You might feel overwhelmed with just or two, so how does this mom of four do it?
For some people, one child is enough. For others, two is just perfect. And for the rest of us, three would probably be pushing it. Because let’s be honest, they may be very cute, but they’re also demanding, they’re exhausting and last but not least, they’re pretty darn expensive.
But then there are moms such as Cape Town (and Twitter) mom Lauren Allot (@momalott), who, unlike the majority of us, are living a “different kind of normal” with four kids under the age of five, and a home and a heart ready for two, perhaps even four more, “if she’s lucky,” she says.
And she’s not joking, either. The way her eyes light up when she looks at her children or talks about her future babies bears testament to the fact that there will be more – many more. But how does she do it?
How does she raise (and homeschool) little Jessie, Jack, Kyla and Jaydon (aged five, three, one and four months) with no nanny and without wanting to rip her eyeballs out?
A natural choice
For starters, Lauren is 28, and had her first baby when she was 23. This means her energy levels are high (especially for late night feeds) and she believes she recovered quickly from her vaginal births. She also doesn’t view being a stay at home parent as a job (or a tiring one) but rather, something that she was designed to do.
She says it feels totally natural to her and she simply loves being Mom all day, and never gets lonely with the online world to keep her connected. What’s more, she maintains that the more children you have, the easier it gets, and having four kids entertaining each other takes a lot of the load off.
“The jump from one to two was the hardest, and I got quite a fright when I found out I was pregnant with number two. I was still exclusively breastfeeding my firstborn, Jessie, at eight months and when I discovered I was pregnant I spent the whole weekend crying, wondering how I was going to cope with such a tight age gap. But I did, and I do. And four is easier than two. It really is.”
All together now
Since Lauren also homeschools (something she’d like to do right the way through), she can march to the beat of her kids’ schedules too, and doesn’t need to dash around fetching and collecting. Life, for her, is actually fairly relaxed.
“They wake up late. We get dressed. We generally do about two and a half hours of school in the morning. If we don’t get it done in the morning because they’ve woken up feeling miserable, we can do it in the afternoon. There’s no pressure, and there’s also no TV so there’s always time.
The kids do watch a DVD in the evening every second day now, otherwise we play at home – everything I do we do together, for example, cooking and baking – or we play at the beach or go on an outing.
“At the end of the day, the older two help me with a general pick up and all the clothes go straight into the washing machine before bedtime. We only have a cleaner twice a week but I’m not pedantic – I’ve realised I can’t be,” she says.
Not only does Bryan work from home (he’s a freelance software developer) which helps a lot, but this brave couple also have an incredible support system, something one definitely needs when embarking on a journey like theirs.
“My 56-year-old mom generally comes everywhere with us, and when we go to her house, she plays with the kids so that Bryan and I can talk to each other (we haven’t been out without them yet). My dad has said, however, that if we have another one, he’s moving back to Saudi Arabia! My brothers are fantastic too.”
It's all in the teamwork
Even when she’s on her own, Lauren seems to have the whole juggling act down to a fine art too – with the help of her new Hyundai H1.
“If we need to cross a road, I put Jaydon in the sling, I carry Kyla, and Jessie and Jack hold my free hand and each other’s hands to get across safely.
“At the shops, Jessie walks next to the trolley, Jaydon remains strapped to me in a baby sling, and the other two go in the trolley. Believe it or not, there’s still space for food.
“If I prepare them before we head out on what’s going to happen then they’re generally fine,” she says. “I am firm with them when I need to be, and explain to them what I expect of them. I don’t panic at public places such as the aquarium, as they know to stick with me,” she explains.
Does anyone sleep?
Even sleeping-wise, this family is doing okay – apart from Jack who kicks them in the head in his sleep!
There are plenty of rooms in the house, but the whole family sleeps in the main bedroom. Theoretically, they’re supposed to be in their own three single beds in the main room (with the exception of baby Jaydon who sleeps in the one queen bed with mom and dad) but their nights are generally filled with musical beds, with the kids swapping beds and Bryan landing up in whatever free spot he can find.
Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing and challenge-free for Lauren. Like most moms, she battles to divide herself between her kids, so that each child can have a piece of her. And if, for example, they’re all on the loo at the same time, there can be problems.
“When they’re all screaming for you at the same time, it’s not fun. But I find that if baby Jaydon is sleeping, I can then do something one on one with Jessie while the other two play with playdough or play outside. Even 10 minutes each, on their own, counts.
“Ever since all three of them had a tummy bug at the same time, and we survived that, I feel that we can survive anything,” she says, adding that these days, she even has time to go for a run on her own – something that she really enjoys doing.
What other people say
Sadly though, with everything parenting-related comes judgement. And Lauren’s been hit with it both online and in the real world. “The looks we got when we arrived last year at the airport for Mauritius with the three little ones (and my bump) were horrific. You could see everyone was cringing and hoping we wouldn’t be on their flight.
Luckily, I had my mom with us to help. And then our fellow passengers landed up telling us at the end of the flight that we had good children!” she exclaims.
It’s gotten ugly though, too, with Lauren being sworn at by strangers, in front of her children. Not only are they shocked by the number of children she has, but the close gaps between them come into it too as well as her age.
“When I was pregnant for the third time, an elderly woman shouted at me for having more children, and told me that I was making the biggest mistake of my life. You think it only happens online because you’ve put yourself out there, but it happens to us all the time. People walk past us and basically say WTF out loud.”
Despite coming home quite upset on many occasions, Lauren has now started to laugh it off, and her kids do too. The eldest has, in fact, started standing up for mom too, telling strangers that mom’s going to have 24 babies. Clever little girl, that!
And might we add, we look forward to that day.
How many children is too many? Send us your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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