I knew transitioning from two to three kids would be difficult, but never imagined it would be quite like this. Today I’m sharing my thoughts about transitioning from 2 to 3 kids, including our strengths and struggles handling three kids.
Note: This post was originally written three months into our new chapter as parents of three children. The first 8 weeks were a blur and the last four were a little more clear. Now that I am a month away from a full year as a Mom of three, I can speak more candidly about the pros and cons of going from 2 to 3 kids. I know I will update this post from time to time!
I always forget it’s sometimes worse to ask for advice before a life changing chapter begins then to find out what it will be like for yourself. As parents, we encounter a multitude of challenges on a day to day basis. Sometimes our struggles mirror those of our friends’ families, while other times they’re uniquely our own.
Let’s start with the most ironic piece of advice I have to give…
Don’t Ask For Advice about Transitioning for 2 to 3 Kids
No one can prepare you for your transition from being a parent of 2 to 3 kids overnight. This is because no one can really know what it will be like for your family. Children, especially newborns, are the definition of unpredictable. We heard all sorts of stories from parents of three – the third goes with the flow, the third slept the best, the third was our angel, the third was our worst, etc. Arbor is now 11 months old and SO different from her sisters at the same age!
Before we begin, PLEASE read this post an “honest review of going from two to three children” and not “advice on how to survive the transition.”
The Struggles for Parents of Three Kids
We are outnumbered.
It’s only the beginning of our lives as Mom and Dad of three girls, but we already feel the burn. Being outnumbered is a scary new reality. More often than not, our daughters require a lot of our attention all at the same time – especially during the evening hours. Some nights you’ll find a crying newborn, overtired 5 year old, and a cranky 8 year old all under one roof. Since there are only two parents to care for three kids what they need, one child is sometimes feeling neglected.
Fortunately for our youngest, she can’t go unattended. Our middle and oldest children take turns at being Mom/Dad’s last priority when the three girls need us at the same exact time. I am THANKFUL we waited as long as we did to have a third because Annabelle and Ailey are pretty self-sufficient. But there are moments at night when one needs her hair brushed while the other needs a towel in the shower and the baby is begging to be put to sleep. If only one parent is home in the evening during this witching hour, Godspeed to said parent at avoiding a meltdown from a big sister.
So Many New/Always Changing Routines
In addition to a new evening routine, we also have had to adjust to a new morning schedule. When Arbor was a newborn, she and I often slept later than everyone else after being up all night. Sleeping in was extra difficult since I am in charge of getting all three kids ready for the day.
We use a morning checklist to stay on track with before school tasks, but it doesn’t always work – most days I feel like the Ringleader of our Family Circus. I am responsible for making breakfast, helping the big sisters change clothes, and packing lunches, all while taking care of Arbor. Sometimes the sisters argue and need a mediator, or want to play together instead of prepare to go to school. And on really special days, Arbor won’t let me put her down while I try to get the big sisters out of the door on time!
More Kids = More Messes
Cleanliness of your home (and life) is another struggle when you are parents of three kids. It’s kind of funny how I thought our house was messy BEFORE we added a baby. Now I just look around in disbelief at the items that accumulate on every inch of our home by the end of the week. Babies come a lot of things: play mat, bouncer, diapers, blankets, burp cloths, etc. Combine Arbor’s trail of items with Annabelle, Ailey, and Brandon’s belongings – our home is rarely organized anymore.
Another fun mess is the LAUNDRY room. The amount of dirty clothes our family produces seems impossible to keep up with. Not only does the baby often mess her clothes multiple times a day, but we also ask the girls’ to change after school (to avoid germs). Between school outfits, the after-school outfit, dance clothes and pajamas, some days our daughters wear four outfits. Brandon and I feel like we are washing or folding clothes all day, every day.
Going from 2 to 3 Kids will Affect your Bank Account
Everyone knows that having more children will cost you – not just mentally, but financially. Babies cost A LOT of money. From diapers and wipes to seasonally appropriate clothes, we have spent more money on Arbor in the last 11 months than I ever thought possible. I can’t forget we purchased a new car shortly after she was born to safely accommodate our family of five.
While we did luck out to be breastfeeding during the formula shortage, Arbor now eats big people food. On some days it seems as if she consumes as much as her big sisters. Our grocery bill has increased significantly and will only continue to go up!
A Few Tricks We Have Learned for Managing Three Kids
The easiest approach to managing three kids is DIVIDE AND CONQUER – putting the easiest children together while the hardest is dealt with on the side. I say this without considering the scenario that all children are being difficult… then Brandon and I just run and hide.
Truthfully, our bedtime flow is our most successful time of day as parents. Brandon takes care of the big girls while I am in charge of the baby. In the beginning, the baby cried for quite a long time at bedtime. But since we sleep trained her around 5 months old, she goes down so easily. We know there will be nights in the future when things are more difficult – we both have already experienced bedtime solo with all three children. When that happens, we enlist the help of the oldest sibling: Annabelle.
Speaking of help from older siblings, we are learning Annabelle and Ailey really thrive on responsibilities associated with their baby sister. If we ask them to clean up their bedroom we are usually met with blank stares. However, if we ask them to help clean up Arbor’s room – they rush to help.
Babies Need a Lot of Attention
Arbor needs a lot of attention, but it’s a completely different type of attention than the big girls require. Older children need guidance in many areas of life all whilst we strive to teach them to be kind and confident. Our approach to discipline is the same for both Annabelle and Ailey. The girls know we have expectations and consequences regarding appropriate behavior (time out is a popular game in our house). I know there are rumors about a more lackadaisical approach to parenting a third child who is much younger than their siblings – but Brandon and I aren’t the type to let things slide. It will definitely be interesting when Arbor is older as to how we manage it all but we will try our best to be consistent.
When it comes down to parenting three children, we are still too early in the game to say much more. Life is HARD, but having another child is worth every second of the chaos.