The toddler years of childraising can be a demanding, frenzied time for most families. Multiply that by four, and you’ve got the Gardner Quad Squad.
“Have you ever been to the circus?” Tyson Gardner joked last week during a phone interview.
Ashley and Tyson Gardner of Pleasant Grove are the ringleaders, wrangling in their quadruplet girls, Indie, Esme, Scarlett and Evie, who all hit their 18-month mark earlier this summer. And life at the Gardner home is an exercise in controlled chaos.
“You have four toddlers who can walk, climb, and run. Our house is a destruction zone. All four go four different directions. It’s extremely difficult,” Tyson Gardner said.
This was also a summer of firsts for the family. The Gardners were excited to experience the season with their girls, but June got them off to a late start. The girls caught a nasty flu bug and passed it around to each other and their parents. Colds and sinus and ear infections followed almost immediately.
“June was awful to us,” Tyson Gardner said. “We thought we’d get out on a family vacation, but we didn’t make it.”
By July though, summer really started for the family, and the girls experienced their first trips to the pool, first backyard water parties, and new experiences running around playing with cousins. Their first round of Fourth of July fireworks was a mixed bag. Indie and Esme were mildly amused, while Scarlett and Evie were very not.
The family also jumped on the summer’s favorite craze, and went wandering on their first "Pokemon Go" adventures — in their own way of course. Mom and dad took the girls, adorned in Pokemon character backpacks, out to an open field and “caught” them by tossing toddler play balls at them.
“[T]hey thought it was pretty cool that mom and dad let them roam free on the field, and also ran around with them,” Tyson Gardner said in his blog post at gardnerquadsquad.com.
The girls also discovered a love of the stairs in the family’s rented townhouse — much to Ashley Gardner’s nervousness, until she finally found the right stair gate.
“So currently we have been using everything from boxes, benches, chairs and now our ottoman from our couch. It has honestly been a nightmare,” Ashley Gardner said in an August blog post. “The girls have been slowly figuring out all our tricks. They are climbing over them or using their team effort to just push the things aside and squeezing past. Why do babies love stairs so much???”
Surprisingly it wasn’t the stairway that caused the Quad Squad’s first trip to the emergency room, but a door. During the girls’ bedtime routine July 31, Scarlett’s left pinky finger accidentally got squooshed in the bathroom door. The injury needed eight stitches to sew her tiny finger back together, and doctors still aren’t certain whether or not her fingernail will grow back. It was a traumatic experience for the whole family, but maybe even more so for Ashley and Tyson.
“It was really quite frightening for us. By the next day, Scarlett was running around like nothing happened. She’d look at her bandage, and be like, ‘OK, I’ve got something here. So what are we going to do today?’ But Ashley and I were traumatized,” Tyson Gardner said.
Scarlett’s finger has been healing nicely, and the doctors are hopeful for a healthy recovery. But with four toddlers running around, getting into things and places no one can predict, the Gardners have become experts on baby proofing. So this accident shook them.
“You can never be too careful. You have everything, and you think you’re ready, but you’re not,” Tyson Gardner said.
Each day brings new adventures, and most of them are more enjoyable than ER trips. Between caring for their girls, running their business, connecting with the media, and being a part of the TLC reality series, “Rattled,” it’s always a roller-coaster ride in the Gardner home. And they still have chaos to come. Tyson and Ashley have outgrown their current home, and are finalizing plans for a new home in Utah County.
“We’ve been renting a four-bedroom townhome, and running our business from home. With four babies, there is just so much equipment and furniture,” Tyson Gardner said.
But the girls are in that stage where their individual personalities are really blossoming, and for Ashley and Tyson, it’s just fun to watch.
“Each one is so different, and it’s so fun watching these four little persons grow and develop,” Tyson Gardner said.
Here’s Tyson’s take on his four daughters: