Last November we welcomed our third (and final) baby in to our family. The decision to have a third came after months, even years, of deliberation but as we awaited her arrival we were spurred on by friends with three children who made it look so easy. “The third one just fits in,” we were told. “The jump from one to two is the hardest; you don’t even notice number 3.” Excellent, we thought, as we threw out all the baby books and basked in our own self-confidence. How hard could it be?
We feel slightly cheated by those who told us it was a walk in the park
Quite hard actually, it turned out. Our other two kids were seven and four and whilst their independence and the bigger age gap made it easier in many ways, there were so many other elements and activities to juggle alongside having a newborn. Throw in some colic and reflux for good measure and it’s safe to say the first few months were somewhat challenging!
Six months in and we’re now starting to find our flow but it does still feel like we’re spinning plates. Dinnertime, newly dubbed as ‘the witching hour’, now resembles a chaotic scene from Supernanny and attempting to get three kids fed, dressed and out the door on time in the morning feels like it requires a qualification in UN Peacekeeping and the organisation skills of a military commander.
We feel slightly cheated by those that told us it was a walk in the park but I can’t begin to tell you how much joy and fun our little baby number three has brought to our family. Whilst life is certainly busier, she’s created a new dynamic that has brought us all so much closer together. We love being a family of five and couldn’t imagine it being any other way. Is it easy? Most definitely not. But then nothing worth having ever is!
Here are my 5 top tips for surviving the madness with three:
1. Build a strong support network.
Having family close by can be a godsend but that isn’t always possible. Good friends are great for helping out and are invaluable in lending an ear over a cup of coffee and cake. If possible, surround yourself with a few friends that have more than three kids or twins and you’ll soon realise you have nothing to moan about!
2. Get in touch with other parents.
If you can set up rotas for transporting older siblings to and from activities and even school and nursery runs, it gives everyone a day off and makes the carpark less chaotic too. It’s also a great way to meet other mums and dads if you’re new to an area.
3. Get up half an hour earlier than you need to in the mornings.
If you’re anything like our family, you’re going to run late no matter when you get up but it’s amazing how much you can get done in that extra half hour. It’s not always easy when you’ve been up in the night with the baby, but allowing yourself to ‘rest’ on the sofa until you’ve only got 30 minutes left to get everyone out isn’t going to end well. Trust me, I’ve tried it.
4. Divide and conquer.
If possible, share the load with your partner. Take a child each for bedtime and split the evening jobs. Older siblings often like to help too.
5. Spend some time each day doing something you love.
It might be as simple as going for a run, taking a long soak in the bath when the kids are asleep or going to bed early with a book and a cup of tea but it’s a great way to de-stress and relax ahead of another busy day!