Disclosure- I know the title is seven things I wish I’d known, but here’s a bonus #8: Having three kids is expensive. I’ve thrown a few affiliate links in this post, so if you use one you won’t have to pay any more than you normally would, but I’ll earn a few cents to buy my kids food and stuff. Thanks for helping keep my children alive!
After seeing the popularity of my post, Five Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Had My Second Child, I decided to follow it up with a post about things I wish I’d known before having my third. It got a little long, so I’ve broken it up into two posts.
Below is Part Two. You can also get ALL of my “Things I Wish I’d Known” posts in one PDF. Just fill out this form.
Seven Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Had My Third Child
5. From now on, you will be woefully outnumbered
Even if you have a spouse around to help, you’ll be outnumbered, but it’s when you’re alone with all of them that you’re woefully outnumbered.
Let me explain in a brief illustration.
You take the three kids to the playground. When it’s time to leave, they don’t want to go because, hel-lo, it’s the playground! So you pick up the littlest one, grab the hand of a second, and half lead, half drag those two to the car. Meanwhile, the third is streaking past the monkey bars like the Flash on speed to try to hide from you.
Once the first two are buckled in, you return to the playground to hunt for the third and most elusive child. It’s like a kiddie version of The Hunger Games. I’d say “May the odds be ever in your favor”, but we’ve already established that the odds are 3:1, so you’re out of luck.
Don’t lose heart though! I have learned two important lessons from the knowledge that I am woefully outnumbered.
1. If you tend to be one of those independent people who never wants to ask for help (aka ME), you lose that in a hurry. When someone offers to help you herd your three kids from the car, through a busy parking lot, and into the safety of a building, you nod your head and say, “Thank you!”
Whether you agree with her politics or not, you suddenly embrace the truth of what Hillary said: It really does take a village to raise your children. Maybe you don’t see this as a good thing, but to me, anything that requires me to lose some of my pride while simultaneously reminding me of the importance of community is a very good thing. Plus it’s always comforting to see all the people who are willing to help.
2. Adding a few more kids into the mix doesn’t make much difference. Three, four, five: Once you’re outnumbered, you’re outnumbered, regardless of the number, so letting the kids have friends over is really no big deal.
Bottom Line: Two hands, three kids… God made us this way for a reason: We need each other! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also, invite other kids over to play. It won’t make much difference in the chaos, and sometimes it changes the dynamics in a really positive way.
Speaking of dynamics:
6. Sibling dynamics both change and multiply
There used to be the one simple dynamic between your first and second child. Now there are the dynamics between your first and second, your first and third, your second and third, and of course, all three.
The way my youngest interacts with my oldest is very different from the way she interacts with my middle child. Similarly, when all three of them are together, the way they interact is quite different from when there are only two of them around.
This may be good, bad, or not make any difference at all (most of it depends on their personalities… and their moods on any particular day), but it does make it a bit more complicated than when you only had two.
Probably the best thing you can do is observe, observe, observe. Watch the kids interact, see how they relate to each other, figure out what the different groupings do together, etc. Then use this knowledge to your advantage. If two of the kids seem to have a tighter bond, make sure the third gets one on one time with his siblings so he doesn’t feel left out. If two are always at each other’s throats, figure out if throwing the third one in the mix helps or hurts, then plan according. Obviously, you can’t always divide them up exactly the way you want, but it helps to know how they get along (or not) with each other.
Bottom Line: Things get more complicated with three. On the other hand, it’s harder for the kids to claim they’re bored with so many people around.
7. You’ll never regret it
I know a lot of what I’ve said here doesn’t sound totally wonderful. If you were hoping I’d say that having three kids is rainbows and unicorns all the time, well, I apologize, but it’s not (is anything rainbows and unicorns all the time??).
However (there’s always a however!)…
If you have a third child, you won’t regret it. You’ll have moments when all three kids are going crazy and you’re looking around in bewilderment and annoyance and you’ll barely be able to hear yourself over all the screaming as you yell to your spouse, “What were we thinking, having a third??” You’ll try to remember back to the days when you had two and life was so much quieter.
Then you’ll look at your youngest and, even though you can kind of remember what that life was like, you really won’t be able to imagine life without your baby. And the moments when all three are playing nicely together or helping each other out or cuddling up together on the couch: Those moments are so amazingly sweet, they’ll bring tears to your eyes.
Bottom Line: Despite the craziness, each of those kids is an unbelievable blessing.
Parents of three (or more!), what did I miss? Parents thinking of having a third, did I scare you? (I hope not!!)
Lauren is a wife, mom of three, and the writer behind Oh, Honestly. She loves to share the real life joys and trials of motherhood so other moms will know they’re not alone. She is also the author of The Words Your Kids Need: The Value of Writing to Your Children and How to Do It With Ease.
I Love this! you are such a good mom and this is invaluable advice. Especially this…”Two hands, three kids… God made us this way for a reason: We need each other! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” I always forget to ask for help!
It’s very easy to forget to ask for help. Or in my case, not want to ask for help!
Lauren, I absolutely love the way you have expressed everything… thank you for sharing your experience with so many others. Congrats, you are doing a phenomenal job 🙂 so inspirational and motivating!
Andrea S. says
I love the second half of this post, too!
“Adding a few more kids into the mix doesn’t make much difference.” I completely agree. We have friends over at least several days a week. And since we’ve had three, I’ve become a lot less high-strung. I try to keep our house as tidy as I can, especially before friends come over, but it’s just not possible to have everything perfect. And now I’m okay with our friends seeing our house in a bit of a disorder. Because hey, we have three kids five and under! I’d rather have friends come over with the house less than perfect than not have any over ever. Plus I think it is important to be real with other parents and not pretend to be perfect all the time. That’s why I love your blog so much!
Also, if you haven’t yet seen this, I thought you might enjoy it: http://mylifeandkids.com/five-ways-to-be-a-great-friend/
Oh my word, I LOVE that post! Thank you for sharing it with me!! I’m still laughing.
I have to add, the big advantage to having just two is having one for each hand. You know, we travel a LOT, so the idea of racing through an airport with the inability to grab all my kids if necessary is a bit scary! That said, my friend has four of ’em and travels by herself without having a panic attack, so I know it’s possible!
Absolutely! Once they outnumber you, it’s a whole new ballgame.
Katy Blevins - Chaos & Kiddos says
“Woefully outnumbered.” Boy did that resonate with me with the twins! As they get older, they sooooo know they have the upper hand if they choose to tag team me.
It’s funny how quickly they figure that out, isn’t it??
I love when you open up and give advice because it is so real! That is what I want to hear, real advice from real experiences! Rainbows and Unicorns? The only things that are rainbows and unicorns all the time are rainbows and unicorns and I don’t see them often, lol.
Thanks Echo! I appreciate that!! I don’t want to be a downer, but I definitely want to be real!
Herchel S says
A few friends of mine have 3 or 4 kids And whenever they tell me to drop off my two kids if I need a few hours to myself I always think it would be “too many kids.” They always say that once you have three it makes no difference how many more kids there are lol.
It’s true! Take them up on the offer!!!
The Imp says
For me, baby #3 was easy, b/c I have BIG age gaps in my kids. My elder 2 were 12 and 7 when he came along.
But, once you hit ‘family of 5’, you run into other issues. Pretty much every ‘family deal’ in existence is ONLY for 4 ppl. What the heck is up with that?
Of course, I now have 5 kids at home (6 in total) and yeah, forget family size anything. We need ‘Clan’ size.
Yeah, I think if mine weren’t so close together, it wouldn’t have been quite so overwhelming at first. You’re totally right though; our country isn’t designed for families of five or more; kind of funny since not so long ago, big families were necessary for survival. (Side note, my MIL is one of 15!)
I love the dynamic of 3 more than 2. With two, it is all or nothing, so at least with more, the dynamics break it up a bit. I wrote something like this, though it isn’t as good as yours. http://www.almostcoherentparent.com/?p=675
That’s a great point! I wonder if men and women have different thoughts about which transition is harder. My husband would say 1 to 2, like you say in your post, but I thought 2 to 3 was harder. (Although I’m sure a lot of it for me had to do with how close in age our kids were- newborn, 2, and 4- since I’m the primary caregiver and am with all three of them by myself more often than my husband).
The car seats!!!! Good luck fitting all three on one row and not facing the consequences!
Truth! We bought our SUV before we had any kids, but with the idea that it would comfortably fit three car seats. Oh how young and delusional we were… Now I happily drive my minivan and sometimes wish I had a 15 passenger van, haha.
With the arrival of my fourth child, I learned to recognize when it was time to go home (park, grocery store, neighbors, wherever). When they grew too restless/tired/hungry, we left immediately. When you see the storm clouds gathering, you don’t wait for the first drops of rain.
Best advice ever, never underestimate the value of sibling interaction. There may be less of you to go around, but with more of them, they learn to help each other.
Paying attention to their ques is definitely important!
Cassidy cruise says
I have 2 kids right now and my husband and I want a lot more. We are up in the air on when #3 will be made, but I loved reading this! I know my daughter can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but I do it because it’s just easier for me. You’re right in that I should ask for help from them more. I mean they love using the dustbuster, so shouldn’t my floor be spotless?? 😉
Hahaha! If you’ve already figured out the joke of having spotless floors, you’ll do just fine with #3! It’s tough to let them do stuff, isn’t it? It’s so much easier just to do it for them!
The mom guilt is already setting in and Ed only just started trying for #3. I feel like, no matter when I get pregnant and have our third kid, I’m going to feel like it isn’t the right time for one reason or another. Should I let my youngest be the youngest for a little while longer? Should I have them close together so that they always have someone their own age to play with and go to school with? Am I spreading myself too thin as it is with a 3 year old and 14 month old, let alone two toddlers and a newborn? SO MANY FEELINGS GAAAAAAH!!!!
“We” not “Ed.” Who’s Ed??
Yeah, I know what you mean. I think any way you go there will be positives and negatives, and alternating feelings of mom guilt and feeling like you’ve totally got this.
Thanks for the post! It’s encouraging just to hear it from another mom who is going through similar things! We have three girls (ages 4, 3 and almost 2) and a 5 mo baby boy and life is insane sometimes!
Oh wow! Insane sounds about right, lol (not you, just the stage you’re in!)
Love it! I’m expecting my third in April and will be having a c section. I’m looking forward to baby but also to being ALONE for what I know will feel like a mini vacation. I feel just a touch selfish. I’ve got to say the mommy guilt is the worst! I’m also terrible at asking for help. Its like admitting that I have no clue what the heck i’m doing and I don’t but lets not get into that. If its bad now I know I’m going to suffer even more when our 2nd little girl gets here. Thank You for making it feel a little less daunting!
It sounds like if you can already acknowledge all of this, you’ll do just fine. Knowing things won’t be perfect is half the battle, lol.
Hi, Mom of 4 here. I’ve discover to take advantage of what’s a chore for us is sometimes fun and exciting for them . So sorting laundry, washing vegies, ect… are my 1 on 1 times with them and let them tell me how hard it was to get to the next board on Lego batman or the new friend they made. Just remember to use that new level of “relaxed” cause the job won’t be done perfect.
That’s a great idea! (And the ‘relaxed’ advice is VERY important 😉 )
This is pretty spot on. I think the only thing I’d add is how your house will never be as clean as it was when you only had two or as clean as you think it should be. We have three boys (9, 6 and 4) and we’re expecting a little girl in May. There have been so many times I’ve seen a picture of my home before we had three and it looks so clean! Now, if I clean the living room and kitchen, then the bedrooms, laundry and bathrooms are probably a disaster. If I get the living room and kitchen clean, leave for ten minutes to maybe attempt to tackle the laundry, when I come back, inevitably something has been dragged out or blankets and pillows have been turned into a ‘nest’ in the middle of the floor. Good times. I am very thankful I’ve come to recognize that this is just a season in my life and as they get older and are more aware of what they’re doing (and the consequences) that this will pass and I’ll probably miss finding Ninja Turtles in my plants and Transformers hanging off a shelf in the linen closet (true stories 🙂 ).
Oh gosh, YES! I can clean a room, turn around, and it’s destroyed again. SO frustrating, but you’re right; it’s only a season and I’ll miss it when it’s over.
I loved this. I’m currently pregnant with my third and it took ALOT of convincing to get here. My husband was like, no. We are not being out numbered! Lol. But I knew just thinking about a third child that my heart would always ache if it never came to be. In your words I knew we would “never regret it”. I can’t wait to bring this baby into the world just so it can make ours lives a little more crazy! Your post brought me to tears just thinking of all the sweet (and yes crazy) times that are headed our way. And it put me at ease some what. The mom guilt part definitely hit home. I’m so worried about the middle child already! I have 2 siblings and my brother claims to have “middle child syndrome”-_- ha. And I have an aunt that says the same, so I’m nervous about that right out of the gate!
I have moments of feeling like each of my kids is being neglected, so it’s not just the middle one, hahaha! Seriously though, I think if you’re already aware of wanting to make sure your middle child doesn’t feel left out, you’ll do okay!
Pregnant with number 3 now!
one will 5 and the other 2 when this one is born. excited n nervous glad i read this though. better to go in eyes open knowing what me n hubby getting ourselves in for haha. xx
You’ll do great! If you’re expecting it to not be all rainbows and butterflies, you’ll be prepared for the tough parts and that’s half the battle!
Alessandra Ferguson says
I’m SCARED!!! Okay…totally kidding…kind of. I am not thinking of having number three yet, I’m not ready. But I know we do want more kids and maybe now we will never be ready for number three. HA! Just kidding. This was helpful. And it made me laugh a little. 🙂
Hahah, I hope I didn’t scare you off!! It’s gotten easier as they’ve gotten older. The first couple of years are the toughest!
Loved these posts & comments! Most of my friends have stopped at 2 kids & think I’m nuts or superhuman for wanting a 4th. I assure them it’s definitely not because I’m a rockstar, I just love my children & even though it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it’s been so worth it, a growing experience & an investment in the future.
I think having #3 has caused me to be more creative & a better problem solver. Also, I have become so far from judgemental about other parents. I used to be so judgey before having kids & after 3, I totally sympathize & now offer to help moms with tantruming kids, etc.
My boys are all 2 years apart (currently 5, 3 & 1) so…yeah…things be real around our house!
One tip I learned from a family of 11 was to let each kid have their special day each month that coordinates with what day they were born on. On their day they get to pick activities, dinner (often pancakes!) & have one on one date time with mom &/or dad. My guys really look forward to their day each month 🙂
I LOVE that idea! It’s an easy way to remember whose turn it is for a special day.
I was just wondering if anyone had any thoughts on having an even number of kids versus having an odd number. For example, one of my best friends sort of inadvertently freaked me out about the prospect of stopping at 3 because she said there was always someone feeling left out and that the middle child syndrome was a real issue with her kids (and it’s worth noting that she is an extremely attentive and wonderful role-model of a mother!). She’s now on her 5th (and last) so she’s back to an odd number but there’s a huge gap between her 3rd and 4th/5th so she said it’s all really balanced out. I guess what I’m saying is, I’d like to have more than 2 kids for sure – and 3 surely sounds better in theory (we can get away with a smaller house, possibly even a smaller car, etc. but still have that larger family feel). But I also have my heart torn between having 4 kids. My husband and I are about to start trying for #2 so I’m still pretty new to all of this. Doesn’t anyone else have any experience with the “odd number” thing or middle child syndrome, or is this all in my head at this point?
I think no matter what number you have, there will be good things about it and bad things about it. I’m one of four, but there’s a gap between the older three and I, so it’s kind of like having both an even and odd number. I did read an article once that said that three is the hardest number of kids to have, even harder than four or more. I don’t think there’s any ‘right’ answer. You’ve got to do what’s best for your family.
I just stumbled upon this again and this time I’m pretty certain we may be expecting our third at the moment. When I told my husband about my absent monthly visitor again he said ” 3 kids?! Are you serious?” in a more shocked-giggle than anything else. He is an only child while I have 4 siblings. I’m definitely going to forward both part 1 &2 over to him if indeed we are expecting again. Thank you so very much so the wonderful advice !
Ooh, so exciting! It’s a BIG transition, but it’s worth it!
This was a great piece to sit and read as I feel like an awful mother. I have the mommy guilt like crazy , and while reading your description of mommy guilt ,just felt like you were talking right to me. I have a beautiful 9 year old girl, a hilarious 4 years old boy and a brand new 1 month old little boy, and although I am happy and proud as a mommy can be… I have been extremely upset about what I may have done to my first 2, especially my now middle . He is definitely showing out/being very emotional and not acting like himself since his brother arrived and although I am patient/loving with him….it breaks my heart to think I have changed his behavior this much by having another child. To match that.. While I’m dealing with the baby and also working with my middle on this new found loveliness ( behavior) , my poor oldest is…. Really left out. …. Oh my ….I will try to always remember that I am only one person and that any one on one time is better than none. This blog really did make me feel less alone and alot less like an awful mommy. I love that all mommys can relate toneach other.❤️
Having a baby is a HUGE transition for the entire family. You haven’t changed your middle guy’s behavior forever; he just needs the time to get used to it. I bet you’re doing a much better job than you think you are! <3
Yes, yes, yes! I am a mom of three (2 boys and 1 girl). Everything you said hear is so very true. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one experiencing all of these things. My neighbor has three and makes it look so easy.
I bet if you saw her when no one else was around, she’d be more like you (and me) than you think 🙂
This kind of made me want to throw up! Haha. I’m currently preggo with baby #2, another boy, and honestly I’m still not completely at terms with being in the boy mom club. (I hope that changes soon!) So, the idea of three (after my hormones settle and I’m somewhat more at terms) has been in our hearts… but you’ve given me some great things to consider. Oh, mom life!!! 😊
LOL, I’m sorry! I hope you read my Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Had My Second Child. I talk about being disappointed about a second boy, but that turned out to be pretty fantastic. Adding another person to your family (whether it’s the first or the tenth!) is always an adjustment, but it’s definitely worth it. Congrats on your new little one 🙂
Wow, regret being pregnant with #3 now. Have it easy with 2. Should’ve stayed at 2.
Did you miss the last one?? It is definitely harder, but it’s still worth it! Also, my kids are older now (9, 7, and 5) and it’s much easier than it was in the early years.
Always fun reading about other people’s experiences and perspectives. I have always been a single dad and my kids are now 10 and 5. I’ve had them since birth (which is another story). I think a lot of this depends on the parent and the children. Neither my kids nor I are perfect but some kids are lower maintenance and some parents have more patience, tolerance, resilience, parenting skills, etc. I have friends who could barely handle 1 and I have friends who handled their crew of 5-7 very well. I always tell my friends to think about their strengths, weaknesses, needs, and limitations including their support network and what you would like for their kids’ future (schooling, savings, etc.). I am hoping to add a third to my family but it’s easier with my kids being older. I also don’t stretch myself too thin even with a demanding corporate career, and the kids are not in 10 activities every week.