There are so many resources for first-time moms. Adding baby #2 comes in close behind, with blog posts and books devoted to introducing the new baby to her new brother or sister. But by the time baby #3 rolls into the picture, the world seems to assume that we know what we’re doing by now – when in reality, most of us are still winging it and hoping for the best! Bringing home that third baby is a whole new world – a world of triple relationships, new sibling dynamics, and changing baby products. If you’re family is becoming a party of 5, here’s what you need to know:
- Multiple Relationships: You aren’t just introducing a new baby to the family, you’re introducing an entire new world of relationships. In my house, it was each big brother delving into a relationship with a new baby sister, while their own relationship strengthened and changed. Being aware of this will help you to better nurture the changes.
- Your Standards Will Lower. By the time the third baby comes alone, you don’t worry as much about all those little things like schedules, caffeine intake while breastfeeding, screen time and organic homemade fruit purees. It doesn’t mean you don’t care as much – you just end up being a little bit more relaxed about pretty much everything. It’s also very difficult not to let an 11-month old near his brother’s fruit snacks! Do what you need to do – even if it’s not the style of parenting you thought you would have.
- Divide and Conquer will be your new parenting philosophy. They outnumber you now. So while family activities are fun, sending one parent off with one or two kids while the other stays home with the other child just makes sense. A good friend told me to start asking “Which kid are you bringing?” whenever my husband mentions he’s going somewhere – guess whose 4 year old is a regular at the squash court now? Parenting is no longer a one-to-one ratio.
- “Maybe we’ll just bring the baby,” will be your new mantra, and heading out shopping, staying home alone, or traveling with just the new little one will seem like absolute freedom!
- Teach your oldest two to hold hands. Traversing a busy parking lot with more children than you have hands takes some getting used to – start off from the beginning be teaching your older kids to hold on to each other, or the stroller.
- Babywear like a Boss – Remember when you thought you were a superstar because you popped the baby in a carrier and made your husband dinner? Try baby wearing while breastfeeding, wiping a butt, and telling your toddler to put the toothpaste away. You won’t even think about it!
- Find a sitter you love. Get her used to having all 3 kids when the baby is in the sleepy phase, so once things spiral out of control she’s already used to handling them all at once. If necessary,employ a small team. Getting time to yourself, alone or as a couple, will be more important than ever before.
- Be careful of lumping them together. I often think of our older two as “the boys,” but have to remind myself that they each have their own unique needs. Spending time with each child one on one is an excellent habit to get into!
- Get Organized: There will be more toys, clothes, art supplies, bibs and stuffed animals than ever before. Embrace your inner minimalist and execute a complete purge before the baby arrives! Then, once baby arrives, try to keep a general rule that when something new comes into the house, something must go out! Stock up on household essentials in advance so you don’t need to worry about restocking paper towel a few days after baby arrives.
- And don’t forget to order a little special something for that third baby – after all, a life of hand-me-downs is on the horizon! Some custom name art from Etsy, a personalized blanket, or a special toy will make each child feel so special.
The best part of adding that third baby? You know how quickly each phase ends, and those little things don’t stress you out as much. You know how those little teeny baby fists turn first to sticky toddler fingers then to big-girl hands. Those quiet night feedings bring a new sense of serenity and well-being while the house rests (it’s practically the only time of day you’ll be able to hear yourself think!). You feel confident in your parenting skills (most of the time), and you get to watch those sibling relationships develop and grow.
Above all else? Put yourself first. Schedule in alone time like your life depends on it – it does! Find something that you love to do – and if you don’t have something, just go to a coffee shop or out for a walk. Don’t feel bad if you have to pay a sitter to get this done – after all, every passenger on a wild ride knows you need to put your own mask on first.