3 under 3

5 under 4

Posted on: February 17, 2011

I had the rare opportunity to babysit two of our nephews today. Because their parents (my husband’s brother and his wife) live in Bathurst (about a two-hour drive west), we don’t see them often. It’s not really the distance as much as it is that, they, being as crazy as us, have also had three children in three years. As you can imagine, 6 < 4 y.o.(under one roof) = nuts! So we don’t do it much.

So, I was happy to offer my services today, as I don’t see H (3) and W (19 months) very often, and as a result, don’t feel that I have much of a relationship with them. I suppose being busy with babies all the time does that. I do hope to become closer with them now that my tiny baby days are over (!)

It was a busy day, but not completely manic as I had anticipated. But manic enough…

As usual, everyone was very excited to see each other and they got straight to the business of playing with Tiernan’s train set. I smugly thought to myself that perhaps this wasn’t going to be so bad after all, as I sat down to give Neave her morning breastfeed. However, the train set just wasn’t the right outlet for their exuberant spirits, so the business of running-from-one-end-of-the-house-to-the-other-whilst-pushing-every-single-toy-that-has-wheels closely ensued. Which was dropped again for the business of pulling-every-single-toy-out-of-its-place-in-the-toy-room-and-making-sure-parts-of-each-one-were-dropped-in-every-single-room-of-the-house. So, it took about ten minutes for our house to resemble a disaster zone. Fairly predictable.

It took about fifteen minutes for the first injury to occur. It was W falling off Tiernan’s bed, which resulted in a big bruise and a lump on his eyebrow (great, a black eye!) However, whilst administering first-aid, I realised that this was also fairly predictable, as W had only just recovered from another bed-related black eye (he fell off a hospital bed whilst meeting his new baby brother, C, for the first time). Still, didn’t I feel like babysitter of the year?

The Wiggles provided a nice distraction while I prepared some morning tea. It also provided a nice soundtrack to hastily re-assemble the house by. The kids helped by dumping everything into one box even while I was explaining that shoes and books didn’t really need to go in with the lego, thanks. Oh well.

Next was puzzles. By this stage, Neave was in bed (thanks, Neave), and I was optimistically hoping that she would remain there for the rest of the visit. So, my plan was to do some nice, quiet puzzles together at the other end of the house while she slept. However, my first mistake was to bring all of the puzzles out at once – what was I thinking??? Within minutes the floor was awash with itsy bitsy puzzle pieces, and there was no way we were going to be able to find enough pieces to even put one puzzle together. My second mistake was to overestimate W’s attention span – he’s not two yet, so he got bored with the puzzles rather quickly and started pulling books out of the bookcase, just to add that extra layer to the mess on the floor. So in the end, we sat (in amongst the puzzle pieces) and read book after book as it landed on us, until W ran out of books to toss. Whereupon clean-up #2 commenced.

In my wisdom, I decided that I would distract them with drawing next, while I prepared lunch. This works with Tiernan and Molly – I provide them with crayons, textas and paper, and off they go. What I hadn’t counted on was H and W’s preference for pulling their crayons and textas apart rather than drawing with them, so when I returned to the lounge room to announce that lunch was ready, I found a sea of headless drawing implements, scattered texta entrails, and four children rigorously engaged in a pen-fight. So now I had ink-stains to add to my list of explaining to do.

H wee-ed at the table during lunch. I hadn’t even sat down yet to start mine, but I took one quick bite before changing his clothes and mopping the floor. By this time, they had all finished eating so I put them back into the lounge room and finally resorted to a DVD to provide the entertainment while I recouped. Only, Molly chose this moment to make it known that she needed to poo. Molly is still in nappies, but we are encouraging her to start using the potty, mostly for poos, because she has a habit of taking her pooey nappies off and smearing the contents all over everything. I’ve written about it several times in the past, but eventually stopped bothering because it has become a daily occurrence (well not the smearing, but the nappy removal and associated mess). So, I have resorted to bribing her with prizes (from the ‘Nappy Fairy’) if she does a poo on the potty. And today, for the first time ever, she actually did! (Okay, she’s done half a poo on the potty before, after doing a bit in her nappy and then taking it off, but this was a WHOLE POO IN THE POTTY!) Hooray!!!

So, Molly was fussed over, and received her prize from the lucky-dip box (a ‘Dora the Explorer’ plastic bracelet that was broken ten minutes later when H tried to stuff it into the toy cash register… oh). The kids continued to watch the DVD while I sat down to my lunch… which was interrupted again when Neave woke up (Nooooooo!) After getting Neave up and making her lunch, we sat and ate together whilst watching the kids and observing something interesting – H and W had almost completely lost interest in the DVD and were busy playing again, while Tiernan and Molly sat like lumps, totally transfixed by a movie they’ve only seen eighteen times. They’re watchers! And H and W are non-watchers! I’m a terrible mother…

I felt a bit better when Molly also lost interest and decided to join H and W in their game of trains (it always comes back to trains, in the end). I noticed that W was beginning to show signs of tiredness, but thought it was probably too late to put him down for a sleep (I was expecting my brother and sister-in-law back within half an hour). Actually, it wasn’t long before everyone’s tempers were flaring – they had all reached their ‘sharing’ quota for the day, and angry outbursts were frequent. I began glancing out the window every few minutes, Surely they’ll be here soon? The remainder of the afternoon was spent adjudicating train-related disputes (derailment, theft, arguments between drivers, and a controversial decision to move the bridge).

I was quite relieved to hand these lovely boys back to their parents after our five hours together. It is so nice to see my children having fun with their cousins, but being the only adult around is rather exhausting. I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t want to do it again tomorrow!

2 Responses to "5 under 4"

No time to take photos I imagine? I think it sounds like you coped very well. It must make you feel like your clan is small once they went home. And as far as your children being ‘watchers’ – I prefer to think that they must have a good concentration span!

Nope, no photos, which is a shame really.
Yes, well my kids have excellent concentration then. Thanks Nicole!

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