Monday, 28 October 2013

Managing four under four



Allowing for artistic licence on the heading (my eldest child is actually already four, so technically it's four under five - but that doesn't have the same ring), I felt it only appropriate to share my tips on looking after four very young children, based on my recent experience (our nanny went on holiday for the week and much as I'd like to forbid her from ever leaving our house, apparently employment lawyers wouldn't side with me. Can't imagine why). 

Disclaimer - I am absolutely no expert and have zero training on what's good for children's development and all that jazz. These tips are purely based on ensuring everyone is still alive at the end of the week. 

1. Plan, plan and plan some more. Getting everyone dressed (including myself), fed and out of the door for the morning school run is almost impossible. Pick out everyone's clothes the night before. Make sure the washing has been done so everyone has clothes to wear. Fill in whatever forms the school has sent - ours likes to average about one a day - God knows what they are all for - and put them in the book bag so you don't forget them. Sounds simple - it is - and saves time when one of the four has the inevitable breakdown when you're about to leave the house. 

2. Go out. Admittedly, it sounds like madness but experience has taught me that it's much easier to entertain the children in environments designed for it - I'm talking soft play, parks, anything along those lines. Yes, it's tough to keep an eye on all of them - but once cabin fever sets in at home, there's no going back. As an additional plus, kids that run about climbing all over things equal tired kids. This makes the witching hour (see point 5) much easier to bear. 

3. Accept the house is going to be untidy until all the children are back in bed. It's not easy, but once you've accepted it, it becomes slightly easier to deal with. 

4. Rope in other people to provide diversions. Grandparents are good for this, but random neighbours, friends or distant family will all work. Plus, you'll need the adult conversation. 

5. Beware the witching hour (this is what it's known as in our house. If you need to ask, it's tea, bath and bed time). Actually, the name is misleading because at Martini Towers, this tends to cover 5-7pm. Nothing is going to make this time enjoyable - so go into it with precision planning and prepare for whinging and general dissatisfaction all round. Get through it by knowing that a glass / bottle of wine is waiting to reward you when all your darlings are tucked up in bed. Until the dream feed...

Most of all, try and enjoy at least some of it. Traumatic as it can be, keep in mind that time seems to pass very quickly - before you know it, they'll be teenagers that won't want to deal with you at all. And then you'll look back on these days with fond memories and no pain whatsoever!

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