“Raising five sons is crazy, frustrating, fun, manic and a learning curve. Everyday I’m pushed outside my comfort zone and learning new things (quite often useless football facts, but new nonetheless)” says Jess Warner, author of The Only Girl in the House blog…
Jess Warner, 31, lives on the South Downs – “about 10 minutes from Brighton and a 45-minute train to London – so we’re lucky to have a great cocktail of outside space, fresh air, beach life with a generous sprinkling of city on the top”. She lives with her partner Russell, her sons Hugo, nine, Bruno, eight and Casper, 18 months and two stepsons: Noah and Marley (part-time). She’s an award-winning blogger and social media manager.
“I never take my mum-hat off – there’s always a school calling for a PE kit or a childcare drop-off to make, but I go to a grown-up space I like to call my office and work with other adults for three days a week. I work for an interiors company as their social media manager and in-house blogger.
Right now, my house is a building site. We’re currently completely renovating our house to ensure, as all the boys get bigger, there’s enough space for everyone to find their piece of calm – not a mean feat in a house of busy boys. But when it’s not a site it’s still a pretty chaotic place. There are always boys coming and going, trampoline competitions, food being cooked, a toddler clambering on furniture – but it’s fun and that’s our happy normal.
I had Hugo when I was 21, followed by Bruno at 23 and Casper at 30 – so I’ve never really known adult life as anything other than a mother. I found out the sex of my baby during each pregnancy. I’m not massively organised a lot of the time – I aspire to organisation but it’s fleeting, except when it comes to buying stuff. If there’s stuff to be purchased, I’m like a retail ninja – so I had to know the gender of all the boys to prepare, plan and buy.
It’s never been a conscious thought of mine to end up with so many children. I was an only child and had always been so envious of my friends with siblings (even to the point of pretending I had a sister!) – so I knew I wanted more than one, but beyond that it’s been a bit of a fluid concept. I knew I wasn’t “done” at two, but I feel quite content at three, so that might just be my magic number.
After having Hugo (my first), I really wanted a second son for them to be a pair. But I kinda hoped by switching baby daddy, I might stand a chance at a girl when it came to my third (even though he has two boys too – doh!) – but then came Casper, and I know it’s annoyingly cliché, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.
I was convinced my first would be a girl – I’d only ever known girliness so thought I’d only be capable of making girls. More fool me! Then when it came to our collective fifth child, we were hoping for a little girl, but it clearly wasn’t meant to be.
Raising five boys is…
Crazy, frustrating, fun, manic and a learning curve. Everyday I’m pushed outside my comfort zone and learning new things (quite often useless football facts, but new nonetheless). I actually love being the only female in the house, and it’s a great way to solve family problems like who goes first in board games or who’s in the middle of a family picture – the girl!
Work is my solace – the place I can remind myself of who I am, what I love doing and that I’m good at something other than churning out humans. Russell’s also pretty good at making light of stressful situations – when I just want to cry and jack it all in, he’s there to lighten the load in an enviably calm way and usually hand me a cup of tea.
The difference between boys and girls…
The main difference I’ve seen is conflict resolution… boys shout and fight it out, it can be shocking for outsiders, but once someone’s cried and it’s all over it’s completely forgotten. The only experience I have of girls was from my childhood, I know I was more underhanded and let things simmer – I now try to take a leaf out of the boys’ book, although I refrain from the fighting bit.
Our sons are all incredibly different (except for when it comes to loving sport) – there’s definitely no cure-all when it comes to treating them all the same, which doesn’t do me any favours when it comes to dinner time either, as I have to cook four different meals!”