Here I am at a drill weekend again and as promised, I’m writing. Last drill I thought I would be writing about how I’ve been reading (actually listening) to all these books and they are changing my overall perspective on life. And for the most part, they are and I’ve come to some real thought changing conclusions. I am finding that in the end we are all human and I’m feeling a lot of sympathy for people who a few years ago I would have dismissed. However, I’m sure I will come back to this topic another time. I really want to answer this questions. How do you do it all? I am asked this question at least on a weekly basis and I don’t have a good answer. The answer I usually give is if you were in my same situation you would do it too.
When I was pregnant with Eugene I kept seeing articles and research about how moms of three are the most stressed and moms of four are the least stressed. The reason for this, as the articles stated, was when you get to four you stop caring. I take that, as you get to four you start to understand what is really important and worth your time and what’s not. You learn how to divide and conquer, which means you know you can’t be at everything for every one of them. You know you are not going to make every after school activity and not only do you know you can’t, you don’t feel bad when you don’t. When you get to this point the stress because less and you start to understand what’s really important and take a few minutes to relax.
I realized I had gotten to this point of four children bliss a few weeks ago when I was picking up my oldest from her Saturday morning swim practice. As a fourth grader swimming for a swim team, I dropped her and her friend off for practice at 7:15 am and met my friends in the parking lot of the school. We went for a nine mile run while they swam. I didn’t feel any guilt about not watching her hour and half swim practice. Had I watched I could never have given her any valuable feedback on how to improve. I know enough about swimming to get through the swims in my triathlons with some efficiency, and that’s about it. She has coaches and I trust they are giving her the attention she needs to grow. I’ve spoken with the coaches and I know she’s well behaved and works hard at practice. I don’t need to know more than that, so instead of watching her I use these precious moments to go for a run and spend time with my friends. I don’t need to watch my daughter workout at the sacrifice of my own workout.
After the run I walk into the high school, where they swim, to pick up my daughter and her friend. There are multiple parents already in there waiting (because they stayed and watched practice) and we started talking about what we have planned for the rest of the day. One mother mentions they have a birthday party. Then she went on to say she feels like she’s going to be spending all her children’s childhood going to birthday parties. I state, I’ve stopped bringing the kids to the numerous birthday parties we are invited to. If we attended every birthday party they were invited to, we would be at multiple birthday parties nearly every weekend. For my four year old, she’s in a class with kids who all have birthdays within four months of each other. There really is at least one party every weekend, as they are all turning five in the next few months.
I told these mother’s when we receive an invitation for a birthday party, the first thing I do is check the calendar to see if it’s even possible for them to go to the party. Then I ask my child who so and so is. If they don’t really know, I leave it at that and throw the invitation in to the recycling. If they know the child, I proceed to ask do you play with so and so at school. If they say no, I throw the invitation in to the recycling. If they say yes, then I ask if they want to go to the birthday party. Then after passing through all these questions I will most likely take them to the birthday party.
When I told these mother’s my process for deciding if we’re going to a birthday party you would have thought I was depriving my children of basic childhood rights. One mother told me she makes an extra point of taking her children to a birthday party when her child doesn’t really know the child who is having the birthday. She wants to make sure her child is making as many new friends as possible. And a mother of four sees this as, why do I have to spend $20 for a birthday present and take my time (which is precious) to take my child to a birthday party for someone they don’t even know.
There are more examples of this throughout my everyday. I let my kids play outside unsupervised. All (except Eugene), get themselves ready for school including getting their breakfast and all without being asked. I don’t say these things to shame other parents. But, just because you have less than four kids doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the four kid bliss. Everyone’s child can be more independent, when allowed. Your children won’t be shunned if they skip a birthday party or six. There is really no shame in taking time for yourself when your child is otherwise occupied with activities (you can do this when they are not occupied with activities as well). As a matter of fact you really should. I promise you they will be fine when coaches are left to coach. Leave all the guilt and just care less. I mean isn’t the point of raising your children to one day send them out into the world to be self-sufficient and independent adults. These are all skills we as parents can start instilling from the beginning. I really do encourage all parents, weather you have one or ten children to take advantage of the four kid bliss.
So how do I do it? I have FOUR KID BLISS! or I’ve stopped caring (one or the other)!