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The other day, somebody shared an article with me about three children in a family being “the hardest” number of children. I was absolutely aghast. And intrigued. I mean, I had noticed how hard having three kids had gotten (I mean Ian and I had even decided that we weren’t willing to have a child of our own, in part because of how full our hands are with the three kiddos we already have!) But I figured I was being overly dramatic in my own mind. Had it crossed my mind that three kids has felt EXTRA overwhelming lately? Absolutely. But having kids is hard sometimes, and I had just been figuring it was the stage of life, and the fact that my youngest can be an animal who feels like three children wrapped up into one. So, I did what somebody does, who has access to two hundred and ten thousand people on social media: I polled the crowd! The results were pretty shocking. The vast majority of people with four or more children corroborated the article and shared with me that they felt three children was the hardest number of children they ever had. WOW. In a way, it’s been really validating, because (hence today’s blog post), having three kids has gotten so much harder for us than it used to be!
I’ll preface this all by saying that I am so grateful for Mateo and could never imagine life without him. When I look back at potentially stopping after Marlowe and Major as I had expected, it actually makes me nauseous thinking about never meeting our little Buggy. I don’t think I would’ve felt complete without him. I know that two children wasn’t the right number for me. HOWEVER. Three kids is giving me a run for my money during this phase of life!
At first, when I went from two to three kids, my status as an officially “seasoned” Mom made the transition so much easier than going from one to two kids. I was so much more comfortable as a Mom, with the newborn phase, and just much more stable in my sense of community and the support surrounding me. The kids adjusted so well to adding another sibling. Mateo is turning three next week, and I’ve been getting SO many messages lately from people asking for an update to my experience with three kids. “Three kids is the new two kids,” I’ve heard people say. And, from what I see in the towns around me, this seems to be the case. I’ve gotten lots of questions from parents thinking about adding to their family of four. I figured it was time to share my experience with three kids in this new Post-Baby phase of life!
TWO KIDS IS LIKE TWO KIDS, AND THREE KIDS IS LIKE TEN
Have you ever heard this saying? LOL. Well, I agree! Ever since Mateo started toddling around, our lives have gotten MUCH busier. He’s a very active and rascally toddler, not to mention extremely independent. He wants to do everything that the big kids are doing, and he wants to do it on his own. Mateo is to this day my only child who has ever tried to sneak out of the house and go to do something by himself! I had to put beeps on all the doors just so I know where this kid is at any given time! We have to be so on top of him at all times, in a way that we never had to be with the other two kids. He’s also extremely intelligent and requires a lot of active attention and learning time. He’s always wanting to be doing something and engaging with adults on their level. It’s what makes Mateo so fun to hang out with, but is also a lot as a parent to balance with two other children who also need attention. Sometimes it feels so hard to balance the needs of all three kiddos without feeling like one of them is getting the short end of the stick. Add the age gap into the mix, and it makes the struggle to balance it all even harder. Ian, Kyle, and I spend most of our time parenting just trying to make all three kids feel like they are seen and loved as individuals, and making sure the attention is balanced. I think this will get easier over time as Mateo grows up a little, but right now it’s tough!
EVERYTHING IS EXPENSIVE
Any parent can relate to this, but the more kids you have, it feels like the expenses keep adding up! Between preschool, activities, doctors, and childcare….it all gets pricey! I was laughing with another Mom of three the other day that a grocery store trip only lasts about three days with the amount my kids eat through snacks all day long. And she agreed! We started really budgeting groceries and creating meal plans to combat this in the past year. Ian and I go through our pantry, find cans or dried goods that need to be eaten through, and then we plan meals around those. We try to buy the minimal amount of fresh produce needed to create meals out of what we have on hand, and then create meal plans for both our meals and meals for the kids. It has helped A LOT to get super organized at the beginning of the week in this way, and it keeps food costs down!
LIFE IS FUN AND FUNNY
While some may say that three kids make a three-ring circus, it also makes for the best of times. There is not a day that goes by that Ian and I aren’t hysterically laughing at the antics going on in our home or deeply moved by the sweetness of the dynamics. Of course, there are also countless moments in a day when we want to pull our hair out, but something about the three-person dynamic creates a lot more festivity in a family. At least that’s what we’ve found! The kids are also at an age now where they love to actually play for long periods of time together. This makes it really nice when we want to just throw them out the back door for an hour or so to play in the yard while we clean up the house or make dinner. We rarely have to intervene! It feels like we have a little party just with our family, and that’s a really fun feeling to have.
MATEO LEARNS QUICKLY
Everything relating to learning (including potty training!) has been SO much easier with three kids than two. Having the two older kids to look up to has been a constant source of inspiration for him and has helped so much with discipline as well. While I rarely have as much energy to discipline Mateo as I did with the other two kids, he is still the most polite two-year-old I’ve ever heard. This is because he is constantly hearing good manners come out of his siblings’ mouths! While I don’t always have it in me to be the best version of myself as a parent with three kids, at least I have the two products of my better parenting to teach the last guy! LOL.
THREE’S A COMPANY TOO
While it can be said that having three kids means that there’s always one left out during playtime, it can also be said that three kids give you options. There are absolutely many times when the number three is inconvenient: on planes, on rides at the fair, with games, and any other activity when a pair is preferable. But there are also lots of benefits to having a band instead of a duet. For example, have you noticed how many cosplay themes have more than two main characters?! Ha! My kids love dressing up, putting on shows, and dancing, and they always need “one more”. It’s nice to watch them able to be so imaginative in their little creative bubble together. If a sibling disagreement happens, I like that they can take time out from each other and turn to their other built-in best friend. I’ll tell you this: none of my kids has ever told me that they feel lonely!
I’d love to hear YOUR experience with three kids if you’re in that next phase of life. I’m really looking forward to the next five years and Mateo maturing even more so that the world really opens up for us as a family. Traveling to more exciting places and being able to have cool conversations about so many things is top of my bucket list! As a reminder, we are absolutely done and will not be adding to our family. But, I have heard that four is the “easiest” number of children for any of you looking to get permission to go for one more! Hahaha.