Several years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties and enjoying every second, I attended a New Year’s Eve party at my friend Dan’s apartment. About half way through my good friend, Karla, and I decided that we were going to get on his coffee table and dance to Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.” But not just once. We kept the song on repeat until partygoers were worn out on the tune, whining, “Again?” And we were like, “Yeah. Again.”
Fast forward a few momentous years and Karla and I were both happily pregnant with our first children. But Karla’s situation was a little different than mine. Because she was pregnant with triplets. You heard me. Three.
I immediately thought about how Karla and her husband, Max, are two of the most capable and adventurous people I know, and that if anyone could handle this, they could. And indeed, they have handled it incredibly well and have three seriously adorable, well-mannered, fun three-year-olds to show for it. We don’t live in the same town anymore, but I’ve had the chance to hang out with their family a couple times since the triplets – Mia, Josie and Marcus – were born, and I adore spending time with them.
I keep up with Karla’s adventures on her blog, My Baby Drama, but I’m always up for hearing more about her family. So here’s seven questions with someone I consider a true supermom, and a wonderful friend.
What’s your favorite cocktail?
Just one? Prior to kids, my classic drink was a Vodka Collins. I'm also a sucker for signature martinis such as a White Cosmopolitan or Pomegranate Martini. Now that I have kids, I sometimes treat myself to a martini on a rare night out; however, if I have to stay up past 9 PM, I will often chose a rum and Diet Coke. Without the caffeine, I'll fall asleep at the table.
Ok, the necessity of cocktails aside, you're an amazing mother to these three. I've seen you in action. What are some specific strategies you use to deal with having three?
My number one strategy is take deep meditative breaths...often. No, seriously remaining calm is important since the energy level in our house is always over the top. However, having a consistent schedule, discipline technique, and routine is essential. My kids have been holding hands and traveling as a unit since they could walk, there has never been another option since this is the only way I can keep track of all three. I basically run my household like a preschool. My walls are decorated with picture protocols of the steps required in the bathroom and at bedtime.
I learned quickly after a very embarrassing triplet breakdown over pink iced cookies how to handle public outings. Prior to going anywhere, whether it be the grocery store or library story time, we have a long conversation about what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior and what the consequences and rewards of behaviors will be. For example, I explain we will not be buying any toys or cookies before EVERY shopping trip. By making expectations clear we don't have a lot of surprises or tantrums and I stay in control. Finally, engaging the kids is essential. People who know me well, know their phone calls go straight to my voicemail. I am too busy singing songs in the car, playing "I spy" at the grocery store or refereeing fights at the playground. If I get too distracted, things can get a little out of control and I end up yelling, which is embarrassing to hear mirrored by your preschooler the next day.
Those are techniques that I feel every parent could benefit from, myself included. Honestly: it is annoying for you to witness parents not in control of their one child? Or when people complain about minor annoyances with their children, that you don't even have the time to deal with in your household? You can tell me. And, um, everyone reading this.
No, it definitely doesn't annoy me to see parents who aren't in control of their children, whether it is one or several. Raising kids is hard work and even the best of us lose it sometimes. Honestly, I may have been a very different parent if I hadn't had multiples. Having triplets forced me to be fairly rigid; otherwise, we would have never left the house. Certainly my situation is a little intense but I rarely get annoyed listening to other moms talk about their difficulties. When my kids were young, it actually made me feel better to know that even parents of a single baby weren't sleeping much and ended up in tears during those awful "witching hours". The only thing that sometimes gets to me is when moms worry over small details, like if they accidentally fed their child a piece bread with high fructose corn syrup or let them watch more than 30 minutes of TV a day. Although I sometimes worry about the same issues, I may let things I feel passionate about (like getting my kids to play outside for at least one hour each day) slide simply because it's a hectic day.
We've talked a lot about how your life has gotten easier as the triplets have gotten older because they now keep each other entertained. And how you now see moms who now have two children of different ages - like me - and realize their situation might be just as hard, or harder in some instances. But there's one undeniable fact, in my opinion: dealing three newborns at the SAME TIME earns you instant sainthood. Can you talk about how difficult it was at first, how you dealt with that, and how things have changed?
To say the first couple years were "difficult" has got to be the understatement of the century. My husband and I basically had no life outside of taking care of babies for two years. We lived on a strict schedule and had "protocols" for washing bottles, feeding babies, and doing laundry. Two of my newborns had reflux, which only made life more complicated. Anyone who has lived it will tell you, the first few years with multiples is a challenge physically, mentally and financially. Not to mention the stress it places on your marriage, family and friendships. Yeah, it was "hard". But, I had family close by, my mom practically lived at my house for the first year. I couldn't have done it without her. Also, I ran a lot (with my monster truck triple stroller). The fresh air and exercise was good for all of us. And, as soon as I could go places with my children, I did it, even if the prep took longer than the actual trip. Finally, time away was critical. With the help of grandparents, my husband and I started taking mini 1-2 night "vacations" when the babies were 3 months old. With young multiples, you give up a chunk of your life; you must remember your situation isn't forever. My husband and I spent a lot of time reminding each other that "babies do grow up" and once we got through the first two years, things would calm down. We would get our individuality back, we would rediscover our hobbies, and we would have an intimate relationship again. Sure enough, since our kids turned 2, life is almost normal.
Your kids are three and do attend a few days of preschool, but in not too long they'll be headed off to kindergarten. Every school day, all day. Do you have personal goals you'd like to achieve once you've got more time on your hands?
I can't honestly say I feel even a little bit nostalgic about my kids starting kindergarten in two years. I'm thrilled! I was in grad school earning my masters in exercise physiology when I found out I was pregnant with triplets. I had to take a leave of absence from my program for unexpected bedrest when I was 23 weeks pregnant. When my kids were 6 months old I went back to school and barely finished my degree. It was exhausting. Since then, I've managed to start my own fitness bootcamp company and I train a few clients from time to time but balancing work and kids is really tough. I would love to spend more time growing my business but right now, that just isn't feasible. Working from home when your kids are home just doesn't work for me, there are way too many interruptions. Once my kids start kindergarten I hope to have more time to focus on my career.
I am anxiously awaiting a point in time I where my now-seven-month-old and now-three-year-old can play. Not the kind of "playing" they do now, where the toddler piles a whole bunch of toys on top of the baby until he gets mad, but really play. Would you say the fact that your kids can entertain one another is one of the major perks of having triplets?
Absolutely! From the moment their eyes pop open in the morning until they curl up in bed at night, they are engaged with their best friends. They play for hours together, make believe, puzzles, cars, ponies, you name it. When we go to the playground, they travel around together as a big blob. If one of them happens to go the grocery store with me or stay home sick from school, they immediately run up and hug each other when they are reunited, like they had been separated for days. There is no doubt they have an amazing bond and watching their relationship play out, is a huge perk to having multiples. Now don't get me wrong, even best friends fight. We have plenty of drama in the house as well. But overall, I would say there is more peace than war.
I agree. And you guys are an inspiration. I've got one more question for you, and it might be the most important of all. Karla, will we ever dance on a table again?
I sure hope so!