Often times I'm approached by strangers (or even friends and family) asking how I cope with having 3 kids, especially being so young. The short and simple answer is "You just do! There's not a choice NOT to cope!". But, really and truly, there are mechanics in place to make this mother-child relationship work times 3.
So, without further ado, here's how to cope:
Pick your Battles
This has got to be one of the most important pieces to making my puzzle work! If I were to scold or correct everything that one child did "wrong", I'd spend my whole day nagging. I don't wish for my kids to live in a negative environment, nor do I wish to reside in one. So, instead, I pick the parts that I feel deem worthy of discipline or lecture. These include instances that are dangerous, in which someone was hurt (emotionally or physically), when they crossed the line of inappropriate or when they blatantly disregaurd a rule. Other times, I just let it roll. 9 times out of 10 your children will do things simply for the attention they get anyway.
Now, I may be alone in the mom world here, but for us, if I DON'T plan and just do things spontaneously it works so much better! If I plan on doing something, it almost always stresses me out, gets the kids riled up and ends in a negative way. If I just go on a whim, our ship runs much more smoothly! Now, I plan to a certain extent, like, I know I will need to get groceries sometime in the next 2 days. But, that's the most planning I'll do for it. Then, sometime in the next 2 days, I'll pack the kids up when they're in good moods, load them in the van and head to the store, which will most definitely end up being a hell of a trip, but less of a hassel than had I planned it! It also makes it easier to be spontaneously with a baby who I nurse on demand. Since he's not scheduled, I can nurse him when he asks and then head to the store and not have to worry about nursing, shopping and chasing 2 0ther kids all at once!
Get rid of schedules!
This doesn't work for everyone, and I know it. But for us, NOT scheduling is so nice! Firstly, I HATE being told what to do and when to do it! I'm not always hungry at noon every day, sometimes I want lunch at 11, or maybe 1. Our kids are no different. I keep a vague time frame for when I like things to be done and I DO enforce that, however, it is definitely not to a tee. Bedtime is anywhere before 10pm. Breakfast is whenever the kids ask to eat. Naps...HA, I'm lucky if anyone naps! But that's ok!! This is how we run. This is what works!
This is big and EVERY mother should have this, but every mother should remember that her number one priority is her kiddos. Sometimes, me time just DOESN'T happen, and you HAVE GOT to be ok with that. I am! Yeah, I need to walk away sometimes and I've done it! You know those commercials advocating against SBS (Shaken Baby Syndrome)? The ones that say "If you feel like shaking your baby, put it down and walk away."? Well, I utilize that philosophy. If I feel I'm going to yell or spank my kids, I walk away. I believe in gentle discipline, treating children with love and respect, like human beings. So, if I feel I'm not going to treat them that way, I leave the room. I take a breather. Sometimes, that's the only "me" time I get. Other times, I'm able to have my husband (who's usually only working or sleeping) take the kids for 15 minutes. This is usually just enough time for me to regain my strength. Ideally, I wish I could take a weekend away with my husband, but that's not a reality, and I won't let fantasy affect my parenting. Maybe some do. *shrug*
I don't compare myself to other mommies. If I did, I would go crazy. Why? Because all mommies do things differently. I can't worry about Jane's finances and how they seem so much better off than me, and I can't worry about Marcy's debt because I can't imagine how she does it. It's not my problem. We have our own individual problems. And the same goes with kids. I can't worry about Donna's kids and how they are doing in school, or what milestones her baby has met (or not) or how her marriage is or isn't going. If I looked at all the things other people had, instead of focusing on what we have or need, I'd spend my whole life trying to rearrange my whole life! Ridiculous. So, I worry about us. I focus on us. I am proud of us. I make choices for us. This is how I cope with not going CRAZY!
The thing is, what works for me and mine, may not work for you and yours, but this is how I cope with life as a (practically single) mother of 3. If you're having trouble, feel free to adapt one of my methods, but remember, I am in no way responsible if it doesn't work! Seriously. :)