My husband and I recently had our 4th child and I have to admit, it’s rocked my world. But I would hazard a guess that it has a little less to do with the fact that it’s our fourth, and a little more to do with the fact that three of our children are under the age of three.
You heard that right. Our first two children were 3 1/2 years apart due to several years of secondary infertility. Our second two were 15 months apart, and our last two are 16 months apart.
Maybe you have children close in age and you can relate. Or maybe you’re just curious about the craziness that ensues with having children close in age. Either way, read on to get a glimpse of what life is REALLY like when you have three under the age of three.
I’m always counting.
Whether it’s mentally double-checking that everyone is buckled in their car seats when we’re heading out in the minivan, or making sure everyone is either in the Target cart or at least nearby, I’m always counting to three.
The house is constantly a mess.
If you have at least one child you know how quickly the hurricane can hit. Multiply that by two toddlers and it becomes a Category 5. Often there’s not enough time to empty the dishwasher and pick up the kitchen, let alone the toys. Some moms can NOT go to bed and leave the mess. I am not one of those people. My theory is it’s going to get destroyed first thing tomorrow anyway. I might as well head to bed and get a few hours of shut-eye before one (or all) of my children are up in the night.
Sometimes bath time is less about getting clean and more about keeping them contained and entertained.
I love bath time! Why? Because for a precious half hour of time they are having a blast and are all in one place! Throw some towels on the floor to soak up the mess, give them some toys, and let them go to town! It’s a happy time for all!
Laundry is my nemesis.
I’ve never enjoyed laundry. Oh, I don’t mind throwing clothes in the washer. It’s just remembering to put them in the dryer that gets me. And after I’ve rewashed them for the third time because I forgot to switch them over (oops!) and miraculously finally put them in the dryer, there’s that pesky matter of folding the laundry and putting it away. Good thing my kids enjoy helping with this task.
There are So. Many. Diapers.
I have a confession…my almost three-year-old is still in diapers. And I’m thankful. My oldest was potty-trained at 2 1/2. A few months before my youngest was born I thought, “I really need to get K potty-trained before the baby comes!” Then one day we were out and my oldest needed to use the bathroom. After trying to keep my toddler from playing in the toilet and crawling under the partition into the occupied stall next door, I began to have visions of wrangling all of them plus a baby. And decided to let her potty train when she expresses interest. Until then, I am ok with changing a few more diapers, thank you very much!
Amazon Prime is my lifesaver.
Three kids in diapers. Enough said. I love Amazon’s diaper subscription service. I also love the free 2-day shipping. What’s better than having the things you need (and want) delivered right to your door? I’m all about saving that extra trip to Target whenever I can.
Being close in age means my children always have a playmate. And learn independence.
Our oldest had our undivided attention for 3 1/2 years. Because of that she always expects to have our attention. On the other hand, our two middle children have always had to share our attention. And they are much better at entertaining themselves (and each other) because of it. If mom can’t be there right away because she’s feeding the baby, then sometimes they have to figure it out for themselves. Which can sometimes be disastrous, but other times it leads to ingenuity. Like using the baby’s bath tub as a step stool so they can brush their teeth.
Screen time is ok.
Listen, if you’re a mom who has a no screen-time rule, I wholeheartedly respect your decision. But most days this mama needs a little help from Daniel Tiger or Sofia the First. Or Barbie. My two-year-old has a serious Barbie obsession–as in we own almost every Barbie movie known to man. Sometimes bringing out a new set of toys while mama is feeding the baby works for a while. But every mom with kids close in age knows that the instant you sit down to feed the baby is the instant your toddler will climb in the tub and turn the water on. (I’ve tried to babyproof the doorknobs…to no avail.) Or try to climb up in your daughters’ bunk bed. Or find a spare crayon and create a masterpiece on the wall. (Have you read my post on the Not-So-Wonderful Ones?!)
If turning on Netflix means you can feed the baby in peace, or make dinner without the fear of your toddler feeding M&M’s to the dog, then embrace it. You’ll all be happier for it!
I’ve learned to let things go.
When my oldest was a toddler I was much more careful to follow her around and make sure she wasn’t getting into things or making a huge mess. By the time my third came along, I’d developed the attitude that as long as they’re not injuring themselves or others, and as long as they’re occupied…let it go. My toddler LOVES water and will literally spend hours playing in the sink. Might as well let him. He’s occupied, and bonus for me: he’s not climbing on the windowsill AND my dishes get relatively clean!
The days are long, but they are so precious.
I’ll be honest and say there are plenty of days when I am ready to pull my hair out. When my two-year-old is throwing an epic tantrum because she didn’t get to go with dad to drop her sister off at school. When my toddler is getting into anything and everything he possibly can. When my baby is fussy and refuses to be put down. When the dishes are piling up and the toy bin just got dumped all over the floor.
But then my sweet boy climbs up on my lap and falls asleep with his baby brother. And my darling daughter picks me a bouquet of dandelions and is so proud to give them to me. They smother me with kisses and say, “Mommy you look beautiful.” And I’m reminded that they aren’t little forever. And I might as well soak it up while I can…chaos and all!