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From 3 to 4

What has changed for us now that we have 4 kids?

1. My mom is always right.

Don't tell my mom that. And maybe not always, but... yeah, my mom is always right. While I'm close to my mom anyways, I find myself calling her more and more to find out exactly what I should do, not get her advice and consider it, but, "Hey, Momma, what would you do? Tell me everything." My hubby isn't home for everything and I love having my mom by my side {even from a distance}.

2. Always looks on the bright side of life.

Life is busy and messy and, well, sometimes not fun at all. While every week is pretty much one thing after another, this week was one of those weeks where it was one.thing.after.another. I psyched the kids up for a day and a half to go to the pumpkin patch with our homeschool group...and then our van broke down and was out of commission for 2 days. Because I was sick last week, I had rescheduled everything to this week; I had to then re-reschedule everything to next week because of our van issues. Our cat was spayed-- sat in traffic to drop her off and pick her up, and then dealt with 4 kids at the vet to pick her up (that is about as much fun as it sounds). I had to take our baby to urgent care (he's fine) and his cold has kept me up for the past 5 nights, not to mention he's somehow managed to reintroduce a night feed we had previously dropped. My husband was dealing with a shift change through all of this at prototype. We ran over a nail after getting our van back from the shop and it took 3 hours at Costco to get it repaired; the kids screamed and fussed and fought the whole time we were there. My husband and one of our toddlers both dislocated a finger this week. Our other toddler had a speech therapy assessment and his stutter is worse than I thought and now I need to work a weekly speech appointment into our calendar. And we've been finding time for an hour and a half of homeschool each day through all this... Life is just messy. Being a Monty Python fan, I've had this song stuck in my head all week: 
"If life seems jolly rotten 
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing...
Always look on the bright side of life..."
Sometimes you just gotta look at the bright side of life.
3. Nothing will ever go as planned.
I'm not saying things went as planned before-- they didn't. But now it is a toss up. I take the kids to the park and one is throwing sand in his brother's face while another is climbing the play structure and another is crying -- or -- they all go and play happily -- or -- two of the boys play happily and two fuss and cry. Last night we planned on going to a fall festival. It became apparent about twenty minutes before we needed to leave that it just wasn't in the cards for us last night. We made the smart call and didn't push it-- better to have our plans fly out the window than have a super stressful time getting everyone dressed and ready to go only to come home to a messy house with hungry children.
4. Nothing will ever go as planned.
Yeah, it is on there twice just to really drive home the point that nothing ever goes as planned. Ten minutes before it is time to go out the door, the toddlers who were fully dressed are now naked and claiming they need to use the restroom, even though they already did. The baby poops and needs a diaper change. The dog needs to go out. The doorbell rings and wakes up my husband who needs to sleep due to shiftwork. The kitten goes missing. I mean, nothing ever goes as planned. I try-- and I often do-- get to places on time, but inevitably something happens. On the flip side,  I am constantly surprised and pleased with how well our boys handle various situations. We just did weeks of road tripping and visiting friends and family. Our boys did amazing! I was blown away by how well they did. It gave me so much confidence that we can handle traveling and this Navy life.
5. 4 isn't that different from 3...
We never had 2 kids, so I'm not sure how that goes. But I did have 3 kids. There was no strapping on the baby and following after the older sibling or my husband supervising one and me the other. There was no holding both my children's hands as we crossed the parking lot (2 kids, 2 hands). There was no standing near one on the playground and keeping an eye on the other. We jumped straight from have a "one and only" to zone defense. Managing 2 babies at the playground while our toddler played to watching 2 toddlers and keeping an eye on our preschooler to now having a kindergartner, 2 toddlers, and an infant. Thankfully now I have my Tula and am pretty good at keeping up. It is also nice that this time we have a baby and toddler twins {instead of toddler and infant twins like last time}, so I can wear the baby and hold our toddlers' hands; our oldest is very good about keeping close. Still playing zone defense though.
6. ..except for the times when it is very different.
Baby #4 is the best baby we've had. I totally relate to Horney Mom's blog post. But, yeah, there are times where the baby is crying to be fed, the toddlers are at each other's throats, our kindergartner fell off his bike, the dog is trying to sneak all the food off the table (and throw it up later)... Or the other day when one of our toddlers was stung by a bee while I was out shopping. I had to carry him back to the car while I held the other toddler's hand, baby #4 strapped in the Tula, my oldest keeping close and carrying all my purchases. Also, when my husband and I split up the kids, we view keeping 1 or 2 kids very differently than we used to. Now he says, "Yeah, I'll take our 6-year old and a 3-year old to the barber shop," when 4 years ago I can't imagine either of us thinking hair cuts would be a great time to spend a little individual time with 1 or 2 of the kids (or that staying home with 2 would be somewhat of a "break").
7. Different strokes for different folks.
You know what moms of 4 know? That every child is different and every time in your life is different and it is A-Okay to be different-- and not just doing things differently each time, but doing things differently than other families. What works for your family might not work for another family. What works with one baby might not work with the next. What came easy with one baby might not come easy with the next. Having identical twins also is a good lesson in that-- what works for one doesn't always work for the other. Husband underway? Take it easy. Rough night? Have cookies for breakfast. It's okay. We know that it all works out. Just because you are taking some shortcuts now (maybe even a lot of shortcuts) doesn't mean that you will later. Seasons of your life.
8. It really is just a phase.
Speaking of seasons of your life, we also know that it really is just a phase. Your toddler refuses to eat anything, like a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. He will eat again. Your baby is up all night. You will sleep again. Your 3-year old throws fits all the time. He won't behave that way forever. Doesn't always make the phases we are going through easier to manage, but it does help keep it in perspective. We've gone through those phases before, we know to expect them and have the foresight to anticipate their arrival, and then we have the patience to let them ride. I've found that because of this I'm able to enjoy myself a lot more with our boys-- even with our 6-year old who goes through each stage first. I've seen how quickly these rough infant and toddlers phases pass and it helps me focus on the good aspects of each phase instead of dwelling on the bad.
9. No mommy judgment.
I'm sure you've seen these types of blogs posted before: "10 Signs You're a Parent to 3 Kids" or "Things Moms of Four Kids Do." Yeah, if you've read those, you know we aren't judging you. If your kid walks into my legs as he's looking the other way at the mall, I honestly don't mind. No need to apologize when you interrupt my shopping trip to ask what kind of stroller or baby carrier I have. I've been there; I did my research when making baby purchases as well. Within reason, I understand when kids start getting too rough on the playground and I definitely understand temper tantrums. I've been there. We've done on demand schedules and strict schedules with our kids-- I get it. I get when you need to cancel last minute or when you are running late. I've had "those kinda days" as well. It happens. I have spent hours crying in the bathroom too. I have laughed at the ridiculous things my kids have said. I have been embarrassed, under prepared, caught off guard, tired, exhausted, deflated, over joyed, fulfilled, content, heart broken, irritated, and more by motherhood. I've held my baby for the first time and felt my heart run over. I've watched my baby labor to breathe. I've seen ultrasounds with no heartbeats. I've carried flailing children out of stores and restaurants. I've walked stolen merchandise back into shops. I've repeated myself all day every day and still felt like I wasn't heard. I've prayed from early in the morning to late at night and still felt like I wasn't enough or couldn't do it. So I get it. When you want to talk to me about how your one baby isn't napping or how hard you have it with your two children, and then apologize because "I must think you are ridiculous," I don't. I understand. I'm looking to make the same "mommy connections" as you. I want friends just as bad as you do and I too want to be supported and feel like someone else "gets it."
10. Let it slide.
While I'm sure we still make our lives more complicated than they need to be, we do have the experience to let some things go. We don't force toddlers to eat when it is pointless and we have the benefit of not stressing about it either. We don't get our panties in a knot over every cold. We expect a certain level of craziness everywhere we go, so toddlers banging spoons on tables or the occasional drink spilling doesn't stress us out. We put far more emphasis on growing independence than doing it perfect, such as having children dress themselves and actively participate in household chores. We've {somewhat} learned that some behaviors are far better to ride out until they go away on their own instead of fussing and fighting over them. I've also found that when I'm talking to my mom about a discipline issue that I'm struggling with and she says, "Oh, it will work out," I'm able to let it go. My mom always tells me to pick my battles and we're finding that we are better able to decipher which battles are worth picking and which battles are just a massive waste of energy for us.
All our babies
How have things changed for you the more children you've had? Do you have 4 kids? What would you add to this list?


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