I have found a way to feel like an instant superhero, and I love it. Anytime I take all five kids on an outing, even a small one, by myself and it goes well I feel like I am officially a superhero.
Sound kind of crazy? Let me explain.
I was wondering why it feels so amazing myself and I have figured out some of the whys. To begin with there is the fairly obvious, I am still getting used to having five kids. Our youngest is about to be a year old and that means it has been almost a year to adjust to having five kids which sounds like a long time, and if we were just adjusting from 4-5 it would be a long time. However, in a little over two years we have gone from zero to five so there hasn’t been a lot of space to feel adjusted. I am just now starting to feel like I am finding my sea legs here. That means only two years of figuring out how to do life and outings with five children all currently four and under.
Still though, that is two years of going places, I should not be excited by it now right? It is not really two years of going places with the kids. Caleb, our first little miracle is a preemie and we brought him straight home from NICU. Due to Caleb’s lowered immune system and weakened lungs we were not able to leave the house with him unless absolutely necessary for the first TWO winters. So the first full year and a half of being a parent I did not really leave my house six months out of the year to avoid flu and RSV season which could have proved fatal for our little guy. During our second winter on RSV season lockdown we added Damien, Perry and Alizé to our family in the space of two days. We still couldn’t go out much until spring and that March was when Baby Otter was born. So this last year is really the first year of being able to actively be out and about and do things.
For the first half of that year we had Nannies that helped for a few outings and my dear friend Sarah (who is now serving a mission in AZ) went on almost every kid included outing with me. It was really overwhelming taking all the kids out by myself when the older boys were not listening well yet, Caleb and Alizé were learning to walk and I had a new baby along for the ride too. Then if you add in, Caleb and Perry both having a Sensory Process Disorder that makes new environments stressful for them, causing different and complex behavioral reactions in both of them, the quick trip to the store gets infinitely more complicated. So, for a while I just didn’t take all the kids to very many places, I saved all my errands for Fridays, the day we have the Nanny come to help out. That meant that during the week I felt trapped in the house a lot of the time. I am a person that loves to be on the go and around other people and feeling trapped in the house makes me pretty sad and cranky. Then I realized I was the only one keeping myself trapped. I realized I had two options 1- continue to be scared to take all the kids out by myself until they are all older and continue to pout about that or 2- just start going out and figure it out together.
About a month ago I started going out with the kids more, sometimes even inventing excuses to get us out and about. The first few times went well and I started to feel on top of the world, impressed that we all survived it. Then one day I took the kids to a few stores looking for new curtains for the kitchen. On our previous outings there had been no sensory meltdowns and everything had run fairly smoothly. This outing was different. Caleb had a massive meltdown when we went into Ross’s, the open spaces and odd acoustics sent him into a sensory overload and after trying for a few minutes to calm his screaming we left that particular store. However, I was determined to not let one bad store experience change the rest of the day’s plans (which included another store, stopping for lunch and taking Baby Otter to his last birth parent visit before the adoption). I took a breath, Caleb was able to calm down and we moved on to our next stop when suddenly the van was filled with the unmistakable smell of Perry poop, trust me, it has a very distinctive smell and eliminates the need to guess who has had a blow out. Poor Perry, who is in the middle of being potty trained, had a massive blow out and it was all over his clothes. Usually I keep a bag of extra clothes in the van for just such occasions, and today of course was the day I left it at home. I had to pull over and change Perry in the back of the van which left him back in his car seat in nothing but a shirt and diaper, the clothes were so destroyed by the blow out I ended up tossing them in the trash with the diaper mess. Now our timeline was thrown off and I had just enough time to run through a drive-thru for the kids’ lunch and race to our meeting for Baby Otter’s last visit. After dropping Baby Otter off with the caseworker I ran the other kids over to Target, Perry needed new pants. Thankfully, the blanket I alway keep in the back was still there and I was able to wrap Perry’s bottom half in the blanket and put him in the back of the stroller to protect him from the cold and so he was not wondering around the store half naked. Ha-ha. We got the pants, he changed in the store bathroom, I got everyone loaded back up, we picked up Baby Otter and headed home. Shooo. That afternoon as I was hanging the curtains we bought I found myself laughing at the hijinx of the day, it didn’t go as smoothly as I would have hoped but we all made it through the day and accomplished what we set out to do. My sense of being a superhero was definitely growing.
This week’s trip was to the library. I have been wanting to start having the library be a regular stop for the kids and I, especially since we will be homeschooling and spending a good bit of time there as they grow up. I have also been avoiding this particular outing because you need to be quiet in a library and when Caleb enters full meltdown (which is not something you can always predict or see coming) he is far from quiet about trying to express how he is feeling. We have been going to a lot of different places lately though and I was feeling the boost of all those days of being a superhero, so I decided to brave the library. Half-way there Damien informed me he needed to go potty so as soon as we got to the library I had to rush us all into the restroom, which was not a great start for Caleb and Alizé who started to fuss. Thankfully, once we left the restroom they were much better. We made it through my short discussion with the lady at the checkout desk about a book I had out overdue and was returning and then we headed to the children’s section of the library. Damien and Perry scattered down separate aisles to look at the many books and I pushed the younger three in a stroller, I was able to ask the librarian for any suggestions on a topic I was looking for and then Caleb started to get upset. I quickly tried the things that can sometimes calm him down before he escalates into a complete meltdown and they were not working. Thankfully the library has an enclosed playroom for young kids. I quickly told Damien and Perry they could both pick one book and then we needed to go into the playroom. By the time we entered the room Caleb was in full meltdown; screaming and flailing.After a few minutes of deep pressure and me holding him Caleb was able to calm down enough to play with his siblings. It was actually a very short lived meltdown, sometimes they do not resolve that easily. The kids played for a while and Caleb and Alizé were able to pick out books from the selection of board books kept in the playroom while Baby Otter showed no interest in picking a book. Caleb now calm and the kids done playing we were able to pick up the mess they had made, gather our books, I was able to make a selection and we checked out and headed home. We did it!! We made it through a library trip and it went great, meaning we can start going every week. Can you hear the music swelling as my hero cape flaps in the breeze, because I sure can.
Taking my kids out in the community doesn’t sound like a huge undertaking but it sure makes me feel like I can conquer the world and I don’t even have to wait until they can all walk and talk.