Your Stories: How to Cope with 3 Children!
The Truth about 3 Children
When I had my second daughter 14 months ago, I don’t think I was really prepared for the challenges coming my way. Admittedly it was made harder with her having reflux, no desire to sleep and wanting to climb at the first opportunity. She now holds her own with her big sister and even with all the grey hairs that have materialised, we love her and can’t imagine life without her.
After hearing of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting their third child, I am in awe of and slightly baffled by anyone wishing to bring this extra hard work into their lives. So I thought I'd chat to three local Mums about their experiences as mothers of three.
Ages / Sexes of Children: 3 boys aged 5.5, 3.5 and 9m
What was the hardest thing about having three children?: Never having any time off!
What was easier than you thought? My eldest 2 adapting to having another brother. They were both so excited and loved him from the moment they saw him. It is as if he has always been around. I didn't bother with the whole present from the baby this time and it really wasn't needed. The boys were just so excited to have him and couldn't wait to cuddle him.
How do you cope with balancing their different needs? It is hard, especially during the witching hour if someone has a melt down. I am mainly looking after the baby at this time as he is tired and if the other two need me for whatever reason that can be tricky. I haven't quite managed to balance all 3 on my knee for a story but we are close! I have always kept the older children in nursery when a sibling has been born to keep their routine going and to also give them stimulation away from the baby environment. I think this is important especially in the first few months when a lot of time is spent just holding and feeding a baby. I try to give each of the older boys some time with just me - unfortunately at the moment that normally involves the baby coming along too but I am getting to the point where I can leave him for an hour or two now.
Do you find middle child syndrome a problem/ Is there anything you do to help avoid it?: I think our middle child was always destined to be the middle child! He had middle child syndrome from the moment he was born. He is the life and soul of a party on a good day and impossible to do anything with on a bad day. I am not sure it can be avoided - I always stress to him how special he is that he has both a big and little brother and that the others only have big OR little brothers. He quite likes that. I also put him to bed first and it is the least rushed of all of them (it would also be impossible to get the baby down if he was still up and about as he is so LOUD!).
When did they start to play together? They interacted from a very early age. But now the baby is 9m they all get involved - they roll a ball to and fro, the same with a little car. The baby giggles at his brothers and thinks they are fabulous. From maybe 5m I could ask where his big brother was and he would turn to look at him. From being tiny he would follow the boys around the room. The two older boys have been playing nicely for about a year or so now. My middle child is very mature in somethings and loves playing with toys that I would never have thought to give my first child at this age.
What are the best activities to do with three children? At present I am still lucky enough to be able to take the baby in the buggy so we are still mainly catering for the 2 big ones. Family bike rides are fun now as the baby goes on the back of my bike and we can all ride together. Swimming is another activity we can all take part in (although I haven't been able to take all 3 by myself without my husband as most pools don't allow it). We have just bought National Trust membership for the first time and this has been great for getting the 2 older ones out and about. Anything that tires them out gets a tick in my book!
What would you say to encourage future third time mothers? Go for it! It's definitely not been as hard as I was expecting it to be. The first baby is a massive learning curve as you have no idea what you are doing with a baby. The second baby is tricky as you have to learn to juggle 2 schedules. Things become a bit crazy. Add a third one in, the craziness increases and you just keep doing the juggling but with more balls. It's heap of fun, the family dynamics are wonderful and I don't regret it for a second!
Mum 2: Mary Rose
Luke is 16, Nathan is 15, Holly is 10
Having had two boys very close together I found that quite hard, my second son was born at 30 weeks and was in intensive care for two months and in neonatal for a further two months so that was very tough. I found having the third child, my daughter so much easier as I had 'company' from my 6 and 5 year old and they doted on her. I found I was easier on myself with number three and wasn't so desperate to have her in a rigid routine so she was more relaxed and easy going.
My eldest son has always been incredibly easy, kind hearted and never caused me any trouble. My 'middle child' (he labels himself this at the moment!) is autistic, high functioning and at a mainstream school, he is however very demanding of my time and attention so I find my eldest and youngest are a bit of a tag team and look after one another and are extremely close.
I feel sad for my 'middle child' sometimes as he is a bit of a loner but I have found that due to the age gap having annual merlin passes to theme parks has made the three of them united. It is a great way of entertaining such a big age gap AND my daughter is the bravest of the lot so suddenly age, position in the family is irrelevant! I would not change having three children for the world and recommend it, society doesn't see three as a 'neat' number but there are lots of laughs along the way not being a 2.4 family!!
Mum 3: Hannah
My children are Louis (boy) age 5 Violet (girl) 18 months Poppy (girl) 18 months
The hardest thing about having three children is that you only have two hands.
Getting ready to go out is a lot easier than I thought it would be, just have to be organised and set a time I must leave by. I normally have to entertain either Louis or the girls while meeting the others needs. This usually includes CBeebies or a snack. Luckily Louis is very patient.
We don't really suffer from middle child syndrome. Maybe twin syndrome!!! Having two toddlers is quite demanding sometimes I feel guilty that Louis doesn't get enough of my attention. But we try to have time when it's Louis time, so maybe the cinema with daddy or flip out.
The girls have just started to play together and sometimes Louis will include himself in this. They like to play football all together and love throwing the ball for the dog. Poppy and Violet like to follow Louis around and copy whatever he is doing.
We enjoy soft play!! As everyone is fenced in and you can see them at all times. We also do mini flippers and flip out which they all love. Play dates are always good as well.
It is 3 times as hectic with 3 of them but you also get 3 lots of cuddles and kisses back at the end of the day so that makes it all worth it.