As you turn 7 and 5 – a birthday post

How many sleeps until our party, mummy? / How many sleeps until our birthday, mummy? / And how many sleeps until MY party, mummy?

This has been the soundtrack in our house for the last couple of weeks at least. Three little boys, with birthdays two days apart – the first being tomorrow.  Piled in the corner of my bedroom are party bags, pass the parcel fillers, presents and cards. There is a giant penguin cake under several sheets of foil in the kitchen, and another cake waiting to be transformed into a space rocket.

Birthday season is well and truly underway – one little boy is approaching 7, and two are approaching 5.

7 and 5.

7 and 5!

I am having a bit of trouble with this one – these ages sound…..well, not grown up; but not really like I still have little ones. In my head, it feels like the baby/toddler years weren’t that long ago, but then when I’m out and I see mums with change bags and prams, mums trying to get babies to sleep, mums heading off to baby massage classes, mums lugging around car seats and mums putting babies in highchairs I realise that yes, we are well and truly in a different stage now.

Part of me still misses the baby and toddler days, but then another part of me loves the ages we are at right now. I feel I spend a lot of time either looking back, feeling apprehensive about the future, or attempting to cling onto the present (only the good bits, obviously).

So this is my attempt to cling onto the right now – little snapshots of you, my three beautiful boys, as you approach 7 and 5.

Eldest boy:

You are: 

Confident in your own quiet way, cautious, determined, hungry for knowledge, routine-loving, easily pleased, inquisitive, uncoordinated; an old-fashioned soul in a fast-moving world.eldest boy reading

You love: 

Books, maps, train timetables, names, lists, dates, football, kings, queens, dates of birth, a family tree, cosy jumpers, a hearty meal, twiddling your hair, school, answers to questions, Christine and the Queens; days at home with a pen in your hand, books and plenty of paper.

You can often be found: 

At a table with a pen and reams of paper, making lists.

Sitting on your bedroom floor surrounded by books.

In the garden playing football with your own running commentary and a list of scores by the door ready to update when necessary.

Likely to say: 

‘I have made up a new train line, mummy. It goes from Chorleywood to Aston Clinton.’

‘I’m going to draw another map of my made up town, North Moor.’

‘How many caps did Luther Blissett get for England, daddy?’

‘I still have quite a bit of my work to do you know, mummy.’ (Your work being your lists, charts, maps and tables – it is never-ending.)

Nightmare scenarios: 

Practising bike-riding. Again.

Not having time to finish your ‘work’.

Special skills: 

Keeping yourself amused.

Plotting train routes.

Inventing towns.

Recalling the dates of birth of family members, the Royal Family, and 85% of Watford FC’s players.

Twin 1:

You are: 

A beautiful, affectionate, eager, sensitive, messy, cuddly whirlwind of emotions. Happy to be looked after, always ready for a cuddle.

Twin 1 climbing

You love: 

Roast potatoes, chipped potatoes, most other potatoes, climbing, dancing, superheroes, big drums, motorbikes, skateboards, funny voices, fast slides, funny faces, cake, biscuits, ice-cream in a cone.

Can often be found: 

Climbing to the top of something.

Likely to say: 

‘Mummy, when can I have a skateboard?……. And what about a surfboard?’

‘I tried peas mummy and I like them. But I am only eating ONE.’

‘Can I have some more roast potatoes, please?’

‘I am NOT tired.’

Nightmare scenarios: 

A grazed knee.

A bowl of greens.

Your very precious skateboard top being in the wash.

Being told there are no more roast potatoes.

Special skills: 

Eating all the roast potatoes.

A continually grubby face, whatever the activity.

Twin 2:

You are:  

Helpful, earnest, observant, loyal, stubborn, growing so so fast, cuddly, affectionate, independent but not keen on being alone, a snazzy dresser; sometimes shy, sometimes a performer…..And absolutely never, ever in any rush. Twin 2 fireman

You love:

Observing your surroundings, parsnips, creepy crawlies, helping with jobs, feeling like a grown up, undivided attention, holding open doors, pulling funny faces, emergency vehicles, fancy dress, dot-to-dots, custard tarts, mummy’s necklaces / watch / rings /  buttons; bow ties, smart hats, flamboyant shirts, doors, locks, hand-dryers, a sensor flush.

Can often be found: 

Still sitting at the table long after everyone else has finished.

Drifting along at the back of a group.

Holding open doors.

Testing out toilet doors / locks / flushing mechanisms and the pedals on sanitary bins.

Likely to say: 

‘But I don’t want to be LAST FOR MY MIIIIILLLLLKKKKK.’

‘Can I help you, mummy?’

‘But I can carry it all by myself!’ 

‘Mummy, do you remember that day when we went to the park and there were three tunnels and we saw a blue bin and two ladybirds and a butterfly?’ 

Nightmare scenarios: 

Being the last one to put milk on your cereal in the mornings.

Being interrupted.

Feeling like you’re not being listened to.

Special skills: 

An incredible eye for detail – you notice everything.

Happily spending an hour over your breakfast.

three boys at the seaside

Happy birthday to you, little ones, as you move into your new, more grown-up sounding ages.

Let’s see what 7 and 5 have in store.


As you turn 6 and 4

Today, Eldest Boy, is what I call your Birthday Eve. Tomorrow, you turn 6. Two days later, your brothers turn 4. August is always full-on and slightly overwhelming, but this year it is even more full-on than usual. For the first time ever, we are away for your birthdays; and we have a packed schedule. Over 6 nights we are staying in 3 places, attending 1 wedding and of course celebrating one turning 6 and two turning 4. Daddy also has Best Man duties to perform and a speech to perfect. Our car is packed to the brim as it always is when we go away; but this time there are also wedding outfits, mummy’s new shoes, birthday cards and presents.

So as we continue our little road trip; here you are, boys, as you turn 6 and 4.

Eldest boy

You are: 

Growing in confidence, gentle, your own boy, innocent, imaginative, inquisitive, brave, impatient, a bookworm, on a mission to protect the world’s endangered species.

You love: 

Books, maps, animals of the world, structure, school, nature, lists, problems to solve, answers to questions, a hearty meal, dates, times, football scores, custard, flags, days at home surrounded by your books.

You can often be found: 

Sitting on your bedroom floor with a selection of atlases, drawing maps, compiling lists, reading, writing out imaginary football scores, swotting up on animals and their habitats.

Likely to say: 

‘I really love learning the Cyrillic alphabet, mummy. In fact, I wish we were Cyrillic. Or Russian, I mean.’

‘I would love to be a brown rat because brown rats eat anything they find.’

Special skill: 

Retaining and recalling information – the diet of an Arctic fox, the preferred habitat of a ring-tailed lemur. You read it and somehow it stays there.

Nightmare scenario: 

Being hurried when engrossed in a book.

Eldest boy note

Twin 1

You are: 

Joyful, sensitive, headstrong, eager, jaunty, impatient, adventurous, sociable, shy, cuddly, a whirlwind, the first to wake up every morning.

You love: 

Running, climbing, performing, leaping, racing, wrestling, scooting, making friends, being praised, cake, ice-cream in a cone, one more sweetie.

Can often be found: 

Forcing your way to the front door determined to open it first.

Likely to say: 

‘Stop saying those RUDE things, mummy’

(Anything you don’t want to hear is, apparently, a ‘rude thing’.)

Special skill: 

Winning people over with your big brown eyes. And they are big.

Nightmare scenarios: 

Ambiguous answers. Unfortunately, the answer is sometimes ‘maybe’, and you don’t like that at all.

Your scooter blowing away, a bag being put on the ground, your brother running on ahead of you. You have quite a few nightmare scenarios at the moment my lovely, you are going through a bit of an anxious phase.

Twin 1

Twin 2

You are:  

Observant, defiant, unsure, shy, master of voices, growing so fast that I can’t buy new clothes quickly enough, sometimes earnest, sometimes jokey, often moody; never in any rush.

You love:

Creepy crawlies, flamboyant accessories, funny faces, taking your time over meals, crackers, silly voices, ice lollies, fancy dress, finding feathers, playing make-believe.

Can often be found: 

At the table, still finishing a meal.

Watching snails. Or ants.

Playing mummies and daddies and babies.

Likely to say: 

‘I can see a dead woodlouse.’

‘You know mummy, yesterday a few weeks ago I found a smelly sock on the way home from school…… And a glove.’

‘I need a cuddle.’

Special skill: 

The ability to spot ants, snails, slugs, feathers and abandoned socks and gloves from a great distance.

Nightmare scenario: 

A stepped-on snail.

No more snacks.

Twin 2 fancy dress2

New adventures

As you turn 6 and 4, the year to come is a big one for us all – this time next month I will have three little schoolboys.

Yes, you are still hard work. The days are still relentless, getting us all out of the house saps me of all of my energy, and the thought of a glass of wine carries me through bathtime and bedtime. But boys, you are magnificent and along with the chaos you bring us bucket loads of laughter and fun. Long may that continue.

Happy birthday xxx

One at 5 and two at 3

Last week was birthday week in our house. With 3 boys’ birthdays in the space of 3 days, my husband took the week off work and we enjoyed a week of family fun / total exhaustion. And because it hadn’t been quite busy enough, we ended the week with a party for all three on Saturday.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I get more stressed about children’s birthday parties than I did over my wedding.

Mood pre-wedding:

  • Excited – I knew that it would be the best day. Neither husband-to-be nor I were likely to end up having a tantrum on the floor. And if anything went wrong or didn’t turn up, we’d deal with it.

Mood pre-birthday party:

  • Tense, anxious, irritable – children are completely unpredictable, who knew what mood mine would be in? I ended up with one hanging off my legs for at least 30 minutes so relatively it wasn’t too bad. But the most terrifying thing of all was this: if the entertainer didn’t turn up, I would be in a hall for 2 whole hours with 30 children to keep amused.

Thankfully, after the initial hanging-off-mum’s-legs period, the party seemed to be enjoyed by all, the entertainer did turn up and typically, by the time everyone else was leaving, my boys had warmed up and were having a ball.


So now birthday week is all over for another year, and here we are with a 5 year old and two 3 year olds. It’s been a big year for them all: the eldest boy’s first year at school and the first year that the twins have really started to show real differences in their personalities.

So here they are – three boys in brief:

Eldest boy

He is: 

Gentle, shy, studious, independent, affectionate, sensitive, imaginative, innocent, slightly eccentric in the best possible way.


Cars, maps, animals of the world, menus, imaginative play, school, registers, routine, car magazines, shepherd’s pie, cosy jumpers.

Can often be found: 

Swotting up on car magazines, maps or animal fact books. Otherwise writing menus.

Likely to say: 

‘Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Mercedes A-Class, Nissan Pulsar…..’

‘Is that a Tasmanian wolf or an Arctic wolf? And when are we going to Africa?’

Special skill: 

His ability to recognise the make of a car by looking at its lights.

Nightmare scenario: 

Someone daring to move his car magazines.

aged 5 running

Twin 1 (Trouble)

He is:

Headstrong, defiant, stubborn, joyful, adventurous, impatient, cuddly, sociable, high maintenance.


Running, jumping, climbing, leaping, wrestling, mummy saying no (hilarious), vehicles, potatoes, sitting on a lap.

Can often be found: 

Lying flat on his face with a cut lip having discovered, once again, that the speed at which he wishes to travel is significantly faster than his little body will allow.

Wrestling his brothers to the ground.

Likely to say: 

‘Can we go and see the little trains on the big train soon?’

(This is in reference to the model trains he adored at the Devon Railway Centre, and is asked at least once every 30 minutes. Every day.)

‘Carry me and have a cuddle’.

Special skill: 

Seeking out vegetables and removing them from any dish, however hard you try to disguise them.

Nightmare scenario: 

Not being heard.

Trouble at Kew

Twin 2 (Not-quite-so-much-trouble)

He is: 

Observant, sensitive, jokey, serious, affectionate, sociable, confident, sometimes shy; slightly contradictory.


Having ‘lotsa’, creepy crawlies, vehicles, animal t-shirts, flamboyant accessories, making silly sounds, grapes, somersaults, spinning, pine cones.

Can often be found: 

Lying on the pavement watching snails.snailwatch

Likely to say: 

‘I need lotsa crackers….I haven’t got LOTSA!’

Special skill: 

The ability to use ordinary pieces of furniture as monkey bars.

Nightmare scenario: 

‘I’ve got mucky HAAAAAANDS!’

Getting dressed / undressed. If only someone understood just how bad this is.

giant snail

3 boys march on

Eldest boy’s vision of the future is a beautifully innocent one in which the three of them continue to participate in all activities together. His idea of them all getting the bus to the garage to choose a car on his 17th birthday makes me smile, as does his plan for us all to head to the safari park for their 19th and 17th birthdays. I’m sure things will pan out slightly differently, but for now I’m enjoying the innocence while it lasts.

watching ducks