I have three dc. DD1 is 5.5. DS is 2. DD2 is 4 mo. Please, other moms of 3 whose kiddos are a bit older, tell me it gets easier. I'm feeling challenged by keeping up with the housework alone! I never planned to have #2 and 3 so close together. Our 3.5 year spacing with the first two was intentional. I feel like it is such a juggling act right...balancing the needs of the baby with the needs of the older two, and making sure every one gets enough of my time and attention. And finding more than a minute or two for the things that are nurturing and life giving for me is impossible. Even leaving the house alone is crazy...leaving DH with a 5 yo and 2 yo + baby who wants her mama all the time and prefers to never see a bottle of pumped milk...just the sight makes her cry! Do things start to balance out more naturally or easily as they all get a little older? Some of the things we love to do...like traveling, for instance, that were why we spaced the other two farther apart, are now quite challenging, as no one sleeps, and those little people outnumber the adults! Encouragement, or honesty (!!!), please! :)
Mine are 8, 4, and 2, one LAST one coming this summer. My first two were just shy of 4 years apart, 2 and 3 were exactly 2.5y apart, and 3 and 4 will be 2y3m apart. I also really enjoyed the wider spacing, the closer ones, not so much.
Easier... I don't know. It is a struggle to keep up on everything, especially housework! The 8y just has so much going on these days, I have to send x to school by tomorrow, this special event is happening the next day and I need to be be there. The 4y is in preschool now and I have to keep track of what they are doing. Different lunches have to be sent on different days, the activities and making sure the schedules don't conflict, on and on. I do work part time though I have limited work hours so maybe that adds into the difficulty juggling everything.
Then I reread your part about trying to leave all 3 kids behind and think back to when #3 was little like your little one is and I would have to hire a sitter to help DH while I was gone. He couldn't do it with a 6 year old, 2, and a baby. That is much easier. I can and do leave all 3 with him now just fine, not at night, but I have at naptime.
Traveling is a major feat now days. We are actually on a 2 week beach vacation right now. Flying and going places really is a lot of work. We used to travel, camp, do day trips all the time with one, once in a while with 2, and now it is down to rarely with 3. It is just such a production. We've done 1 day trip since #3 was born, no camping trips, and this is our second larger vacation with a couple work/extra couple days of fun tacked on trips in our state. I can see when they are all even older, no toddlers , that it will be better. RIght now someone still has to be dedicated to chasing the bolting 2y around everywhere and the other parent wrangles the older two.
We also spilt the family up very often now days. It was for a long time DH and the oldest that went off to do fun things, now that the middle one is 4.5 she goes sometimes. And lately because the 2y is getting older, we've been doing DH takes the 2 little ones and I'll take the big one which is really nice for me, not having to always have the small kids. Of course we do things as a family as well but there are many times when an 8 and a 2 year just has different needs, I can't take her to something she wants to do and chase him all over the place and she can't always miss out because she has a toddler brother.
I am pretty much out the other side. At one time mine were 4, 2 and new . They are now 17, 15 in 2 weeks and 13 in 2 months. It does get easier, and it gets harder. It get's easier because you don't have a diaper bag, and they can all not only find their own shoes but can tie them too. But then you have a hockey game that overlaps robotics and they are 2 hours away from each other in opposite directions and the oldest wants to go to the movies with her friends but none of their parents will ever drive.
For me the practicalities have gotten easier--mine are 8, 6, and 4. The older two are pretty much self-sufficient, the younger needs a little help now and again, with potty and dressing. But it's not so crazy anymore. They can get their own shoes and socks, get into and out of the car on their own, walk at a reasonable pace, brush their own teeth (with supervision), entertain themselves, etc.
I don't feel strung out and overwhelmed all day, every day.
But there's definitely some things that are harder. For me it's relational. Because I'm not taking care of their physical needs all the time, I'm having to learn to relate to them as the growing-up kids that they are, and it doesn't come quite as organically as it did when I was nursing them, or playing peekaboo while changing diapers, or co-sleeping. The relationships are what are more work right now.
I have an 11 yr old / 9yr old / almost 7yr old and 2yr old. When my 3rd was a baby - my life was pretty much like yours. It was wild and wooly and hard to meet everyone's needs all the time. For me it definately got easier as they got a little older and more self-sufficient. I think you also grow in your capacity to manage multiples needs at one time - so my capacity to handle it also improved over time. Just try and take it one day at a time and accept that sometimes you can't meet everyone needs at exactly the same moment and that it's OK to ask your kids to wait until you can.
You will travel again and go out to dinner and sleep in and all the other things that are one hold for now. Enjoy your new little baby!