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Sydney
Australia

LIFE:CAPTURED began in August 2013 when we held our first full-day workshop at RAW Space in Sydney, Australia. Our mission is to help people document their stories and create tangible keepsakes to be treasured for generations to come. We offer intensive design, photography, and memory keeping workshops, as well as interactive online classes. We are advocates of honest photography, minimalist design, and memory keeping that's simple, beautiful, and tangible. We are the pioneers of the story book, and we offer flexible templates that enable everybody to tell their story. We believe that life is worth remembering and that it is never too early or too late to start documenting yours. LIFE:CAPTURED was founded by Rhonda Mason (of the Pink Ronnie blog) and Trish Chong (of Tealily Photography).

The blog

The official blog of LIFE:CAPTURED Inc, the modern school of memory keeping. We believe that life is worth remembering and that it is never too early or too late to start documenting yours. We blog about design, photography, and how you can preserve your story with timeless, tangible keepsakes.

Thoughts on motherhood: On having four boys

Ronnie

Thoughts on motherhood - A blog series by Rhonda Mason for LIFE:CAPTURED Inc (The modern school of memory keeping)

| Written by Ronnie |

We went to a friend's wedding on the weekend, and it was ridiculously fun. While we left the boys at home for the night-time reception, we opted to bring them along to the wedding ceremony so that they could be a part of the celebration. There were friends at the wedding whom I hadn't seen in over ten years, and it was quite amusing (in a nice way) to witness their surprise upon seeing our little tribe of boys. I ended up having a number of interesting conversations later at the reception, and it got me thinking that there are quite a few questions that I am frequently asked about our family. So today I thought I'd share a dozen or so FAQs I've encountered over the last number of years, along with my answers to said FAQs.

Please note that these opinions are entirely my own, and just for funsies, I've listed the questions in descending order, starting with the question most frequently asked:

Are you having any more?
(Who else isn't surprised that this is THE most frequently asked question? Insert smiley face here.)  Well, that depends. It's not entirely up to us. But yes, if possible, we would love to have one more. 

Are you trying for a girl? Do you have four boys because you've been trying for a girl?
No. And no.

Would you like to have a girl?
Sure! I'd like to have a girl just as much as I'd like to have another boy. The truth is that I really love having boys, and I'm so used to having boys. Having a girl would probably completely throw me off. But I guess that could be fun, hey?

Are you really, really busy?
(I'm pretty sure this is a trick question, but I'll answer it anyway.) Yes, I guess so. But to be honest, I'm not any busier than I was when we had the three boys at home. And in fact, it was a lot tougher when Jamie was born and we had three under two and a half. Oh my goodness, that was crazy. 

You must be a super mum. Are you? 
Nope. But I do have THE most amazing husband, who is super duper wonderful with the boys and does more for our family than you could possibly imagine. 

How do you guys do it?
Rick and I 'tag team' a lot, and we're always on the same page as to what's happening on any given day. We also have amazing parents who live in the same city as us and who are committed to coming over and helping us out. Rick's mum, for example, comes over every Tuesday for the entire day, allowing me to go out and work at a cafe for almost eight uninterrupted hours each week. We've also gotten better over the years at saying 'no' to stuff which we would like to go to but which we know might not be the best thing for our family in terms of our energy levels (both our own and the boys'). 

What does a typical day look like?
Get up. Boys get dressed. We change Bear and give him a bottle. Breakfast together. Clean up. Rick and I get dressed. Boys play or watch a bit of television. Rick works. I hang with the boys. We read. They play. Morning tea. More play. Lunch. Quiet time for all the boys. I work while they nap/rest. Afternoon play. Rick cooks dinner. The boys tidy the play room. We eat. We chat. We clean up. We head upstairs. The boys shower. Rick does bedtime with the big boys. Bear and I have our own bedtime routine in his room. Rick and I watch an episode of Frasier with a cup of tea. We work. (Sometimes Rick heads out.) We shower. We pray. We sleep. Usually just on midnight. 

Do the boys all have quiet time?
Yes. Always. Every day. It's the only way I cope. 

Do the boys take part in lots of activities?
Not formally, no. The older two have had swimming lessons but that's about it. I know there are heaps of things we could enrol them into, but for now, it makes the most sense for our family to keep them at home and simply allow them to spend time with each other and with us. There are so many of them that they are honestly never bored and are constantly coming up with new ideas for pretend play themselves. 

What is your biggest tip with disciplining?
Consistency and following through with whatever consequences you have stipulated. Others will have differing opinions on this, but the 'naughty corner' is what has worked really well for us. Basically, if the boys deliberately disobey us after we've warned them once, then we isolate them for a set period of time. When they come out, we talk about why they were isolated. They always understand. Yes, even Bear who's twenty months old understands. For us, this has been so effective that we hardly ever have to put the older three into the naughty corner these days. We don't smack anymore. We used to, but after I read a heartfelt blog post by a blogger friend two years ago, we stopped doing it. 

What's your television policy?
We have no problems with the boys watching television at the tail ends of the day, ie. in the mornings and in the late afternoons when we are both preoccupied with household logistics. During the day, we generally have the television off. Unless I'm having one of those days when I simply cannot get off the couch, in which case, yes, bring on the screen time! You do what you need to do.

iPads? iPhones?
They don't have their own, and generally speaking, they don't get to play with ours. Again, there are always exceptions to this rule. Like when Bear is screaming and upset at a restaurant, and watching videos of himself and his brothers is the only way to keep him happy and entertained. You do what you need to do. 

How do you keep your house tidy?
Our whole family packs things away - including our twenty-one month old. It's amazing how quickly they learn if you start them off early. 

What car do you have?
Ah, yes, the billion dollar question. A Land Rover Discovery 2. Rick loves it. I am much more impartial to it, though inadvertently over the years, I think I've grown quite fond of it. Sort of. Except when it annoys me. 

What books do you recommend for new mums?
Birth Skills by Juju Sundin. So good. The only book on birth that you really need to read, in my opinion. And Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Marc Weissbluth. A must-read if you're happy and open to sleep training. 

* * *

Like I said, these opinions are entirely my own. In no way am I saying that our way is the way. This is simply what has worked, and continues to work, for us as a family. 

If you have any other questions for me, feel free to let me know in the comments below!

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