People are constantly asking me how life is with three. When we’re out and about we get lots of attention. Elderly women smile and coo at the boys. Many people comment on what great helpers I have. Some like to tell me about their kids, grown or not. And lots and lots of people like to tell what I already know…that I’ve got my hands full! I usually respond in a way that I remember reading in one of Rachel Jankovic’s books…”Yes, full of good things!”
It’s easy to think that I will never be able to forget these times. After all, these little people consume every minute of every day of my life! How could I forget all of the details when at times I feel like all I think about is them! None of the following will come as a shock to anyone. Of course the logistics of having three kids is more complicated than having two; just as having six children would be more complicated than having one! It’s just that people seem to be quite curious about the transition. I thought it worth something to write some of these thoughts down, both for the sake of remembering these early years when the boys are all so small, and to share with other mamas out there a bit about what life is like with three.
Getting out of the house is hard. The logistics of getting everyone ready, out the door, and into the car is grueling work! If we are already planning on being somewhere; for example school, it isn’t too bad. I try to prepare the night before by having clothes laid out and ironed and a lunch box packed. Compared to when Benjamin was itty bitty, now I am much more familiar with how long it takes us to do each part of our routine. I just back track from the time we need to leave, then I know what time we need to finish breakfast, nurse Benjamin, start getting dressed, be in the car, etc. It’s the spur of the moment, on a whim, “let’s all hop in the car and go to the park” outings that can be a bit more frustrating. Is everyone dressed? Been to the potty? Had a diaper change? Wearing shoes? ”I need a snack! And, something to drink” Is my diaper back packed with extras? Do I have my keys? The checklist goes on and on. A spur of the moment venture out of the house can become quite the ordeal, and look more like we are preparing for a week long vacation rather than a 30 minute play date at the park! Life is definitely not as simple with three as it was with one! All of this being said, it is no wonder why we spend a lot more time at home these days.
Trips to the store are definitely more interesting. Jude loves to be out and about and is quite content to run “boring” grown-up errands with both David and me so I usually plan my weekly trip to the grocery store for when Elliott is in school. Baby carriers have been a Godsend with Benjamin! In the early days he loved being snuggled down in the Moby wrap and nowadays we prefer the Ergo. He is my little snuggle bunny and I am happy to have him close whenever the need arises. On the rare occasion that all three boys need to be with me in a store Elliott is really good about wanting to help out. He tends to wander and run off more, leading Jude to tag along, so I have to do a lot of reminding them to stay close.
I think that one of the most difficult things for me about having three children has been learning to juggle the very different needs of each child. They are all in different stages and require different types of attention. Despite the fact that I never stop moving and caring for them during the day, at times I feel like no one is getting enough attention! It is easy for me to feel sad about having to divide my attention among the three boys because I so badly want each to know how important they are to me at all moments. In the rare moments where I have some alone time with one child I try to make myself stop whatever it is that I “need” to be doing to sit down and give some extra attention to him. I think that most of the time my feelings about this are irrational, and that the boys are doing just fine. With time I’m sure we will adjust and it will feel normal to be stretched in so many different directions.
Laundry. Loads and loads of laundry! I could keep up when there were just four of us, but now laundry seems to be like a gift that never stops giving! I’ve recently started trying to do one load a day to help cut down on the mounds of dirty clothes piling up around us. It works well….as long as I keep up with the folding and putting away, too!
While we are on the topic of chores I will go ahead and mention tidiness around the house. It’s never clean. At least not in my opinion. One day the kitchen will sparkle while the rest of the house sits littered with toys and a thin layer of dust. Another day the bathrooms won’t smell like a mens’ restroom but the kitchen sink is filled to the brim with dirty dishes and your feet stick to the tiles when you walk through because someone spilled their juice again. After Benjamin was born my mom gifted us with a house keeper for 3 months. It was wonderful! The best gift ever for a new mom! She did the hard work and I managed to stay on top of the dishes, laundry, and clutter. I’ve recently started trying to loosely follow a daily chore chart that helps me focus on one room each day of the week so the toilets are at least getting scrubbed and the floors are getting vacuumed more often than they were before. Sometimes when there is so much to do it’s easier to just do the things that you’re used to. It helps to have a way to check things off when the list is so long. What helps most of all when I get overwhelmed by the state of the house is to remember something my mother-in-law said to me when Elliott was just a baby. ”Tricia, you will have years to clean you house.” These are such simple words, but so wise. There will be years and years for me to enjoy my house being tidy. These are the years when it is messy. Embrace it for what it is. Clean when you can and don’t let the messiness around you get in the way of enjoying life. After all, the kids don’t mind a bit do they?
Life has definitely gotten sweeter having three. My heart is so full. Being an only child, I was a bit nervous about sibling interactions. When Jude got old enough to tear into Elliott’s things and annoy him I was a bit taken aback at the way they would treat one another at times. My lack of experience with a brother or sister of my own left me wondering if they were going to hate each other forever. Thankfully, my worries were short lived and I was able to relax in knowing that brothers will be brothers and brothers will fight. But, oh my goodness, how they love on another so! I am not exaggerating when I say that multiple times a day I hear them telling each other that they love one another. Melts. My. Heart. It has been so much fun to see the way that the boys have included Benjamin in their brotherhood and I cannot wait to see how their love grows in the coming years. Having three who are all boys is something special for sure. They have no idea how blessed they are, but I pray that one day they will.
Curious moms of two are always asking me if the transition from one to two or from two to three kids was harder. In the wake of bringing home the third, it is difficult to remember all of the details of bringing home the second. There are some differences that immediately come to mind though. I think a lot of it depends on the baby and where you are in life, too. With Jude I was no longer working outside of the home and we were more strapped for cash. He had reflux. He and Elliott were nearly three years apart. All of these things played a part in shaping the transition. However, after thinking about it quite a bit I think I can finally answer the question for how things went in our family. Going from one to two was definitely more difficult. Sure, there are things that are harder with three than with two. And, although we are outnumbered now, and the kids are all different ages with different needs and demands, and we are getting less and less sleep, I am still sticking with my answer I will elaborate. The transition from zero to one child is a bit of a shock. The lack of sleep is enough to rock your world. On top of that, you’re now in charge of having to keep another human being alive! Schedules, activities, meals, etc. all revolve around the new cute little person in your life. It’s fun, but way different than it was before. But……you’ve still got nap time!! When the little one goes down for a nap it is all about you again! Haven’t had a shower yet today? Knock it out during nap time! House is a wreck? Tidy up during nap time! Need some sun? Sit out in the yard and read a book while sipping on your favorite beverage during nap time! Mommy needs a nap, too? No problem! The house will be quiet during nap time!! Nap time = Me Time! Do you see where I’m headed with this?
Cue the second child. Jude came along and rocked our world! Or, at least mine! Simply put. There wasn’t guaranteed me time anymore. Jude was king of the 45 minute nap. When he was a baby I would lay him down for a nap, quickly read Elliott some books, and get him down for his nap. Then, just as soon as I was settling down to read a book or catch up on a missed show….Jude would wake up! So, I’d feed him, play with him, and put him down for another nap. Then, you guessed, it! Elliott would wake up! They had it made…each getting lots of alone time with Mommy! But, I was exhausted and not used to the demands of being a full-time mother of two, without so much as a few moments to myself during the day. It was frustrating to say the least. I felt like I never got a break. I think I hit rock bottom the day I ran circles in our backyard because I just wanted to get away from the crying baby inside but knew that I couldn’t run around the neighborhood with two kids back at home! Talk about feeling like a rat in a cage! Truth be told, as Jude got older he actually became a stellar napper, and he still is. The early days were rough with him. Knowing that babies eventually grow out of things and move on to new phases is part of what makes dealing with subsequent childrens’ quirks bearable isn’t it?
Wait a minute! What’s that you say? Don’t you have even less me time now that you have three? And, the answer is “yes!”…but the difference this time around is that I’m so used to it that it doesn’t even bother me. If I do get a few moments to myself (like now…I’m actually blogging!) then it feels like a rare treat. A breath of fresh air. I don’t count on it, but when it is given to me I savor it! So there you have it. It’s all about giving up the idea of me time if you ask me. And, more than that, it’s all about your attitude! If I had taken a chill pill and relaxed when Jude was a baby I know that the transition would have been much easier. Thankfully, the Lord was gracious to me this go-round and has answered my prayers to help me to enjoy this time as we adjust to adding one more to the mix. This season of life doesn’t allot much me time. There will be years ahead of me to spend doing things that I want to do. But, I’m fairly certain that when all is said and done I will be wishing that I had less time for just me and more time to be with them. The trick is to keep this reality of the future a reality of the present. The honest truth is this. I am going to miss this.