Mother is the name given to a woman possessing strength, resilience, and patience of ten men combined. She is not a quitter. Her ability to power through the most difficult of days, and still welcome a crying child with loving eyes through an equally tiring night, is what warrants her fortitude. With the addition of each new child in the house, she finds ways to accommodate change without disturbing the existing structure. But, as humble and warming as it may sound, it's no walk in the park!
Baby number one introduces a woman to motherhood. Baby number two has mom prepared this time around. By baby number three, she's graduated to a fully licensed circus juggler. Especially if the little ones decided to make their arrivals an annual occurrence.
Having three children does not only invite absolute chaos but transforms the house into a minefield. One mishap can cause all kinds of explosions - the kind found in the newly changed diaper, to the kind dripping down one's face or body. The only thing that remains certain is uncertainty itself.
Of course, someone can always identify a mom of three, in a throng of people at any local market. She's the warrior with an infant strapped to her chest, while nose driving a stroller through barricades of people, and chasing after a toddler who finds it amusing to discard a shoe. It's tiring just to read about, isn't it?
So, what's it like having three adorable little monsters under the age of three? Well, here are 15 stories of Moms who may be able to express that the struggle is real.
15 Hot Mess - Cleanliness Is Next To What now?
It is not easy to rid yourself of the habit of keeping a clean house. Most (read: all!) moms desire a spotless house, where you won't even find a teether lounging in the cookie canister or the silverware paying a visit to the toilet rolls stored under the sink. After a while, you give up and give in! Let the babies exercise authority for now while you wait for the day you get to say,
"No. Because I said so."
Iowa mom, Kaitlyn Swaim, is a mother of 4 with a blog describing her life having three children under the age of three.
"If you have at least one child, you know how quickly the hurricane can hit. Multiply that by two toddlers and it becomes a Category 5. Often there’s not enough time to empty the dishwasher and pick up the kitchen, let alone the toys. Some moms can NOT go to bed and leave the mess. I am not one of those people. My theory is it’s going to get destroyed first thing tomorrow anyway. I might as well head to bed and get a few hours of shut-eye before one (or all) of my children are up in the night." - Kaitlyn Swaim, mom blogger at Iowa City Mom's Blog.
Cleanliness may be something only Goddess mothers can achieve, but He might need to send some Angels on clean-up duty to help this mom because her head is dunked in dirty laundry.
14 Port-A-Mommy: Excel The Expel
Potty training can have a bad toll on mothers. A toddler can't wrap his head around the simple practice of allocating his duties to the toilet. The child develops a habit of convenience to go on the go, so potty training is as close to the first boot camp he may experience. Add a 2-year-old and a breastfeeding infant to the equation, and you can find the mom in a rainbow of excrements. It takes a learning curve for moms to switch between three sets of needs; diaper the younger ones and train the eldest or, bear through accidents with the older two while keeping the youngest fastened to those nappy's.
"I potty trained three boys using the three-day method. It usually ended up more like five days before we had a for-real “breakthrough,” and HOLY GOD YES, we dealt with the occasional accident for weeks and months afterward. My last kid completely faked us out after the first week, then went a solid month without a single success before snapping out of it." - Amy Corbett Storch, from Alphamom.
According to BabyCenter, most children show signs that they are ready to start training when they are anywhere between 18 months and 3 years old.
13 Double Trouble Plus One
Remember the pain you had to endure when trying to get that first latch right? Maybe you even consulted a lactation specialist after fruitless efforts to successfully breastfeed your baby, without putting your lady bits through immense pain.
Imagine that feeling times two, when you're trying to breastfeed twins and your first one hasn't been weened off yet. Talk about being sore!
"I was lucky enough to be able to breastfeed the twins for a few months – and I felt much like a cow as all I ever seem to do was feed one (or two – I attempted double feeding). I fed on demand as I discovered early on, one twin would always fall asleep if I tried to synchronize them which became frustrating. We gratefully accepted meals from friends who popped in to see us " - Annonymous mom, babysense.com
Friends and family may pressurize first-time mothers to take the decision of having children who have less of an age gap, with the reasoning that the children will grow up together and all efforts can be put in at the same time. For some, this may be doable and even desired. For most, the years of emotional and physical investment that is required to raise three kids one after the other seems harrowing.
12 Always Outnumbered, Where Is Baby Number 3?
Having three children puts parents at odds simply by numbers. It's two against three, and on a good day, you get to be on the winning end (one can only wish!). However, mothers usually have to deal with all three on her own. It's like playing chess without any established rules, where the queen is constantly beaten by her own soldiers. No matter how calculative you try to be, the kids have the scoreboard in their favor.
"If you are lucky, you have at least two adults living in your house–but they still outnumber you. And even when you have two adults living in your house, there will be many times when you don’t even have a 2:3 ratio but a 1:3 ratio. There is no time when nobody needs anything. Ever. It does get a heck of a lot better once none of the children are infants that need to be fed every three hours or more, but it’s still very hard when any of them are toddlers intent on killing themselves or your pets, or even just preschoolers, who can’t quite be trusted" -Laura Garwood
As a mother of three, you get awfully good at keeping a consistent headcount whenever you're out of the house. A quick trip to the grocery? Yep, all three are there! Need to use the restroom in public? You bet all three kids are in the stalls! There would need to be six sets of arms at arm's length at all times! Otherwise, you will find yourself listening, with a pounding heart, for mall announcements of lost children because a sneaky toddler decided to go disappear on you. You may be outnumbered, but you still want all three of them safely clinging to you as long as possible.
11 To Whine Or Ween?
Having triplets is not the same as having three kids born apart. There are countless blogs, articles, and books dedicated to answering the debate between breastfeeding VS formula feeding. However, this is not the post for such debate. Breastfeeding more than one baby at a time will always feel like you've established your very own dairy production. Pumping milk is a way to avoid leaking accidents but, also, to allow continuous supply for your babies is a full-time job on its own. Many moms of triplets opt out of breastfeeding because it becomes an industrious task to feed, clean, pump and repeat.
Without breastfeeding, formula then comes in to play, and weening three kids at the same time requires dedication.
According to Youtube Mom of 3, Allie Richmond, breastfeeding her triplet daughters for a year was the economical solution since formula seemed expensive. She would pump up to seven times a day in order to meet the demands of her daughters and to maintain breast health. This momma successfully weened off all three of her daughters in time for a big move for the family. You go, Mom!
It's hard to imagine leaving the house when you're feeding or weaning off three kids at the same time. To moms reading this, you have the right to whine! You have our complete empathy! We're ugly crying with you.
10 Down For Hand Me Downs
Some perks of having three children, so close in age, is the reduced stress of shopping for new gear. Hand me downs are definitely for the win! None of the items you bought will go wasted since they can be mostly reused. Unless, of course, you have different genders in different seasons. No one can say they haven't been part of a hand me down hierarchy at one point or another. Moms with all three children younger than three can relax at the thought of saving precious time and energy shopping for the same items all over again.
Most importantly, who said girls can't rock some blue?
One such mom even found ways to alter her son's clothes and turned them into girly outfits for her daughter. Little snips here, a few stitches there and voila- you have a whole new ensemble for your opposing gendered child, without spending a penny. Mom hacks! You're welcome. And let's be honest, babies don't care what they wear, so onesies can be reused without a second thought.
"Kids products and clothes can get expensive, but the budget goes a LOT further if you pass those items down to multiple children. Plus you don’t mind investing in a nicer version of an outfit or piece of gear because you know you’ll get real use out of it—making more room in the budget for mom and baby items you adore." - Elizabeth Tenety
9 The Night Is Still Young
According to the National Sleep Foundation, newborns require 14-17 hrs of sleep, while infants need 12-15 hrs and, finally, toddlers between 11 - 14 hrs. So, I guess the real question here is, why can't I still get stuff done if they sleep that much? Do kids know this information, or is it just mine that never received the memo?
You see, nobody tells you that children won't be completing their sleep in one long stretch. No, instead they like to keep things interesting and break down a 12 hr sleep stretch to 10 different nap times, all the while wrestling mom to get it done.
"With regular nap times, independent play, and the benefits of routine I felt a confidence and security knowing I had a “strategy” to fall back on. My kids all take a nap at the same time every afternoon. They do independent play in their rooms at the same time and go to bed around the same time. Having a predictable daily routine helps make having four children so close together possible. In fact, it even makes it highly enjoyable." - Rachel Norman, Amotherfarfromhome.com
Moms of three all over the globe have accepted that sleep will come in installments, so take what you can and when you can. Some moms have been known to successfully tame all three children into following a singular structure. A child with a consistent, active routine will tire enough to want to sleep. If naps are set at regular times, then moms may fall in line and find their nights somewhat cry-free. (We said May.)
8 Never Without An Entourage
Ever see a duck cross the street with a trail of ducklings neatly filing after? That's pretty much how it is being a mother to three under three. There is never a dull moment, let alone a moment alone, where you don't find a little body pasted to your leg or bouncing on your hip. You can be sure to start that band you always wanted to form because the groupies that are following you around lately, you've already got a head start on the gig.
Hey mom, guess who's waiting outside the bathroom doors? Yes, you know where I'm going with this. Your three stooges are never too far away to entertain you with their little mischiefs and knock knock humor. It is less intrusive than it sounds because you welcome their presence (well, most of the time.) Maybe this the perfect time to show them your wonderful singing voice while you belt out Hakuna Matata in the shower.
"I say this with a witty heart, yet again I mean it with the most grateful heart! I spend my days with these little people that I & my husband created out of love & that is just pretty much the greatest thing ever! This does include bathroom trips which are never solo or trying to hide in the pantry to finish ONE hot cup of freakin’ coffee before they find me, or heck even my showers when they are in bed that still involve them because their toys are all over the floor! Ha!" -Bailey Castleberry
7 There Will Always Be Someone Who's Grumpy
Whether it's one of the kids, your husband or you, there is a period of the day that someone is grumpy. With five different individuals ranging in ages, clashes are inevitable. Moms have to bear the brunt of most of the mood swings, seeing as there is just no other way to pacify such outbursts. If you are really lucky, you get to endure the domino effect when one child's crying succeeds to make another cry. At that point, you can't forget the third one, as he will feel left out and will just burst out in tears because he's not crying with the others.
The reason for all the upset could be as tiny as putting on a pair of socks your kid didn't like.
"My 3-year-old enjoyed some delicious food, he loved playing hide-and-seek with the flower girl, and he was quite happy until I uttered the phrase of doom. “It’s time to go home, honey.” As soon as the words escaped my lips, the situation began to deteriorate. I started damage control with an explanation that it was time to go, then quickly moved on to gentle coaxing, bribing (yes, bribing, because I win at parenting), and finally, I attempted to flex my mom-authority. Picture tears, wailing, gnashing of teeth and me struggling to heft all 40 lbs. of my son’s flailing toddler-appendages to our car." - Crissy Page, personal story on BabyCenter.
6 Third Time's A Charm
"They share friends, toys, and clothes. Which, if they turn out to be anything like my two sisters and me, they will hit a low point in about 9 years when they each have a handful of each other’s hair because someone stole someone's silk shirt while they were sleeping. The good news is, that after almost three years of trial and error of learning how to juggle the needs of three little kids, I feel like we are finally in a happy place. Sure, there are meltdowns and occasionally the little one will pee on me but for the most part, our house is filled with controlled pre-school chaos." - Hannah Mayer, mom blogger from the Scary Mommy blogs.
There are huge benefits with such a setup. Moms learn to multitask at an efficient rate and narrow their focus on the bare necessities. With such small age gaps, the house may feel nothing less than a circus tent but moms can always quickly transform into the grandmaster who relies on pure instinct for survival. The mistakes you make the learning path a more educated one, as you will learn from that lesson and continue moving forward (of course this depends on the circumstance and scenario.) You now know that you should not worry about the slightest hiccup, and can differentiate between good diaper colors and bad ones.
And thus, each child falls into their respective roles, while the eldest immediately trained to be responsible, the middle is the pacifier and the baby well... remains the baby.
5 Fashion Graduation: From Vogue To Mom Daily
Mothers today are fashion-forward, or at least try to be. A woman undergoes some sort of fashion detox at least once she enters motherhood. She discards luxurious styles for efficient wear ultimately donning the mommy avatar. The graduation from style to comfort feels almost ceremonious with the addition of each new child.
Let's be honest, you find pleasure in retiring those stilettos and rocking some trendy slip-on flats instead.
"I’ve graduated from hospital undies. I started putting yoga pants on, rather than pajama pants. I haven’t quite excelled in my new role as mom-of-three yet. Transitioning into life at home with two toddlers and a baby is a process I’m going through, with no real “I’ve got this down!” moments. (Hopefully soon?!) " - Katie Pickett, from Tacoma Working Mom blogs.
The involuntary makeover requests a new fashion perspective indeed! It's not easy to see yourself morphing in front of the mirror. The upside is that your three babies will always think you're beautiful regardless of what you wear. Your little girl is already drawing inspiration from your keen sense of style, whereas your baby boys might be developing a man frown to intimidate any man who tries to set his eyes on you. Now that's a rather hearty consolation prize!
4 Working Moms Need A Break- Not A Breakdown
Going from two to three kids within 3 years can cause emotional build up for moms, for sure. You need a daily plan in motion in order to balance a full-time job and raising three little humans that absolutely dependent on you and everything you do. Everything needs to be done beforehand (where is that pizza menu?) The situation really puts the 'pre' in prepared. Snacks need to be ready a day ahead, milk pumped and stored for the babies, an emergency bag near the door at all times with extra clothes and bare essentials, in case one of the kids decide to hitchhike to work with you (or you took the wrong turn and ended up South of the border - Hola Neighbors!)
"I was a 37-year-old mother of three* and somehow, my kids, my marriage, and my career were all thriving. Then, one Saturday afternoon in the spring of 2009, while driving to Target to buy diapers, I broke down. Not my car. Me. I pulled over to the side of the road, my hands shaking, barely able to breathe. I called my husband and sobbed, “I can’t do this anymore." - Katrina Alcorn, Blogger for Working Moms Break.
At the same time, it does not help to have guilt crawl up your spine every time you leave your children in the care of someone who isn't you. According to The Atlantic, 43% of professional women opt-out to become the primary caregivers of the family. Millenial moms are now adopting into the trend of working from home, in order to balance out the emotional tug of war.
3 Putting The P's And Q's To Action
Disciplining toddlers is a myth that mothers seek to turn in to reality. You think maybe a reward system might be the answer or that thing that Oprah said that you heard in the background once upon a time, on the effectiveness of talking at their level. But, no one prepares you for the truth that when you are down on your knees on their level, it's their turf! A 'no' is not as clearly defined in a toddlers head. While your toddler needs basic training in social interaction, your infant and newborn are still far too young to understand reasonings.
You are still left with at least one of the three testing your nerves with some incessant tantrum that requires your patience before action.
"Going anywhere is a complete show, which I've just learned to accept at this point. Leaving the house can be a production in and of itself. We are a lot of people with a ton of stuff. Bags need to be prepped and packed. I’ll need to hunt down and wrangle up the kids who need to be changed, teeth brushed and endure the horrendous act of finding and putting their shoes on. I'll need to convince my eldest to pee and then pee again and somehow find time to nurse." - Ashleigh Wilkening, blogger for Mom.me.
The fact is you have to teach children to implement their p's and q's as early as possible, but once you are out in public, there's no way to tell what comes out of their mouth. It is integral to raising well-mannered children because what comes out your mouth will and can be held against you. Encouraging alliance between the children may prove to be successful in trying to implement a sense of responsibility down the chain.
2 Attention! Attention!
With three babies, and yes your eldest is still and always will be a baby to you, moms can expect to be constantly tugged at, clung to, hugged, held and followed. There is always the real possibility of neglecting one child who may show signs of compromise better than the rest. There is a reason why the middle child syndrome and similar child related complex's are so common in adults because once the minor neglect sets in, you never really outgrow it. Usually, children under the ages of three, being left unsupervised more than the siblings, takes form as tantrums and cry-a-thons.
"Remember to show your oldest a lot of love. They probably work hard around the house helping others out so reward them. Give them extra kisses and hugs and say thank you often for everything they do. You are raising a leader. Show them the support they deserve by not taking advantage of their effort, time, and energy." -Elizabeth McGrory, blogger for VeryWellFamily.com.
Of course, as a mom, you are not deliberate with your treatment. You're still human, aren't you? You take whatever help you are offered, even though it is your understanding that three-years-old get undeserved time-outs so you can tend to the cries of the younger ones. Reward their patience with some special one on one time later. Putting labels on children like 'my eldest', 'my middle child','my youngest' connotes to their behavior. You can't please everybody all the time but you certainly can play fair to the best of your motherly abilities.
1 Trio Is Better Than Zero
Sibling bonding and sibling rivalries start as young as the moment your child shows signs of perceptive responding. It's when your oldest might sacrifice a favorite toy to soothe a younger brother/sister or, your two-year-old planting kisses and hugs when they find big brother sulking over something. This is when moms need to encourage alliance and trustfulness between them. It is a fact realized by most moms that children imitate behavior. When the younger ones see the ringleader expressing responsibly, they too fall in step.
As Tolkien says- One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them together!
This smart mom on Parent24, she says "The absolute key: do not alienate the other children when a new one comes along, keep the children involved. We would all sit on the three-seater couch while I breastfed, bonding together. They all bathed together, dressed together, went to bed together, changed nappies together, got muddy together... you get the picture."
A flock of three may feel like an enterprise. But if you treat them as a unit, you will find them working together often and with industrious loyalty. It also keeps mom sane to not have to deal with three separate personalities on three different ruling methods. Initiate a ring of command, comradery, and reward.
References: Babycentre.com, iowacitymom.com, shortwinded.com, babysense.com, mother.ly, sleepfoundation.org, everydaywithbay.com, amotherfarfromhome.com, everdaywithbay.com, workingmomsbreak.com, verwellfamily.com, parent24.com, tacoaworkingmom.com