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'There's a lack of time, I'm always in demand'

GWEN Loughman and her husband Cormac have four sons (Conor, Iarla, Liam and Brendan) aged between seven years and 21 months. In the space of less than five years the couple had four sons and each one was eagerly awaited.

"All of our boys were planned and we were extremely lucky in that they all happened almost immediately, particularly as I was still breastfeeding," says Gwen.

"There are many benefits to having children close together -- the first is that it is all done and dusted in a short space of time. I know it's a cliche but they do grow up together and the bigger two keep the younger ones entertained.

"Being close in age doesn't necessarily mean they will get along, but they are all good friends, even if they don't know it yet -- and they will never be alone. When our oldest was born, two thoughts entered my mind, the first was, 'I will kill for this child' and the second thought right on the back of that was 'I want to give him siblings'."

The Kildare woman (who writes a parenting blog at www.wonderfulwagon.com) says that although the days can be long and tiring, it is important to take time out and not to worry about the little things in life.

"The only negative aspect of having the children so close together is lack of time," admits the 40 year-old. "I am always in demand -- no matter what it is, someone will always be complaining about having to wait until I can get to them. And the constant noise also gets to me from time to time -- but I try to get some head and body space every now and again, just to reconnect with myself.

"However, it's not always easy or possible to get time out and when I do, I usually feel guilty-- but that's part of parenthood, there's always something to feel guilty about.

"But I have realised that I can't be superwoman -- she doesn't actually exist. If I could give advice to anyone I would say, stop trying to be perfect and if you need help ask for it.

"And similarly, when people tell you that you're playing a blinder, smile, say thank you and believe them, because chances are, that's exactly what you are doing.

"Failing all of that, a glass of wine at the end of a hard day isn't a bad idea either!"