A dear friend just had her third child, and while congratulating her, I told her repeatedly that third kids are the best. And I really believe that. I also say that they should come with a clown nose. Because you are in the circus now and you gotta start juggling!
Moms of three kids are the most stressed.
A few years ago, an article was circulating widely about how moms with three kids were the most stressed out of all the number of kid options. The article never asked why, but I can tell you why. It is because moms of three kids feel like they should have their lives as well organized and put together as a mom of two. But you just can’t do it.
With two children, you can hold everyone’s hands while crossing the street. You can put them both in sports, music or dance and usually make it to every rehearsal or game. You can get a table for four at a restaurant that seats your whole family. Vacations, houses, and cars are easier to shop for. The world is set up for a life with two kids today.
I believe that the thing that moms of three do wrong, is that they look at their mom friends with two, and feel like they should live up to that easier standard. I’m sorry, it just is easier to do everything with two kids than three when they are small. And as they get older, their needs change, but it is still harder.
What about moms with four kids?
How are the moms with more than three kids less stressed than those with three? They have accepted that life is just going to be different for them. They recognize that there is no way they can live life on the same terms as a family with two children. So they let that go and set their own goals and boundaries.
Moms of four or more accept their children will just have to share rooms, toys, and space. They either put all their children in the same activities, or they limit them to one each so that they don’t spread themselves too thin. They realize that the size of their family means that some things just aren’t going to work for them. These moms don’t compare themselves anymore to the moms of one or two kids who can get more done, because there is less food to cook and less laundry to wash. They realize they have to have a method that keeps them sane and set different standards.
Third Kids are Cool People
All of that said, I am so happy I have a third child. The laughter, complexity, and chaos my third child added to my life is the best kind. Her personality is not somewhere between the first two, but very much her own, which is wonderful. Because I was such a busy mom, she taught herself to do tons of things I had to carefully teach my first. She watched her siblings and decided to just find her place in the family. Life is more full with her around. While it is harder to get everything done, the company is excellent and Christmas feels more like joy with a third child.
Before she was born, I worried about stupid things said in my child psychology classes about younger children being underachievers. However, in real life, the third children I know all have done very well in life. They don’t grow up to write textbooks on child psychology, but they become dentists, physical therapists, business owners, and optometrists. They grow up ready to find their own path because they’ve been doing it their entire lives.
Your mom game is on point!
With your first child, you worry about every step of life and walk it with them. Even if you don’t do it for them, you are close by, nudging them along for each milestone. By the third child though, you are more laid back, and only step in if your child is struggling, because you have so much more going on. However, this third child has two older siblings to teach them everything they need to know.
One day you look over and freak out about the snack/game/thing one of your kids just handed your one-year-old third child, and you will have to jump into action. Babies can’t eat whole apples you will tell your older child, as you realize the baby is, in fact, eating that apple, skin and all. Who cares you carefully chopped and peeled them for the first, and at least sliced them for the second? Brother handed her an apple, so this kid is determined to eat it.
My third child also gave up sippy cups for regular cups earlier than the first two, because she wanted to be like them. She hit a few milestones in a haphazard order that might have concerned me with my first, but I also knew enough as a mom at this point to see that this was all about attitude and interest and not any type of delay. As a mom, it has been easier to let my third child find her own way than it was with the first. By the third child, your mom game is on point! Even if the house does look like a bomb went off in here.
This club rocks!
I feel like I am in a secret club with all the moms of three kids. We feel this kinship of knowing what it means to parent when you’ve run out of hands. Moms with three kids know that tossing a friend into the mix is hardly noticeable. And that taking just two of our own children places is so much easier than all three. We know that our third kids are amazingly cool people that not everyone gets to have.
No matter how many kids you have, I hope you enjoy them all. And if you have three? Welcome to my club!
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.