In honor of having my third child, and wondering just how the heck I’m going to manage said third child, I reached out to Facebook friends who have already been there, juggled that. I asked for their best wisdom on raising three kids or more. What they had to say was helpful, inspiring, reassuring, and maybe just a little … WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?! But at least now I have a good sense of how it’ll be possible to navigate my new parenting world.
“I meal plan a month at a time. I prep the kids’ clothes for the whole week and put them in a hanging sweater organizer. I get everything ready the night before, from lunches to bags and keys. I use a paper planner religiously.” — Debbie S.
2. Embrace minimalism
“I buckled down and simplified and cut back on things we owned, that was what saved my sanity. My kids had so much stuff — toys, clothes — so I cut down to seven outfits each for the older two, a few more for the reflux-y one-year-old. I cut back on the shoes each child had to two pairs of Crocs and one pair of runners in summer; if we did not regularly use an item, it was donated. Same more or less with household stuff.” — Christina W.
3. Plan some more
“Write everything down, on paper or your phone. Prioritize. Have a back-up plan. Take a least 10 minutes a day for you, even if it is singing to the car radio or playing Candy Crush.” — Kathryn Q.
4. Remember: It’s different for every kid, and that’s OK
“I have three. I had to be at peace with mother’s guilt of not producing the ‘same’ childhood experiences for each child. For example, my first went to playgroups, I hosted toddlers for cookie decorating, and he grew up going to Gymboree-type classes where I lovingly sat with him on my lap and sang songs with puppets. My third never attended a playgroup, was never signed up for Mommy & Me, plays with the older kids’ friends, etc. BUT my third is the most independent, strong, and spunky kiddo.” — Jessica B.
5. Give up on perfection
“I learned quickly that I couldn’t do everything well, so I made sure that my priorities were always the kids because as Jackie Onassis said (off the top of my head), ‘If you bungle raising your kids, nothing else you do in life matters much.’ As far as unmade beds, etc. etc., you can only do what you can do.” — Peggy R.
6. It’s all about R&R (as in, rules and routine)
“I have five between the ages of 3 and 12. We have a set routine every day. Meals/snacks at the same time. The kids all eat together. Bedtimes are set for each child. Also, don’t sweat the small things. Pick your battles. Learn what things you can live with and which ones you can’t tolerate. Most of all, find joy in each and every day.” — Linn B.
7. Know what really matters
“You can’t do it all and win all the battles. For me, I put my foot down on early bedtimes. But that may mean that we don’t all get to eat every meal together. And some days will be really hard, and I’ll feel like I have no balance. But as long as at the end of the week or the end of the month you’re more positive than negative (even if it’s only by a small margin), then that’s a win in my book!” — Cindy W.
8. Nap when the kids nap (you’ve heard it before, but do it)
“Get plenty of sleep — think synchronized napping! Definitely helps me stay sane.” — Esti B.
9. Enlist helpers
“It’s awesome how much your older kids will help IF YOU ASK THEM. You need to tell them you need them, and then ask them to help with specifics. If they know that you count on them, it works so much better than thinking you can’t do it all alone. I couldn’t have done #3 without #1 and #2, and I told them that every single day.”— Alexandra R.
“The best advice I received after we had our second set of twins: Utilize all your resources, meaning, have the older twins help read stories, help with the potty training, model good behavior, and it does work!” — Beth R.
10. Hello, lists
“On my phone I have a to-do list, shopping list (separate one for frequent stores), and a weekly menu. I also do ‘Subscribe & Save’ on Amazon. The three most important things show up each month: diapers, girlie products, and coffee!” — Heidi F.
11. Give each kid special attention
“With everything going on, try to find even just an hour of time alone for each kid at some point during each week, whether it’s going out for a cup of tea or just cuddling and watching TV.” — Rachel E.F.
“I take one of them with me even if it is just boring errands so we can get some time one on one. I also take them on walks for one-on-one time. When you have three, one at a time seems like a cakewalk!” — Rosie R.
12. Be amused
“When all of them are crying or screaming at once, when it seems none of them are happy, and you feel you have completely lost control … just laugh at the chaos. Because if you don’t, you will burst into tears right beside them.” — Erin G.
13. Clean smarter
“I know what cleaning tasks will automatically make my house look cleaner (vacuuming and clearing off the island), so when I’m overwhelmed with the house, I do those first and everything suddenly looks better.” — Debbie S.
“Be OK with a messy house. We had three under 3, two with special needs. I think back and all I can remember is bottles and diapers everywhere. Crazy (messy) days — but I miss them.” — Anonymous
14. Do regular reality checks
“Keep your expectations in check, live in the present moment, get a lot of time outdoors, eat healthy, forget about the Joneses once and for all, meditate, forgive yourself and start over the next day. That’s my daily practice list three years into raising four … Every morning, I try again.” — Dee Dee D.More On