Tuesday 9 August 2016


There is a look and a pause when you tell people you have four children. And then the question. "How do you manage?"

The answer is always the same, because it's true. Or at least for us. The older children often entertain each other and because of their age in many ways this time around has been the easiest transition.

But there's something interesting that I've noticed. It feels as if the lessons of motherhood have been distilled this time around. 

Time is flying, a little too quickly. But because I don't have time to deliberate on decisions or fuss over details, I have noticed that I am the closest I've been to understanding what really is important (for me) when it comes to motherhood.

Of course, the early months with a baby is a special bonding time. And this time with so much else going on in our lives, I have wanted to keep it as simple as possible. I am not attending any mothers groups. And I haven't really bought much, other than clothing. Instead, this time is about enjoying the closeness of breastfeeding and the smiles that are more and more regular. But there are more practical considerations too.

It really has made me aware of how little you need for a baby. I've always felt this way, and wrote a magazine article about it more than eight years ago even before the birth of our first child. When it felt like the world around me was going crazy over a million different gadgets for stages that only lasted a few weeks or months, I wanted to keep motherhood a little simpler.

Perhaps a little too simple, at times. We didn't buy a new car before our first baby arrived. In fact, we had two two-seater vehicles - a 1965 Austin Healey Sprite and a single cabin utility truck. I had to go home from the hospital in a taxi and for the first six months of our son's life we just rented a car from GoGet, a community car sharing service. But it suited us fine as we were living in Bondi and everything we needed was within walking distance.

Partly because of our car situation, we didn't get a car capsule. (That time or for any other baby.) We didn't get a baby bath or a jolly jumper. Or those toys you put on a pram. Instead we kept it simple. And the things we used then are still the things we are using now: a baby carrier, a bouncer, bassinet and wraps. Other than clothing, this is pretty much all that we needed. The one exception is the stroller. At the time we were in the city and it was more useful than it is today. But even then, I got an umbrella stroller that was suitable from newborn and upwards. 

Today we are using the same baby carrier (Baby Bjorn) and bouncer (Oeuf), and we have used them for all four children. I have to say I'm impressed with the quality of both. While they've faded a little, they're still incredibly useful. Initially I borrowed a bassinet for our first child, but bought a moses basket and a stand for our second, which we have used for both girls and now our baby boy. The brand is Seed Organic and we bought it from Kido Store, although it doesn't seem to be available any more. 

Swadling a baby is something that comes with practice, but has helped all of our children to sleep well. For our eldest daughter we were given a L'il Fraser Collection wrap and I have to say the giant size of it is brilliant. It really prevents babies from wriggling out. We have used them now for all three children. We also use a Love To Dream zip-up wrap, which is another good way to prevent them from un-swadling. And we use the wraps to line the bassinet rather than buying dedicated sheets. The one other item that we've used for all four children is our Melobaby - it's a baby changing mat that wipes down, has magnets so is easy to pull apart (no zips), fits everything inside (nappies and wipes) and fits into a bag. I've never used a "baby" or "nappy" bag - a large-sized tote, such as the market basket and string bag that I'm currently rotating, has always been sufficient.

For clothing, I had to buy a new selection this time around as I had handed down many of our other pieces. Although I had held onto a little all-in-one from Petit Bateau that is still in good condition. The rest I have bought mainly from Nature Baby, and the quality is good and the pieces wash well. As I mention here, I have also bought some woollen items that I wish I had known about years ago, as these definitely would have worked well across gender and over the years. This is perhaps another lesson that I've learnt - when you buy gender neutral clothing they really will last you for years, if you plan on having more than one child. Natural colours and greys work well in this regard. The grey and white striped wrap, pictured above, is one that I bought for my youngest daughter and it is just as suitable for my son.

The hardest part will be letting go of these items once they are no longer needed, as they have been such a big part of our lives over the past eight years.

images the indigo crew

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