34 answers

Three Kids Under 4...

We are having a third baby boy in December, and of course that will change everything!! Right now I am looking for advice, knowledge, and experience help from other mommas with three or more children and how they've made it work... I have gotten lots of scary tidbits mostly from women who have only 2 kids, or had their kids years apart (like my mom). "Now you're outnumbered!" "More kids than arms, guess you'll have to leash one of them."
It hasn't helped eased my worries of how to go to the grocery store carrying an infant and holding hands with two toddlers. I guess I just need some wisdom from those of you that are there or have been there. Our third boy will be born when the other two are 3 turning four two months later and 2.5. Luckily the 3 yo is in preschool three mornings a week, and is well-behaved for the most part. The 2 yo was the poster child for terrible twos but has made some great improvements over the past months with sharing and being nice. I know it takes time for all of us to adjust to a new life... But are there any products, advice, books you swear by?! Maybe something that made your life sooo much easier with three!? Please pass the knowledge on!!

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Thanks mamas for the replies, it really is comforting to know that I am not the only one out there with three young kids. I will definitely be looking into a baby carrier, and we are getting the boys into a sibling class before the new baby is born. I really do appreciate all the great replies!! Thanks, again!

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Sorry this is kind of long . . . I have a three year old (1/2005), a two year old (12/2005) and an 11 month old (10/2007). Going out I get comments on a regular basis about me having my hands so full. One lady the other day just kept telling me she was so sorry for me. Another lady tried to tell me to stop having kids. Kind of ridiculeous but you learn to laugh. I am one where I have to get out of the house almost every day so I do everything with kids in tow. When we grocery shop I put on in the top seat and one in the basket. (When she was tiny we used a bumbo seat in the basket). Then the third had to stay right by me. If he didn't then he had to hold onto the cart the whole time. This arrangment is diffucult on big grocery trips but we got often enought that it works. If we have too much then the two year old gets the job of pushing the cart with me. They really like the responsibility. Costco is great having the double seats and the car shopping carts and safeway are nice.

At home you my be outnumbered but *most* of the time it doesn't make too much of a difference. There are those times when all three will be upset and there is just not enough of you to go around. That is really frustrating but isn't just being a parent that way sometimes? Though I have to agree three is much harder than two, at first anyway. My daughter is almost one and those first months were pretty tough but now that she plays with the other, they are so much fun to watch. Being so close in age they love to play together.

Good luck!

P.S. Get the taking thier long afternoon nap at the same time early on. You will appreciate the "you" time and the rest

2 moms found this helpful

To save my sanity, and to be able to go grocery shopping (any shopping) without my small children, I started a babysitting co-op with other moms of young children. I had left one upon moving across the country, and missed it so much. It is so worth it to me to be available half a day a week in order to be able to leave my kids with an adult I trust who has small children (a built in play date). Otherwise I try to wait until the hubby is home (late in the evening).

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I had 7 under 7 and didn't use leashes or have any special products. We went shopping and everything! I had each walking child hold a pocket so I would know where they were. We used to make jokes about being outnumbered and such but you will do well. An infant wrap prob. would have been nice in hindsight!

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I'm there! My first son is 3 1/2 (4 at the end of Feb), my daughter turned 2 in July, and I have a 6 week old newborn boy. I get all those comments too, and now lovely things like "don't you know what causes that?" and "some people don't learn their lesson".

Honestly it hasn't been as bad as I expected. It helps that my third is the best sleeper I've had - he's giving me a 4-6 hour stretch at night, which is supposedly normal but wasn't for my first two. ;-) So at least I'm not dropping off my feet exhausted, and that makes everything more manageable. My oldest is also in preschool and that is helping, I am doing my grocery shopping after I drop him off, and it's a lot easier than it used to be with the older two, since my newborn and 2 year old don't fight like the older two would!

We also got my 3 year old a bike with training wheels recently, so when we go on family walks he rides that while we push the younger ones in the double stroller, or he will even just walk next to us since he is getting bigger and is able to keep up. He has embraced no longer riding in the stroller which makes things a lot easier.

The baby sleeps a lot in the swing, which is nice. I take those opportunities to spend time playing with my older two. I also sometimes just hold him in my lap while I read to the other two, or will read to them while I'm nursing the baby. I also use my front pack or the Moby carrier when the baby just doesn't want to be put down and I need to fix a meal or do other things besides sitting and holding him. He also sometimes just has to cry a bit because he can't be held constantly as he would like, although I do try to hold him as much as I can because he's my last and he's sooooo sweet.

For showers I either take them at night when my husband is here, or if I do it in the morning I get the baby to sleep in the swing, then take my 2 year old in the bathroom with me and the 3 year old can watch a tv show - he's very well behaved for the most part and is not a concern to me around the baby as the 2 year old is. She is obsessed with him and will put fingers and other things in his eyes, mouth, ears, etc, not to mention just bugging him incessantly, pulling his socks off, you name it. Keeping her off him is probably my ongoing challenge - I just can't leave him in her reach and be out of sight. We're in the midst of terrible twos with her too and that makes me feel like I'm in a three ring circus at times. I've been using time outs for her with good success, she will go into the time out corner on her own, even if I'm sitting and nursing the baby. But it's a challenge working with her to share, not grab her brother's things, to listen and obey, and just general behavior over all. It's busy, busy busy, for sure!

Thats about all I can think of... Feel free to email me anytime if you want to comiserate!

3 moms found this helpful

I felt the exact same way when I found out I was pregnant with #3. My oldest wasn't 4 when the third one was born. The baby has just turned 1 about a week ago. We managed to survive the first year with 3 kids. It wasn't easy at times but has definitely gotten easier as time has gone by. For shopping, I know I spend a little more, but I go to Fred Meyer and put the oldest two in the play area (kids have to be at least 2...my 2nd wasn't even 2 when I first had #3 though). I used the Baby Bjorn ALL the time when she was small enough to fit in it, everywhere, even at home. Now that she sleeps through the night that also helps a lot. I still get comments (got one yesterday, well, most days I'm out with all 3, I suppose!) "Looks like you've got your hands full!" (hahahahaha). I just take each day as it comes. If it's too crazy to go out, we stay home (unless we HAVE to have milk!) We don't have family around to help out but if you do, see if you can get a little help, especially the first few months. I stressed during my whole 3rd pregnancy about it, so I understand how you are feeling. But it really does get easier, just take it one day at a time. There are more of us out there than you think (I think we must all just stay home! :-)

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Some parents have reactions to the "leash" But I can tell you that it saved my childs life!
My kids are now much older, they are 23, 19, 17, 15, and 11. I found that a few things worked.
1. Wear your baby. There are slings and front packs. These where a life saver for me. That way I could have baby on, and hold to 2 hands.
2. I trained my kids to respond to "Shirt". When I would say "Shirt" they where to reach up and grab my shirt, dress, or pants. I used this in parking lots, or stores.
3. I used the "leash" back in the day when the only choice was one that attached to the wrist of both parents. First let me say that this is NOT to pull your child by. But it is to give them a little freedom, with a peace of mind for you. I would use this when traveling, or at fairs, or places where there is a lot of people. The leashes now have different styles, one of which is a stuffed monkey that is a harness. So it looks like a backpack. I have watched my 2 year old nephew, and I use this when taking him out. It is fun for both of us. In fact he will walk around the house with it on, because he loves it.
4. Have your other children help when they can. I would have my other kids help by getting things, or taking diapers to the garbage. You can start working now with your older ones to teach them how to do things you would like to have them do.
I would get little juice containers and put cups down where they could get them. I would allow them to get their own juice. The snacks would be pre made all at once for a day or two. I would put them in baggies in the fridge that way they could get their own snacks.
5. Get ready for the rude people. I don't know how many times I get "do you know what causes that?" or "Are they ALL yours." I have come up with some real smart A$$ comments for these coments. such as "no, could you tell me?" or "Yes I only brought some of them, the other 8 are in the van out side.. they did not behave enough to come in."
6. Remember to take time for yourself. I would take bath time. Music, candles, and a nice bath.

I hope that this helps.

2 moms found this helpful

I've got three kids. Baby front and back-packs are the GREATEST invention. I always kept one in the van. Most grocery stories have the kid carts - so two can ride in the "car" part. If not, I put the middle child in the regular shopping cart seat, put the smallest in the back pack and gave the oldest the opportunity to walk as long as he was listening. If he didn't listen to me, I put him in the main part of the cart. It cuts down on the amount of groceries you can get, but the rack on the bottom of the cart holds quite a bit.

Our kids outnumber us, too. But I figure I'm bigger, I'm older, and I can outstubborn the most stubborn toddler! I pick my battles, but I do not bend on anything regarding health and safety.

2 moms found this helpful

Sorry this is kind of long . . . I have a three year old (1/2005), a two year old (12/2005) and an 11 month old (10/2007). Going out I get comments on a regular basis about me having my hands so full. One lady the other day just kept telling me she was so sorry for me. Another lady tried to tell me to stop having kids. Kind of ridiculeous but you learn to laugh. I am one where I have to get out of the house almost every day so I do everything with kids in tow. When we grocery shop I put on in the top seat and one in the basket. (When she was tiny we used a bumbo seat in the basket). Then the third had to stay right by me. If he didn't then he had to hold onto the cart the whole time. This arrangment is diffucult on big grocery trips but we got often enought that it works. If we have too much then the two year old gets the job of pushing the cart with me. They really like the responsibility. Costco is great having the double seats and the car shopping carts and safeway are nice.

At home you my be outnumbered but *most* of the time it doesn't make too much of a difference. There are those times when all three will be upset and there is just not enough of you to go around. That is really frustrating but isn't just being a parent that way sometimes? Though I have to agree three is much harder than two, at first anyway. My daughter is almost one and those first months were pretty tough but now that she plays with the other, they are so much fun to watch. Being so close in age they love to play together.

Good luck!

P.S. Get the taking thier long afternoon nap at the same time early on. You will appreciate the "you" time and the rest

2 moms found this helpful

First, for the grocery store concern, most stores have carts with little cars in front so the little ones can ride and the baby can sit in front with you.

It is true that you are outnumbered, but that doesn't mean your kids will take advantage of it at every chance they get. You will adjust to having 3 and your children will adjust.

I have 4- 9, 7, 4, and 2. Any time people see them or hear the ages of my kids, they say something like, "Oh you've got your hands full." It's just what people say. They are making jokes, or trying to make small talk.

I wouldn't put too much stock in what people with 2 kids, or kids spaced years apart say. You made the decision that is right for you and your husband, and they made the decisions that were right for them. I'm sure you will find a way to make things work. Pretty soon you will be able to look those people in the eye who say things about how many kids you have, say, "Yea I do have my hands full," smile at them and go home, or go out places and enjoy your children.

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Hi K.,
I was in your spot. I guess that I still am. I'm just two years into it! My oldest is 5, second is 3 and youngest is two. I have to tell you that at first (for me) it was really tough. I was tired alot and I felt overwhelmed. I was soooooooo nervous to take them anywhere! I'm still not "recovered" from three births so close together. I'm working on that and adjusting to my new body and new life. However, you learn to adjust. You just do. You have to make yourself get out there and try things. I still have to do that. It's so much easier to just stay at home in your comfort zone, but you go stir crazy too. As for the store, I prefer to go by myself in the evenings when my hubby gets home. Sometimes, that's my only free time. Sometimes I feel a bit pathetic that I have to go grocery shopping for my free time, but I take what I can get. I make sure and get a coffee and just stroll. It works. If I can't go by myself, my next choice is to check my older two (now my younger two) into the playland. I shop at Fred Meyer. My kids LOVE going there! I love them going there too! You get an hour of free childcare. LOVE it! When I'm done, they just cling to the cart and off we go to the car with a ton of "wow, she is busy" looks. I just look back like "yes, I'm busy. But I'm also lucky". :) Make sure that you have a front pack or back pack handy all the time. You will use it. So, you just do what you have to do. You adjust and pretty soon, it's not that big of a deal. Now I watch other people's kids and I seem to always have about 4-5 kids at my house. It seems no different than three. You adjust. One last thing, I have made my home VERY comfortable for myself. It's a place that I want to be and a place that my kids enjoy. That helps a lot, since we spend a lot of time here. Check out flylady.com if you haven't already. Love Her!
Talk with you soon,
Good luck with your birth. It's still soooo exciting. Even if it's the third. :)
Take Care,
A.

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K.,

The first response of both my husband and I when we see kids on leashes is to want to rip them off the kids and jerk the parents around on them.

I only have two kids, but the theory should work the same. My son is 5 years old and as soon as he started walking we imposed the rule that if he wanted to stay out of the shopping cart or out of our arms he had to stay with us. As soon as he took off, or stopped listening to us his mobility was restricted. We do the same thing for my 18 month old daughter. They do pretty good about staying with us.

DO not be afraid to leave the store if the kids are misbehaving. I remember one day my son was around 2 and was at the grab everything stage. I took him into a Half Price Book Store. He couldn't keep his hands off, kept trying to pull all the books off the shelves. We were in the store less than 5 minutes and we walked back out. My son was pissed, but he wasn't following the rules, so we had to leave.

Sometimes going to the grocery store alone is a good thing. Leave the kids with Daddy, and take some time to yourself. Or, make it a family thing where you stick the kids in one cart, and the groceries in the other. That's what we do. That way too, if the kids are just in total meltdown and need to leave Dad takes them to the car and I finish the shopping.

Hope this helps,
M.

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