People often ask me what it is like to have three kids. I have distinct memories of comments from very well-meaning strangers and non-strangers alike. “You are going to have your hands full,” as they see me at the store with my oldest two and pregnant with their sister. “Oh well, life is about to get busy!” “Three is crazy; you’re going to be outnumbered!” The list, as you can imagine, goes on.
During my pregnancy with my third, I heard the above comments all.the.time. Everyone likes to talk to pregnant people and share their opinions and observations. I admit at times the comments about three made me very nervous. Of course there were moments of panic like, how are we going to do this? But then I would realize that we could, in fact, do this. We were made for this purpose.
I am here to tell you that parenting three kids isn’t as scary and crazy as it sounds.
If you are about to give birth to your third baby or even more, take heart. You will not only survive, but thrive.
When I think about how I would describe life with three, some different words come to mind.
Busy is a word a lot of people used to describe how our life would be as we added this third baby to our world. Is life busy? Yes, it is busy. We like to call it controlled chaos. I know the word “chaos” has a negative connotation associated with it. As long as we can get everyone from point A to point B without any major catastrophe, we are winning. I often will use the phrase, “It’s like herding cats.” It is like herding cats when trying to get out the door to go somewhere.
What I think has helped us in this stage of life is we have a basic routine down. This is especially important when the goal is to get some place on time. It takes a solid routine and everyone on the same page to accomplish a common goal. It also takes trial and error. It takes time to find a routine that works for your situation. The early months of three felt more chaotic than they do now. I think a lot of the chaos in the early days of three included a newborn. They have very specific needs that need to be met. I felt there was a lot more planning that had to go on to accommodate for those needs.
You have to find a way to balance it all. When you have one child you can give that one child your undivided attention. When you add a second baby to the family it is a one-on-one situation. No longer are you able to give either child your undivided attention. Now adding a third to that mix, you are spread even more thin.
However, this reminds me to not sweat the unimportant things. An example of this would be having a clean house. There are constantly toys on the floor and dress-up princess and superhero costumes strewn about the house. We pick them up daily, only to have the same scenario the next day. Only the really important things count. Your goal is to keep these tiny humans alive and help them to be functioning individuals. With three, you find a way to let some things go, and at the same time put more importance on other things. It is all a balancing act.
Hopefully you are lucky enough to have a spouse or another capable adult to help you. Together you work towards a common goal. You work together to provide for the needs of your children. You are still running a zone defense, but it is so much easier than being 1:3. There are times when you are both pulled all different directions, but you do the best you can. You settle in and find a way to manage the chaos.
Yes, it is loud. It is loud when you have kids that talk. It is loud when you have babies that cry or screech just to be heard some days. But it is the kind of loudness that fills your heart and makes you smile. It is true that the only time it is ever quiet in our house is at night after the kids are in bed or early in the morning before they wake up. It is a loudness that I will miss when our kids are grown and on their own. When our oldest is away at an overnight, the silence in our house is deafening. It feels like something is missing. If this is even possible, it is too quiet.
I know having three kids can sound overwhelming and scary. However, there are so many positive things about having three kids, too.
First of all, by the time number three made her appearance we knew what to expect when it came time to birth a baby, to potty train, to breastfeed. The list goes on. We weren’t new at the whole parenting thing. We learned to give ourselves a little grace amidst the busyness. We also have learned to better give our kids grace when they melt down or feel overwhelmed.
We got to watch our oldest really step up to being such an amazing helper. We did not specifically assign him tasks, but it just happened that way. Along the same lines, we got to watch our second-born be a big sister. What a beautiful sight! This has taught us that the greatest gift we could have ever given our kids is the gift of their siblings.
Being parents of three has taught us to be more flexible. It has taught us to not take ourselves too seriously. It has taught us to love well and more fiercely than we ever thought possible. It taught us to take things one day at a time. Finally, it has taught us that these days, the days we are living, are the “good ol’ days.” We will look back on these years with a special fondness of a simpler time. We will do our best to embrace every stage and milestone and to cherish them, chaos and all.