More kids, more pets, more happiness. Apparently that is the secret.
Do you believe it? I do. In fact I am living proof. This time three years ago I was a working mother of two, thinking life was grand. We were sticking with two. We wouldn’t get a pet, even though the children were plagueing us for one. It would tie us down too much, we reckoned.
Fast forward a few years and here I am, a working mother of three, thinking life is great. With a toddler, two school children, four chickens and a lively dog. Life is busier than ever. But the great thing is it feels like there is more, well, life to life these days.
There’s still the routine stuff of course – making sure everyone is fed, the school run, the kindergarten drop-off, getting out the door to work. But then there’s the bustle and buzz of it all too – walking the dog, collecting the eggs, playing fetch, taking turns to check the pets’ food and water bowls.
The thing is, with lots of children and animals around there is always something going on. A chicken will get broody for while. An egg will be speckled. The dog will sneakily munch on an apple that she found in the garden. There are happy moments in every day and boredom doesn’t creep in as easily, for the kids or for me. Even if it does, there is mostly some kind of diversion that can be created to alleviate it.
Having pets has done wonders for the children, as has having siblings. There is always someone to play with, start a row with or join forces with against a cross mammy. The pets have given the kids a common interest, something to join together in. Watching them play with and learn from our pets never ceases to fill me with pride and happiness. Better still, the animals have provided them with a retreat of sorts. The dog and even the chickens have become confidants. The children go to them when they are in need of calming, when they need cheering up or alone time away from people. Pets don’t misunderstand, they don’t say “not now” or “apologise to your brother!”. They balance the kids out.
So that’s the children. But what about us as parents? Doesn’t it get to be too much, the pitter patter of eighteen little feet? The truthful answer is yes, sometimes it does. But then again it was sometimes too much with only one child and sometimes too much with only two children.
Now, with a fuller house and garden, the feeling of being overwhelmed is no more frequent than it was before. In fact it feels more like things are really under control now. The children are more content in themselves and that, in turn, makes our life as parents easier. We do more together. We laugh more. We have our own little in jokes and anecdotes.
Maybe we have let standards slip. Maybe we have gotten used to the chaos and noise. Maybe we have even gotten in over our heads. But at the end of the day, having pets has rounded off our family.
Fionnuala is a project manager and mama to three bilingual boys living in Germany. Coffee in hand, she is usually found minding the children, planning projects, writing or cooking, all while keeping an eye out for vintage treasures and taking photos for her brilliant Three Sons Later blog.