British chef Jamie Oliver, left, accompanied by his wife Jules, arrive at the Pride of Britain Awards, in central London, Tuesday Oct. 9, 2007. The reader-nominated awards celebrate heroism and bravery and are presented to heroes ranging from courageous children to extraordinary nurses and teachers. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
British chef Jamie Oliver, left, accompanied by his wife Jules, arrive at the Pride of Britain Awards, in central London, Tuesday Oct. 9, 2007. The reader-nominated awards celebrate heroism and bravery and are presented to heroes ranging from courageous children to extraordinary nurses and teachers. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Even at 47, I’m yearning for a fifth baby

By Lorraine Candy Time of article published Mar 31, 2016

Share this article:

London - How many children is too many? Two seems sensible, three looks stressful, four feels excessive and five is bordering on bonkers - unless you are a baby addict.

I'm crazy for babies: they make me violently happy. I've still got baby fever 13 years after having the first one. I think about them every 20 minutes or so. Sometimes at home I absent-mindedly shush everyone in case they wake the baby - my youngest is four.

I'm still broody at 47, which is why I am insanely jealous of Jools Oliver. The 41-year-old wife of Jamie has announced she's pregnant with her fifth child, due in August. And because I love babies the way some women love cats, I'm still hankering after “just one more'“

In Victorian times, families were usually ten children strong - Queen Victoria had nine. Even today, Britain has more four-child families than nearly all of Europe (we're one of them). Bigger families, for those who can manage it financially and emotionally, are on the increase, though it's not everyone's cup of tea.

To be honest, there is as much shouting as there is laughing in a four-child family and the mess is on sixth-form common room levels.

When you have a lot of children they attract more children. Our house is often as full of children we aren't related to as it is those we are. There were 11 children in the lounge on Friday.

Our hallway looks like a church jumble sale, over-run with battered trainers and black hoodies. And we frequently run out of food, even though we stock more Rice Krispies and packets of biscuits than Asda.

But while I yearn for another baby, I would do things differently fifth time around. It's a lie that parenting comes naturally; it's a hit-and-miss series of phases on the verge of going monumentally wrong at any point.

But I have a small, but useful, list of tips, for any parents considering increasing their family.

First, tell everyone not to buy any soft toys from your third baby onwards. We have five binbags of unwanted soft toys in our loft, as well those stuffed under beds, in cupboards and in the back of the car. Short of hiring a skip, they are destined for landfill alongside all those hideous Croc shoes.

Buy one, hard-wearing, gender-neutral coat early on that zips up at the back (they do exist) and pass it down the family, if you ever want to leave the house in under an hour.

You always get the small one ready first, but by the time everyone's done, the small one has taken its shoes and coat off and is on the verge of an epic meltdown. The back zip will prevent this.

Don't read more than one bedtime story to any child after your second one is born. We got trapped in a four-story routine and by the time we had the last baby, it was taking two hours to put everyone to bed (and reading The Tiger Who Came To Tea over 1 000 times a year is purgatory).

Accept that no one wants to babysit four or more children, so you won't go out - ever.

And if you do take all of them out at the same time on your own, people stare. One man once called me a “feckless baby-maker” after rudely asking if all the children around the baby's buggy were mine and “by the same man”.

Give them short names; you won't have a lot of time to teach them to write their names when they go to school.

Accept your house will never be tidy, your car will always smell “unpleasantly funky”, as one relative puts it, and your fridge will always be empty.

In many ways parenting four or more children is easier than one as, by the third, they begin to look after and occupy each other.

And finally, never bring a musical film into the house. I have had Disney's The Lion King theme in my head for more than a decade.

Lorraine Candy is editor-in-chief of Elle.

Daily Mail

Share this article: