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Moms of 3 or more -- how do you do it?

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
I have two children -- a 3 yr old DS and 1 yr old DD. They drive me nuts some days. I found parenting one child was enjoyable, and was fairly easy compared to now. Now I feel spent. They are both very spirited/high needs (especially DS), and I am physically amd mentally exhausted by the end of the day.

That being said... I want one more. Always have. 3 just "feels" right. I have such conflicted feelings about it though. I can barely handle 2 sometimes. I see others with 3+ kids and they seem to handle it fine, but I am struggling with 2. If we do TTC for #3 (which would be our last child), we wouldn't start until DD was at least 2 or 2.5. Maybe even 3. I am hoping the bigger spacing would help (DS and DD are 27 months apart--that was ROUGH in the beginning). I have always heard that with high spirited kids, you should space them at least 3 years apart anyway, so I am hoping that would help a bit.

My friend also has 2 kids, but always wanted 3. She just had her 4 year old niece stay over her house for the week. She said she had a taste of what 3 kids felt like -- and is not sure anymore if she even wants a 3rd!! She REALLY wanted another too! That had me thinking as well. I went over her place for a playdate, and it was just a lot of stress handling 3 kids -- and the 2 older ones were 4 and 5! I thought the kids being older would make it a little easier... or that could be just wishful thinking. I also wonder if it would be different if the 3rd child was hers, and not one she rarely sees, KWIM?

Anyway, those with 3+ kids, how do you do it? Do you find it really stressful? I hear some say going from 2-3 kids was easier than going from 1-2, did you find any truth to that? How far apart did you space them? Tips?

TIA!
post #2 of 40
For us, our first two are 22 months apart. They are now 9 & 7.

Five year "break" due to secondary infertility...

Next two are 23 months apart. They are now 2.5 & 8 months. This is working out pretty well for us but we have our moments of insanity

Having a 2 or 3 year old is the absolutely hardest age for me to handle mentally Once you get past age three it gets easier and they start to really be able to play together which gives you a break from time to time.

I think it can be hard to think past what life is like *right now* but you also have to think about how your family will be in the future. Can you handle having three teens in the house ?

It's a hard decision, that's for sure. Good luck!
post #3 of 40
mine are 4.5+ years apart, that helps.
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post #4 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by shells_n_cheese View Post
Now I feel spent. They are both very spirited/high needs (especially DS), and I am physically amd mentally exhausted by the end of the day.

I see others with 3+ kids and they seem to handle it fine, but I am struggling with 2.

I only have 2 so far, but I still plan on having 4.

First thing is, you feel physically and mentally spent now and that's the same as you will feel with another child, KWIM? Kind of like the whole, 'how do you have enough love for each child' thing, you are going to be worn out, whether it's one kid or ten. Just like you are going to love all your kids, whether it's one or ten. I guess I mean you will have 'just enough' energy for however many kids you have IMO anyway.

Also, I'm sure the parents of 3+ just look like they are handling it just fine! Every parent has lots and lots of really hard/stressful times where they just want to get through it.


I know I still want more because I cannot imagine never being pregnant and never giving birth and never holding my own little newborn again. I cannot even fathom being ready to be done having kids. I'm hoping since I've always wanted 4, once I reach that point I will feel 'done'.
post #5 of 40
For me, the 4h child has always been the breaking point. It doesn't matter which one it is but if one of the kids is gone for some reason i.e. at a friend's house or school event, then it's infinitely easier. Conversely, adding a 5th or 6th child does not increase the work or stress.

Things that help lessen the stress of four kids for me:

-plan, plan, plan...keep easy to prepare meals in the house, make sure you have always done at least one load of laundry per day and always have an redirection activity in your back-pocket for when they start losing their minds.

-do whatever it takes to avoid going to the grocery store with all four kids...I have been seen at the grocery store at 1 AM.

-always take snacks and water bottles with you when you go out.

-set clear expectations before going in to an event i.e. please stay with me, please use indoor voices, please do not run, etc.

-keep quiet activities in a bag in the car to use while waiting at dr appts, sporting events for a sibling or any other unexpected time when you have to wait patiently.
post #6 of 40
a bigger age gap makes all the difference. Adding another one to a 3 and 1 year old will not make you less tired!
post #7 of 40
Funny, someone just asked me the same question at the park the other day. She had 2 boys & wondered how I "survived" having 5 kids (4 boys, 1 girl). She said she could "barely handle her 2". I was caught off guard & had no idea how to answer! lol!

I rarely feel "stressed out", especially by my kids. I love having a whole pile of kids. I hope to have more. If only I'd met my now-husband sooner than when I was 30, maybe we could have had 10.

These are just a few of my own thoughts. Everyone's ideas & needs are different of course, but this is how it goes in my brain. I've really embraced having kids in such a way that I don't have high expectations to do much else these years than raise them. I'm fine without any "me time", I'm never (ever) alone, I expect to be interrupted constantly no matter how much I enjoy what I'm doing, I am the most sleep deprived person I know (my memory is embarassingly gone from yrs & yrs of little sleep) but I just march through the best I can with as little complaining as I can, & never, ever expect to actually focus & complete a conversation with another adult. My mind is always on "where are the kids, what are ther kids doing, who needs my help". I frequently have to walk away mid-sentence to rescue a kid. And the big thing for me is, I don't let myself feel bothered or annoyed at my kids for any of that. I've truly just gotten to a spot where I have come to terms with this is my life, raising these kids with my husband is all I'm doing right now.

And my biggest "sanity saver" (if I'd call it that), is this: I can do it all when I'm older. Seriously, I have firmly embraced the fact in my mind that this is all temporary, I will miss my babies so much someday, & I will have decades&decades of "me time". Time for sleeping, dates with my wonderful husband, hobbies, sitting down & chatting with folks, focusing on the present happenings instead of what the kids are doing, not being exhausted..... But for these fleeting years, I'm selfless. And I'm really, genuinly happy about it.

Also, here are some other things that happen to work for me. YMMV. I am not Christian but I puffy heart love Christian blogs written by mamas with tons of kids. They view every one of their kids as blessings, gifts sent directly from God, entrusted to these mamas to raise for Him. It's a powerful message, and so, so sweet to be reminded of. I don't know if I'm allowed to link to such places here, but I could PM some of my favorites. Or you could find my blog linked in my profile & scroll way down near the bottom to find some. I even receive Above Rubies magazines (a Christian quiverfull mag). My heart gushes with joy with every one. Their entire message is that we mamas have the most important job on earth, & each mag oozes with love for our babies. And many of those women have LOTS of babies! I also big puffy heart love babies.

Man, I'm one gushy chick.

Besides all that, there's just the practical stuff that makes it all easier. I homeschool so there's no stress of getting to/from schools, no bad attitudes being learned by my kids at school, & my dh & I are the sole "trainers" (ok that's not quite the right word but I'm too tired to think of the perfect word, lol) of our kids. They're not getting influenced by others at at school. Also, major life decluttering. Fewer belongings equals fewer messes, fewer friends & outings equals lesss stress & more regular home rhythm. Routine, so the kids know what to expect & don't freak out. Child locks on everything.

Well, now that I've written a novel (& was interrupted by my 2 yr old who wanted me to "watch mama, watch!!" 452 times), I hope I've been even slightly helpful & I hope I haven't offended.

OMg, I actually just thought of 1 more thing I wanted to share. Another thing that has made a huge difference for me, compared to when I had my 1st two kids, is that I don't allow myself to feel annoyed when I have to get up with them at night. What I mean is, I've managed to switch my my brain from thinking negative things when I'm up alone with a grumpy/sick/awake baby in the night, to positive thoughts. I focus on how sweet it is to be in the cozy dark getting this all alone time with my baby. And I pet him & focus on how sweet, soft & squishy babies are. And smell him, hum sweet songs to him (THIS ONE, "Lullaby" by Dixie Chicks is the KING of the sweetest songs to sing to a baby or hum to yourself. I think I cried the first 15 times I heard this song. My favorite line for middle of the night with baby moments is "tomorrow there'll be so much to do.. tonight I'll drift in a dream with you" whilst rocking the little sleepy head back to sleep), & also think about how much I love my husband & am grateful that he works so hard for us all day & that he's getting good, uninterrupted sleep in preparation for another long day at work for us.

So yeah. That's what works for me.
post #8 of 40
There's a big age gap between the first and the second and third- that helps a lot- but it also complicates things at times. :P

I really don't think three is hard as long as you work together, and you do learn to be more proactive- always having things ready and waiting. If anything, having more has forced me to be a better mom because I can't get away with flying byt he seat of my pants in the same way.
post #9 of 40
I don't know but I'm right there with you. I have 3 but the oldest is an adult now so he doesn't count toward my taking care of LOs (although, I still have to do a lot for him). I am always exhausted. My house is always a wreck. I never have any time to/for myself. I still want just one more. Some days I think I must be crazy. I can't possibly take care of another child. It would be selfish and unfair to all my children if I had another. But I also know that if I really want it, I can make it work. I think my main problem is that I have an expectation that as my children get older they won't need me as much. The reality is that they do, just in different ways. When I can get to the place in my mind that zjande mentioned where I accept that the kids are my life right now, I'm much less stressed and things go much smoother.
post #10 of 40
Well, I have 3 kids and have been trying to reply to this thread for 2 days now. Some days I have no idea how we all survived, especially right now, part time job, non-profit I run on the side, school started for the bigger two, we have a family member that has had a medical crisis and is requiring massive amounts of my time, I am barely hanging on.

Most of the time I have it under control, I am quite an organized person which helps so much. Everything for the next day is laid out the night before, lunches packed, I pack sports clothes into the backpack with a snack for after school so I don't have to worry about it later. The car is always packed ready to go with snacks and gear. Dinner is made up in advance, I rarely cook at night. We are on the go all the time. 2 of my 3 have some special needs which can make life even more interesting.

Back to the questions, going from 2-3 was no big deal, BUT my oldest was 6 which was a huge, huge help. She would hold the baby while I showered or put the 2 year to bed. Not to say it wasn't rough, adding a baby into the mix was but it wasn't the hellish nightmare that I had the previous two times I had a baby. I think about a 4th sometimes, my requirement though is that my DD2 who is 3, needs to be 5 before another baby, if another one ever happens. I am not parenting 3 very small children at once, one has to be old enough to at least wipe her own butt and fetch food for herself! It is stressful, there are so many times still, and my kids are 7.5, almost 4, and 1, where all 3 of them are screaming and screaming about 3 different things. I don't want to even mention the car where more often then not, someone is crying about something at the tops of their lungs.

ETA: I agree with the posters who said their older children still require so much. My 7 year is not any easier then the 3y or 1y for that manner. Sure she can do things for herself but she is also very likely to end up in a puddle of tears because so and so called her a name or didn't eat lunch with her. Or the 3y breathed her air. Like they said, it is just different.
post #11 of 40
I found having one child to be the most stressful. I'm very introverted, and she demanded my constant attention. Having siblings has made my life easier. Of course, I come from a huge family, so having tons of kids to me, is normal. I'm good at blocking out noises and fighting. Dh is still working on that. I like the bustle and life of a big family.

That doesn't mean I don't want to pull my hair out most days or sit in the closet eating chocolate and crying. But those were things I felt pre-kids and with just one kid, so it's all about perspective. It's not super easy, but you build up to it kid by kid and get in your groove. Having a super-helpful oldest daughter who is extremely responsible and good natured can't hurt, either. My youngest is very spirited and high needs. Just her alone is like 300 other children. I don't think I could handle her without the other kids around to preoccupy her once in awhile.

I will say that watching other peoples kids is no good indication as to how your family or life will be with that many children. At all. Every family has a different dynamic and it's worked up to, not usually a "hey, here's a sibling!" thing.

My kids are 13 months, 32 months, 28 months and (soon to be)34 months apart. I have found that either short spacing (like my 13 month apart older kids) or longer spacing (my oldest and youngest are ~7 years apart) to be easiest.
post #12 of 40
Call me crazy, but I love having and raising multiple kids. Unlike most, mine are very close in age: 4, 3, and 19 months. They are 15 months and 17 months apart. And I want more. My 4-year-old is pretty self-sufficient and helpful. She pours drinks for her and her brother, in sippy cups. I have no problem getting them in and out of the car. I tell them what order to get in (You get in first because your seat is all the way over, then you get in, and then I'll put in your sister) and when we go places, I hold my youngest on my hip, hold my son's hand, and my oldest holds his other hand until we get in the store. My car has a little TV so we get to watch special shows whenever we need to travel for a half hour or so. People seem shocked to see so many little kids with me and I think it's kind of funny. DH is very helpful and supportive and that helps. And they are very good at amusing themselves and playing with each other. You just learn what works and what doesn't. The road can be bumpy and emotional, but that's life!
post #13 of 40
I have three an almost 7 yr old a 4.5 yr old and a 15m old. there age spacing in 2.5 yrs and almost 3 yr apart. There will probably be a 4th in the near future for us too.

I think a lot of it is the parents personality and expectations of yourself, your kids, your life. I am laid back, my husband is laid back, I imagine that helps us a lot. But I am not the most organized person, though with homeschooling this year I am learning/teaching myself how to be a bit more so.

I think it's hard to tell people how I do it. I don't have any standard book I go by. I just parent and love and do it the way it feels natural to me.

My two oldest are pretty self sufficient, especially the oldest, he's "reliable" and willing to help watch, play with the two younger ones. I am lucky for that.

But we have our moments.. our crazy, two oldest fighting-one baby not sleeping- two dogs barking to go our to go to the bathroom right now- I have to pee-and we are all starving with no dinner to speak of- moments!

But then we settle the fight, send the dogs outside to pee, calm the baby, I pee and call the local pizza joint for dinner. The kids settle down for bed in our bed and are soon asleep in our bed, and when we later go and tuck in with them between us we snuggle their warm bodies and remember why we have three and why we want more and soon forget the chaos that ensued earlier...sorry go a little sappy there.

Honestly a lot of it is just letting go...and seeing beyond the chaos and fights and craziness. I guess that my answer I see beyond the chaos that can be apart of our days. I remember just having one and how exhausting and tiring he was, and how I struggled so much with him...it hasn't changed much it's just different.
post #14 of 40
Well, we have four and may have more. I do feel like I'm going nuts some days---this was especially so when my younger two were smaller (they are 16 months apart). It seems like we turned a corner when my youngest turns 3.5 years old. I could actually be on a different floor of the house and not worry about someone dying or breaking things....as much! Also, the older two (and now even my 5yo) are more helpful around the house so it's not all falling on my lap.

I love the 16 months part age-spacing but I would have preferred that for the spacing between 1 & 2. It was a bit nutty to have 4 under 7 at one time but now that they are older, I love it! So, I would say 3.5-4 years apart would be my ideal spacing but hindsight is always 20/20, ykwim!

We definitely have a good routine going (including quiet time every afternoon). We limit extra-curricular activities (like 1 for each kid at a time). So far, my kids aren't really interested in classes until this year (and just the older two now)! So that keeps us out of the rat race as much as possible. At times, I have had hired mother's helper too.
post #15 of 40
I have 3 and am due any day with my 4th. Mine are 4 1/2, 3, and 1 1/2. For me going from 1 to 2 was way harder then going from 2 to 3.
post #16 of 40
zjande - your response almost made me cry. It was beautiful and a perfect reminder of what blessings children are. I just love your attitude.
post #17 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by callieollie View Post
zjande - your response almost made me cry. It was beautiful and a perfect reminder of what blessings children are. I just love your attitude.
post #18 of 40
I have three, and it can be really crazy. We went out to dinner the other night and after we were all high-fiving each other because we didn't cause a scene at dinner. My three are VERY inquisitive and energetic, so it makes us a traveling circus! I sometimes worry that I just don't have time to be as organized as I want to be and can't get everything done or remember everything I need to do. I also own my own business. I'm always taking something on so it's my fault, I never just let it be. I rescue a dog, remodel my kitchen myself, learn to ride a scooter, travel frequently, always something. It can be crazy and exhausting, but I would not be satisfied if I had not had number three, he is sooooo cute and it is so much fun to see him with his older brother and sister. I wish I had a desire for # 4 because I would like a little more craziness before all is said and done, but I'm done. I don't want anymore. It's a strange feeling to be done, and I didn't think I would ever feel done, but I have zero desire for a baby or another child, so I'm seeing that as a good thing, but even with the craziness it's all worth it!
post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieA View Post
Things that help lessen the stress of four kids for me:

-plan, plan, plan...keep easy to prepare meals in the house, make sure you have always done at least one load of laundry per day and always have an redirection activity in your back-pocket for when they start losing their minds.

-do whatever it takes to avoid going to the grocery store with all four kids...I have been seen at the grocery store at 1 AM.

-always take snacks and water bottles with you when you go out.

-set clear expectations before going in to an event i.e. please stay with me, please use indoor voices, please do not run, etc.

-keep quiet activities in a bag in the car to use while waiting at dr appts, sporting events for a sibling or any other unexpected time when you have to wait patiently.

I second all these things!! I couldn't agree more. Snacks, water, activities, clear expectations, planning.... these things are what keep you [halfway] sane with 3+ kids.

Our last 3 came at 20 month intervals. Right now my 2.5 year old is giving me fits, but so did my 4 year old at that age and he's wonderful now. There are certain stages/ages where it seems like insanity to have more than one child, but then you get past that stage and it's *such* a joy. I have found that to be true with my oldest daughter who's 11.

Three kids was the hardest adjustment for us, after that it was like, "What's one more at this point??"

I don't feel "done" at this point but would like to wait 2-3 years before having one more. The preschooler/toddler/baby thing is challenging!! (But at least they'll all be close enough to play and be good friends. Our oldest is so much older than the other kids that she doesn't really connect to them as playmates, more as babysitter. )
post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by callieollie View Post
zjande - your response almost made me cry. It was beautiful and a perfect reminder of what blessings children are. I just love your attitude.


Although it did make me cry!!
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