Mothering FOUR boys – guest blogger

 

About us -Mothering FOUR boys.

Hi, I’m Kirsten, a make up artist and a mother to four (yes four) terrific, energetic and boisterous boys.

Let me tell you a little bit about them;

Cameron my eldest is eleven years old and will be starting high school in September. He loves dinosaurs and Fortnite. He is very soft natured, kind and caring.

Taylor is nine years old and is going into year 5 at Middle School. He is mischievous and always up to no good. He loves to draw and get creative.

Clarke is four years old and will be starting reception in September. He is obsessed with anything Marvel, which consists of dressing up, playing games and watching the movies on repeat. He’s started to enjoy learning and has recently mastered how to spell his name. He’s cheeky, cute and always manages to seem to get his own way.

Then last but not least, there is Tucker, he’s nearly 7 months old. This boy is constantly on the go, so full of energy.

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Having a baby in lockdown

The boys Dad and I don’t live together, so when lockdown initially happened I was on my own with four boys for six weeks.

Tucker was nine weeks old when the UK went into lockdown, luckily most of our immediate family had already met him.

Tucker is exclusively breastfed. I found there were pros and cons to breastfeeding during lockdown. The pros obviously were that I didn’t need to prep anything, I didn’t have to wash or sterilise bottles. I didn’t have to worry about trying to get out and buy formula when everybody was panic buying.

The cons however I found that with cluster feeding and terrible feeding in the night, I was so physically exhausted, that my older boys didn’t get a lot of attention from me. I couldn’t go and sleep when Tucker did because I had the other boys to entertain/homeschool, so I was constantly running on empty.

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Another con that I came to realise was that without his dad being around I stopped pumping and stopped giving him bottles, so when we did try and give him a bottle he was not having any of it. We tried several different bottles. In the end we ended trying Minbie,  which was recommended by a few other breastfeeding mums and although he didn’t take to it straight away with a bottle a day for a week he finally got the hang of it.

I was also worried that with little contact with other members of the family that Tucker would become very attached to me. I was worried that the possibility of returning to work would be very difficult if one he didn’t take a bottle and two he didn’t want to be with anyone other then me. But thankfully he’s such a happy contented baby that as long as he’s given the attention he really doesn’t mind he’s left with.

At around 5 1/2 months, Tucker started getting on his hands and knees rocking backwards and forwards. He is so eager to be joining in with his brothers. In the last week, he has mastered the army camo crawl, and my god is he fast.  I literally need eyes in the back of my head now because as soon as I’ve turned around he is after wires, plugs, shoes and they’re straight his mouth.

We started weaning a month ago, and I’m trying the BLW method. This is very new to me, With my other boys I did the traditional purée weaning. So with Tucker, I thought I’d try baby-led weaning, as it would be good for us all to be able to eat round the table together and potentially make Clarke a better eater, if he saw Tucker eating things that he has refused in the past to try.

I found the recipe book ‘by what mummy makes’ absolutely amazing, every recipe that I’ve cooked has been easy, delicious and has been a big hit with all the kids as well as Tucker.

Homeschooling

Let’s start this paragraph by saying I have a new found respect for teachers. Their job is hard, really hard.

Also trying to teach two different year groups, keep them both entertained and to stop them distracting one another exceptionally hard.

The teachers at their school had set up study-ladder and other online resources for the boys to do online, but I honestly found that if I let them do their school work on their iPads they would literally spend all day on electronics, instead I preferred buying workbooks and printing resources from the website twinkl. This way I could mark their work, see where they’re making their mistakes, help them correct their work and then find worksheets to help them strengthen their weaknesses.

The rule was, do some school work in the morning then you have the afternoon to do what you want. First two weeks, Cameron would moan and complain the work the school set was too hard and Taylor would just point blank refuse to do any work and would just sit on the sofa in his pants all day. I soon realised that this method wasn’t working for us.

My next attempt was planning their days with work and fun activities/experiments, this lasted for around a week before they decided they weren’t doing that either.

Then we tried every piece of work they did earn them 30mins on electronics, the more work they did the more time earned. This resulted in Cameron flying through worksheets, and with my hands full with Clarke and Tucker I could never mark it straight away, which Cameron took full advantage of.

The best method we have found for us is now quality over quantity. One work sheet which is above 70% correct, and they earn £1 day into their ‘gohenry’ account.

Cameron managed To save £55 and bought himself a Lego set and Taylor managed to save £30 and bought himself a new Jelly Cat teddy.

The boys also enjoyed that the school did weekly zoom assemblies/meetings to check  in with them and do assemblies.It also gave them the chance to see their friends.

In June both boys were offered to return back to school, which they both wanted to do. Cameron did Mondays and Tuesdays and Taylor did Thursdays and Fridays. It was good for them to get a little bit of normality back in their life and to see some of their teachers & friends.

It’s also been a hard time for Cameron as it was his last year in middle school. His last day of school should’ve been a memory for him to treasure forever but unfortunately that didn’t get to happen. He’s also not been to look round his new high school, he’s not met his new teacher, he has no idea who is in his form. Which is making the whole experience even more daunting for him.

Since the start of the six week holiday, I’ve scrapped all school work at home and we’re just enjoying the time as we would’ve done had a lockdown not happened.

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-What I’ve learnt

That it is that is okay not to have a clean house or that one meal of the week was a freezer cooked dinner of chicken nuggets and chips, as long as everyone is happy that’s all that matters.

It’s okay if you need to cry, having a baby is an emotional rollercoaster as it is, let alone being in lockdown on your own, with very little physical support.

There will also be a day where I get to sleep through the night again. Probably won’t be for awhile, Tucker still wakes up twice in the night for a feed, and you know what I’m okay with that. He is my last baby and you never know when that dreamy bedtime cuddle will be the last so I’m going to make the most of them.

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Things that seem hard now will become easier, just give it time. Being responsible for keeping one human being alive let alone FOUR can sometimes be overwhelming. It’s okay to want to spend a little bit of time to yourself. I don’t get a lot of time as Tucker is still breastfeeding but when I do get the chance to nip to my friends for a cup of coffee or even the food shop on my own, I feel I come back refreshed.

Kirsten

 

You can read my other blogs here.