Should I have 3 kids? I am sure I googled that exact phrase when I was considering having kid #3. But somehow there wasn’t much out there to help me along my journey way back then (she is 4, you can do the math). So in case you have the same question, here is what I’ve learned from being the mom of 3 kids.
It Is Way More Work
People say that having 3 kids is actually easier since you already have experience of 2 under your belt. They are wrong. Well, kinda. Things are easier in terms of knowing how to care for an infant (i.e. how to change a diaper, pump, make a bottle, buckle them into a car seat, etc.). But the actual work involved with raising 3 kids exponentially grows. It isn’t just a little more work than 2; it is, like, 3 times more work! I wasn’t told that until I was 8 months pregnant. It was a little too late to change my mind by that point.
The Oldest Can Help More When #3 Is A Baby
But even though it is way more work, you can get more help from your oldest. My kids are all about 2.5 years apart. That means my oldest was 5 by the time my littlest was born. At 5 years old, he had way more patience, much longer attention span and ability to follow directions than he did at 2.5 (when my second child was born). I actually was able to bathe regularly when my 3rd was a baby since my son was able to help keep an eye on her while I took a quick shower. I even was able to shave! I know, shaving is unthinkably indulgent. The same thing definitely cannot be said when my 2nd was a baby. The first time I shaved after having her I went through 3 razors. It was gross.
It Is WAY More Fun
I feel like with my first I was always stressed that I was going to mess things up too much and spent all my time referring to what the “authorities” in books told me. With my second, I worried that I couldn’t divide my time between 2 kids properly. With 3, I knew how to only kind of mess things up and that there is no way to perfectly divide the time. So I just enjoyed my precious little baby. And we all had more fun because of it. We got to laugh together and all played together with her. Maybe it was just her being a happy baby. That could be, but maybe it was because I relaxed enough to enjoy my little family. In any case, I have to say 3rd babies are fun!
Cars Aren’t Fun – You Need A Minivan/SUV
I knew going into this that 3 kids would be tight fit in our full-sized sedan. I mean, it seats 5, so that is our family. No one else could ride with us. No friends could ride home from school with us or join us for dinner out. But beyond that, it became stressful to just get into the car. My older 2 were in booster seats, but could no longer buckle themselves because the car seat in between meant that they could no longer see the buckles. I would be all sweaty and ready to use expletives just getting the kids into the car. That is coming for me, the girl whose bad word repertoire starts and ends with “shoot.” And heaven forbid that they actually unbuckled themselves. Because if they did, that meant that they possibly unbuckled the baby’s car seat instead, which was a MAJOR pain to re-buckle in such a confined space. We sold our sedan and I’m now happily driving my minivan with automatic sliding doors. The day we got our minivan I felt like my life had changed for the better. It was like my fairy godmother had come to visit and bibbidi-bobbidi-boo’d me into a stress-free life. I no longer dreaded having to just get in the car, much less go anywhere. It just made me a happier person.
You Don’t Fit
Your family doesn’t fit when you have 3 kids, not only in that sedan, but in the 4 person booth, standard sized shopping cart, standard sized hotel room, double stroller or in that family 4-pack. You have to start getting creative.
It Is Never Quiet
This may seem silly to say. But seriously: It. Is. Never. Quiet. And I LOVE it! I was an only child. I had enough quiet growing up. By the time #3 comes along, you likely have at least one kid that has given up on napping. That means the likelihood of catching a few z’s while the littles are peacefully napping is almost non-existent. And #3 better be able to sleep through the noise of the other two banging on pots and pans since it is no longer their naptime.
Being Pregnant Is Way Tougher With #3
They say with each pregnancy the problems you have from previous pregnancies become even more magnified. For example, with my 1st I had some hip/leg pain that started sometime in the 2nd trimester. With my 2nd, it started around the end of my 1st trimester. And with my 3rd? Basically once I knew I was pregnant, I was hurting with bad sciatica and other pinched nerves. This required weekly massages, which wasn’t as nice as it sounds when she is trying to get you to walk with no pain. Very not fun. Also, there is a lot less rest due to the whole kids-no-longer-napping thing. And once you have the baby, your body seems to feel the need to keep being stretched out. That doesn’t mean it will be true for you, but it was definitely true for me.
You Don’t Fit Other People’s Expectations
Depending on where you live, you might get some sidelong glances when you say you have or are going to have 3 kids. 1 and 2 seem to be the standard, so 3 starts to get a little radical (and more expensive) for some people. Hopefully, not the people close to you. But honestly, its your choice not theirs, so it really doesn’t matter too much what the cashier/customer/random person may think.
Stereotypes Are There For A Reason
I’m sure you’ve heard about the stereotypical 1st, 2nd and 3rd child traits. The “1st follows the rules, the 2nd is why rules were made and the 3rd thinks rules are meant to be broken” stereotypes. While I don’t like to overgeneralize, there is a reason that this this stereotype formed. My little one tries to figure out her way around pretty much any rule, guideline or “no” given to her. This pretty much goes back to the 3rd child being fun. And she can pretty much “cute” her way out of anything. Boy, are we in trouble when she is a teenager!
You Might Not Fit In Friendship Groups Perfectly
I have found that I have two friendship circles when it comes to my kids. I have mom friends that have kids the same age as my older two and I have friends that have kids the same age as my younger two. And I overlap these two groups. I do have a couple friends who also have 3 kids similar in age to my 3, but it is definitely rare. The problem comes when moms with the older kids want to get together when the kids are in school, but I have my youngest in tow so I can’t. And my friends whose kids are closer in age to my younger ones, want to get together for an afternoon playdate when I have to be home doing homework with my older ones. It can be frustrating at times to not quite fit with either group. The kids all eventually get older. You might just need to have coffee dates with your friends and your littles for a couple years. Or cross your fingers for a light homework night to have an afternoon playdate. In the end, it works out with some finagling.
You Need A Big Kitchen Table
You are a family of 5. Tables for 4-6 really don’t cut it anymore. Just get a big one so you can have elbow room.
Babysitting Costs More And No One Wants To Take All 3
Getting babysitting for 3 kids definitely takes some getting used to. Costs for 1-2 might be the same, but they are often more when 3 kids are involved. Check with your babysitter though. You might luck out. But even farming your kids off to friends and family isn’t so easy. Most don’t want to watch all 3 for you for any length of time. For example, if my husband and I wanted to go away for the weekend we would likely have better luck sending the kids to 2-3 different houses than trying to get them to stay all together. As of yet, we haven’t gone away overnight except twice. They were both for funerals, so they don’t count. It isn’t impossible to get out for an evening or time away, but it can take some planning.
With all of the work, the bigger car, bigger table, more expenses, more messes (did I mention that one???), there is also so much more love, more joy and more fun. My life is better for having all 3 kids in it. Each breath they take makes my life richer, more joyful, more everything. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Not one single thing.