I knew transitioning from two to three kids would be difficult, but never imagined it would be quite like this. We are three months into our new chapter as parents of three children. The first 8 weeks were a blur and the last four seem a little more clear. Today I’m sharing my thoughts about transitioning from 2 to 3 kids, including our strengths and struggles handling three kids.
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.
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. It’s 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. Overall there is no pattern since birth order characteristics are inconsistent (especially as a newborn).
What it comes down to is this – take this post as an honest review of going from two to three children – and not as advice on how to survive the transition.
Struggles as 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 know. Being outnumbered is our new reality. The girls can require a lot of our attention all at once – 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 of us to give three kids what they need, one child may feel neglected.
In addition to changing our evening routine, we also have had to adjust to a new morning schedule. There are some mornings I wake later with Arbor than others, which can be difficult since I am in charge of getting everyone ready for the day. I make breakfast, help the big sisters change clothes, and pack 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.
Cleanliness is another struggle as parents of three kids. It’s kind of funny how I thought our house was messy BEFORE the baby. Now I just look around in disbelief at the mess that accumulates by the end of the week. Babies have a lot of things: play mat, bouncer, diapers, blankets, burp cloths, etc. Combine Arbor’s trail of items with Annabelle, Ailey, and Brandon – it’s rarely organized around here anymore.
Note: LAUNDRY is insane and 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, after-school, dance and pajamas, some days our daughters wear four outfits. We wash clothes all day, every day.
Tricks for Handling Three Kids
The easiest approach to handling 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. Sometimes the baby cries for quite a long time, but I’ve learned how to shush/rock a baby while listening to air pods. For now, our plan works. However, we know there will be nights in the future when one parent has all three children. When that happens, we plan to enlist the help of the oldest sibling – Annabelle.
Speaking of help from older siblings, we are learning Annabelle and Ailey really thrive on feeling useful when it comes to 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.
Arbor needs a lot of attention, but it’s a completely different type of attention than the big girls require. They need guidance in so many areas of life all whilst we 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.
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 little one is worth every second of the chaos.