Firstly, we have spirited, gifted children who have never slept
, so it has been hard the whole time so far. They are 14 months and then 16 months apart with the 4th coming about 23 months after ds3; a close bunch. I have not had any consistent alone time for 4 years, or even time to work on my own pursuits, hoping that one day I will again. I think that is largely to do with the closeness of our children in age.
Relatively, ds3 was the easiest addition and now it's actually harder if one or two are away for an hour walking with daddy. I find that with three, they find many more ways to play than with only two. I am less required to set up play opportunities and can just observe more. Now, that said, I do still do much, much more than many other mums for set-up/facilitation because our children don't shut off, and sleep only 10 hours/day (the youngest has a 1 hr nap about three times/week in addition to that); ds1 and ds2 both quit napping altogether at 16 months and ds 1 only ever had one nap to begin with, for one hour (but that reduced his night sleep to nine hours, never longer than two-hour stretches
I am on 'go' for 14 hours/day. The third was the easiest because he is very agreeable (with me because we have similar personalities- he is very challenging to dh though) and also very advanced so I have had less care-taking with him than even the others who were also very early with most physical (and all other) milestones. It has been enormously helpful that ds3 started walking at 8 months- that is VERY relieving. He was also sitting unassisted at 3 months, playing independently by then and started to say words to indicate needs just before four months old. I think it might have been harder if he had done these things at a more common time, but I don't have anything to compare with in my own experience.
By far, our most challenging infancy was ds1, so ds2 seemed easy by comparison and ds3 like he just came walking and talking out of the womb
. I think the degree of easy vs. difficult that you experience will depend greatly on the child who is born and also on the dynamic of relationships in your family. Ds3's personality and characteristics have been instrumental in ds1 and ds2's bonding. He seems to have filled in the gap for them and it's been a wonderful blessing to watch their collective bond.
It's true about being out-numbered, but I have spent most of the time alone with the boys while dh works until recently, so I was outnumbered at ds2. That was the hardest transition for me.
I have also heard others say that it must be so hard to have ours so close together, but without a point of comparison, I just think it is what it is. For me, watching a friend with a 4 yr old and a newborn looked hard because the 4yr old can do pretty much everything on his own, or at least try (regardless of whether or not mum was aware or approving of what he was doing), whereas mine have all been still young enough that for most things, they had to ask me and then patiently wait until I could assist them. Now we'll have a 4 1/2 yr old with a newborn, but with two sons between and lots of experience for ds1, so I don't forsee that being a problem. Ds1 is naturally inclined to look to his brothers' needs and to desire to help me and has been increasingly helpful with each babe.
I think it's hard in some ways, whatever your situation, but in the end, it just is what it is, and you'll work together to make solutions to the dilemmas you find. If you are flexible and want this, you'll be fine. And even if you're not flexible, you'll find yourself being stretched in the ways that will allow everyone's needs to be met.
An aside- our former chiropractor told me that child #3 is the one she sees most frequently in [what she considers] large families because that's the one who falls off the change-table, bed, down the stairs, off the back of the couch, twists this and that etc... because of the typical desire to do everything the others are doing without yet the physical competence to participate. That is definitely true about our ds3 to an extent; the difference is that he actually acquired the ability to do things fairly evenly with his desire, so he's had very few accidents.
I am very long-worded, it seems. I tried to be as accurate as possible with my perceptions of our experiences thus far; I hope it's not off-putting.