When I decided to have a crack at parenting three kids, I’m not sure I knew what I was letting myself in for…
I’m not sure how many of you are the right age to remember the cult pretty witch series, ‘Charmed’. My husband certainly had a taste for magic and witchcraft around the time of its peak popularity. He assures me it had nothing to do with their little tight shorts or plunging necklines, their fondness for the bad boys of the magic world or sisterly love-ins. The battle of good against evil was his sole focus, honest.
However, I digress. The three pretty, skimpily dressed, over-endowed witch sisters (jealous, who me?) were at their strongest together, all three of them. And, if you watch enough episodes you will know that the awesome ‘power of three’ refers to an enhanced power of three magical beings, good or evil, acting for a common cause.
I could have written this damned series myself. Only a mother of three young children has a full and brutal understanding of the power of three.
I can vividly remember introducing my oldest child to her brand-new baby brother. She looked at him with a sense of pure adoration, kissed and cuddled the baby, got rapidly hacked off that he didn’t do much and said, ‘baby go back now’! (he was a 9.5lb back to back birth sweetheart – aint no way he was going back anywhere).
A matter of weeks later however, the tables turned. As baby proudly offered his sister his first chuckle as she dumped her breakfast on the floor, a bond was formed, way stronger than any magical sisterhood. With only 18 months between them, they have grown up together, sharing naughty tricks, drawing on the walls and acting the innocents, sticking up for each other when one has been a little bugger then turning on the charm as only two little people can. We thought life was tricky, squaring up to this formidable partnership. If only we knew. If only we knew how much that would amplify as my husband and I found ourselves outnumbered by the arrival of the littlest, extremely wild child. We were screwed.
Now the terrible twosome had a small accomplice, whose Holy Grail was, and still is, to get a laugh out of them and to be credited for being the cheekiest, funniest little person in the house. She loved the cheek, they had someone to blame.
Outnumbered and screwed
Shopping with three became a nightmare, one to distract, one to vanish only to be brought back by security, the other to fill the trolley with crap. They can gang up faster than the mafia, then without hesitation, split ranks to save their skin. Give one a bollocking and the other two, despite falling out in lumps all day will come to their rescue within seconds and defend their honour. Two will argue incessantly whilst the other will look at me doe eyed and say, ‘did I do anything wrong mummy?’ Dare to respond with a ‘no you didn’t sweetheart’ and the rear guard will form faster than a bat up a nightie. However, enforce a tablet and phone ban on all three for misdemeanours – cue angelic behaviour and an offer to tidy up (once the eldest has slammed a few doors) *note to self – must do this more often.
But the power of three is at its strongest when an outsider to the tribe does a tribe member harm. Pick on a Coleman and face a wrath of the sibling-hood like no other. I spotted one child tease the smallest Coleman for her new glasses – it’s safe to say they won’t do it again.
So, whilst they fry my brains, drive me wild and regularly make me lose my shit – three is the magic number (and if you tell me that you read that and didn’t sing it, I know you are either a liar or too young to understand!)
Ten tips for surviving three
- Give them each one to one time as often as possible. If you are a single parent, or, like me just feel as though you are most of the time, this can be hard. If you can, call in favours to look after two whilst you treat one. If this isn’t possible, try parking two in front of a film or similar whilst you do something number three loves. My eldest loves to bake, the middle one is happiest doing something with a ball and smallest likes spellings and maths puzzles – seriously!
- Remember to praise them for their individual brilliance. I don’t mean the one that got the most in a maths test or reached their reading target first (trust me, this is one minefield you don’t need), I mean for being super kind or generous, for helping with small jobs or being generally helpful.
- Give them small responsibilities and pin them up on the wall (the responsibilities, not the kids). This can save a hell of a lot of arguments about who unpacked the dishwasher or fed the chickens last.
- Set pocket money bands that increase by age; again reducing civil war becase one got more at five years old than they ever did.
- Consider wrist reins with very tiny mobile people. I know some people hate them but in situations like airports, crossing roads or busy shopping centres they can be a life saver, literally. And, if your middle child is going through three weeks of pretending to be a puppy and only answering to ‘Rex’ and eating out of a bowl, it’s a win-win situation.
- Rather than spend a long car journey losing it and threatening to go home. Threaten that cross-mummy will sit in the back with them and the good one gets to go in the front. It’s genius!
- Only resort to Peppa-freakin-Pig if you have to. Anything else is better. You will hate the pig. You will hate your children for making you watch the pig. You will hate yourself for caving in (and watching the pig).
- Set aside time for yourself. I know; impossible. Apparently vital. I haven’t cracked it.
- Have a reputable wine supplier on speed dial and add a lock to a cupboard filled with chocolate.
- And finally, pray. You might need all the help you can get.