I’ve been meaning to sit down and write about surviving the fourth trimester for the past six months now, which gives you a pretty good indication of what our life has been like over the past 9 months! Given that our third little man is our beautiful surprise, it took me quite awhile to wrap my head around the idea that we were having another baby, even when he was born I was in shock that the little baby being held over the curtain was actually ours! I knew there were going to be tough days with three little boys at home and while there have been some shockers, we managed to survive our little guys fourth trimester pretty well and were even able to enjoy ourselves sometimes along the way! These are a few of the things that helped make those first few months (and even now) a little easier to navigate.
Accept ALL of the help
Yes it’s easier said than done, but I knew this was going to be ESSENTIAL for helping me get through the first few months (and even now! of our little guys life. We called my Mum from the hospital when I went into labour at lunchtime and she arrived that night after travelling 2 hours to get to the airport and then flying another 2 1/2 hours up to Brisbane. When she offered to stay on once we were home, I accepted after saying previously that I wanted it to be just the five of us for the first few weeks. You see my husband was still at work (he had booked leave for when our little guy was supposed to arrive a couple of weeks later) and having Mum there to occupy the older two boys for those first couple of weeks was an absolute LIFESAVER as it allowed me to recover (after all I’d just had my stomach cut open for the third time), establish feeding, rest and simply sit there and enjoy those beautiful newborn snuggles. Even after Mum left, if a friend or family member asked me if there was anything they could do, I’d rattle off a list of things (throwing some washing into the machine, unstack the dishwasher or even taking the older two boys down to the park for a play) that they could do which would help make my life easier.
I’ve always been a fan of baby wearing when we were out and about with our older boys but since our youngest son came along, I’ve also started popping him in a carrier while we are at home. Not only does it keep him content (and away from his ‘touchy’ older brothers!) but it also allows me to help the others boys out when it comes to getting dressed/cleaning teeth etc and gives me the freedom to make meals, do the laundry and even sometimes sit down outside with a book while the older boys play!
I know that I’m a ‘Yes’ person and I have this odd yearning to take on waaaaay more than I should as I never want to let anyone down, however I made a conscious decision to to say no more often in the lead up to our baby being born and have continued to do so since he arrived, and do you know what? It feels REALLY good!
By now saying no to extra commitments with work and family life, as well as declining invitations, it gives the boys and I the time we need to take things slow and recharge. Yes it’s been tough (especially when you are a people pleaser like me!) but it’s also been refreshing and helped me feel a little bit more in control and give us all some breathing space from the ‘busy’ of our lives.
Get organised the night before
This has been ESSENTIAL to helping me keep a little bit of my sanity when it comes to our mornings, especially when on school days. The night before I will get out clothes for ALL of us, make lunches/snacks, take something out of the freezer for dinner the next night and most nights I’ll even have my shower the night before as I know it’s just not going to happen in the morning when I’m trying to get everyone ready for the day.
Plan to leave the house 30 minutes before you actually need to.
Wrangling all three boys into the car can be a nightmare – and it’s often a 20 minute job in itself! Without fail I find myself dashing back inside to grab things that I’ve forgotten (usually my keys) and you can guarantee one of the boys will need to use the toilet or the baby will need a nappy just as we are about to leave. If I aim to leave the house half an hour before we actually need to leave, I find that I’m pretty close to being on time and eliminate the stress of running late to appointments or school drop off.
Take some time out
Most days I try to sneak out of the house for just 10 – 15 minutes when my husband gets home from work to go for a little walk, even if it’s just around the block. Although I don’t have time to go far (and some nights I will wear the bub in the carrier) it’s still an escape from the house and a chance to have a little peace and quiet and it gives me a boost which I often need.
Be in the moment
When you’ve got so much to do it can be all too easy for your mind to start skipping ahead to what you need to be doing next. Whenever I find myself starting to list the things should be doing (particularly when I’m feeding the baby or playing with the boys) I try pull myself up and force myself to remember what my priorities are and be in the moment – the washing and cleaning up can wait – well sometimes anyway!
Keeping my two active older boys amused is essential when it comes to ensuring a happy day for all of us. Thankfully they both love to play outside and while they are using up all of their excess energy (just where they get it from I would love to know!) spending time outside also gives me a great boost, even if it’s just being out there to supervise them! I make an effort to spend a good chunk of time outside each day, whether it be just having our snacks or lunch out there, getting involved in a game of soccer with the older boys or calming our baby boy down by walking him around the garden. It doesn’t sound like much, but it really seems to help make me feel better and the days that little bit easier.
Accept that there are going to be bad days
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows here, and it was in only the second week of being home alone with all three boys that I experienced my first bad day. You know those days where NOTHING goes right from making toast for the kids which they then don’t want, to the baby’s nappy leaking poo all over you, to your toddler having an accident because he wouldn’t stop to go to the toilet as that would take him away from arguing with his brother… Yep those kind of days. While I can do everything possible to make life as simple as possible, I also acknowledge that there are many things that are outside of my control and while thankfully these bad days are not as regular as in those first few weeks, I accept that they are bound to happen and I’m not ‘failing’ when they do occur.
What are your tips for surviving the fourth trimester with a newborn?