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Three Kids: The Juggling Act

When I was deciding whether or not we’d try for a third child, I searched my soul. I’d always felt like three kids was my number, but it definitely added another layer to my life — child care, car seats, logistics. Wouldn’t things just be easier with two? One thing three has made me question: How do people have four or more?!

I’m sure eventually the older kids get more and more self-sufficient and independent, letting you devote more time and energy to wrangling the littlest ones. But having three is a serious juggling act. Let me give you a few scenarios.

Scene 1. Bedtime. Sleep is always the trickiest scenario. The littlest goes down for bed well over an hour earlier than the other two. The two who are left up, however, don’t understand the concept of being quiet so the baby can sleep. Add in the fact that the bathroom door is right beside the baby’s and you’ve got a recipe for a baby waking up damn near every night when the big kids are getting bathed and ready for bed. I’ve tried different scenarios — all the kids getting ready for bed at the same time, for example — but all it takes is one loud shriek of laughter or one slammed dresser drawer to wake the littlest beast.

This is all considering that you can get the baby to bed, which is a tricky challenge all on its own, particularly if you’re rolling solo at any point during bedtimes. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve had the baby to sleep and someone has barged in the room because they needed something really important like a superhero cape tied or simply because they wondered what I was doing.

Scene 2. The small pieces. As kids get older, their toys get smaller and more intricate and more detailed with tiny beads and Lego pieces everywhere. It’s fun! Except when you have a little one crawling around who doesn’t know not to pick up everything and put it in her mouth. Then you’re constantly on the lookout for tiny pieces and constantly telling the big kids to keep things picked up or ELSE.

Scene 3. The clingy baby before dinner. The witching hour has always been the toughest —that hour before dinner where the baby is just grumpy and wants to be held. So you’ve got the baby crying, something cooking on the stovetop, the oven beeping because something is done baking, the middle child yelling because he can’t hear the TV, and the oldest child needing help with paint she spilled. You just wish sometimes you could pause a child or two.

Sometimes I just feel like there’s not enough of me to go around. Everyone needs something, always at the same time. But then, this morning, I came downstairs and my oldest had already gotten bowls and spoons out for cereal, and I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, I’ll always be juggling all three of them, but they’ll only grow in their capacity to help out on their own, too. Which is a reassuring thought when the baby’s crying, the oven’s beeping, the middle is yelling and paint is getting spilled.

Any mamas with four want to let me know how they do it?Erin

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