3 under 3: Mumís the word

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Mummy blog: 3 under 3

Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age. This week Amy and her family make a 300-mile trip to Yorkshire, and Amy reflects on how her own mum must have coped back in her day...

'I must be mad. Crazy. Utterly round the twist. What other explanation is there for agreeing to strap 3 small children into a car and drive for nearly 300 miles? For consenting to spend 4 nights living in 1 hotel room? Complete madness. Only, it actually wasn't. We actually had fun...

With Christmas approaching and with a few weeks off work, my husband really wanted to go and visit his family. Totally understandable. Only they live down in Yorkshire, while we're up in Scotland. We'd driven up to my in-laws from London a few times when the twins were little, but this was the 1st time we were going to attempt it with 3 toddlers in tow. We 1st considered going by train... we shuddered and moved on. Trying to control a feisty 14-month-old in a train seat? Nope, car was the only option, as horrific as the prospect sounded. We don't actually have a car, usually getting round with buggies or borrowing Granny's Volvo, so we hired a 7 seater. I swallowed my fears about driving a tank, we squeezed 3 car seats in a row in the back, filled the boot to bursting, and set off. And the girls were good as gold, largely due to the actual miracle that are in-car DVDs.

Honestly, how did parents ferry their kids around before the invention of these wonders? T especially could have been driven to the moon and back, as long as there was a constant supply of Mickey and Thomas and Charley Bear. They usually only get a brief burst of cartoons a day - as I retreat into the refuge of the kitchen to cook tea accompanied by my beloved Radio 4 - so the stream of cheery colours was a novelty which thankfully failed to wear off, even as we sat for an hour in a traffic jam in Newcastle. OK, so even, in my opinion, the finest CBeebies product, Little Einsteins, began to drive Daddy and I mad (not sure I will ever be able to hear Mozart's masterpiece Eine Kleine Nacht Music again without singing: ‘I love balloons. I love, I love balloons,' along with it) but other than G's occasional disagreement with her seatbelt and M's anger when she was woken too soon from a nap, we survived no fewer than 9 hours strapped in together, largely intact.

As we settled into our hotel (which incidentally, also wasn't too bad, the girls slept, and I actually got to read a book. It felt weird. In a good way) I couldn't help but wonder, not for anywhere near the 1st time, how my own parents did it. How did they raise us in the 70s and 80s, long before the invention of car DVDs or CBeebies? My mum has always had a soft spot for Trumpton and Camberwick Green, as they brought her 10 minutes peace a day, but that was our lot. There were 4 channels on our TV, not 400. She always remembers hating Thursdays, as we all disliked Fingermouse so her break was non-existent. We used to make regular trips a couple of hundred miles up the road to visit her parents. How on earth did she and Dad do it? We usually went by train. I went cold at the idea of transporting 3 under 3. They did it with 3 under 3-and-a-half. OK, so my big sister was always an intelligent, obedient, helpful godsend. But I was always, erm, spirited. How on earth was I contained in a train for 2 hours? The very thought makes me feel a bit ill. And a bit guilty. Becoming a mum is the only thing that can make you truly appreciate your own.

My girls adore their gran, and her willingness to babysit has saved my sanity on many an occasion, but I'm not just thankful to her as Granny. I'm thankful to her as Mum too. When we were very small, she had all 3 of us in a small 2nd-floor flat with no lift. Her own mum lived hundreds of miles away and with my dad at work, she spent all her days with us, without money to spend on expensive activities, with no children's channels to fall back on and, I suspect, very little cooperation from me. My life might be a bit full-on, but compared to Mum, I feel like I have it easy. And whenever the girls are driving me round the twist, screaming, fighting and throwing tantrums over nothing at all, I just have to hold onto the thought that one day, they'll become mums and finally appreciate me too. Until then, I'll accept their moods as my karma. Sorry Mum, and thank you!'

Do you wonder how your parents it in their day? Is travelling with your kids a nightmare? Tell us about your experiences in our comments section below or on Facebook.

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Amy's other blog posts... 

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