Thursday, May 30, 2013


A new survey says that three is the most stressful number of kids a mum can have.

I can certainly attest to that.

When I was pregnant with my third, someone warned me that the third wasn't just an extra little person around the house, it was more like adding 10 extra people.

Oh how I laughed. I thought it was a funny thing to say.

Once Lorcan The Fierce arrived into my life and my workload increased 10-fold because of the bloody clothes that need washing [Drowning in a sea of clothes], the floors that needed sweeping, the bums that needed wiping and the pacifying that needed doing of the other two when they tried to compete for mummy's attention [The torture of kids], I knew exactly what the fella with the 10 extra kids comment meant.


And so it was with a wry smile that I read this survey from which confirmed my belief that having three kids is the hardest number of kids for stress levels. Big familes always say that their older kids help out with the younger kids, but when they're all very young (mine were effectively 3 under 3), and you're breastfeeding, nobody can help; it's just bonkers.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most stressed, the average mum of 3 in the survey said she was 8.5, which is pretty damn high.
Mothers of four or more children actually reported lower stress levels because once you get to a certain critical mass of kids, you let things wash over you more and stop battling for that all elusive control.
Many mums say that going from three to four is an easier transition than going from two to three kids. Because once you have chaos as your norm, you've raised your game and you expect nothing less than chaos all the time. [My chaos crew]
When you have two, you try to manage it, you still have some semblance of control and you try to steer away from chaos.
My big thing was that once no3 burst into our world, the adults in our house were outnumbered by kids.

I survived by meeting up with other mums and bemoaning my situation. Arranging playdate swaps. Blogging. Taking some breathing space for me. Getting the big two to school/playschool. Calling on the invaluable help of grandparents who adore little Lorci. Encouraging daddy to help with chores and kiddie duties. But mostly I stopped being hard on myself if I didn't get to do things that I wanted, and I tried not to take life too seriously, even in the middle of meldowns and bad behaviour.
Here’s my advice if you’re thinking of having a 3rd: Forget about reading a book or a newspaper, keeping the house nice or doing any exercise (make friends with your wobbly belly), when you have 3 it’s all about survival and you're lucky if you have a shower every other day.
You have to let go a bit… to say "it doesn't matter"... you have to be willing to turn a blind eye sometimes... you have to choose your battles or the kids will grind you down… and you have to brace yourself for World War 3 at any given moment in time.
And yes, now there's something quite fuzzy and satisfying in my soul because I survived my first couple of years of parenting three young children.
Here’s the full list of what stressed mums out in the survey:
Money worries, balancing the demands of work and home, feeling like their husbands are sometimes just another big kid demanding attention, and beating themselves up over not being the perfect mum.
A staggering 75 percent of mothers said they stress more about the pressure they put on themselves to be “perfect” than they do the pressure or judgement they get from other mums.
•46 percent of moms say their husbands/partners cause them more stress than their kids do.
•72 percent of moms stress about how stressed they are.
•Biggest cause of stress: 60 percent say it’s lack of time to do everything that needs to get done.
•60 percent of moms say raising girls is more stressful than raising boys. Oh yes I know that feeling. My 3 year old Diva
•Nine out of 10 moms stress about staying fit and attractive. Nah, I gave up on that a long time ago!
For me, my stress causes are:

  • Screaming – my 3rd had silent reflux as a baby and was very angry with it.

  • Lack of sleep

  • Playing up/attention-seeking behaviour from the other two

  • Not having enough hands

  • Choosing which one to chase after when they run off in different directions
This blog post is for my friend Vicki who is expecting her third child at the end of this year. She won’t know what’s hit her!
Also for my cousin Sally who has four children. I remember her words when they visited us in Cork after I’d had my second child: “It’s always a party with four”. Looking forward to combining our 7 kids for a 'party' in Wales in July.

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Friday, May 17, 2013


At any one time, my house and garden is cluttered with an avalanche of kiddie debris of all kinds.
Nothing evers prepare you for how untidy it can get - not even the worst flatmates in the world, mutiplied by three.
My three little hurricane children all combine to leave a trail of carnage and destruction in their wake.

It’s not deliberate. At least I don’t think it is. They try quite hard to avoid upsetting mummy sometimes and they can be very apologetic when they turn the kitchen floor into a swimming pool with 2 litres of milk.

They don’t mean to leave toothbrushes on the floor of the living room, clothes all over place and beakers and food scattered behind sofas. They don't mean to drive me crazy. But they do.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last five years is there’s no point tidying up around them. There’s no point doing the same tediously tiring thing 20 times a day. It will be undone, time and time again.

Save it until they’re in bed.

But when that nirvana occurs at about 9pm at the end of the day, yes you’ve guessed it, I’m always too tired to do a massive clear up and go fettling things back into their rightful place.

I happened to go out into the garden after 9pm last night and surveyed the warzone. Upturned toys and ride-ons, broken trampoline cords, chairs and tables askew, plates and cups left where they were last used, socks and shoes left out, and sand and soil scattered everywhere from their need to dig and spread and be messy.
I had no energy left in my body to even start to pick them up, figuring it was only going to end up the same tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Ergo waste of time and effort.

Coming back into the house, odd shoes and socks had found new areas to hang out and everywhere I looked I found small rubber tyres, bitten off by my recently-turned 2 year old who's new OCD is biting tyres off cars and tractors, rendering them useless because of the hard wheels left behind.

Resistance is futile. Nothing is safe. Destruction is programmed into their tiny bodies like growth hormones. It’s not that they love mess, they just don’t yet have the programming caused by two decades of a nagging mum to turn them into conscientious flatmates.

The vicious cycle of moving stuff from its ‘wrong’ place to its ‘right’ place is like fire-fighting an eternal flame. You can only put so much of it out before it flares up again. You can only do so much in a vain attempt to keep on top of things. Sooner or later you realise you’ve lost the battle to keep order in your home and if at that this stage you’re still wrestling to keep on top of things then insanity is not far around the corner. 


Believe me, this WAS my daily strife. I was Control Freak Mum who wanted to keep some element of control whilst all around me chaos prevailed. I shouted at the kids for leaving their things scattered on the floor, making a mess and not helping me when I asked them to pick up their stuff.

No matter how many times I asked them nicely, then asked them less nicely, then asked them bluntly and then shouted at them, 50 times a day; they have never taken on board my simple requests and learnt to do them automatically without extreme persuasion. Yet. I live in hope.

It’s no fun being a Broken Record Mum who is constantly nagging the kids to help around the house. The kids hate it too and dig their heels in more, enjoying the sight of mum morphing into a crazy fishwife.

Reward charts only work for a few days with my kids – they lose interest; I lose interest or forget; they take a lot of energy to set up and maintain. Bribes similarly don’t work.

So the answer, I’m afraid, is to just to give in. To lower my standards. To accept that they’re very young and they are hopeless at following instruction and they simply don’t remember to do these things that mummy places such a high priority on. And there’s the rub. Why do I place such a high priority on a clear floor and some sort of order? Why is my sanity is so intrinsically linked with a clutter-free house? I’m asking this rhetorically because I know that for most people, clear spaces can equal clear and calm minds. You only have to watch those fascinating TV documentaries about hoarders to appreciate how overwhelming it can be when you’re drowning in stuff.

I know some people who gave into the mess a long time ago and their houses are insurmountable and overwhelming with the amount of stuff in every available area. Similarly, I know people who have no life and are constantly battling for control of their home. For me, it depends on my own personal headspace on a particular day but I’m probably somewhere in the middle. I hope.

The thing with kids is they WILL wreck your home. Dirty finger-marks will instantly reappear on walls and windows as soon as you try to clean them off, holes will appear in walls and doors, curtains, lamps, in fact anything that’s left within reaching distance of small hands will be broken. How is it that some people with kids are able to keep their ornaments and pristine home with no cracks in the sinks nor peeling leather on sofas? The rest of us are struggling to even tackle the baskets of laundry glaring at us in disgust from the only spare space in the bedroom.

When I had my girl, 17 months after having my boy, people used to repeat a strange mantra to me, as if to explain the difference between boys and girls: “Girls wreck your head, boys wreck your home”.


Girls wreck your home too. My girl pulls every item out of her wardrobe and shoe box on a daily basis and leaves them lying around on the floors.

But I’m ok with that now. I’ve made peace with that. I like to think I’ve matured as a person because I let my stress over mess and clutter go. I can’t win anyway, even when the house is the tidiest it’s been in weeks, my mum still looks around the place in disapproval saying what a mess it is!

Now, seriously, what’s that all about?!

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Thursday, May 9, 2013


A lovely thing happened last week that has given me a glimmer of hope of getting my life back.

I'm clawing back something of me that was lost in the melee of kiddie chaos.

I'm striking out on my own again, finding a part of me that is capable of great things and enjoying the surprising freedom that a full-time job provides.

I'm working for a massive American company that is well-respected, forward-thinking and changing the way everybody shops.

I love it! The former brow-beaten, thoroughly exhausted stay-at-home mum inside me is dancing an ecstatic jig, gleeful of the opportunity to escape the drudgery of looking after 3 small hyper kids 24/7.

The job is interesting and I'm learning something new every hour. But the best thing is the luxury of getting to focus on a task without the constant interruption of screaming children. It's the peace and quiet afforded by an office space that has me feeling really grounded this week. Giving me stillness of thought and the clarity of a calm mind.

The days away from the kids is doing wonders to my renewed enjoyment of them because I only see them for a few hours every day and at weekends. The kids seem much happier too. We're experiencing quality time, not quantity.

I never thought I'd say this but I finally see light at the end of the long, labourious tunnel of being mum to three small children.

It's a lovely place to find myself in.

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