Should I have a third child?
I mean I already have one, so that title is not actually me asking the question – I like her, I think we’ll keep her but –
‘What’s it like to have 3 kids?’
– is a question I get asked a lot.
Or I get a statement along the lines of ‘wow, you’ve got your hands full haven’t you?’.
Yes. Yes I do, they are full of a buggy, a bribe, a nappy and some of my hair which I am currently tearing out so if you could be so kind as to open that door for me instead of standing around spouting cliches we’ll all be much happier.
*Disclaimer* This blogpost is not a complaint. I am not complaining about having 3 kids – Hell, I went to boarding school – I knew exactly what it was like to live with multiple over privileged, egotistical people. I was pre-to-the-pared. No, that’s not fair, the people at my school really were very nice and already toilet trained. But anyway I knew what I was getting myself into and I feel lucky to have three healthy, happy (ish) kids.
Anyway I thought I’d share with you a few facts that I have learnt since I have had total disregard to overpopulation problems and bred 3 humans:
They are all different
Right so this seems obvious right? But babies, toddlers and children are COMPLETELY different beings to one another. It’s a bit annoying as just as you get the hang of the one hour rocking and blasting hoover noise into your babies face to get it to sleep then BAM here comes another baby with a morbid fear of hoovers. Back to the drawing board parental pal, how to get this one to visit the land of nod? Oh, of course a few hours of feeding and a 38 minute rendition of ‘hush little baby’. Then BAM you have another one and they only want TOTAL silence. Except you never really work that out as you are too busy Googling the lyrics to ‘hush little baby’ and wondering what blithering idiot would buy a baby a cart and bull.
I guess the point is that every single time you have a baby it is all different; the labour, the delivery, the baby and the post natal period. You are a new mum each time and people don’t really remember that. This is directly related to excitement levels in your friends and family, and therefore number of Facebook likes on pregnancy announcements –
First time round pregnancy announcement: 236 likes and comments like ‘So happy for you guys’, ‘You’ll be amazing parents?’ and an impromptu street party with lots of high fiving.
Third time round pregnancy announcement: 2 likes (and one of those is from an old colleague you haven’t seen in 4 years) and comments like ‘Is this a timehop status?’ or ‘I thought you guys already had 3?’.
Doing anything takes a seriously long time
Remember when you could scoop up one child having a tantrum and exit a public place sharpish? Me neither. Whenever we have to make a quick exit we have to start by rounding up the fam. This, in case you are wondering, is why lots of large families have a sheepdog (I made that up). Quick exits/entrances/toilet trips are a thing of the past. No sooner have you left a public place with a suitable toilet will someone need the toilet. You get everyone back to said toilet, leave and then someone else will need the toilet, you go back again, leave and then someone fills their nappy. You go back to change them and leave and the whole cycle may well start again. I am deadly serious when I say I once went shopping for an hour and we spent the entire time going to and from the toilets. I’m not going to lie I have had better hours.
Standard entry is not for you
Marketing will have you believe in families with 2 adults and 2 children.
Brace yourself Mr General Ticket Admission Booth Guy, but sometimes there is 1 adult and 2 children, sometimes there are 2 adults and 1 child and sometimes there are 3 adults and no children (I don’t think they are going to the family attraction – guys – it’s not that kinda party). And sometimes there are 2 adults and 3 children. So yeah, this is not exclusive to people with 3 children but basically a little nod of acknowledgement that different combos of families exist wouldn’t go amiss on the majority of family days out. It’s not all bad though – HELLO to the Boots 3 for 2 deals. Everything my kids will want for Christmas will be coming from there this year (‘what do you mean you don’t want antiperspirant you ungrateful 3 year old – it is formulated with new technology that means white marks are totally invisible).
When things go wrong they go WRONG
You have new tolerance for a ‘bad’ day – one child crying? Background noise. Two children crying? Form an alliance with the happy one sharpish and strike up some sort of conversation to take your mind off it (hard when the happy one is the baby but surprisingly doable). Three children crying and kicking off? MAYDAY. Call for back up, yep – even if it’s just that stranger over there – you may well need public intervention – previous experience suggests that threatening legal action is ineffective but an extra pair of hands works a treat. We have had some shockers recently. Writing down the following example seems almost farcical but lets just say it involved leaving children unattended for 2 minutes, an unprecedented attack on said children by a peacock, a spilt cup of coffee, a piece of cake left in situ and an incredibly unhelpful stranger taking a photo of me punching a peacock in the face with a pack of baby wipes. UNBELIEVABLY I am not making that up. I know. (OK I made up the punch – it was more a swipe at the peacock, I didn’t actually make contact). FYI Peacocks are actually VERY difficult to scare, they are not scared of baby wipes even if they are the super value frighteningly ineffective ones.
Also I have a lot of friends who love animals and a season ticket to that establishment and don’t want it revoked because I punched a peacock.
That is not a sentence I ever thought I’d write.
BUT even when things go super wrong and everyone is crying – yourself and peacock included it’s not all bad my friend, because…
You give WAY less f&*ks. About everything.
And I mean everything. You know how worried you were about weaning your first? Yeah. Your third weans themselves… on stuff from the garden. And those outfits you painstakingly bought and hung in your child’s wardrobe? Your third wears baby grows until they start being called onesies. You don’t care about what anyone else thinks anymore, you filter out anyone’s opinions on your parenting style effortlessly because a hum of child noise follows you round like your own personal theme tune. You name it – I don’t have an opinion on it anymore – breastfeeding, bottle feeding, dummies, co-sleeping, when to wean, baby led weaning, let them cry it out, never put them down – ZERO f*&ks given. Just. Don’t. Care. Of course I care about other babies and, mostly, their mums and if something is worrying them more than happy to talk it through but in terms of what I think about how someone is parenting? Too busy taking a mental role call and thinking about why I can only see two children… oh and one peacock, OMG – has it eaten the small one?
So in summary having 3 kids is just like having one but 2 more times. You still don’t have any idea what you’re doing but you do the same things – they are just louder and take longer.
For me personally, the leap from having no kids to one child was the biggest change/challenge to date. My house has been full of plastic and questions about dinner’s whereabouts since 2010. I read a lot of things on the internet which state that 3 children is harder than 2 or that 2 is harder than 1. Or how you know what your ideal family size is blah blah blah. As stated above I don’t have an opinion on whether someone should use a dummy or not, let alone what constitutes the ‘perfect’ amount of children, or an ‘ideal’ family size.
I think the most important thing, if you are asking whether you should have a third child or not is to acknowledge how lucky you are to have the choice. And then I’d say – in my opinion, 3 is no harder than 2 and 2 is no harder than 1. Being a parent has it’s moments of intense difficulty and it’s moments of sheer unadulterated joy whether it is radiating from one human being or 3.
And yes, my cliche loving friend, as parents we all, always, have our hands full.
Now could you get that door please? Many thanks.
Find me, my three children, and possibly a rogue peacock, over on Facebook here.