Before I had my second child, I spent a lot of time googling: which transition is the hardest? Going from 0 to 1 kid, 1 to 2, or 2 to 3?
The internet spit out this answer: it’s different for everybody. Not super helpful.
But I kept seeing this one truth written out again and again: three is the hardest. Once you have three kids you might as well have ten. It never gets harder than three. Moms of six, eight, or ten kids said that when they had three little ones, it was as hard as it ever got. After that, their kids were a little older, and things got easier, even if they had a lot more kids!
Is three kids the hardest? What’s it like having three kids, four and under? Can I get anything done?
Here is my experience!
Going From Two to Three Kids
Which transition was hardest?
Going from 0 to 1 kid was the HARDEST for me. Honestly, going from 1 to 2 or 2 or 3 is nowhere near as difficult as that first baby transition. When I went from 0 to 1, I changed my entire life. I transitioned from full-time-working woman who had control of her time to full-time-work-at-home woman who had control of nothing. I went from sleeping through the night to being woken up by a baby every few hours (for the next eighteen months, ha). It was rough: physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Going from 1 to 2 kids was hard, but no where near as difficult as o to 1. I had a VBAC instead of a C-section. Breastfeeding, which had been brutal with my first, was so easy. I got way more sleep, and my baby slept way better from the beginning. I expected it to be hard, but it really wasn’t.
Going from 2 to 3 kids has been hard too (they’ve all been difficult in their own ways) but I am way more on top of things than I was with the other two transitions! Yes, I felt awful the first week or two, and have had SO much help in the last month. But here I am: writing away while my toddlers nap in their room, and the baby naps in the baby carrier on me, and I just feel so much more ahead than I was the last two times at this point.
What’s Been Easier
The recovery. I am now a month into this mom-of-three gig. I am writing this in a fairly tidy home: my dishes are washed, laundry is going, and there’s supper in the crock pot. This was definitely NOT the case the last two times around. I’ve gotten on my feet faster this time around.
Breastfeeding: SO hard with my first baby. So easy with my second and third babies.
Having an older child. Gideon is four, and I can trust him to sit on the couch and hold the baby for a minute while I do something (in the same room). He can also grab diapers, wipes, my drink, lock the door, turn on the TV, get my book, etc… It’s so nice to have an older kid to help out while I’m nursing the baby or needing to grab something.
Having two toddlers to play together. I love that my two toddlers can play together while I’m with the baby. This helps so much!
I know how to get things done with a newborn in tow. I remember spending months just sitting and holding my firstborn when he was a baby. I sat all day holding him, because I’d read so many things about how the newborn stage goes by so fast. And it does! But dishes still must be washed, laundry still needs to get done, and I feel better about life if I can stay on top of some household tasks. I found the Moby Wrap is THE BEST. I couldn’t get anything done without having Mahina baby wrapped up in it!).
Accepting help. I’ve gotten better at this every time. It is always humbling and awkward to have someone come in and wash my dirty dishes or fold my laundry. BUT it is such an incredible blessing for my family, and people are so sweet to offer. I turned down so many offers of help with my first, but I’ve gotten better at swallowing my pride and just saying yes.
Knowing what works for us. I’m just a lot more at peace knowing the things that work for us and the things that don’t. I know the baby products that make my life a lot easier. I know to prioritize rest. I know to just embrace what works for our family during this season.
Choosing to embrace paper plates. This time around, I knew to just buy a huge stack of paper plates, and use those at every meal. It won’t be this way for long, and just having less dishes to deal with (especially since we don’t have a dishwasher) has been so helpful.
I’ve been through this before (twice). It truly gets easier every time, because I’ve figured out what works for us. It gets easier because I recover faster, and know more tips and tricks for caring for a newborn.
What’s Been Harder
The two toddlers love the baby too much. They are all over baby Mahina all the time, and that is so hard. They want to hug/kiss/snuggle and can be too rough. Keeping her in the wrap 90% of the time really helps.
Keeping track of three kids. I honestly feel like my brain hasn’t caught up yet. I panic a little when I take all three out, because I look around and feel like I’m missing someone. I’m always looking around trying to keep track of all three. I know I will adjust, but mentally it has been harder!
No paternity leave. With my first, my husband was still employed at a conventional job, so he took two weeks off. With babies number 2 and 3 we have been self-employed, and he hasn’t been able to take a paternity leave. So hard!
The mornings. Getting myself + three kids ready every day is a challenge. When I wake up, I have three kids to get dressed for the day, plus two in diapers. Plus getting myself ready. This all feels like too much when I’ve just woken up.
Going places. Three kids is a lot! It’s a lot of prep, a lot of work, and a lot to keep track of. Whew!
You might also enjoy: What’s It Like Going From One to Two Kids? My Honest Answer