When I had my children I was always determined to have small gaps between them (probably because my sister is eight years older than me and still wishes I'd never been born!), but having seen how easy it is to manage a five-year-old and babies I am beginning to see the error of my ways.
When son number two was born it was an endless round of meeting the needs of a demanding two-year-old who couldn't see why the arrival of a baby brother should impede his ambitions of world domination, and a newborn who saw no reason why he didn't deserve his own personal slave just as much as his big brother.
Teatime was a cacophony of screams from the oldest who wanted mummy to tenderly feed him morsels of food just like she had before the arrival of that pesky baby, and baby who wasn't happy with the delay to his dinnertime this slow food movement caused.
Nursery pick up time always seemed to coincide with the exact moment that the baby decided he was on the verge of starvation and wasn't afraid to let me know how strongly he disapproved of my slack service. In response I would spend the entire journey screaming nursery rhymes to drown out the yelling from the car seat and the pricking from my conscience that baby number two wasn't getting quite the same Rolls Royce treatment I'd given my first born who'd never waited for a meal in his life.
At storytime my lap became a battle field hotly contested between the incumbent and insurgent child, a battle which still sees the occasional skirmish break out to this day. But at least I can justify my ever expanding thighs as the time is fast approaching when they will have to be commodious enough to seat four.
In those dark days I would phone my husband in tears begging him to speed home from work to relieve me of my charges, before I was relieved of my sanity. Looking back I can't quite see why I was so keen to breed again.
This time round, despite the fears of both us and our nearest and dearest harboured about our ability to cope with four children aged five and under, it has so far proved a much more pleasant experience. The big boys are both besotted with their baby brothers and vie for the privilege of fetching a bottle or inserting a dummy into a Munchesque shrieking maw. Instead of being the hindrance I anticipated, they have proved to be an invaluable help.
So I'd like to say a big thank you to my big boys for ensuring that I reached the end of the holiday without reaching the end of my tether.