When the doctors hand you your third child, there’s also a tiny, shrill alarm going off in your parent head that screams, “AHH!! YOU’RE OUTNUMBERED!!!” I remember after our third boy was born, trying to explain that moment to my friend, still pregnant with her third. She laughed, assuming I was being dramatic in order to get a laugh out of her.
But for those of us who is a parent of 3 or more kids, you get it. Parenting is tough!
An earlier version of this article originally appeared on PerfectionPending.net
The 5 Things That Every Parent of 3 (or more) Kids Knows
1. Losing a child is a real, legitimate fear. Because it’s happened before – no matter how careful you are!
Despite any and every precaution we take, somehow one of your munchkins will manage to escape our peripheral vision for a split second, which is all it takes for them to get lost.
- Maybe the 2-year-old ran off at the grocery store in order to charm an employee out of a sucker. Again.
- Or maybe a kid ran off to check out a different exhibit at the zoo while you dared to blink. The nerve!
- Perhaps your overeager monkey jumped into the subway train without you… Oh, wait, that was Curious George. Phew! On an unrelated note, I think I need to insist my kids get a new favorite show!
Maybe you can still see them and let them think they’re lost to teach them you aren’t kidding about not running off. Or maybe they really are missing – and you get to see the store’s “CODE MISSING KID!” plan put into action.
No matter the case, we’ve all (even temporarily) misplaced a kid for a few moments. It happens to the best of us, and we know better than to judge another parent who’s frantically searching for their child who just so happens to be doing a fantastic Houdini impersonation. Because it’s happened once – and it’ll probably happen again.
2. You get used to all of the attention.
Going into public with 3+ children is like forming an impromptu flash mob in some folks’ eyes. In other words, you get used to the crazy amounts of attention at family outings, shopping trips, or just leaving the house. You’re either going to have a lot of fun, a ton of awkward comments, or some combination of both.
You will, at some point, get asked:
- “Are they all yours?”
- “Wow, you’ve got your hands full! Both of them, even. How do you do it?”
- “You do know how that (vague pointing to all of the children hanging haphazardly off of the cart) happens, don’t you?”
- Why do you have so many kids?
And you’ve probably already got some wicked cool responses, right? Something like:
- “You better believe it. I had to special order that one right there.”
- “Well, thanks for that rhetorical question. Yes, my hands are full. Could you hold this poopy diaper for me? Thanks.”
- “Yes… Don’t you? (Lean in to whisper this next part) Do you need me to go over it with you real quick?”
- Jenny Evans of the Unremarkable Files has multiple fantastic answers, so watch her answers. They’re pretty awesome!
3. Planning things is important, time-consuming, and a survival trait.
With 3+ schedules for school, sports, music, arts, family vacation, and all the other after-school activities, things get… tricky. You know that getting each kid to the right activity (and on time, no less!) hinges on carpools, friends, divine intervention, and blind luck. Getting it all planned is a full-time job. Implementing it? That’s a whole other full-time job.
And let’s not forget meals! Meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking take time, effort, and why do your kids want to eat sixteen meals a day, anyway? At least you’ve long since realized that being a short-order chef for 5+ was suicide by spatula. You fully embrace the fact that some, if not all, of your family, will complain about what’s for dinner. But not planning dinner… well, then nobody would eat anything but cereal!
Hm, maybe you won’t plan dinners this week. Cereal sounds much easier, and a quiet dinner sounds dreamy.
4. But you also know that flexibility is key to your sanity.
Because as much as you’d like to be in charge of everything, you know that’s not gonna happen. With 3 plus kids in the house (we’ve got four), you know how important it is to pick your battles. And you pick different battles with different kids because different personalities mean
drastic measures different tactics. You’re in charge of what you can be – and you don’t sweat the small stuff (much).
In fact, you’ve probably given your kids some screen time today so you could have 3 seconds to think an entire thought – or just so you could use the bathroom without an eerily attentive audience. It’s not ideal, but you know that survival, sanity, and flexibility go hand in hand.
5. The more, the merrier (usually).
Finally, you know how nice it is to have an extra pair of hands around. Sometimes they’re even helpful and/or do something kinda/sorta related to what you asked them to do. That or your kids decided to ditch dishwasher duty and go play together outside.
Either way, everyone’s having fun. Well, except you. You’re stuck unloading the dishwasher. Again. But at least the kids are playing well together, right?