Taking the leap to 3 kids? HELP!!!!

planningnutMay 21, 2008


We have 2 wonderful boys ages 3 and 1 and we're literally getting grey hairs making the decision to go for a 3rd. We're getting a bit older and would want to make this decision soon, so it would result in likely a 4 yr old, a 2 yr old and a newborn.

I was wondering how is the whole experience with 3 kids? Many have frightened me, telling me 3 is chaos, insane and openly saying it was significantly more difficult and made life very tough...

I am alone with the kids alot of the time due to my husband's work, but I am a stay-at-home mom, and love being with my boys. Right now, everhting is perfect... I'm almost afraid to rock the boat... but I cherish the idea of a large family, being an only child.

Neither my husband nor I have family anywhere near us, so very, very little support there...

How do you manage activities when they are in school? How is the day-to-day experience?

Any insight and discussion would be wonderful. We even tried flipping a coin... seriously...

Thanks :)


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Considering joining the More Kids Than Hands Club, huh?

The 3rd one is the one that pushes you over the edge, as someone told me when I was expecing #3. And I think there is some truth to that. The 1st one and the 3rd one change things the most, from my experience.

But ya know, it's not so bad being over the edge. I've always found other mothers with more kids than hands, so I am not over the edge alone. There is chaos in my house, but I have a high tolerace for chaos. People who know me well describe me as "thriving on chaos." So, I would have chaos if I only had one child. I know moms w/3+ kids who run a tight ship and don't have the kind of chaos I have.

In the younger days (not so long ago), when there was diapers and breastfeeding and kids were more dependent on me I used to say "There is always someone crying, always someone hungry, and always someone with a bathroom issue."

But this year my oldest started high school and the youngest started kindergarten. Of course there is still a lot to manage, meals and laundry, errands and activities, and sometimes it still feels like there is always a bathroom issue. LOL. But it's not the physically exhausting "I need you now" kind of need. So the days when, as mom, you are in constant demand are stressful, but they do pass. You can look for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Stephanie- mother of 4, ages 14, 11, 8 and 5. I do have gray hairs, but I am still sane (so far).

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 5:44PM
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Not me. I had two, 3 years apart and with the diapers and everything that goes with it I would rather have had twins and gotten it over with at one time.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 6:00PM
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Thank you for your insight... I don't survive well on chaos... but knowing that has helped. I run a fairly tight ship...

I just always wonder how you balance activities - I feel strongly in getting my 2 boys into Boy Scouts and one sport per season... with 3 kids, how do you manage that? I'm a huge believer in downtime for kids and fear being in constant, insane motion...

Did you ever find you struggled with 1-on-1 time with your kids? Did you ever feel torn? How do you deal with conflicts ie/ 2 kids have a very important event at the same time (ie/ a graduation or something else?)

How did you manage when travelling? Going out for dinner?

It's funny, these are the questions I had when I was contemplating having my first... lol. I feel like a veteren mom with 2, but such a new & frightened mom considering the leap...

Thanks for your thoughts :)

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 6:53PM
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I have three kids, (they do grow up), and it was fun. Sure, it's hard at times, but it's certainly manageable, certainly not chaos, but it can get busy. I wouldn't change a thing.

I was very, very lucky, my parents lived 20 minutes away and we spent a lot of time with them and so the kids got lots of one on one time with Nana and Grampa as well as Mom and Dad.

I am pretty laid back so by the third child, I figured as long as he was toilet trained by college, I had succeeded!! The two older ones will keep the new baby entertained, too. It is just life. We went shopping, played in the back yard, went to the zoo, ate out at restaurants that served food quickly and didn't mind having kids, went to nursery school, etc, etc. You do what you have to do to make it work.

I don't think I ever felt that things were out of control. We certainly made accommodation to having three kids. No long drives to Maine until the youngest was about 5. Instead, we went to the beach, a few hours east of us, and rented a big first floor condo, easy in, easy out. As they got older, we took more involved trips, back to Maine for summer vacation, to Florida for spring vacation, and by the time our youngest was 9, we all went to Paris for a week, and a few years later to London.

The kids did athletics - the girls did gymnastics and dance, they all did soccer and t-ball, baseball, tennis, swimming, summer camps, etc. But not to an extreme, they had plenty of time to sit and daydream and play outside with friends. As they got older there were days when it seemed all three had to be someplace different at the same time, but we always seemed to work it out. I think the hardest was "back to school" night at three different schools, on the same night!

It was a lot of fun, and still is. I have to say, I stand in awe of these amazing young people and wonder how I didn't screw them up completely. I still see them all the time, two of them live in town, we get together most weekends for casual dinners or whatever. My middle one lives 1700 miles away, and they have two kids, I miss them more than anything, but I get down every 6 - 8 weeks. And grandchildren - OMG, talk about fun.

Good luck with what ever decision you make, and enjoy.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 8:04PM
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I really enjoyed my babies, except when they cried continuously because I worried about "why" they were crying. Taking care of the second one seemed to be more of a chore than the first, but I still enjoyed having him around. I took them everywhere with me.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 10:28PM
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Cheryl, you might regret asking me about this. I mean, it is my life, I have a lot to say about it. ;o)

I have a motto, I really do. "Lower your standards, but not your values. Learn the difference between the two." When people ask how I manage w/4 kids when they go crazy w/2 I tell them, and I am serious and honest, "Probably not as well as I would have with 2." I don't want to mislead anyone that I have some system perfected. It's not that I am better at parenting, it's that I change the way I look at parenting. Certain things that used to matter to me in theory, don't fit into reality. The priority is the kids' well-being, not my theories on ideal parenting.

The daily details like schedules and activities just work out. That can be a conflict for parents with one child, a school program at the same time as a dance recital. It's just family life, it works out somehow. You figure it out one day at a time. It's a good time to remember to lower your standards, it's OK to eat fast food in the car between activities. Hey, at least you ate together. ;o) While we have some crazy days, we still have plenty of slow days too. I have to remember to go with flow, remember that the schedule is not life/death. While a given day may seem overwhelming, the fact is a week later it just won't matter if we were a few minutes late. We do our best, perfection is not the goal. So really, that stuff is too small to sweat about. It just works out, not perfectly, but good enough.

Traveling works out, too. We are not frequent travelers, honestly. But we are 400 miles from any family, so there are road trips a couple times a year and occassional vacations. I even take a road trip at least once/year without DH, just me and the kids to my parents, always have, even with a baby and when it was a 13 hour drive. I don't over plan, the plans with just get screwed up anyway. Going out to dinner can stink sometimes because restaurant tables are made for families of 4. If we go at a peak time we can wait forever for the one table in the place big enough for 6. That drives me nuts! So we avoid peak times, like most parents of young children would do anyway. You learn to manage those things because you have to, really. It's also too small to sweat about.

The schedules and details just work out, with minor bumps sometimes, but alls well that ends well.

Now the time for each kid thing is more important. Sometimes we plan it on purpose: I took DD to the theatre just the two of us, planned for months. I go to the school and meet the kids for lunch, and they eat at staggered times so it works out great. DH takes the boys to sports games that interest each of them one at a time. Sometimes it's spontaneous: on weekends when DH or I run an errand we will take one child with us and make sure we take turns. If we have a big household chore to do (plant flower beds, clean the garage) one parent will take one child to work together. ANd DH and I each have our specialties. He's the video game player. I hate to admit it, but there is some father-son (and daughter) bonding over that stupid machine. LOL. I am the reader. All of my kids will bring a book to me, even my oldest will bring a book to me to talk about it. I think their favorite time w/me growing up is on my bed with a book. Sometimes I read to all or more than one (Harry Potter last summer), but I will also shoo away all but one who brought me the book. They understand when sometimes we say "It's not your turn, but I will get to you." Sometimes the kids seek out some quiet time with one or the other of us. When they do, we just have to make ourselves available as much as possible. When one gets up after bed to talk about something that was bothering them, they were waiting for that quiet time, so we just have to get in that 1 on 1 time as needed, too.

They also learn to go to each other. The older 2 lately have a lot of brotherly chats, I don't even always know what it's about! If I am helping DD w/homework and DS#3 needs help, he might go to his big brother instead of waiting for me. Which is good. If I'm having a bad day anyway that makes me feel guilty. But it really is a good thing, it's what I want, for them to help each other. It's good for the little one to know he can count on the big one, it's good for the big one to be in the role of helping.

They also need to know what makes each of the special, unique. They can get so funny. If a story comes up about something funny one of them said, the others all start asking "What's the funniest thing I ever said?" Even if they've heard the story 20 times. If we say DS#2 would make a good architect when he grows up, the others start asking "What would I be good at?" They LOVE to hear what makes them special, different from their siblings. They know, they hear it so often, but it's always worth repeating. LOL.

I remember breaking down in tears right before DS#2 was born, fearing I would never love another child as much as I loved him, that I was being unfair to everyone. Turned out the love does not have to be shared, it just fills up all over again. Then again when DS#2 was a couple weeks old, DS#1 wanted help getting dressed, but I was holding the baby and said "I only have one hand right now." He started crying and said "But you had two hands before the baby came!" We both cried for a while. There is an adjustment when you're family dynamics changes. Sometimes it can feel like it's all a big mistake, you messed up your kids' lives. LOL.

But, I know without a doubt that the best feeling, the best experience, of my entire life will always be watching my kids fall in love with a new sibling. Of course it won't always be perfect, siblings have their squabbles. Still, when they set eyes on a new sibling, hold them, and as they grow try to make that baby smile or hold their hand, or make them happy to stop crying... you see the most pure kind of love in the world. It's unconditional. A big brother can tease a little brother, but he still won't let anyone else mess with that little brother. ;o) My kids argue, tick each other off, drive each other crazy. But when I see them all goofing off together, plotting against me together even, it makes me feel like I have the best life anyone could ask for. Even the hectic days are fine b/c it's part of the fabric of our family life, the memories we talk and laught about later.

The thing is making sure they all know they are loved for who they are. That's what matters in the end, not daily schedules. Really, the routine stuff will work out for better of for worse. Laugh with them, really get to know them, learn about who they are becoming, teach them to rely on each other so they appreciate the siblings they have.

Also, make time for yourself. You cannot be all things to your kids all the time. Take a break to remember who you are, then you can share that person with the kids so they know who you are other than "Mom."

Remember: Lower your standards, not your values; know the difference.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 12:25AM
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Two are fun, three is a zoo, that's what someone told me when I was pregnant with #3. How true. They now outnumbered us parents. I had never thought it in Stephanie in Ga's way, but it's true, you lower your standards, not your values. My other rule was...DOES IT REALLY MATTER. Kept me sane. Spilled juice on the carpet...why yell, it was an accident, and it wouldn't matter 3 days from now...heck not even 3 hours from now. Stain on a brand new shirt, wouldn't matter a week from now. I found that if I though that way, most things (not all) didn't really matter. Some did. I'm not saying my kids grew up perfect. But My husband and I have a good relationship with all three, and that to me "really matters".

Yes your life will be chaos, don't think it won't and you won't be surprised.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 7:25AM
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I have 3 kids and really would have liked a fourth if I had married and started my family earlier. In fact, four might have been easier since two often will team up against one when there is an odd number. But what I would have done differently if I could do it again would be to space mine further apart. I had a newborn, 2 yr. old and a 4 year old, like what you are considering.

That was great when they were little because they were close enough in age to play together and really enjoy each other's company. But I didn't look far enough into the future when I decided to have 3 kids within 4 years, and didn't realize there would be one year where I would have 3 kids in college at the same time! The first was only one year ahead in college than the second child, because here in Canada they used to have a year after grade 12 called grade 13 or O.A.C., and it was discontinued right after my eldest finished it. So my next child started college right after grade 12, only 1 year behind her brother. Then the third child started college 2 years behind his sister. So we had one year with college tuition for all 3 kids!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 2:03PM
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I was a parent to 3 children for a while. I was engaged to a man with 2 children. My child was 3 years old, my fiancee had a 3 year old and a 1 year old. After dating a year we moved in together and became engaged. He had custody of his children so I became an instant parent to a one year old and two three year olds. To be honest I absolutely loved it! The only regret I often have about not marrying my ex is that I missed his kids! LOL!

I kept things very routine and consistant and they behaved wonderfully. I really did not find things difficult, except when it came to buckling 3 kids into car seats!

I have many friends with 3 kids close in age and their kids have gotton close to eachother as they are getting older. Sure they argue at times, but they really enjoy eachother most of the time.

A relative told me once that you might regret chosing not to have a child, but you will never regret having one. I think that applies to multiple children as well.

As long as your patient and consistant you will be fine!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 10:39PM
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I have three kids ages 5 1/2, 2 1/2 , and 11 months. It was an adjustment when the third came along however, I would not trade it for the world.

Periodic chaos does occur but usually only if naps have been skipped or someone is sick. Most of the time they get along well and the day goes smoothly. That being said however, I keep the kids on a schedule and there is alot of structure in our day. You need to be a bit flexible but without structure you end up feeling very stressed out. I learned this the hard way. You also need to be able to laugh at things when the unexpected happens which is often. If you are the type to get very stressed out and are unable to laugh in the face of things going other than you planned then maybe a third child is not the way to go.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 10:25AM
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I have an eleven year old girl ,a two year old girl and a my son was bornjust three days ago.
I Think it depends on what your other kids are like ,both my girls are extremely close to to me,and clingy,my two year old as been a nightmate since ive had my baby,ive been breastfeeding and she cant handle the baby being so close to me, ive had to go out today to buy formula milk,because its just not posible for me to carry on to breastfeed,she is jelous when i even just pick him up.It will probly get easier and they may become buddys and play together,but at the moment its extremly hard for all the family,I personally would wait a couple of years untill your youngest is at at school.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 5:33PM
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I would've had more than 2, if I'd started sooner.
I say go for it.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 6:11PM
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My brother had 3 and my other brother had 2. I always say when you hit 3, people stop inviting you over. When they'd come over to my parents they'd come with so much stuff (clothes, diapers, toys, bottles, snacks) it was chaos.

But... when they grow up, it is awesome for them to have more than one sibling to lean on.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 9:00AM
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