Transcript: Tips On Parenting From A Mother of 4
This is a text transcript from The First Time Mum’s Chat podcast. The episode is called Tips on Parenting From A Mother of 4 and you can click on the link to view the full episode page, listen to the episode and view the show notes.
Helen Thompson: Most weeks on First Time Mum’s Chat, I speak with experts who share tips and insights on a range of topics to help moms commencing their parenting journey. In this week’s episode, I’m doing something different. I’m speaking with Seannon Jones,, a mom of four, about her early stages in her journey as a parent. When Seannon had her youngest, she had a newborn, a one year old, a two year old and a three year old, that was just about to turn four. I think it’s safe to say that Seannon’s introduction to parenting was something of a baptism of fire and I thought you would find it interesting to hear some tips and insights on her journey as a parent, during her children’s early years.
If you are overwhelmed and finding it challenging, you won’t want to miss this interview. You’ll hear Seannon talk about, the importance of getting the help you need and not what others think you need, how being organized and having a schedule and routine helped, how your kids want to help you and why you should encourage them and so much more.
Hi Seannon and welcome to First Time Mum’s Chat. It’s great to have you here today. So you’re the mom of four kids who are all born with a small gap in age. So, that’s quite a feat.
Seannon Jones: Yeah, it was a lot. We jokingly tell people we survived it. We don’t necessarily recommend it, especially when they’re as close in age as ours are. So they’re all about anywhere from 18 months to just under a year apart. So when I had my youngest, we had a newborn, a one-year-old, a two-year-old and a three-year-old, that was just getting ready to turn four. I could just about put them all in one stroller. It was a little crazy.
Helen Thompson: I can well imagine that, because I think for a mum who has all those kids, I would be thinking, oh my God, help, what do I do?
Seannon Jones: You know, even though we had planned to have four, we’d talked about it. It wasn’t like a surprise or anything. When I was pregnant with my fourth, I was like, ooh, I don’t know if I’m ready to come home to a newborn and three toddlers all by myself and I reached out to my mom and I was like can you take vacation time and just give me a week from when I come home from the hospital? So I am not immediately stepping into, all four kids and she was sweet enough to do that. My mom’s amazing. She’s the kind of person that gives you the help you ask for, not the help she thinks you need.
I always recommend if you’re getting somebody to help you, that it’s somebody who’s willing to give you the help you ask for and not the help they think you should have.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, cause I know some moms, all these lovely friends and neighbors come in and say, I’ll do this for you and I’ll do that for you when you actually sort of think, well, no, actually, I would just like you to take some washing out for me or make me a cup of tea or whatever it is.
Seannon Jones: I always had somebody who was like, oh, I’ll hold the baby for you. My goodness, newborns aren’t going anywhere. I mean, they’re not moving, they’re not rolling over. Who wants to help with the toddler that’s jumping off the couch.
Helen Thompson: I think it depends. I come from a childcare background and I think I would probably go to entertaining the toddler because I would realize that the mother who’s got the baby is trying to breastfeed or trying to have a sleep and the baby’s lying quietly. So the idea is to help with the toddler who maybe being a bit more active and a bit more noisy. So you might say, okay, let’s go out for a walk or let’s go and see what we can find in the garden or do something more like that.
Seannon Jones: Yeah, I think that’s the help that most people with multiple kids need. Anybody listening who has multiple kids, if you have more than two, then you know that’s the point at which things change. The change from one to two, wasn’t like a major change for us and the change from three to four, wasn’t a major change but that change from two to three. That was the doozy.
That’s the point at which there’s more of them than there are of you! If you have the kids by yourself, you can’t hold everybody’s hand, you’re now officially as a couple outnumbered. So, that’s where you really have to start to get more organized and I’m a planner.
I know that’s not everybody’s thing and I certainly encourage people to do what works for them, but for me, I had to have a schedule and it doesn’t mean you always stick to the schedule, but I just for kind of my own sanity, I had to have one. So I would, kind of get the baby on a schedule as soon as the baby would allow, right and have a schedule for myself. Just cause it gave me a sense of that sanity for the day. Okay, this is my plan for the day, things change. That’s okay, you have to give yourself grace for things to change too.
Helen Thompson: What about routines? Here’s an example you might be going out for the day to visit family, friends and you know that you’ve got to be there at 11 o’clock. So you might plan the day to get ready to go by nine, get the kids organised by 10, so that when you actually go out the door, there’s no rush and panic. If you have that rush and panic, by the time you get out the door, you know that your sleep routine and all that has just gone out the window and you just have to say to yourself, right, this is just not going to work today.
Seannon Jones: And again, it’s giving yourself that grace, right and knowing that that’s okay, and everybody understands when you have kids that things, or they should, that things don’t go exactly as planned and if they don’t, well, then they don’t. But sometimes that happens with kids. It’s unpredictable, just like in life and so you have to have that flexibility and be able to adapt and pivot and just do what’s going to work best for you. The other thing that I found was helpful with a routine and I was pretty comfortable when I had kids, cause I had babysat a lot. So for me that made a big difference, it wasn’t like my first rodeo. But the other thing that a routine did for me is, especially when baby’s little, right. They can’t tell you what’s wrong. And so it was the closest thing to being able to go, okay, well, they’re normally fussy at this time, or they’re normally hungry at this time.
And then that kind of helps you start to differentiate whether this is just like a normal cry because they’re tired or they’re hungry or something is more likely to be wrong. And when you’re a new mom and everything’s new and you’re still figuring it all out, I’ve found routine helpful for that too.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, I did a podcast with a lady called Sonja Preston, who works with the Dunstan Baby Language and people say that babies can’t communicate, but babies, as you know, communicate through crying. That’s their way of communicating. But there are sounds that they make, that are telling you whether they’re hungry or whether they’re tired or whether they’ve got wind and I just thought I’d mentioned it because you said they can’t tell you what they’re saying if they’re hungry. If you listen to your baby’s cry, there are four or five different cries. If they’re hungry, they’ll put their hand in the back of their mouth and they’ll go ‘neh, neh, neh’.
And if you listen to that you’ll actually know that their hungry.
Seannon Jones: Right, well sometimes you’ll hear that seasoned mom, they’ll go, oh, the baby’s crying and they’d go, no, no, they’re fine, that’s just the I’m hungry cry and I’m making a bottle right now, or that’s the I needed to be changed cry and I’m grabbing a diaper and a wipey, so, they’re fine, and again, like you said, it takes some time and you have to really be tuned to get that.
And then for me personally, it’s not everybody, but routine helped with that, right? Because you just start to get a sense of generally speaking, not all the time, this is when they’re hungry, this is when they need to be changed, this is when they’re going to go to sleep. And so it just, again, helps you as a mom to start to tune into those things a little better. And I kept a calendar for myself, which I was a person who did that before, just of tasks that needed to be done because you get that mom brain and you have so much else going on that it just helps to be organized. And then I know some people love to cook. I cook because people need to eat. It wasn’t necessarily a passion for. And so it helped me to meal plan too, because when I didn’t, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I was going to make. Whereas when I meal plan, I just know what I’m going to make that day and I don’t have to think about it, right. I can imagine there are some people going, no, no, I don’t want to do that. And if everything’s working great for you, then you don’t need to make any changes. But if it’s not, if you’re frustrated, if you’re having a hard time, that might be a thing to try for a week or a month and see if it helps you. You would be surprised how much time you spend thinking about what you’re going to make for dinner.
Helen Thompson: Meal planning, this is something that so many moms question. When I was working in childcare they always used to say, well, do I meal plan or when I’m pregnant, is it worth bulking and making a lot of dishes so that they’re actually in the freezer so that when the baby comes, all I need to do is think, oh, right, well shepherd’s pie.
Seannon Jones: I did some of that with a girlfriend where we made meals and froze them and it was just nice to know that if I didn’t plan, I knew I had a soup or a meatloaf or something that was just in the freezer and ready to go. So that was nice. And then sometimes my meal planning wasn’t like that kind of thing, but it was just my list. I had my 10 go-to meals and I would make those every two weeks and then two weeks later, I would kind of start over and I had a couple of days that were leftover days. Like a roasted chicken, then the next day would be chicken and gravy over mashed potatoes.
You know, things that were easy. And then, you want to get creative, you want to have a fancy night gig for you, do that, but just on your day to day, getting through your day, if you’re working and you have small kids, if you’re a stay at home mom and you have small kids and you got a lot going on, it’s just nice to have one less thing that you’re lamenting over versus just already having a plan for it and going, okay, I’m making this today and you don’t spend a half an hour trying to figure it out.
Helen Thompson: Yeah. I always say to people and to moms that you’re a first time mum, not just to your first baby, but to all your babies and all your kids, you’re still a first time mom to those kids. But as a mom, who’s just come out of hospital or just had the baby at home, you’re so sleep deprived, you’re exhausted and you’re looking at this baby, you’re thinking, oh my God, all I want to do is sleep. I don’t really want to have anything to do with this baby.
So having something organized beforehand is good because then your partner, or a friend can just come around and say, all right, I see you’ve got this in the freezer and just pull it out and there you go. People think it’s easy and it’s not always that easy.
Seannon Jones: No, it’s not easy to be a parent. It’s not for the faint of heart, it’s a lot of work and that’s okay. It’s not a bad thing. But it’s certainly not easy, that’s for sure. .
Helen Thompson: Yeah, how old are your kids now? Cause you’ve gone through it with four kids.
Seannon Jones: Yeah, so my kids are grown now, so we’re 24, 25, 27, 28. So, we’re kind of on the back end of that deal. Not that you ever stop being a mom, cause you don’t, you don’t ever stop worrying. What you worry about changes. When they’re little, you’re worried about whether they’re getting enough to eat, if they’re sick, those kinds of things, but you have control over a lot. You have control over what they eat and where they go and what they wear and that kind of thing. When they’re grown, you don’t have a control over anything in their life.
Helen Thompson: What about being a grandmother?
Seannon Jones: We’re not there yet and I’m not pushing anybody. So, that happens when you’re ready for it. So, when we have grandkids, it will be wonderful but we’re not planting those seeds cause they’ll have kids when they’re ready. Sometimes people get pushed to have kids and kids are a lot of work, so you need to do it when you want to, when you feel like you’re ready.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, is there any fun free activities that as a mum when your kids were 5, 4, 3, and two, cause there’s a year apart. Is there any sort of fun activities or tips that you’d give to a mom who’s got three kids, who’s at that stage where they’re just tearing their hair out, thinking, oh my God, what can I do with these kids?
Seannon Jones: Well, kids don’t see anything as work unless you make it feel like work for them, so I used to have the kids really involved. I would have them help me with the laundry or I would help them, even at five, I would help them have me wash dishes. Now you have to have some patience for that, because they’re on a little chair next to you and maybe I’d wash and they’d just rinse a little cup and put it in the drainer.
But just getting them involved, kids want to help. And so I had a drawer that had Tupperware that they couldn’t break, that they could play with in the kitchen. I had them with me doing a lot of different things and involved because kids, they just innately want to help.
You just have to have patience. That was the hardest thing for me. But a lot of times, whatever I was doing, they were doing. And then they naturally learnt to help with the laundry or help with dishes and then that helps make them as they grow older a self-sufficient person. And it’s the level of what they can do, right, so at three years old, you’re certainly not changing a diaper, but they could bring me the wipeys right. You’re not folding laundry, but they can take the laundry out of the dryer and put it in the little basket. They think that’s fun. And you’re standing right there with them, you’re talking to them and maybe you’re singing a little song.
When you get kids involved and they’re engaged, now they’re not running around tearing things up and they feel like a big boy or big girl cause they’re helping and they’re excited. They feel proud of themselves, so get them involved.
Helen Thompson: That’s what I do. I love those tips because if you get kids involved and engaged in what you’re doing, they’re much more likely to cooperate with you and help you, whereas if you just say, oh no, no, don’t do that, off you go and play, then they’re more likely to cause disruption and pull their sister’s hair or do whatever.
Seannon Jones: Kids don’t know the difference between work and play. They think helping you with the laundry is fun. You give a kid a little toy vacuum or a broom, they think that stuff is fun. And as long as you keep it that way and oh, you’re helping and what a big boy, what a big girl you are and they’re with you. They just want to be with you.
Helen Thompson: And I love the idea, back to what you said about the Tupperware container. You had a bottom drawer in the kitchen where the kids, if you’re doing something, if you’re cutting something up and they can’t use a sharp knife, you can give them that little drawer and they know that that drawers for them.
And they can pull out a plastic knife or they can pull out a plastic bowl and they say, mommy, can I help you cut the tomato or whatever, I’ve got my knife? And I think having a drawer in the kitchen where kids know that it’s their drawer and it’s safe, it’s so much easier than saying, okay, sorry, you can’t have that. You can say, oh well, go to your drawer, you might find a knife in there, so you’re encouraging them to help you, but you’re also encouraging them to keep safe as well. So yeah, I think that’s a great tip.
Seannon Jones: I can remember the kids at 18 months or two years old sitting on the floor in the kitchen while I was cooking or doing whatever and they’d take the ball out and put it back in the drawer and they’d stack them up and they weren’t in the way, they weren’t crawling, they were stationary in one place. I could see where they were. I knew they were safe and it really gave me a little time back to do whatever I needed to do.
Helen Thompson: Yeah, when you’re at home with kids, it’s so much easier if you can do something like that. So is there anything else you’d like to add. Any final tips?
Seannon Jones: I think lastly is just to give yourself some grace, don’t expect perfection. It’s okay if things go wrong and to the best of your ability enjoy that time. It sounds cliche, but it goes fast it really does. They’re only babies once, they’re only three months old once, six months old, it just goes so fast.
So to the best of your ability and all the tired and the chaos, just enjoy it and enjoy the little moments that you have, they’re really special and you truly don’t get them back. So, just give yourself some grace as well.
Helen Thompson: Thank you for sharing all your wonderful tips. If parents wanted to get in touch with you, is there any way they can do that?
Seannon Jones: Sure, yeah I’m on Instagram at JonesStyle and always answer DMS (direct messages) and everything so they can absolutely reach me there.
Helen Thompson: Okay, thank you, Seannon it’s been a pleasure talking to you and I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you and thank you for all your tips, because I think It’s always good to talk to mums and hear other mums who’ve gone through it. So you know that it’s normal to feel the way you’re feeling. So thank you so much, I’ve enjoyed talking to you.
Seannon Jones: Same here, appreciate it.
Helen Thompson: I hope that you found Seannon’s pearls of wisdom of help to you. I found listening to her approach when she was raising her four, then young kids, highly informative, and I love how positive she was about her journey. I’ve included links in the show notes to where you can connect with Seannon on Instagram at MyBabyMassage.net/podcast/073.
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