Nikki C is wearing the 'Smoothie Crop Bra' in confetti/black and the 'Classic Maternity Leggings' in black.
When I learnt I was pregnant with my second child (Finn), I immediately jumped online to check out how I could ‘prepare’ for baby number two, and there was a lot of good advice to read over. I felt informed, empowered, in control! "Okay - I can do this!" I thought.
Flash forward three years and my husband and I are now trying for another baby, so recently I've found myself searching for advice on how to prepare (cope?) for baby number three! There's some good articles on three as well, but it got me thinking...how far does the advice go? I then ‘googled,’ ‘how to prepare for baby number four’…still a fair amount, but by the time I got to five…there wasn’t much to be said! Why is this?
According to statista.com, the average number of children per family in the US is now 1.93, compared to 2.33 in 1960. The Australian Institute of Family Studies reports that in 1911 the average family size was 4.5 people, but in 2016 it's cut right back to just 2.6. So, in Western societies at least, we're having less and less children as time goes on. There are many reasons as to why this is, however the most influential reason revolves around the cost of living/raising children and the fact most households now require two incomes to survive.
But in saying that...there are still some people out there who want and can have a large family. For example, the Cadenshae founders - Nikki and Adam Clarke - have just had their fifth child! The pair have always had their eyes set on a big family...and now, by today's standards...they have it.
So, I thought…if there’s not much information around for those wishing to have four or five children, perhaps Cadenshae could help out by sharing tips offered up by some of the amazing mothers in our global community. For good measure, I threw in some tidbits on how to prepare for the more 'common numbers’ of two and three as well. Hopefully, some of this wisdom strikes a cord with you and helps you out on your unique journey as a mother.
NB: For those of you who're pregnant with your first, we have something EXTRA special coming up for you soon! And on the flip side, if you're pregnant with number six or more, I figured you probably won't be needing any more tips, you're well experienced! ;)
Baby Number Two – a few snippets of advice from mother of two, Jen Murray (36).
My second child Juliette is now nine months old, and my son Billy has just turned two…16 months apart! It’s a busy time, but we’re embracing it! I believe every mother will find her own way in her own time, but here’s what I did to prepare myself as best I could for Juliette, while Billy was nipping at my heels!
- I taught myself to let things go. It sounds cliché, but I really focused on not sweating the small stuff. I had two well under two, so I have accepted that we would be living in a state of beautiful chaos for a time! Instead of worrying about having a clean house, I chose to focus on making the most of those few precious moments to relax, as they’re rare!
- I put Billy in daycare a few hours a week. I initially felt guilty about this, however the guilt quickly left! Having Billy at daycare gave me the chance to enjoy the slow pace of having a newborn and it meant I could bond with Juliette without distraction. It also allowed me time to get mundane chores done which helped make our household run more smoothly.
- Mousetraps! These were life! Those of you from New Zealand or Australia will know what I’m talking about, but for those of you who don’t, ‘Mousetraps’ are a quick satisfying lunch (or snack!) that you can pre-make and nibble on anytime! My sister made me two bread loaves worth, all with delicious healthy toppings which I froze. I’d just throw in the oven when needed! Easy!
- With Juliette, I took the time to really enjoy the 'fourth trimester.' I had a difficult time with Billy and really struggled with what felt like ‘groundhog day.’ This time I tried to not to wish away the time, I really wanted to focus on enjoying each day.
- Having special toys/books that would come out for Billy to play with during feeding was really helpful - especially in the early days when it felt like I would be sitting down feeding allllllllllll day!
Baby Number Three – golden nuggets of wisdom from mother of three, Bridget Chamberlain (39).
I have a seven-year-old boy named Jesse, a five-year-old daughter called Mia, and a six month old baby girl called Bronte…so at the moment, I am RIGHT in the thick of it! In some ways having two older children has made things a little easier with a newborn, but in other ways...it has not! Nothing ever prepares you fully for the birth of a child, any parent knows that, but by the time the third one comes along, I do think you have your systems down and you’re definitely more sure of the process, and yourself. Here’s a few things I did to prepare myself for baby Bronte.
- This one is pretty obvious to me, but I’m surprised by how many people don’t do this! I made my own meals and froze them, ready to go for those first few weeks when there really is no routine...one less thing to worry about! I find meals that are easy to eat with one hand are a good idea too whilst nursing (in my Cadenshae bra of course)!
- I got organised for the six weeks post birth. For example, all Mia’s birthday presents were bought, her uniform was purchased and named, Easter Eggs were hidden! Doing this meant I could just fully relax into my new role as a mum of three!
- I bought a buggy that a capsule can click into for ease at school drop offs, this has been a life-saver!
- I did a big shop and made sure I had all the cleaning products, toiletries etc. that we would need for the next few months. Same line of thinking as above, but by the third time around, I knew I just didn’t want to be worrying about these things! It worked very well due to the fact I had Bronte the day before the Covid-19 lockdown in NZ, phew! Also, just on this, ordering the groceries online and getting them delivered has been so nice as well! Saves such a stress!
- I’m a teacher, so I also ensured I had lots of indoor activities sorted for the older two so they were entertained while I was feeding. There are so many great resources online where you can print off things for free like mathematics problems, arts and crafts, books etc. This is where having older children has made things a little easier I imagine as they can focus and do their own thing for a while. Three under three would be a very different story indeed.
Baby Number Four – a few 'mum' hacks from mother of four, Debbie Armstrong (36).
I come from a family of eight (two sets of twins!), so to me having a big family wasn’t a daunting prospect, it’s all I’ve ever known! I live on a farm in Australia with my husband Matt and four boys, Leo (5), Oliver (4), Jack (3) and Gus (1). Yip, I have four boys! This last year has definitely been the hardest and a bit of a blur, but in regards to preparing for baby number four, here’s what I did:
- By number four, you’ve probably already got all the material things you need (unless you gave it away as you thought you were done, whoops!), but the one thing we had to do was upgrade our car to fit our unit! We went from a Prado to a Land Cruiser, you just need a big vehicle, so go for it.
- I definitely had to lower my expectations in regards to having a tidy house. I just refused to let it stress me out, I didn’t have the emotional capacity to deal with worrying about that!
- Get organised for dinner! This one is hard for me as I would much rather rest! I’ve learnt to think about what we are having for the week on a Sunday night so I know what’s happening for the week, and I try to prep it early in the day. I also love a good slow cooker recipe as you can prepare it all in the morning when you have a bit of energy (after your morning coffee!) and so by the time 5:30pm rolls around and you’re running on empty, you don’t have to worry – dinner's done!
- I also highly recommend making your kids play outside for 1.5-2 hours before dinner (do this before the baby comes, so they’re used to the routine), doing this means they come in STARVING and willing to eat anything! That way, there’s less battles at the dinner table that you just don’t have the energy for! Works for us anyway!
- This is probably a given for a lot of you, but if you’re heading out, especially without your partner, you have got to be prepared! Overly prepared! If I’m going out the next day, I get everything sorted the night before. Lunch, first-aid kit, spare nappies, spare undies, spare everything, because with four boys, you never know what will happen on an outing! I also recommend having a spare set of clothes for each child in the car, as well as some towels. Nothing worse than driving home with cold, wet children in the back after randomly coming across a whole lot of irresistible puddles!
Baby Number Five – five tidbits for the fifth, Nikki Clarke (34).
Party of seven - left to right: Jackson, Adam, Kace (with chip!), Billie, Nikki, Ryan and Caden.
There aren’t too many of us having five kids in the Western world, so a big high five to you if you’re going again! If you’re up to number five, you probably don’t need me telling you how to run your ship, but hey, we’re all different and there might be something you could learn? I’m constantly learning from the mothers I deal with throughout the world, I’d be lost without them!
- Whether you fully intended on having five, or your number five was a beautiful surprise, PLEASE just ignore the haters. I know a lot of people think having five children in a world that’s overpopulated is environmentally harmful, but hey…they don’t know you, they don’t know your circumstances and how you may use cloth nappies, and compost, and recycle and give back etc. etc. Just ignore them…you’re creating another beautiful life, don’t let any negativity taint that.
- By the time you had number two, you probably learnt to share the load with your partner…I say, share a little more! Trust your other half, they know exactly what they’re doing…they’ve been doing it for a while now too!
- Now is the time for your older children to step up a bit. They can help grab nappies, wipes, the breast-pump, they can get you water and a snack when you’re feeding. They can pass you the remote! They can also learn to put their own clothes on, wipe their OWN bums and become a little more independent. I feel like it’s the time for the older kids to come into their own, it’s teaching them resilience, and giving you a break – win, win!
- Get number five eating the family meals as soon as possible…the sooner you’re all eating the same thing, the better! And before then, while bubs is on puree or mashed foods, just make meals you can crush up easily for the baby, that way you’re still only making one meal. You’ll find with five, your life is dominated by food and the kitchen, so make it easier on yourself!
- Have a solid routine, as best you can. Kids love boundaries, even though sometimes they don’t show it! It gives them a sense of calm as they know what to expect in the day. Of course some days the routine can take a hike, but as much as you can, have a set structure in place so everyone can groove to the same beat. It just makes life so much easier. Wake up at the same time, do homework at the same time, eat at the same time, bathe at the same time, GO TO BED AT THE SAME TIME. Good luck with the last one, that’s the hardest! Many of you are probably already doing this, but if you’re not, I think you seriously need to consider it with five. Five is next level!
There you have it, a few bits of advice from some experienced and rock-steady mamas!
Before I wrap this up though, I want to tell all you wonderful mums something, and I really want you to believe it. I am one of five...the youngest of five in fact, and I had the BEST childhood. So if you're about to have another child, of whatever number...don't you dare let the ‘mum guilt’ creep in about not being able to give as much of ‘you’ to your number two, or three, or four, or five etc. Growing up, I had four wonderful siblings who looked after me, entertained me, taught me, played with me and above all, loved me. I got a lot of love from my parents of course, but I was super fortunate as I received oodles of it from my four siblings too (well, most the time)! I was, and still am, truly blessed. So PLEASE, PLEASE don't buy into any type of guilt when you become pregnant with another. Also, I think for the most part I turned out okay! I contribute to society, I've never been arrested, I eat all my vegetables, I go to bed on time, I share my toys, I always TRY to be kind, I know how to love and be loved, and most importantly...I'm happy (usually!)...and that partially stems from all the goodness I got from not just my brilliant parents, but my crazy, fun-loving siblings as well. Being the fifth and youngest was/is epic.
So, when the chips are down mamas (of any 'number') just know as long as you're giving each child lots of love and doing your best, they'll be absolutely fine...in the end anyway. ;)
Written by Ellen Chisholm in conjunction with Jen Murray, Bridget Chamberlain, Debbie Armstrong and Nikki Clarke.