and hearing that your friend is pregnant is definitely one of them! I love babies. I love holding them and cuddling them and kissing them. Even just hearing about a "mom to be" can make me wish, albeit for a second, that I was going to have another one, too- that's how much I love babies! Even more special than just hearing a friend is expecting, though, is hearing that a friend is adding their 4th baby to their family!! That makes my heart so happy. I love our big family and I love the fact that I'll be able to share some of the unique and special things that only parents with 4 kids get to experience, with these friends! I've never had the privilege of having 3 children, so I don't know what that is like...I don't know if its easier, harder, or how different it even is than having 4, but I do know that going from 2 to 4 is a pretty big difference. Just the fact that when you're on your own you're outnumbered 4 to 1...that's a pretty big ratio that's not in your favor! I also know that not many people (I have yet to meet anyone, actually) are going to have 4 kids in 2 1/2 years, so there are some struggles that might just be unique to our family...but, I am going to share on here some things I've learned from my 7 1/2 months of being a mom of 4, for my friends who are embarking on this special journey soon! :)
(all my love, girls!! showers of blessing and tons of hugs sent your way)
these aren't in any specific order...just put them on as I was thinking of them...
1)lower your expectations...of yourself, of your kids, of your husband, of your house, of your laundry. Just let it go, now. It's not gonna be the same, so don't even expect it to be!!
2)enjoy and appreciate the little things...not the little things like a massage or a pedicure, a new haircut or a new pair of shoes- the little things like- drinking a full cup of coffee without reheating it 5 times first, having all your kids resting at the same time, 5 minutes of quiet where you can pick up your Bible (even if that's the middle of the night), buying your favorite yogurt or splurging on a special creamer on grocery day! These little things might not seem like much, but when they're all you've got- they'll get you through :) (seriously, some days I "reward" myself with putting the twins to bed, my older kids on the chairs with books, setting the timer and sitting in the kitchen with my cup of coffee and my Bible for 10 minutes- no cleaning or organizing or picking up allowed- and it works like a charm for everyone)
3)date nights are sooooo overrated! ok, I know that everyone is gonna be jumping down my throat on this one, but, honestly, when you have to get all your kids fed, pump bottles for your babies or time feedings "just right", get your kids jammies out, clean up the bedrooms enough so that you don't have to throw your kids to their beds from the doorway, go through the work of finding 2 sitters that can both babysit on the same night, keep all your kids healthy and then get dressed in actual clothes...it just seems like more work than it was worth!! Korey and I just put our kids to bed early, popped in a movie and watched it together, all snuggled up on our own couch and often just fell asleep together. It worked perfectly and was so much less stressful than actually leaving our children in someone else's care!
4)be patient! It took me 7 months before I actually felt like myself and felt normal and felt like I could handle ordinary day to day life! Maybe you'll be shorter...I pray it is so...maybe it'll take you longer...I pray that isn't the case, but however long it takes you don't feel bad or guilty about it. I felt so much pressure from myself to be "fine" sooner than I was, just because other people around me were, but each of us are different and each of us has a different "row to hoe" as my Grandma would say :)
5)say "no" to help if you want to. In the first 6 weeks of our twins life we had so many people offer to come over and "thankfully" it never worked out. Our babies were sick, their babies were sick, life just got in the way. whatever it was, I think it was God's blessing (in a weird way). I think God knew that having 1 or 2 or 3 more people in my house was going to put me over the edge-stress me out more and make me even more exhausted and tired. God knew what I didn't- I needed to be able to say "no" and not feel guilty about it. Everyone had told me never to say no and I felt like I couldn't, but I'm giving you permission to say no, if you wanna.
6)ask for help when you need it! even if it's just asking the neighbor to take the kids for a few hours, asking for meals from your friends, asking your mom to take them overnight, or paying a babysitter to come and take the kids to the park. Getting some sort of help and support will help you when you feel overwhelmed.
7)wear pj's that you won't mind answering the door in. I still am often in my pj's at 2 in the afternoon and you don't wanna be answering the door for the UPS man in what Hailey would call your "sleeping dress" :)
8)LAUGH...when you wanna cry- laugh; when you wanna scream- laugh; when you wanna run away and never look back- laugh! watch funny movies, have your kids dance to music, dress your dog up in aluminum foil socks...do whatever it takes to get some laughter and some fun into your life!
9)hug, kiss, snuggle and rock your older kids! Even if they don't want to, even if you don't think you have time- just do it! You'll all feel better about it. One of my sweetest memories stemmed from one of our worst days. Hailey had gotten out of bed for what seemed like the 500th time and I was feeling at my whit's end with her...I was stressed to the max, but through her tears she begged me to rock and sing to her, which thankfully I did, because as I sang and rocked the stress of the day melted away for both of us...we both relaxed and I had the beautiful privilege of rocking my then 2 year old to sleep and having a beautiful and sweet memory to take away from an awful and stressful day!
10)create a Bible verse book, write Bible verses on cards and stick them around your house, use your pregnancy to memorize new verses...do whatever it takes to put the Word of God at the forefront of your mind. There will be times that you're going to need "a word" and if it's easily accessible and at the forefront of your mind it will be able to quickly be put to work in your heart and your mind.
11)find a friend or 2 to be completely honest with. Pour it all out on them- let them be your "keepin' it real" girls (or girl) and then lie to everyone else! yes, that's right- I did just condone lying :) If you tell everyone the truth then you just may be in tears all the time and that's not good for you or for anyone else. It's not dishonest not to tell the whole world that you feel like you're loosing it!!
12)give yourself a break! Do whatever it takes to survive and don't let anyone or anything make you feel like you're failing, regardless of what "survival" looks like in your family!!
13)remember that I will be praying for you...for your family...and for your future babies! I love you, my dear friends, and am excited for you to embark on the wonderful world of being outnumbered 4 to 1!! :)