool and were friendly to everyone they encountered.
When the triplets got to the magical age of five, everything changed, for the worse. They began to fight more with each other. My older singleton daughter who previously thought everything her brother did was hysterically funny, now found him to be the most annoying human ever born. All four kids became opinionated and free-spirited, routinely voicing their displeasure at most of my requests.
I began to yell a lot. If I yelled, maybe they would stop fighting. If I yelled, maybe they would put their shoes on like I asked. If I yelled, maybe they would hear that I was at the end of my rope and patience was no longer a virtue that I possessed.
But kids don’t respond well to yelling. They match your yelling with their own yelling, or they just become desensitized to it.
I sent my best friend a text, and I told her that I was miserable with my children. I did not appreciate them, and I did not enjoy being a parent. I needed to find inspiration to be a better mom and live a happier life from day-to-day.
That is when she told me this: she doesn’t have four children, so she doesn’t know exactly what is realistic within our family dynamic, but she suggested that we try spending more one-on-one time with them. She thought maybe they would feel special just having undivided attention from me, and in return, I will get to enjoy parenting just one kid for an afternoon or evening. She said that if they each had their own special time with me, maybe they would feel like being more easy-going at home and more fulfilled in life.
My friend said that I deserve to have time to enjoy each of my children on their own once in awhile. I may learn to find parenting more rewarding, cherishing some good moments with each of them. There is just not a lot of joy in breaking up sibling rivalries, demanding they do chores and getting them ready for school each day.
To break up the pervasive negativity with family life, sometimes you have to create new and fresh ways to cultivate happy interactions with your kids.
Since having that conversation with my friend, I have had special one-on-one time with all four of my kids. It isn’t easy to organize with our busy schedules, but it is worth the effort. Sometimes on our one-on-one dates we go to lunch or dinner together to a place of their choosing. Other times we just run errands. My kids don’t feel like they need to do anything extravagant, they just want to spend alone time with me. It is during these special one-on-one moments that I get to see my kids for who they are as individuals. We have real conversations about friendships and challenges, without a million interruptions. We have silent moments where we are just together enjoying each other’s company. I can hold hands with them or snuggle them without the other kids swooping in for my attention.
At then end of our time together, they feel happy. I can see it on their face and feel it through the energy of their small hand as it squeezes mine. When will we get to do this again mommy, they ask. Then I know that I have created an experience to fill their hearts. When I was able to open up to a friend with honesty about my frustrations and troubles at home, it yielded great inspiration for me to make positive changes in my relationships with each of my children. We all want to be loved. We all want to be heard. As a mom of four, I needed to figure out how to best reach each my kids and find the essence of who they are to reclaim peace in my house.
For more multiples parenting tips and stories, order your copy of Multiples Illuminated: A Collection of Stories and Advice From Parents of Twins, Triplets and More today! Or enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a copy from April 8 – 16.
Megan Woolsey is a the co-editor of Multiples Illuminated, writer, and publisher living in Northern California with a very supportive husband and a wild bunch of red-headed children – a set of triplets and their big sister. Megan has been published in The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, BLUNTmoms, Bonbon Break, Mamalode, In The Powder Room and is an essayist in two anthologies.