I cannot believe that my youngest is 9 months old this week! Where does the time go? The past few months have been a complete whirlwind for our now family of 5. (you can read more about that here) But we all survived, and I’ve learned A LOT in the process.
I can honestly say that going from 2 kids to 3 has been the most difficult parenting transition so far. Looking back I feel like the transition from 1 to 2 kids was a breeze. While going from 2 kids to 3 has been more like a category 5 hurricane ( my husband deploying when my youngest was 3 months old definitely helped to add strength to that hurricane).
So if you’re thinking about adding lucky #3 to your family or they’re already on the way here is (almost) everything you need to know about the transition from 2 kids to 3.
someones always waiting (or crying) for you
With 3 kids you simply cannot tend to everyone’s needs at once, especially if your children are all close in age. Which means you have to get used to the fact that someone is going to have to have to wait. And during those early years waiting generally leads to someone crying.
There were times when the baby was crying, my toddler was crying, and my
You have to learn how to quickly assess the situation and see who needs to be taken care of right away and who can wait a few minutes. It sounds easy, but making one of your kids wait while they are possibly crying can be a difficult thing to do and lead to some mom guilt or feelings of being completely overwhelmed.
As your kids get older and more independent it gets a little easier. Which leads me to my next two points.
TEACHING older kids independence is huge
My youngest was born the day before my oldest turned 4. Although 4 is still young, he’s at an age where he can do a lot for himself, which free’s me up to take care of the younger ones.
Teaching your older kids basic things like how to get themselves a glass of water or a snack can be a lifesaver when you’re trying to feed a baby or change a squirming toddler’s diaper. Identify those things your oldest can do for themselves and start to encourage independence in those areas.
Also, make sure the things they need to be independent are easily accessible and within reach for them. I’ve moved all my son’s cups to a lower cabinet he can easily reach and I have a stool he can use to get water from the fridge or reach things in the pantry. That might seem small but those small things add and help to take some of the weight off you.
Independent Play is crucial
The ability for your children to play on their own and independently of you is crucial. It’s almost impossible to prepare meals or get anything done around the house when you have three kids who need you to constantly keep them entertained.
Not stopping to play with your child can be a difficult thing to do and by no means am I saying you should never play with them. But in order for you to get anything done, they need to learn how to entertain themselves for a short amount of time. They also need to learn how to use their own imagination and that is okay to be bored.
How can you encourage independent play?
- Use a visual timer like this Learning Resources Time Tracker or this Visual Countdown Timer start with a small amount of time and slowly increase it until they are playing independently for the desired amount of time.
- Start playing with your child and slowly ease yourself out of the situation while they began playing on their own
- Put toys where they are easily accessible
- If they come to ask you to play bring them back to their toys and let them know they need to continue on their own either until the timer runs out our until you are done with whatever activity you are doing
- Set up a reward system and let them pick something fun to do with you once they have played independently
Once your child gets the hang of independent play you might even find that you get some much needed downtime for yourself!
pack and plays are a must have
With a toddler, a
This gives me a place to safely set down the baby when I need to quickly take care of the other kids, cook dinner, or get shoes and jackets on when we are leaving the house.
These pack and plays aren
you’ll have less time to spend one on one with the new baby
With your first and probably even your second you had more free time to spend working with them on things like sitting up, crawling, reading, and other motor skill development. But now that you have to take care of two older kids you’ll probably have less time to devote solely to the baby.
For me, this was one of the hardest things about going from 2 kids to 3. My youngest was the slowest to sit up, crawl, and to stand. I really think its because I didn’t have the time or the energy that I did with my other two, especially since my husband was deployed and I spent a lot of those early months solo parenting.
One thing that helped me was to set a timer on my phone twice times a day. When it went off it reminded me to sit down and work with the baby for about 10-15 minutes (depending on what I could manage) helping him work on whatever skill he was developing at the time. This ensured that even on my busy days he was getting the one on one time with me that he needed.
*make sure to speak to your child’s doctor if you feel like they are experiencing any significant delays*
it’s even harder for you to get a break (AKA embrace electronics)
With two kids I could usually get them to take an afternoon nap around the same time which gave me a break for about two hours in the afternoon. But now my oldest isn’t taking naps, my toddler is taking one long nap, and the baby’s taking two or three shorter naps during the day. Which means someone is always awake and finding downtime to just relax or take care of projects around the house is 10x harder if not impossible some days.
This is where teaching your older children independence and their ability to independently play comes in handy. And if all else fails … let them entertain themselves with electronics or the TV.
Yup, I said it. Letting your kids veg out with electronics just so you can get some much needed quiet time is okay! As long as its not something they’re doing all day every day it’s going to be just fine. Every mom has had those days where they just need 15 quiet minutes to themselves so they don’t lose their minds, don’t feel bad about it.
leaving the house is an even bigger production… and you’ll probably always be late
Trying to leave the house with three little ones can be enough to give anyone high blood pressure. As soon as you finish getting the last one ready you’ll turn around to find someones
What can you do to (possibly) get out of the house on time?
- Have bags packed and if possible already in the car before you get the kids ready.
- Make sure you have your keys, wallet, and phone at the door so you don’t have to search for them.
- Teach older kids how to put on their own shoes, jackets,
- start getting ready to leave about 30 mins earlier than you think you need to.
Just remember that despite your best efforts there will be days when getting out of the house takes FOREVER and you’re going to be late. Give yourself some grace on those days, you’re doing the best you can.
Your standards change
With another kid to take care of you’ll quickly realize that you can’t do everything all the time and that something is going to have to give. Figure out what your priorities and nonnegotiables are and let some of the less important things fall to the wayside for now.
You’re going to have days where you feel like you can’t do it and that you’re failing.
You’re going to have days where you get overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, full of mom guilt and feel like your failing. It happens to the best of us and its completely normal. Being a mom is hard and despite what some people want to portray on social media, all moms have bad days.
When you start to feel like this you need to prioritize self-care. Even if that means just putting the kids in front of the TV so you can enjoy a cup of coffee all by yourself in another room.
its going to be the best decision you’ve ever made
No doubt about it, adding baby #3 isn’t easy. But it’s more than worth it. Watching all three of my boys play and laugh together is the best. The baby already loves his big brothers so much and is always doing his best to crawl as fast as he can to try and keep up with them. Even on my hardest days, I wouldn’t trade being a mom of 3 for the world.
Have you made the transition from 2 kids to 3? If so what advice do you have to moms who are thinking about making the transition? I would love to hear them in the comments below!