Last night my visiting aunt was hysterically laughing at my life. She literally said “I’m laughing at your life,” which made the rest of the family snort with laughter! I love that about her. Watching the ridiculous chaos my kids embody reminded her of when her boys were small. She couldn’t help but giggle at our everyday nonsense of poop and picky eaters and kiddie songs and wrestling and how Clara suddenly decided to take up spitting.
If you knew me back in the day this would make you laugh too! I have never been a baby person. I declared that no one should buy me a pot or pan for my bridal shower. And as a teenager I was as messy as they come. Fast forward to today, and I have three babies, make dinner most nights and love to organize. It’s quite a turn around!
And all of this changing is only intensifying as the baby of the family gets older. She’s napping less, eating more and demanding more of my time. The craziness of three little ones is just now sinking in, 10 months later.
Adjusting to the third child has crept up on me, but adding a second munchkin three and a half years ago almost made my head explode. I distinctly remember standing in the yard of a friend’s house with little Luca asking me to help him down the slide as someone was telling me that my newborn was crying inside at the same time. I just stood there, paralyzed, not knowing what to do first!
Today I can give a mom triage assessment and help the kids in the right order, but it’s taken time. Here’s a real analogy of how I changed from the first child to the third.
Child #1: A month before delivery, I fill my brand new, designer diaper bag with each and every baby item the internet tells me to have. I arrange everything carefully in individual pockets with care.
Child #2: I wash the bag as my due date approaches. I consult a list to jog my memory about what baby might need. I pack half the things I did the first time and have it ready for the hospital.
Child #3: I don’t have a diaper bag at the hospital. I don’t even realize I need one until just before her first check up appointment. Somehow diaper bags completely slipped my mind and I don’t know where it is. I find it on a back shelf and look inside. There are still Cheerios and fruit pouch caps from the last child. I take it in the front yard, give it a good shake upside down and quickly wipe the inside with a baby wipe. I throw some clothes, diapers and a blanket inside.
My goodness I’m chatty today. I’ll finally get to the point. Here are the main practical ways I have adjusted going from two to three kids:
I make lists.
Now that there is more demand for my attention with three, it’s hard to get my day to day things done. I get very distracted!
I find it helpful in the morning (or the night before when I’m laying in bed and involuntarily making to-do lists in my mind) to write down the top five things I’d like to get done during the day. I number them in order of priority to help my scattered brain focus when I find a spare minute. Sometimes only three things get done — or just one — but it’s a start.
I’m not a vending machine.
The number of times a day I hear “I’m hungry” is ridiculous. With everything going on, I cannot make a trip to the kitchen every 15 minutes, not to mention tackle the extra dishes limitless snacks create.
So, my basic plan I try to stick to is: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner. And guess what! The kids actually eat more of their lunch and dinner. Ok, you probably guessed that. Why didn’t I do this sooner?
My house is messy.
With two kids, I fought to keep the house semi-neat. Now with three, I don’t even have a chance! I could honestly work all day just to try to keep a clean and tidy house only to have little monsters following behind, creating more mess. So I try to shoot for one clean, organized room or space a day. It helps me from being overwhelmed.
Cleaning is not my priority right now. I’m more willing to let things go and focus on being in the moment with the kids than before. I figure there will be plenty of time for cleaning when they get older.
I don’t respond to every argument.
I could be accused of being too responsive to my children. I probably mediate too much when I could let the boys work it out together. (Seen here with their best bud, Trooper, in one of the many, many ridiculous outfits they come up with.) I noticed when I was feeding Clara or putting her down for a nap, a lot of times they had resolved their own problem by the time I could help.
There’s a fine line between letting them find a compromise and finding a teachable moment on how to treat others. I’m doing a better job of discerning the two. I keep an ear out when I hear an argument, but now I don’t jump in right away.
I’m experimenting with color coding.
We had a father of four at our house for dinner a few months ago and he shared that at his house each child has their own cup color. They are responsible for washing their own cup and this prevents 50 cups from lining the sink. I loved it! My boys are too small to wash their own cups, but we could try assigning a color to remember whose is whose.
So now Luca is green and Adriano is blue, and they have one cup for the whole day. It’s simple, but brilliant.
I also started doing it with their shoes in green and blue bins in the garage. I even added a pink one for Clara girl. Either this will stick and continue working great or they’re going to hate their assigned color one day!
I buy all the same socks.
Because the boys are so close in age they share a lot, and one of those things is socks. I made a horrible decision one day and bought two big variety packages of socks. Each pair in the pack was different and trying to keep them matching was the bane of my existence. So they always had on mismatching socks. Whatever.
When they outgrew them, I made sure to buy two large packages of the exact same socks so each kid can grab two socks and they will match without fail. And if we lose one, the mate can still stay in the mix. I don’t even fold them together, just throw them in the basket. I started doing it for the little girl too. Apparently I’m really passionate about socks, but this works well when laundry could be a full time job in itself.
Leaving the house is interesting.
At this stage I can’t really go shopping on a whim or “swing by” someplace to pick something up. My trips are pretty calculated with a fed baby, premeditated bathroom trips and snacks.
Marcello drops Luca off at preschool most days (thank heavens), but when I pick him up a whole three hours later, I have to take Adriano and Clara. Which means I pack up those two, unbuckle them and take them in with me to Luca’s classroom, take all three back to the minivan and buckle them all in to go home. Sigh.
Also, I drive a minivan now. Oh yeah.
My heart grows.
My capacity for love knows no bounds. After the first I didn’t know how I would love a second the way I loved him. After the second, I wondered what the dynamic would be. After the third, I know there is enough room in a mother’s heart no matter the number of children.
Do you have any advice to share? How did bringing home another babe affected your family?