Thinking of having a third? You’re not alone. The topic comes up a lot in my Facebook mom’s group. I’m not an expert, but I am the mom of three boys, and I’ve learned a lot since making that decision myself.
I can’t tell you whether or not to have a third kid—there are too many different factors to consider. But here are seven things I’ve learned since having a third kid that would be good to know if you are considering that third little angel.
1. Babies don’t care about hand-me-downs
For my first-born, I nested and prepped and planned so everything was perfect upon his arrival. He had a perfect little nursery, perfect little outfits, perfect coordinated bedding and so on. But babies grow so quickly that some outfits were worn once, if that. Others were pooped on or barfed on and so those were tossed. Sheets and bedding often met the same fate and thus ceased to be coordinated. In reality, expensive toys and equipment are only useful for as long as a particular age or phase lasts.
Babies don’t care about the ‘newness’ of anything as long as they are loved and cared for, so save yourself a few bucks. Our third son was bequeathed a crib scarred with teeth marks, outfits that were a bit dated and well-worn shoes. He’s three-and-a-half now, and when he began playing soccer a few months ago, it actually warmed my heart to see him wear the cleats my eldest wore seven years ago—and he certainly didn’t suffer one bit.
2. Kids don’t need to be enrolled in a thousand programs
An acquaintance asked me recently what programs he should enrol his toddler in. I began rhyming off all of the programs my first two kids took part in by the time they were four years old: gymnastics, kinder music, swimming, library programs, skating, art classes, sports for tots, martial arts, skiing, and I probably forgot a couple.
How about my youngest, my No. 3? Only soccer. Just ONE program. And to be honest, I think his life is more enriched and exciting than his brothers’ lives were at the same age.
Activities are great for parents to meet other parents and also to pass the time, but there is such a thing as over-scheduling. Plus when you have a bunch of kids, they entertain and teach each other.
3. Boys can be incredibly maternal
It’s easy to imagine a big sister being mom’s little helper when it comes to a new baby, but I had no idea my two big boys would also have it in them. From the moment my third guy came home, they demonstrated undying devotion and care for him. This has extended beyond his baby years, too. They help him when he needs help, they teach him things, they hold his hand when he crosses the road, they comfort him when he is sad, and he listens to them—as if they were mini-grown ups.
4. A third kid can actually make life LESS chaotic
The arrival of our third son made my older boys realize that the world exists outside their own needs.
Kids are inherently selfish, and my older boys spent a lot of time bickering to try to get the advantage. Our third little guy made my older two realize that they have to put their needs aside from time to time to focus on his needs. It has been a reality check for them.
As a result, the baby—of all things—has a calming effect on the house at times. Who woulda thunk?!
5. But they can also make outings impossible
Let’s face it: A baby makes it tough for you to do certain things as a family—and I didn’t anticipate how this would impact my older children. Newborns are still pretty portable, but toddlers aren’t, nor are they particularly reasonable. We missed out on things because third guy wrecked it or made outings impossible to attempt. I felt badly at times because my older two suffered.
Sometimes my husband and I opted to divide and conquer which is a good compromise, but just be warned, family outings may be on hiatus for a while.
6. As hard as it is, you figure it out
Some people ask how we do it with three. I am the first to admit that I’m no hero just because I have a bunch of kids—especially when I think about everyone who has more than three or has a more challenging set of circumstances.
But there is no choice other than to figure it out. Make lists, create schedules, meal plan, carpool, skip baths if you need to sometimes, order food in occasionally if it gives you a break, let the older kids put the younger ones to bed, and do not be ashamed to ask for help. I’ve realized that most people will help if they can.
Seriously, all hail to all moms out there—whether you have one, three, five or ten. No matter the number, it takes figuring out.
7. You’ll never regret the kid you have
This one doesn’t need much explanation. If you’re thinking about having another and have the love and the means, go for it. We didn’t need a third child, but he has made our world a better place and our family complete. (And no, we aren’t going to try for a girl.)
This article was originally published online in November 2018.