I can’t tell you the number of times people ask me if I have children, I respond yes – that I have three – and people literally gasp. I’ve heard all sorts of responses, including “Wow, you must be really busy!” and “Haven’t you figured out where babies come from yet?”
The truth is, after we had our perfect set (one boy, one girl), we were done. I sold the baby clothes, breast pump, and crib, gave away the high-chair, playpen, and all the baby toys. And then when our youngest was about two, my husband and I were out to lunch and one of us (I can’t remember who) threw out the idea of having a third. Suddenly, I was obsessed and thoughts of having a third consumed my mind. I envisioned Thanksgiving dinner many seasons in the future and being surrounded by our three children, their significant others, and hopefully many grandchildren. I envisioned my children having close friendships as adults and having each other to lean upon. And – I admit it – I envisioned that newborn baby smell and a tiny head resting on my shoulder once again.
I began asking friends with three kids, perfect strangers with three kids, conducting online “research” (my favorite site being www.havingthreekids.com), and internal reflection. For me, bringing a third child in the world was the single biggest decision I’ve made as of yet. Let’s face it: selecting a college, getting married, and buying a house…none of them are truly permanent (you hope they are, but there’s always the ability to get out if you need to.) Having a child is permanent – it’s not like you can send him/her back if it’s not working out. Ultimately, I realized that if I didn’t have a third, there would be this part of me that would always wonder if I should have had a third… whereas if I did have a third, I’d never have that wonder. I can’t explain it other than I had this feeling our family wasn’t complete and there was another Ross waiting to join the world.
After nearly a year of convincing my husband, eight months of trying, 10 months of pregnancy, and lots of Craiglisting/begging friends for hand-me-downs for all the stuff I’d gotten rid of before, we became a family of five.
I have several friends currently debating whether or not to have a third child. If you’re thinking about three, here’s an open and honest response including opinions from several friends who also embarked on the “family of five” adventure around the same time as us. Want to know what it’s really like? Trying to talk yourself out of it or your hubby into it? Read on.
You’re always tired. If one isn’t getting up at night to nurse, another is having a nightmare or crawling into bed with you to snooze. It seems like with one more child your chances for a solid 8 hours at night go down significantly.
You are never caught up on laundry. Or dishes. Like, ever. It’s insane how much more laundry/dishes just one more person makes. But you know what? Once the kiddos are old enough to help with dishes and laundry, the pain isn’t quite as bad.
Kids are expensive. Aside from diapers, the rest of the baby gear isn’t too expensive if you’ve saved hand-me-downs. But did you think about having to buy one more flight ticket (although they fly free until they’re two!) or that many more years of daycare? What about another one to save for for college? Currently, we’re on the 12 year college plan. 12 years, people. That’s a very long time! We’ve decided to send the favorite child to college and the others can fend for themselves (kidding!).
Traveling is more tricky. Family or friends picking you up at the airport? They better have a car big enough for all of you, your carseats, and your luggage – plus a seat for the driver. One of my friends has to literally rent a car when they land as her mother’s isn’t big enough to lug them all around.
The dreaded middle child syndrome. I was truly worried about making our daughter the middle child. In my mind, though, we lucked out. We had another boy, so we don’t have a middle child. We have a daughter. Read up beforehand: there are a lot of tips and tricks to help avoid creating the middle child syndrome.
You might need to upgrade, on like, everything.
- Your car: We couldn’t figure out how to get three carseats in the back of my Toyota Camry (which was paid off) and ended up having to get a minivan (which we still owe on). I love my minivan (words I never in my life imagined saying), which I prefer to call my Swagger Wagon (you must watch this video – it’s hilarious!). I can drive to the curb at school drop off, open doors from mission command, and two of them run out. If you’ve got three kids in five-point harnesses, the extra space is a dream. Plus, you have the option to sit in the back on long trips and keep everyone happy passing out snacks and toys. One friend even added a Thule roof box on top of her minivan to ensure they had plenty of room on trips for everything they could possibly need.
- Your garage: If you get a bigger car, your garage might not be big enough for two large cars. Ours isn’t. My hubby’s truck now lives outside year round, getting weather beaten and he’s the one scraping ice off of windows in the winter. Poor dude.
- Your house: Your kids might have to share a room. One friend put the baby in with the older kid because it was easier at night. The older kid knew to just roll over and go back to sleep when the baby woke up. We tried that and found it worked great at night, but not so great during the day. Our eldest seldom could play in his own room because it seemed like the baby was perpetually napping. We ended up moving to a bigger house.
- Your kitchen table: That’s right, once baby graduates from a high-chair, even your kitchen table might not be big enough. I’d never noticed how many sets are for four. Try looking for a 5-6 seat kitchenette. It’s not an easy task.
Family photos are a tad nuts. In addition to the near impossibility of getting all three kids to look cute at the exact same time, buying pics of three separate kids is rather costly. And since I knew this was my last baby, I went all out in ways I’d never done with the first two: maternity photos, newborn photos, and then all the milestones I’d done with the previous two (3, 6, 9, 12 months). Pricey!
There’s a lot more stuff. Once you pass the infant stage, it gets insane with how much stuff accumulates. One friend states that the number of stuffed animals multiplied exponentially. It does feel that way and seems like you are constantly trying to organize kid stuff so it doesn’t overtake your entire house.
Odd numbers are hard. From getting a table at a restaurant to rides at amusement parks (one parent or child always has to ride alone), it can be tricky. I suggested we have four kids to alleviate this little conundrum – it didn’t go over so well with the hubster.
You’ll be a circus sideshow. It can be complete chaos. My parents enjoy coming to our house, sitting at the kitchen table, and just watching. Apparently we’re actually better to watch than a TV show because it’s so nuts. And when our entire family of five is out and about, it feels like 90% of the time is insanity. Therefore, you often leave one parent home (with all the kids, two of the kids, or one of the kids) and the other parent juggles the remainders. It’s rare to do things as an entire family because it simply isn’t easy.
Alright, those are the cons. All of that said, almost all of it passes. It gets easier, I promise. And your older kids become a lot more helpful.
Now for the Pros:
Another baby! They smell good. They cuddle.
More love! There’s another human being to love, write you love notes, blow you kisses, and be your biggest fan. Especially when your eldest become teenagers and think you are incredibly lame; it’s really nice having a little one around who still thinks you’re cool.
It makes your kids nurturers. I adore watching our two older kids play with the baby. They were the first to get him to smile, the first to make him laugh; they are both so proud of these milestones they helped the baby achieve. They play so great together and their bond is incredible. I love it now and I hope it always continues and that they always have each other. One friend says that she especially loves seeing her older ones help care for the younger sibling. It teaches them the importance of giving of themselves and caring for others in a way they might not have been able to experience this early in life.
It’s more relaxing and enjoyable. Honestly. My friends and I agree: we were able to enjoy our third in ways we weren’t able to with our first two. We’re not worried about milestones, comparing to other parents or babies; for me, I’m not as obsessed about germs, a clean house, and having things in order. Maybe it’s because you’re too darn busy to have time for stuff like that, but I’ve embraced the chaos and being a mom of three has really made me a gentler more easy-going person.
Decorating is perfect. Totally silly “pro”, but I love odd numbers and always decorate with odd numbers. Three kids make for a perfect odd-numbered ensemble.
A bit morbid, but…
More kids, more care for you. What happens when you and your husband are old? Wouldn’t it be nice to share the load of parent care and ensure you have more people supporting you? It makes it easier on your children and helps ensure you’ll have someone helping you out. My husband is an only child and I have to admit how many times I wish there was someone else his folks to call on when they need help, are lonely, etc. I have one sibling and it’s very nice being able to share the care of our parents. They don’t need us yet, but even knowing my brother’s there for Mom on Mother’s Day feels wonderful. I can’t imagine if there were one more of us to go around – it would be awesome.
More bloodline. And what if (I feel awful even writing this) one of your children were to die? Your third child would never be a replacement but would ensure your other child still has a sibling and that your bloodline had that much more of a chance to continue.
Having three kids is a very personal decision and something many of us consider. Despite all of the cons and including many of the pros, my friends and I all say the same: I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m so glad he/she is here. And I love the crazy – but happy – home we’ve created.