Today was a great day. Wednesdays often are. I dropped the kids off at preschool and went to my favorite local running trail. It is a 2 mile loop around a small lake. I am currently training for a half marathon so Wed. are my “long run” days. I strap on my ipod, tune into my latest audible selection and enter my own little private oasis. It was typical lovely 8-mile run except for one incident. On mile 7, I noticed a blockage on the trail ahead. There were several people gathered around what appeared to be an enormous stroller. As I got closer I heard “hats off to you, you are an inspiration”. Then I saw it, a replica of my gigantic “bus” with what appeared to be a dwarf of an overwhelmed mother behind the wheel. I couldn’t help but suppress a smile as the women politely tried to escape the gawkers. The memories rushed back. The endless nights of little sleep, the constant crying, the inability to breath. I compared those moments to where I was at that moment and almost lost my breath. The difference in my life now is utterly amazing. I am well rested, I have a blossoming career, and I have hours to myself to run, breathe, just be me…often. Today I was reminded how blessed I am to be a mother to triplets. The first two years were downright agonizing on many days; although it was worth every moment. Without a doubt, I was totally immersed in my children from head to toe. I had no choice. Now I am just a mother of 3…3 extremely unique and amazing individuals. I was out on a gorgeous fall day BY MYSELF listening to an engrossing book and in my OWN world. Meanwhile, my 3 amazing smart, funny, happy and wonderful children were enjoying their day at preschool. As I passed that women in the stroller and glanced behind me at her 3 ~6 month old babies, I heard her exhale a huge sigh. I didn’t say a thing, I just happily smiled and continued on my way….
So although life is very different now then it was a year ago, things can still get very hairy with triplet 2-year-olds. How do I manage to keep it all together? Here are a few of my daily tricks:
- SINGING. The kids love songs. I hate to sing but I have done more of it over the past few months than I have in my entire 32 years of life. The kids each get to pick their own individual song for me to sing while they take turns letting me brush their teeth…it is one of their favorite times of the day. ABC’s and Happy Birthday are favorites but with the holidays coming up, Rudolph, Frosty, and Jingle Bells are very popular. It is not uncommon for me to burst out in lyrics when I become overwhelmed with all the yelling and whining in the car. If a fight breaks out at home, a simple “The itsy bitsy spider..” stops the kids in their tracks.
-HOLDING HANDS. It has never been a choice. My kids HAVE TO hold hands whenever we cross the street or walk through a parking lot. As I only have two, they have learned to hold each other’s hands with no problem. They have 3 people’s hands to chose from but they MUST chose. This has been a lifesaver to get them into school, around sidewalks, and even through a store with no cart. We never really used harnesses and we often don’t even take strollers places. It is either hold hands and walk or bust.
- CHOICES. If the kids don’t want to do something, we offer them a choice. If they make a fuss about going to bed we offer “Do you want to sleep in the yellow bed, purple bed or pack n’ play”. They can chose whatever seat they want in the car and at the table. If they don’t want to take their shoes off “either they can do it themselves or mommy can do it”. The result is fairly independent children. It amazes me when I pick the kids up from preschool. It take some mother’s the same amount of time to get their 1 child buckled into their carseat than it take all three of mine to be buckled in and ready to go. My kids know the first person to climb into the van gets first choice of seats so they often scramble into the car. Then, after I ask them “do you want to buckle yourself in or do you want mommy to do it”, it is not uncommon for 2 of the 3 to be partly buckled in by the time I get to them.
- COUNTING TO 5. We do a lot of counting down. ”You have 5 seconds to get over here and brush your teeth or you won’t get to chose your color toothbrush”. ”You have 5 seconds to get over here or mommy will have to carry you”. ”You have 5 seconds to chose your shoes or mommy will chose for you”. Right now, the counting almost always works…and often by the time we reach 2 or 3. Josie is the least impressed with counting….but she is also the least independent so I’m not really surprised..
- AVOID CONVERSATIONS. I probably often come across rude when the children and I encounter strangers. I can’t help it. When I am at the grocery store or taking my children into/out of school, my attention must be focused on them alone. I cannot answer any questions and I certainly can’t give a medical history of our family. Truth is, if I don’t keep my children engaged, I lose control. At the grocery store, we are always playing a game “Does anyone see bananas?” ”I spy something orange”. This allows us to have a smooth 30-45 minute shopping experience. If I stop to talk about which of my triplets was born “first”, I will lose control of the situation. All hell will break lose and at least one child will have a breakdown. I can sense this impending doom and I often will cut conversations short mid-sentence. Sorry but that is life.
- THE GREAT OUTDOORS. We are outside in the heat, in the cold and sometimes in the rain. The outdoors is never off limits for us. We frequent all the local playgrounds. We spend at least 2 hours outside every morning and every evening. In my opinion, it is unnatural for kids to be indoors. They love being outside, I love that they love being outside and the fresh air and Vitamin D does us all good. YAY for playgrounds, greenways, backyards and open spaces. Yay for being outside!
- AWESOME NEIGHBORS. We are so lucky. Our neighbors have 2 children, one of which is the triplets best friend. The kids often wonder between our yard and the neighbors yard and vice/versa. I can often vacuum out my car, take out the trash, and organize the garage while my kids run free between yards. It is lovely and it is very awesome having someone to share a glass of wine with when the husbands work late.
- DORA. When all else fails, pop in Dora. It does the trick every time.