For the past three years, one of the most common comments that the wifey and I get is,
“I don’t know how both of you do it with three kids!"
Our response is usually to laugh it off and reply, "We just do it." Because to be honest, I have never given it much of a serious thought. I won't lie; having a family with three kids can be busy and hard work - and even more so if you have more than three! It is crazily tough, but crazily super at the same time.
For us, parenting has always been a constant learning journey. Along the way, the wifey and I have fine-tuned and made changes to the way we manage our and our children's lives. And so, I thought I would share some thoughts on 'how we do it' - and hopefully, not scare you off in having another child.
We have awesome parents
This, by far, is the single most important reason how the wifey and I are able to cope given that both of us have full-time jobs. We are extremely blessed that my parents take care of the three monkies during weekdays so that we can go to work with a peace of mind. And sometimes on weekends when the wifey and I need to run some errands, we feel grateful that we have my parents-in-law to depend on as well. And it definitely helps that our parents love taking care of our monkies too!
We lay down the ground rules
Who is the strictest in the family? Yours truly, of course. Yes, I am strict as hell when it comes to some of the ground rules - washing up, going to bed on time on school days, clearing up after play time, asking politely, crossing the road... even standing properly on the escalator. For these, there can be no compromise and they know. Because when these basics are adhered to, then life with three kids is not as frantic as one makes it out to be.
We allow for natural consequences
Let's face it, we parents simply do not have the time to monitor every single thing that goes on in the household (even though we will much very want to!). So sometimes, we allow the monkies to suffer the natural consequences of their actions - obviously within safety limits. Like the time when Ash remembered that he had forgotten to bring his Math textbook while on the way to school, I did not turn back to retrieve it for him. It is the monkies' job to remember the required items for school or any other activities.
We allocate tasks
Everyone has a role in our household. Be it setting up the table for meals, food preparation in the kitchen, bringing out the dirty laundry, watering plants, vacuuming, we make it a point to involve them in our daily chores. Other than the fact that I am a firm believer in child labour, these tasks makes them realise and appreciate the efforts that keep our family running. That, and we basically could do with the extra help too.
We employ routines
What I love about routines is that it takes the thinking out of what to do next for all of us.We have pretty much drilled into our monkies what the main daily routines are like. So whether it is getting ready for school early in the morning, watching TV only after meals, or designated time to get changed and ready for bedtime, they know what has and needs to be done.
We let the monkies sleep anywhere
Back in the days when we only had Ash, the wifey and I were obsessed with Ash's nap times. Okay, actually only me. Even when we were on vacation, we will make our way back to the hotel in the afternoons so that he could have a solid afternoon nap comfortably. After three kids, I can safely tell you that children are far more adaptable than we give them credit for. So subsequently for Ayd and Ale, we just let them sleep wherever we are. Feeling sleepy during meal times? Put 2 chairs together and voila, it's a bed! Even for Ale who takes afternoon naps during weekdays, her body somehow forgoes the need to nap when it comes to weekends as we will usually be out for activities.
We play together
Trying to engage each child one at a time can be physically and mentally draining. So what we do is to have fun with all three at the same time - wrestling on the mattress, hide-and-seek in the house, going to the playground, reading a story book together. And this is probably the best benefit of having a large family, that it is so easy to play together and enjoy one another's company.
We pick our battles
Of course, playing together also presents another set of headaches: arguments, disagreements, sneaky jabs to the stomach or limbs, or even MMA-style altercations. And when it comes to mediation, there are always three sides to the story - your side, my side and the truth. Make that four sides since I have three kids. But as schooled by the wifey, the first thing that a parent has got to learn during parenthood is to pick one's battles. Parenting can become a whole lot easier when you know which battles to pick and which ones to ignore. So now, I let the monkies negotiate and resolve differences on their own while I go make myself a cup of coffee.
We are lazy-bums
We are not perfect parents. So during the times when we are feeling stifled or plain stressed out, we use the TV, Wii or iPad so that we are able to catch our breaths.
We believe our monkies are a blessing, not a hindrance
At the risk of sounding clichéd, the wifey and I are genuinely grateful to have been blessed with three wondrous kids. As opposed to someone who views children as troublesome, time and energy sapping, it will naturally feel more of a burden in having more children. But for us, we do not see them as an intrusion to our lives. Rather, it is more of a controlled chaotic joy and we make the most (and best) out of it.
A final point; there is absolutely nothing awesome about the things we do. We are no different from you and your spouse. Parenting IS hard. We mess up. We learn. We try again. But we just do it.
This is how life with children is.
But learning how to love it, is perhaps the most awesome aspect about it.