The first 6 months after giving birth is always a blur. There’s sleepless nights, lots of feedings, diaper changes and pure chaos. You’re in a constant state of barely staying afloat. Every now and again you realize you can actually manage three kids, but more often than not you feel like half the mom, wife, friend and daughter you want to be. There’s been a lot of lessons learned after having Reece (our third) six short months ago. It’s amazing how quickly your “normal” changes. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned after becoming a family of five.
1. You gotta roll with it most days
I’ve learned to let go a lot more often than I used to. I’m a perfectionist so this has been a hard lesson for me to learn. There’s usually a stain on someone’s shirt at all times, dishes in the sink, beds made occasionally instead of daily and being late more often than not. And I swear, if I find one more random sock laying around. I think, I HOPE, some of this will get better over time since we’re still in the baby stage. If you have three though, I can guarantee you will never graduate out of the random sock stage.
2. You have to put your game face on for bed time
With three kids all needing to go to bed roughly within the same hour, bed time takes strategy. There’s so much to do and only two of you to pull it off. Between baths, changing diapers and clothes, tantrums, feeding Reece his night bottle and trying to squeeze in devotions…there’s a lot going on in such a short amount of time. Some nights go smoothly and others feel like a train wreck. It always seems to circle back to the first lesson of letting go.
3. The to do list never gets complete
I feel like I just keep writing to do lists. Nothing ever actually gets done. I’ve somehow tricked myself into thinking if I just keep writing things down then I’ll somehow be more productive. The truth is…they just don’t get done, or at least not nearly as quickly as I always hope they will in my head. I used to use nap time to knock out my daily to do list. With three, there’s usually someone always awake during the day. I can only bank on getting things done or having a little down time with D after 9pm or before 7am.
4. When one kid is gone for the day, it feels like a vacation
When you have three, managing two on occasion can seem like a breeze. I say this and it wasn’t that long ago when we only had two and I felt like I had my hands full. With each child your new normal shifts and you quickly adjust.
5. It’s as if we are packing for the Amazon
You would think we are packing for the jungle when we are simply headed to the grocery. Between the baby bag, stroller, sling, a handful of snacks, drinks, coats and my purse we are bound to forget something. We always seem to forget the one important thing too…like Reece’s bottle or the wipes. You can’t forget the wipes! If you forget them, someone WILL poo and it will be bad. Ugh. Three all of the sudden requires a lot of stuff on the road.
6. You have to fight for your marriage
With the constant feeling of being pulled in every direction, you start to realize that being a team player with your spouse can start to take its toll. You have to divide and conquer a lot more than before. Sometimes I want to go back to the old days where the two of us would go for a run together after work or order a pizza and snuggle up in front of the TV and watch endless shows together on a random Tuesday night. No bed time routines, daily laundry or kids sneaking out of bed to deal with. I don’t want to go back to our pre-kid days
unless someone with a heartbeat is willing to watch our kids for a few days. I love our family, but occasionally I miss that carefree side of our marriage. Date nights and weekend getaways now have to be perfectly planned and orchestrated. If someone gets sick, if throws it all off. Darn it…no one can get sick!…Mama needs a night out. We make an honest effort to schedule a few date nights a month. Even turning on some jazz with a glass of wine once the kids go to bed can make a difference. Catching up with each other and not just talking about the recent cable bill increase goes a long way. Check in with each other occasionally and see how you can make each other’s day a little easier. It’s work, but it’s worth it. You have to take care of each other as much as you care for your kids. There’s a reason this lesson is the largest paragraph. It’s one of the most important, and must be addressed.
7. You realize the kids can help out
When Reece came along, I realized I wasn’t giving Latham (our oldest) enough responsibility. With fewer hands to go around, you naturally have to rely on your kids to help you out. Latham is great at pulling weeds and feeding Reece his bottle when one of his feedings falls mid car ride. Dollie enjoys putting the silverware away from the dishwasher and helping me change Reece’s diaper. With two, you do a lot for your kids, but with three, you truly need their help and you don’t know what their capable of until you ask them for help.
8. Odd numbers can make things tricky
I don’t know about you all but there’s something cozy about a booth at a restaurant. It’s nice not to be dead center in a restaurant at one of those open tables. We’ve always preferred a booth. With five, you throw that luxury out the window. We’ve graduated to awkward center tables. My brother warned me about this. I didn’t think much about it until we started eating out again.
Hotels are tough with three because two double beds can’t fit everybody. We can fudge it for a little longer since Reece can still sleep in a pac ‘n play, but it won’t be long before two beds is not enough. Hotels are hard enough with kids. Renting a condo or house makes a lot more sense with three.
The car situation gets interesting with three kids too. You can stick them all in the backseat but it’s tight with carseats and booster seats. The upside is Latham being able to feed Reece back there.
9. Everything just got REALLY expensive
From food to flights, vacations and schooling…with each child you have, it seems to increase all cost exponentially. You have to become a lot more strategic about eating out and where to stay on vacation. I’ve started to pay a lot more attention to where kids eat free. 😉
10. Nap time is a lot more flexible these days
I used to be fairly strict about nap time. Everybody went down in the afternoon for at least a few hours. When we only had Latham, I would put him down for an hour in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon. There was all kinds of time to get stuff done around the house. Now with three, it’s not fair to the other two to chain yourself to the house every day. Reece is usually tagging along to activities with the rest of us. He’ll sometimes get fussy because he naturally needs a longer nap, but it’s not realistic to be at home during those times everyday. It all goes back to letting go.
11. There’s officially a middle child now
Someone at some point is going to feel a little left out. As a mom, I want to do everything in my power to avoid my kids ever feeling left out. Over the last several months I’ve realized this is going to naturally happen at times and it’s going to be okay. With two, both kids can have the attention of a parent. With three, it’s just not possible. Someone is going to have to wait. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just the way it is. Spending one on one time with each child and reminding them how special they are as an individual is the best way to gloss right over this truth.
So what’s the takeaway from all these lessons? To sum it up, three is a lot. But honestly, two was a lot too. With each child new challenges come and you learn to figure out a way to adjust. There’s a lot of peaks and valleys each day. One day you feel like you can take it all on, and the next you feel like a complete failure. I am still such a beginner with three. They need classes and workshops for this stuff. Or at least blood pressure medication. The important thing is to embrace the overwhelming nature that kids (any amount) can bring to you as an individual, as a couple and a family as a whole. Be thankful for each child, they are a gift. Let go and focus on the joy that each new addition brings to your family.