But in this family autumn signifies a few other changes. Autumn is the time that we have to put the boys on steroids to help them breathe. As the weather cools, the asthma hots up. Steroids have implications for behaviour and slowed growth rate among other things. I just don't like it. But unfortunately they are just too sick without it. Even with the steroids, they still have their fair share of ambulance rides and hospital admissions.
Autumn for us also means in addition to the small suitcase of clothes which we cart around after our 4 children on short trips to the park (anywhere really), we take puffers, spacers and nebulisers. Everywhere we go, the asthma box goes too.
With 4 kids, simple outings become a military exercise. Take this weeks swimming lessons, for example. It was raining lightly when we arrived at the pool, and the weather was cool. Out hop the 3 biggest kids in track pants, jumpers and raincoats. Get the baby out, put the baby in the front pack. Put on mummy's raincoat. Get the big kids swimming bags. Don't forget the puffer box. Right. March everyone into the pool. Inside the pool it is hot and steamy. Strip the 2 biggest kids and make sure they are ready for the lesson, all the while keeping track of track pants, jumpers and rain coats-making sure not to take your eyes off the toddler who has been known to launch himself at the pool fully clothed. Take the toddlers excess jumpers and rain coat off. Take the baby out of the front pack. Take his excess jumpers off. Return the baby to the front pack. Mummy forgot to take off excess clothing, mummy decides to swelter rather than have to take the front pack (and associated baby) off again.
Chase the toddler around as he plays chicken with the swimming instructors while baby cries in the front pack. Baby falls asleep. Just as the lesson finished. Gently help the big kids get their clothes sorted and help the toddler get his coat on all the while taking care not to wake the baby.
Make it back to the car. Ask the eldest to hold toddlers hand while you sort the car out. Eldest gets distracted and pulls the toddler over, who cracks his head on the footpath (2nd eldest is also distracted). Bend over to pick toddler up. Baby, who is asleep in front pack dangles, head back and facing the open sky, mouth open and blissfully unaware of the logistics of an autumn trip to the pool. While baby is dangling, suddenly it starts raining. Hard. Baby joins his older brother in crying his heart out as it is raining right into his face, up his nose and in his mouth. Eldest needs reminding to get in the car. Again. 2nd eldest does a swan dive into the car and promptly bangs her shin on tow bar. Baby still being rained on. Baby still crying. Toddler still howling. Finally everyone in car. Call Burger Got Soul to arrange a takeaway. They're engaged. Try for several minutes. Get put through to their other shop, some 200km away.....get the picture??
If it were a summer swimming lesson it would read like this: Took kids to swimming lessons. Took them home in their towels. Had a BBQ for dinner.
Autumn is the time also when our house, seemingly bulging at the seems has to find room for washing. Washing hanging on drying racks. Everywhere. The washing seems to grow, to multiply as the season rolls onto winter, at which point the living room transforms itself onto a Chinese laundry, with the children playing on the periphery. I would run it through the dryer but as we have the lights from 6am wuntil 9:30 am and back on again at 4:30 our electriciy budget is already stretched. It doesn't help that on really dreary days the lights can stay on all day.
Winter is also the season where the eldest, not even six at the time, complained about the weather most mornings. "I'm moving to the Gold Coast with or without you. And I'm taking my fishing rod" he snapped through tears.
But enough about winter. Autumn is bad enough. Autumn, I'm sorry, but I just don't dig you.
What does autum mean to you?