Need Advice from Parents of 3 Kids (Or Is a Sibling of 3) - Los Angeles,CA

Updated on July 11, 2011
S.C. asks from Los Angeles, CA
18 answers


My husband and I are now actually considering having a 3rd child after having said that we were done and pretty much gave away all of our baby stuff. I need advice from parents of 3 children. Preferably all stages (young children, school-age, teenagers+).

My need for advice is also kind of specific (not exactly asking IF we should have 3 kids). But we need advice from people who may have experienced what we are trying to achieve. Please bare with me as I try to explain.

My husband and I love to travel - mainly traveling abroad. When we had our two kids, traveling was not possible because we chose for me to be an SAHM. Hence, we have been living on 1 income (with me subbing periodically; not consistently) for the past 5 years. This year, my daughter is starting Kindergarten and we feel that it's time for me to start planning my return to work and start traveling immediately the following summer. Once I get a full-time job, my income alone would take care of all of our travel needs. We have managed to live on one income and so my job will be extra "play money". It has always been a dream of ours to be a "globe-trotting" family and give ourselves and our kids a unique life experience through traveling the world.

Our goal has always been to travel for long periods during the summer ("live abroad" for the whole summer). We are very interested in immersing in other cultures not just be tourists. I know that many people wait until their kids are grown then start traveling. That is something we are not willing to do.

But my husband and I seem to be unsure if we are really done with having kids. He's already 40 and I'm not that much younger. But we're also not willing to wait any longer to travel.

Now this leads to the following questions:
1) If we're not willing to compromise on our travels, how is it traveling with 3 kids? Any and all experiences/advice you can share is much appreciated.
2) If we are able to get pregnant as planned, our kids would preferably be 6 and 4 years apart from the 3rd one. This seems like a bit of a gap. How would the 3rd child be growing up with much older siblings? How do the older siblings handle the youngest? Would the youngest one feel left out when the older siblings are teenagers are have their own lives? And when the older siblings go to college? How would the youngest child adjust, handle life at home "alone" with mom& dad?

BTW, in case this helps, my 3 and 5 year olds are very close and they get along very well. They play with each other all day long with almost no issues. So we don't anticipate any issues with sibling rivalry when the 3rd one comes (at least at this age).

Knowing this, please feel free to let me know what advice/experience you can share. Please do not give advice on whether or not we should have a 3rd child. Please give advice based on us having a 3rd and us wanting to travel. Specifically, let us know why traveling with 3 kids would be more diffficult if that's your experience.. What other concerns would you have? What personal experiences can you share? And how well can a youngest child cope with the age gap?.

thank you. :)

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So What Happened?

EDIT: Riley and Dawn, it's so inspiring to read your stories and i feel that you both are speaking my language! Riley, I know what you mean about getting on a train, bus etc.. I love traveling with no set itinerary. I also don't believe that when you become parents, your life becomes confined within the 4 walls of your home, or the 4 corners of your neighborhood. It's just a matter of what's important to you - attaining that all-American lifestyle, or monetary wealth, or (for my family) riches of a different kind.

Dawn, I am so inspired by your sons story. I totally agree that your son's acceptance into these wonderful colleges is because of the experiences and education he's had outside of just a textbook-base. I've always believed that myself. That's why we hope to have our kids (when they're older) to travel with us to South America (a some other developing countries) to volunteer, including help build homes for Habitats for Humanity. These are experiences that our whole family can cherish forever. 7/13/2011

Apparently, I'm not the only one asking the same question:
(found this on a different forum)

I SUPER appreciate everyone's input thus far - it is very helpful. Butfrankly, not one. Totally off topic. Honestly, it's no one's business why I choose to be a SAHM for the first two and not the last. And it's really premature to be making judgments about my financial situation based on one question I posted. Obviously, if you're living on one income (by choice), it's always tight. But don't assume that I'm in debt and don't have life insurance or an education portfolio for my kids. And even if I don't have any education fund set aside, most families don't. I didn't have it growing up and I'm fine. It's how you raise your children and what kind of human beings they'll be is what matters. And I'd rather give them a different kind of education that isn't solely textbook-based (be it unconventional). I respect everyone's choice in how they want to live and raise their family and whatever that brings you the most fulfillment and happiness. Our choice is to not only allow ourselves, but our whole family the experience and MEMORIES of their childhood that is none like any other. We are blessed to be able to do that, although we are no means "independently wealthy" as one person who posted her friend is. But we chose to live simply, no designer items (luckily I'm not much of a shopper. I love bargains, but I still don't shop unless I need something) and no upgrading to a bigger home (we are comfortable in our little home, keeping a low mortgage etc.),. We've driven the same car for 12 years by choice. Expensive things don't bring us happiness. And I'm fortunate that I don't desire them. We prefer to invest on what's important to us.

Please keep the feedback coming, it is helping me very much. But be kind and leave the judgment behind.

Featured Answers



answers from Milwaukee on

I have a teenager and a toddler. The teen always gets mad when the toddler wants to play around with her. She acts like her little sister is the most annoying person in the world most days. I wish the youngest had another sibling close in age to play with.

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answers from Saginaw on

We have three 6, 4 and 1 year the first year of car travel was crazy! babies just don't tavel well in the car at least mine. But now at one year she has some good entertainment from her older siblings. Ou third has been wonderful she fits right in. I actaully think going from 1 to 2 was harder then going from 2 to 3 kids. Only thing I would point out is traveling as a family of 5 is going to be Much MORE expensive as most hotels cater to families of 4. 5 puts you in a different price category becase you can't get away with a single bed with a pull out for travel... tickets cost an additional..etc. Just my thoughts.

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answers from Los Angeles on

"When we had our two kids, traveling was not possible because we chose for me to be an SAHM. Hence, we have been living on 1 income. Once I get a full-time job, my income alone would take care of all of our travel needs. We have managed to live on one income and so my job will be extra "play money".

Ok I know you don't want advice on having three children - but your post sounds so much like a caller on the Suzy Orman show == that I can't help but hear Suzy scream: "Play money!! Don't you know a third child means extra expenses! Shouldn't you be saving up for college? And your retirement?! Denied!!!"

So while I won't give advice about having three children -- I do question whether you are being realistic about your finances -- particularly after reading your previous posts. In one, you state that "times are tough" and you are trying to look for ways to avoid paying a $700 past due hospital bill for your child's birth. In another post, you raise concerns about speech delays with your children -- but say a full evaluation for them is "not possible at this time". I don't know if that's because you can't afford the money, or the time - but certainly you'll have less of both with a third child.

What I do wonder most about, however -- is why you chose to be a stay at home mom for your first two children -- but are OK with not being a stay at home mom for your prospective third child. It seems that the main motivator for this is the desire to travel -- and I question how you'll truly feel going back to work full time with an infant -- when that is so substantively different from how you raised your first two children.

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answers from Seattle on

<grin> You're essentially describing my childhood.

3 kids was the max my mum chose to travel with alone; 1 in the backpack, and one for each hand. That said, she took the 3 of us all over SE Asia (we were stationed in Japan, and every chance she got she popped us onto a plane, train, or boat and took off with us. Hong Kong, Singapore, Guam, S.Korea, Phillipenes, Hawaii, Thailand... if there was a SpaceA flight, we were on it. We also went up the length and breadth of Japan... from the hotsprings in the snow of Izu Wakimatsu, or snowfields of Hokaido... to the southern islands, Kamakura with it's bells as big as houses rung with tree trunks to the bustle of Tokyo. When we lived in the Far East, my Dad was out to sea 6-9mo at a time, and we were off on our own adventures 3-6 mo out of every year. When we were stateside, we'd pile into the car and just drive. 1500 miles, 3000 miles, you name it.

LOVED IT. (Except for a 2 year period where I was just a git, because I didn't want to leave my best friend, and became a major pain in the neck -age 10 & 11)

((In fact, for my son's early years, I duplicated it. I've been more than a bit remorseful that the past 3 years have been pretty sedentary... In fact, I had to cancel a 8 week trip to Argentina this fall (Cost: 2k)... Israel & Egypt the year before that for 6 weeks (cost $5k), and the Balkans/Turkey the year before that for 8 weeks (cost 2.5k) as well as a few other short trips. It's especially irking because we've been homeschooling for all 3 of those years, so theoretically could have just up and left whenever, taking our books with us. Well. Needs must. This year it was medical expenses, last year it was a tax screwup, the year before... ah well. We'll get there.))

After 3 kids, my mum wouldn't travel on her own anymore, but waited for my dad to be able to come with us... or took us singly to different places. Trips with mum were *always* coveted, but family trips were the best. Airplanes and hotels and hostels were second homes. As a matter of fact: Home is where your pillow is in my book.

My mum's experience on 3+ kids is this: 2 kids is 5 times the work of 1, 3 kids is half the work of 1. 4 kids onward is easier and easier at HOME; but when traveling one keeps wandering off and giving her heart attacks.

I have FAR too many personal experiences as a child to share just off the top of my head. Languages, people, places, my family... I had an absolutely GOLDEN childhood. I never understood people who didn't like climbing into cars/ trains/ planes/ etc with their families (these also seemed to be people who never went anywhere). My fam was the BEST! That's who I wanted to spend time with. The affected disdain/ boredom/ etc was just baffling to me. I mean, I tried it on for size from time to time, but I always forgot about it once we were on the road.

One hint: When traveling with kids... whenever possible, stay somewhere with a pool.

Any specific Q's (from a kid's perspective / hearsay from my mum with traveling with 3), or just from my own travelling with 1 (but sounds like you've done that and been just fine:)... PM me.

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answers from Raleigh on

Well, our boys were almost 4 and almost 6 when our daughter was born(she is almost 9 months old now) We had no issues with boys acting out, they love her so much. The age gap does not bother us, my SIL's 3 kids are 18m and 2 years apart and 2 boys do not get along with the 3rd (a girl) I think it depends on the kids. We do travel ALOT (inside the country though 8 /12/18 hours away since she was 1 months old) We could not afford to go see my family in Russia with 2 kids, so nothing changed for us there:) My 2 cents.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from New York on

I can give partial advice since I am one of three kids and I also have 3 kids now. I am the oldest sibling, my brothers are 3 yrs and 6 yrs younger than me. We are all good friends to this day. We never traveled as kids because my family didn't have the money. The most "traveling" we did was driving upstate NY. There was no issue with age gaps or anything else.
With my 3 kids, my 2 oldest are 4 and 5 and I have a 3 month old. We don't really travel other than to my in-laws in PA and to their lakehouse in NJ, and have done a few trips to see family in Arizona, and Florida and friends in California. Hardly globe trotting. We have not traveled with the three kids yet. My brothers and I are all good friends to this day and now that we are older (33, 30 and 27) the age gap doesn't matter. We were close when we were young too and I was motherly to them.
Sorry I'm not more helpful, I think it'll be no problem. If you want a kid and can provide a good life, I'm sure they'll blend nicely into your family. Good luck!

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answers from Boston on

We don't travel (because we are broke LOL) but we have friends who do and they manage just fine.

One family we know who travels extensively recently spent a couple of months in Italy (one of the parents did a semester abroad there in college so they have stayed in touch with their friends and travel there every few years). They are still considering moving there someday if the right career opportunity comes along. They have a 9 year old, 6 year old twins and a 2 year old. Their life is good!

Another family has 6 year old twins and a 5 year old. They are independently wealthy (internet fortune) and spend a significant amount of time traveling when their children are not in school and they seem to manage as well.

I have three sons age 13, 7 & 5 and a 13-year-old SD. When we had our second son (who is now 7) we thought we were done and I was concerned that he would be "all alone" later. It turned out that we weren't done having kids (surprise!) but I realize now that he would have been just fine without his younger brother. It seems that whatever family structure you have tends to be what you end up thinking is just right, kwim?

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answers from Eugene on

I have 4 kids, girls are 2 years apart, then a 5 year gap and boys 2 years apart. Travelling is a passion for me so my kids have been travelling since they were babies.

One thing that was difficult about the 5 year age gap is the difference in interests. When I had all 4 kids along, 2 were usually bored with whatever activity we were doing. It was hard to find something that all the kids wanted to do. When I was still married, their dad and I would sometimes split the kids up and each take 2 of them, ie: girls go shopping while boys visit the military museum. Or older kids go snorkeling and younger ones take a submarine ride.

Now I'm a single mom and still travel with my kids. As my kids have gotten older, they don't want to share a bed with their siblings. I don't want to share a bed with them either so I usually have to find a suite or get two rooms at the hotel, and still sometimes have to add a rollaway so everyone can have their own bed. This is more expensive and sometimes it's hard to find a hotel that can accommodate all of us but we make it work. Now that my youngest is 15, his interests are more in line with the older kids so it's actually easier to find things they all want to do.

The bottom line is that you can make it work. If you want to travel and want to include your children then you just do it. The dynamics will change every year because kids grow and change so fast. Travelling is a great way to share experiences with them in all stages of their lives.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My 3 kids are pretty close in age (3, 5 & 7), so i can't speak to the age gap question, but i can talk about travel.

Yes, it is significantly more challenging with 3 kids. Not so much when the youngest one is very little and portable, but that challenging time between 1-3 is exacerbated by the fact that you and your spouse are out of hands. After 3, it's much easier. You may end up scaling back/putting off travel for a few years after number 3, but then it's totally doable - especially since your other 2 are a little older and don't require as much equipment!

And you will also need to adjust yourself to a world that is geared toward families of 4 - from vacation packages to cars to restaurants with booths that only seat 4. It's an interesting adventure moving into the world of a family of 5.

good luck with your decision!

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answers from Dayton on

I have 2 brothers, I am 4 years older than one and 6 years older than the other.
They were/are very close.
I love them dearly, but we do not share the same close relationship (though part of that is gender too I imagine).
I am very close w/ my mom as a result of this.
Traveling for us consisted of driving from Florida to Ohio and back again to visit family.
We did fine. I am sure it was a lot of work for my parents, deal.
You will adjust.
Your kids will be fine.
HTH! GL on the baby makin'! :)

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answers from Los Angeles on

We had 8 kids. There is no problem traveling at home or abroad when the youngest is 18 months or older. When the youngest is potty trained, the problems drop off some more. If both of you are teachers, it leaves your summers open and makes living abroad easier.

If both of you are teachers and really want to immerse yourself in a foreign economy, be a teacher for the DOD (Department of Defense). You teach the kids of US military personnel stationed at military bases over seas and sometimes the kids of diplomatic personnel. The government gives you a salary, benefits, housing, and a military type ID card. The DOD is always looking for teachers and you can choose a new assignment every year or so. Contact the DOD for more information.

BTW, we took 8 kids to Disney World, 6 kids on an Alaska Cruise, 8 kids on a mexican cruise, 8 kids to Disneyland, Sea World, Knotts Berry Farm.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from San Francisco on

Like anything else, you adjust. I have three kids, and became a single mom when the youngest was only 6 months. I haven't traveled much, because of finances and it was rather difficult when they're young, but I am only one person. I think it would have been doable if I'd had my husband with me. They're 16, 13 and 11 now. We took a wonderful, two-week road trip a couple years ago and made some great memories. In May of this year, we toured the east coast and it was absolutely fantastic. I think the younger years are harder for travel, but with two parents on board I think you'd do fine. I can't imagine life without my youngest! ( :

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answers from Los Angeles on

Traveling with three kids is like a walking advertisement for birth control! =)

I have a sister and a brother. My mother took us everywhere and we traveled across the country several times a year to visit my grandparents. It is hard, especially if you have a newborn, a 7/8 year old, and a 5/6 year old. You will have more than your hands full. Also, my in-laws live in Holland so I understand the traveling issue.
If you want your youngest child 4 years after the last one, it is a big gap but nothing drastic. They will still be able to be friends and hang out (if the older one is alright with that). If they don't get along, your baby will pretty much be an only child growing up.
Traveling is really h*** o* a new baby, so you probably wouldn't be able to travel for a while, especially overseas. Depending on where you want to go, the weather can be very different and bad for a newborn. The air on planes is pretty gross and isn't good for young babies. Plus, they have to get their shots before traveling, so you might have to get shots earlier than needed. Traveling is not out of the question for a newborn or young baby, just really hard and difficult for both of you. Plus you will have the older two to keep quiet, keep sitting, and keep entertained.

Good luck!

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answers from Santa Barbara on

I can't imagine traveling with three young ones. That factored into my decision to be a parent t only one and it has worked out fantastic! Before she was five it was more trips within California and Aizona. Once she was six it was time for Europe!! This was before portable DVD players so it was books and conversations....some of the greatest times! We still remember her eating a pear in the middle of the night (jet lag/time change) and she just went on and on how this was the BEST pear ever. She starts college soon so we need to have an awesome trip before she does. Good luck

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answers from Tampa on

Well, I have 3 kids: ages 5, 2 and 1. Wow, it's stressful traveling if you ask me. May not be for you, as yours will be older. My husband and I always take a vacation each year and we always bring them. The problem comes in with the age. The age makes it impossible for us to do the fun, adventurous things we would love to do together. Go on rollercoasters at an amusement park? Nope, unless 1 at a time and then you have to wait in the lines twice. Go white water rafting or even just tubing down the river? Nope, kids are too young. Going to even see a movie on vacation? Nope, unless it's a kids movie and even then the little one won't sit through it. Going out to dinner on vacation? Gets expensive unless you find kids eat free. Going to museums? Nope, unless it's a kids museum. So, for us, that has been the main issue with taking them. Everything we do has to be geared towards the kids. Next summer it's me and the hubby by ourselves :)

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answers from Philadelphia on

Well we travel but the majority of our trips are less then 4 hrs by car. However we did recently return from Disney so we flew. Our kids are now 11 1/2 yrs ( boy) 7yrs (boy) 5yrs ( girl)
Well having three kids it takes more organization. My kids for the most part get along good. Also I am the oldest of three siblings. I was 12 when my little brother was born. My sister was 8 1/2 when he was born. We both adored him growing up.

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answers from Detroit on

I am the youngest with two older brothers, all three years apart, and have a girl and two boys, also three years apart. For me, I have always kind of felt the odd sibling out but that was due more to gender than age. I actually have a closer relationship with my oldest sibling. As for feeling left out when they were older, I can't say I remember feeling that way. I remember thinking that I was lucky when they were finally both in college because I got to do so much more with my parents than my brothers did - go to restaurants, day trips, etc - that they couldn't afford when all three kids were at home.

As for my kids, my oldest two (a girl and a boy) are great friends and playmates when they aren't argueing. The youngest is only one so I'm sure the dynamic will change at some point! And having attempted only one short plane trip so far I can say it's a lot of work and rather stressful but doable.


My youngest was planned and is well-loved and having three was the absolute perfect choice for our family. That said, there are times when I dream of the day when we don't need the stroller and things don't need to be planned around nap time. And we can be in the car for more than an hour or two at a time. Not all vacation spots are stroller or toddler friendly so major vacation plans may have to wait a few years if you decide to have another.

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