When I had my second and while pregnant with my third I regularly heard that going from two to three kids was much easier than going from one to two.
The people that have said that either never had more than two kids or it has been so long they have forgotten (I imagine this goes somewhere along with forgetting the pain of child birth so that you are tricked into continuing to procreate). Heck, maybe it is just because I had enough space between my first and second. Regardless of the reason, adding a third child to my family hit me like a truck. I expected everything to just sort of gracefully fall into place, and that couldn’t have been further from the truth. So. Here are some tips based on what *I* learned from my own personal experiences and hopefully some will work for you.
Ask for help. This is kinda common sense but I did not need help with my first two when they were born so I was kind of stubborn about it with number three. Wow. That was a mistake. The first two weeks are the hardest and you should take advantage of anyone you can. Heck. Ask for a postpartum doula as a gift. My daughter was still a toddler when my newborn arrived and if you have a toddler in the household you know just how demanding they can be for attention… don’t fool yourself into thinking it won’t get worse.
Let your older kids love on the baby. Yes. I know that every single fiber in your anxious and exhausted body is going to be screaming “DON’T TOUCH THE BABYYYYYY” while spraying them with hand sanitizer and freaking that they are going to poke the baby’s eye out. You will be surprised at how resilient that little bundle of joy is. Of course it is still important to make sure they wash their hands first and maybe don’t let them jump on them… but kisses and cuddles are perfectly ok. Because, lets face it… whether you allow them to love on them or not, they will likely find a way to sneak into the baby crib as soon as you look away. It’s important to teach them the “soft” way to touch the baby instead of letting them figure it out on their own!
I know you’re tired. So. Freaking. Tired.
Ignore that. Once all the kids are asleep, sit down. Read a book. Have a beer, wine, whatever, with your husband. Go sit on the patio and watch the stars. Tomorrow is going to be just as hectic and you deserve some peace.
Get a gym membership that has daycare. Find a babysitter you love and waste $50 on just going somewhere, anywhere, while you do not have to watch the kids. Trust me. You will be a happier person.
Try not to stress about what was different with your first little monster. Sure, Suzie learned all her numbers and letters by the time she was 2. Max may have played legos for hours with you. Your family dynamic changes as you add little humans to it. You may not get as much one on one time with each kid, but they have the added love of their siblings on top of your love. If you feel guilty maybe do a mommy and kid date to have some alone time but I promise that it is bothering you more than it is bothering them. My 5 yr old’s FAVORITE thing is being a big brother. I still beat myself up that I miss when it was just “us” but honestly, most of the time he wishes I would just leave him alone so he can play with his brother and sister.
Include older siblings as much as you can. Don’t worry about putting the baby down. Don’t feel guilty that the baby has to fuss a little longer in the swing while you finish making Joe’s lunch. Your older kids will remember these days and the baby won’t. Don’t miss out on parties, splash pads, play dates because of the baby. The baby is perfectly content being worn while you chase the older monsters around, I promise. Invest in a carrier that is comfy so you can take that bundle of joy anywhere those older munchkins lead you. When it is baby time have the toddler grab the diaper… ask your preschooler to help rub soap on the back of the baby’s head during nap time. You’ve got this.
You got this. No one is a better parent to your kiddos than you. It will go by fast and you’re gunna miss the days that they were this little. Just breathe. You are a rock star. Chaos is normal and I promise in 5 years we will be laughing about this… if we survive it!