The honest truth about three under three
If you would have told my 18 year old self that in just a few years I would have 3 kids under 3 years old, I probably would have begged you to say it wasn't so. Now don't get me wrong- I have always wanted to be a mama, just maybe not to three kids all under three. I never really thought about age gaps much. I just assumed we would have three or four kids and they'd all be a few years apart and get along perfectly. We would have two boys and then one or two girls. Isn't it funny how we make up these ideas or hypothetical plans in our mind? God is probably just sitting up there eating popcorn and laughing because he knew what I didn't at the time- my life would look nothing like I "planned." If you are finding yourself where I did, I am here to tell you about what three under three is really like. (for me)
1. There are some days I lay down in bed and feel like I totally rocked it. I was legit super mom. I didn't loose my cool at all, there were a minimal amount of tantrums thrown, I played with the kids for a lot longer then normal, the TV was only on for 30 minutes, I think you get it. Days like these make me think I could have six kids and be perfectly fine. However, there are some days I feel completely, 100% inadequate. I am drained by the end of the day with absolutely nothing left to give. I yelled at my kids multiple times, they wouldn't listen to anything I said, they watched at least two movies, I was on my phone more than I should have been, etc... Days like these make me wonder why I was given three children to take care of when I clearly can't handle it. Full transparency? I probably have more inadequate days than I do super mom days. But let me tell you something and dear friend I hope you believe me- you CAN do it. You were given your three blessings for a reason. YOU were chosen to be their mom for a reason. You are the best mama for your little ones. You are their entire world right now so take heart in that. What I have learned is that when I have an inadequate kind of day, taking 15 minutes to myself to reflect and pray can make all the difference in what tomorrow looks like. You will have great days and you will have awful days, but the beauty of it is- each day is a new day.
2. Someone is always crying. If it isn't one of the kids then it is probably you. Accept it. You won't be able to meet everyone's needs all at once and that is okay. It breaks my heart when I am doing something for one of the older kids and the baby is crying. Does she know I'm coming? If she stops crying before I am able to get to her to soothe her- forget about it, I instantly feel like I failed her. You can ignore everything else I say, but remember this-
You are doing an incredible job, even if one of them has to cry and wait while you tend to another. It is something I have to remind myself almost daily.
3. You won't have as much time with the baby and it will be okay. I hate that I can't give her as much of me as I was able to give my older two. I long for those night time feedings when it is just the two of us, but giving up sleep just to snuggle her eventually takes its toll. I will give you a secret that has made this a little easier- baby wearing. I wore my first two occasionally, but by the third you almost have to wear your baby to get anything done. This has also been an incredible way to get some bonding time in. With my first and even my second, I was able to lay around and snuggle way more often but with the third- it happens maybe once a week. When I am feeling like she hasn't gotten enough of my attention during the day, I throw her in the wrap and holding her so close just gives my heart that reassurance it needs. That she knows I am her mama, I love her, and I am doing my best.
4. Your older two will be fine. I was totally nervous that they would get zero attention once the baby was born yet somehow it still works. Somehow at the end of *most* days, I feel like they all got a fair piece of me. They have realized that when I don't have the baby in my lap, that is their chance to climb up and get some one on one time. There isn't any point in the day when one of them isn't touching me- which is heart warming because I know they just want to be near me, but can be exhausting. This brings me back to taking at least 15 minutes a day to yourself.
5. You probably won't go many places by yourself. I am lucky if I am able to get all three kids to bible study and occasionally the park that is right down the street. When they are under 3, they still need to hold a hand, so unless you are going to wear the baby and bring your stroller- it will be very difficult to go places. One thing that has helped us is having the older two hold hands. This doesn't always work because sometimes Carter does not want to touch his sister, but most of the time he is willing to hold her hand while we walk into a store or to the car.
6. Their bond will be worth it. The one thing that gives me hope on hard days is this. Don't get me wrong, they fight, some days a lot! But they are each others best friend. I can't wait for Kennedy to realize that she has two best friends for life. They both LOVE her and love each other. These little ones might be hard now, but hold out hope mama because one day, those three under three will turn into the three greatest of friends.
This life might not looked anything like I imagined or had planned in my head, but the beauty of it is- none of this was unplanned by God. Even when I found out we were pregnant with my third who was by my definition "unplanned," she was planned just for me all along... So my friend, I will warn you- three under three is hard. It will try your patience, steal your energy, but it will also change you in a way you didn't know that you needed to be changed. Three under three can only be described in two words- beautifully humbling.