A Year With Three Girls Four and Under | The Biggest Challenges

Please believe me when I say I love my girls before you dive into this post…because I, truly from the bottom of my heart, love and appreciate the heck out of them, but talking about my personal struggles as a parent with three of them so close in age and having a rough year may sound like I don’t at times. We all have seasons that are easier than others and ones that challenge you to no end, and this was one of those extremely challenging times in my life where I was being tested on a daily basis for the better half of a year and I have learned so much from it that I HAD to share now on the blog. Finally over a year later my energy, creativity and inspiration are all starting to come back to life after being so emotionally worn down from 2016.

Autumn was due Christmas Eve in 2015 but born the week before via my third c-section… and the recovery was… pretty bad. Let’s just leave it at this: I sneezed and my incision tore. I had NOT experienced that before and it was so scary. From then on out, I was a sweaty, hot and cold, sore-boobed hormonal mess and I was emotionally and physically not as ready to take on three kids as I had hoped for…but who really is when they’re this close together in age?

I am super happy to report I’ve been doing MUCH better for the past couple of months, despite some inevitable bad days. I saw what was missing, what I wasn’t doing that I needed to be doing to make myself happier and more able to handle the true HEAVY chaos that comes from three young children 12-15 hours daily alone but these are lessons learned…and I have to remember to take nothing but positivity and wisdom from this hard season! Please — let me share this with you today with an open mind knowing I love my little girls but they are HARD to handle so exclusively mostly on my own so often! And you don’t need three kids to relate, this could relate to any amount in my opinion… because it’s not just people with three young kids that have a hard time. It can be one!

Let’s talk about the BIGGEST challenges during the first year as a mother of three kids ages four and under (Cammy just turned 5 in November, so technically for the last month it was 5 and under, but you get the point!) — and I’ll just let it all out and be honest about how 2016 looked for me!

1. I was extremely physically exhausted by 4-5pm every day. Oh how I wish I was exaggerating. I have never felt this kind of tired in my LIFE. The crazy thing is that our girls sleep 99.9% of the time through the night. We never had kids that really got up in the middle of the night or wouldn’t sleep, and we know how fortunate we are for that. So this isn’t me tired because I was up all night… it’s me tired because it’s that much work to take care of them by yourself from 6:30am to 6:30pm (Mike is gone about 12 hours a day) when they’re this young. I’m changing two sets of diapers, making three sets of meals, an average of 3 snacks between each meal (literally I can’t understand how they eat so much. They eat about twice to three times as much as I do daily) — and I’m carrying around this sweet little youngest mermaid of mine who LOVES being with Mommy. Additionally…we had to take naps away from Cammy and Ellie because when they got naps, they would stay up until 11pm or midnight and we did NOT enjoy staying up that late with them…so we had to forfeit naps and suffer through horrible attitudes around 4pm daily (about when I start to physically crash) in order to get them to sleep earlier but we are SOOO glad we do that now because it’s worth it to have the peace starting around 7:30-8:30pm now when they all pass out! I was just not physically prepared for this amount of work and I’m in fairly decent shape and exercise regularly!

2. The physical exhaustion led to an attitude of frustration, resentment and hopelessness sometimes. Okay I SERIOUSLY love my girls, I swear haha! That sentence was heavy to write, but I wouldn’t be genuine unless I shared that. When we bought our house, we had to make the decision to not put Cammy in preschool (saving almost $300 a month) and cutting out the YMCA too (saving almost $100 a month) because our mortgage is now a lot more than our rent used to be…and we were worried about coming up with the difference in our monthly budget especially with me going into the off season for photography. Temporarily cutting out the YMCA was the WORST decision I could have made as a mom. I am such a HUGE believer in me time and exercise and those glorious quiet yoga classes, and I took that AWAY from myself! We knew it would only be temporary but I should have worked like hell to make sure that stayed in budget. We did it out of fear and for the off season but I will never do that, again! Please, never take away the ONE thing that gives you peace and time to think quietly and clearly. That’s soooo rare with three kids and it’s necessary for your sanity! The lack of ME time caused me to start to really wilt. I was fading from the ambitious and happy mom I had been in the past to one was stuck in a routine that pretty much had nothing to do with me caring about myself.  I would talk to Mike on his breaks and I would cry that they don’t appreciate me, and he would have to remind me that they LOVE me more than anything in the world, but they’re so little. Then, I would feel guilty for feeling that way. It’s just a big cycle of feeling bad and I know a lot of moms feel this! Little ones, they don’t understand at all, and I have to keep reminding myself of that while I was trucking through this difficult season of trying to figure it all out!

3. We took on a heavier schedule than usual and didn’t have enough childcare to compensate. So we have AMAZING people who watch our girls. There aren’t many of them, but the ones that watch our girls are lifesavers. We can’t even imagine life without them and neither can the girls! These girls have a LOT of energy and they can be a handful so anyone who can handle them and their sass and spirits are precious to us… but they also have lives, too! Between jobs and 2 hours drives.. our favorite child care choices have limited schedules, too. It’s really hard for me to find someone who I feel like can really take care of these girls during this wild season of their lives. So…we had childcare scheduled for when we were off shooting…but what about for office time?

Because we took on WAY more shooting than usual last season, we didn’t want to stretch the limit of asking our people to watch the girls for me to have office time (aka blogging, emailing, editing, etc). We had all of the shooting babysitting covered, but I didn’t want to ask for more because I felt horrible about asking as much as we already were! What I didn’t know is that I was totally shooting myself in the foot. I can’t take on more work without being able to provide myself more office time during the *day* and not at night when I am so tired I can hardly see straight! Ohhhhh buddy, I used to be able to crank out some work at night… I really would be able to work until midnight and even 1am no problem at all but I just simply can NOT handle that during this life season! If I stay up until 1am, I am getting 5 hours of sleep and then taking care of three rambunctious girls during the day.

BUT THERE’S GOOD NEWS 🙂 

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I am not posting all of this to showcase our weakness. I remember getting a troll comment in the past about sharing about a tough life season I had in poor balance and then read recently in a book by Lysa TerKeurst that some people are resentful of others ability to share vulnerability because they think we should fit a mold, act “proper” and not talk about things that show our weakness… but I believe in the exact opposite. I think when we SHARE the truths, the struggles, we create a sense of connection that says “wow…ME TOO, I never would have thought that about her and we are actually going through the same hard season right now!” Never have I felt MORE normal and less alone than when reading another mom is passing out by 8pm exhausted or not getting to shower daily, haha!

I have learned from this season! Every year has changed SO much for us! Think about it..this is year seven of weddings for us I’ve been pregnant and with a new baby every single time — that’s TOUGH! This season I learned that I am meant to be their mother more than ever but that I need to have more help. Guys, the truth and big mystery and trick is ALWAYS more help when it comes to motherhood and business, and some of us don’t have local family and tons of friends to help and we just have to do the best with what we have! Some nights, I may have to be up late. It’s impossible to get away without having to do that completely…but we are going to seek out a little extra childcare this year to make sure I have a good full day of office time a week outside of the shoots we’re doing! We are SO thankful to have a wedding editor who takes on our weddings and saves us so we’ve already outsourced in that way, but we are also in the process of outsourcing a few more things to give me a little more time to get things done brilliantly during office time!

I love my girls. You know I do. I am so thankful for the hard season that was 2016, because I learned so much about what kind of mom I want and need to be for them, and I saw the one I didn’t want to be and know I have the choice to change it around for them. I saw what a bigger volume of work looked like and what I would have to do to adjust to that and we are REALLY excited for 2017 because it’s full of seriously incredible couples and opportunities and we are going to shine this year brighter than ever!! 🙂

xoxo,
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Want to keep up with an Outer Banks mama of three sweet (and oh so wild!) little girls shooting weddings & small business photography while making time for the things that matter most? Click on the links below and let’s connect!🙂
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