Naturally conceived quintuplets started at kindy on Monday.
Four years ago, Perth mum Kim Tucci made headlines around the world when she gave birth to naturally conceived quintuplets (that’s five babies). Not only that, Keith, Allie, Penelope, Tiffany and Beatrix had older siblings: then nine-year-old Kurt, five-year-old Aiva and three-year-old Indiana.
This week, the quintuplets begin their school journey, starting kindy at a Montessori school, and Kim is over the moon.
"I'm so excited, I'm so ready," says Kim on a phone conversation with me. "I think I've been waiting for this moment for such a long time and I'm just so ready to be able to have a little bit of freedom, go back to work and be a normal person for a while."
In a Facebook post on her page Surprised by Five, Kim reveals to her 300,000 fans a little bit of her life before kids and her dreams for the future:
"Before I became a mum to eight I worked as a makeup artist," she wrote. "I don’t want to go back to doing that. I’m not even sure what I could do or where I fit into the workforce anymore! I will continue to write and I hope to have another book published in the near future but I really am longing for something different. Maybe something in social media management, advertising or marketing. I made a resume the other day and I was so tempted to put child wrangler, cool mum with military precision in the skills section."
Kim's first book, I've had 8 babies, and if there's one thing I've learned . . ., was released last week (which also happened to be the day of her quintuplets' birthdays) and features more than 150 tips "for all new parents to save sanity, time and money".
The book is filled with tidbit-sized tips on anything a new parent wants to know about, from feeding, sleep, nappies and toilet training, to playtime and outings and occasions.
When I ask her if she could choose the most important tip she felt every new parent should have, she says, "Dream feeding—feeding your baby while they're still asleep. When I had my first and second, I would wake up every three or four hours to feed. If I had known about dream feeding, I would have fed them just before I went to bed while they were still asleep, then I would have gotten a solid three to four hours of sleep. When you're sleep deprived, it takes such a toll not only on your mental health but your physical and emotional wellbeing. If you don't get enough sleep, everything really falls apart."
Now that the quins have started school, Kim is moving on to her next hurdle: getting all eight children awake, fed and dressed to get to school on time. For the past two-and-a-half years, Kim and her husband have been raising their children like most other Australian families—by themselves without live-in help.
"It's just about adjusting our routine and letting everyone settle into that routine," she says. "I'm sure after six weeks, we'll be pro at it. I have to be positive about it, otherwise I'll just fall apart."
With Kurt and Aiva already in school by the time the quins came along, and with all eight children in school now, I ask Kim what her strategy was in helping the older kids with schoolwork while trying to balance the attention required by the younger children.
"It was really hard," she admits. "But last year, we moved the big kids into the Montessori school and Montessori schools don't really believe in homework. We mostly do reading, so it wasn't so taxing. When the big kids were in the public school system, the homework for them was absolutely ridiculous. They go to school for six hours a day and come home and have to do more work, so the Montessori philosophy definitely fits in well with our home life."
When it comes to raising children and keeping your sanity at the same time, Kim says "the main thing is to make sure you're prepared in advance. If I go to sleep and I'm not prepared for the next day, it's always chaotic. So I get lunches ready in advance, I get the clothes out . . . it just makes the process so much easier. Everybody knows what they have to do in the morning. The clothes are out, the quins know to dress themselves, I put the fruit and the lunchboxes on the counter and everybody knows to put it in their bag. It's really good to keep consistency in their routine and kids learn to be independent really quickly if you just give them a chance."