Life with three kids is starting to feel a little more normal. Theo and Elliot are starting to act more secure in our home. And I’m starting to look back on those first few weeks home.
There’s a lot I wish I had known. But even if I knew it, I’m not sure I could have practiced it. The first few weeks were really hard. We were all doing our best under new, stressful circumstances. Here are a few things I learned.
+ I learned we needed to simplify. The boys were clearly overwhelmed by the number of toys, books, and clothes we had. We had cut back a lot before they were home, but we needed to cut back even more. I boxed up a lot of things when they were asleep or out of their room. A lot of it is still in boxes, and a lot of it I have sold or donated. I don’t think we will ever be a family that thrives with a lot of stuff, and that’s fine by me.
+ I learned we needed to talk to them, even if they didn’t understand what we were saying. We started using consistent phrases to communicate what we were doing or asking them to do. For a while, I realized I was hardly talking to them or relying on Dan to communicate in French. I think it made them feel disconnected to me. Once I realized I could communicate a lot with my tone of voice, I started talking a lot more.
+ I learned I needed time to recharge outside of our house. I am undeniably an introvert and undeniably not a naturally nurturing mama person. I had to leave the house, or I would sit in our bedroom listening to them cry or tantrum. I would listen to what Dan was saying to them, thinking I could do it much better. (I couldn’t.) I needed to leave the house once in a while to relax and breath. I made sure Dan knew I could come home at any time — which I did on a couple occasions.
+ I learned to make choices based on what would increase their trust and safety. They needed to go where we were going and when we were going. They needed to know mama is upstairs cleaning or going in her car to go to the store and then coming right back. They needed to know when we were leaving the house to do something. They needed to know what we were eating. They needed to know that we would lay in bed with them every night until they fell asleep. And that if they came looking for us in the night, we would be there. They needed to know we would consistently address dangerous or inappropriate behavior in the same way. It was (and still is) exhausting to communicate everything to such a high degree when they may not understand it all, but it was necessary.
We’ve seen them grow and attach and get comfortable so quickly. I thought we’d never see this growth while we were in the thick of it those first few weeks. But here it is, and they’re continuing to do really well.