Monday, March 8, 2010

From 1 to 2 to 3

One of my newest bloggy friends is Lisa from Little Writer Momma and she posed the question last week, "How was it going from 2 (kids) to 3 (kids) for you?" I used to get asked that question all the time, but now many of my in real life friends have had their 3rd (and a couple even 4th) kids so I don't hear it as much, but it is an interesting question. So before we add a 4th child with our adoption from Ethiopia and I completely forget what life was like with only 3, here are my thoughts on the transition not only from 2 to 3 kids, but 1 to 2 also.

When you have your 1st baby and you give him a bath for the 1st time in the baby bathtub, you are thinking, "Is the water too hot? Too cold? How much soap do I use? How exactly do I wash that area of his neck under his chin (the spot where the spit-up collects)? How do I get this slippery baby out of the tub? What if I drop him?"

When you have your 2nd baby and you give her a bath for the 1st time in the baby bathtub, all you can think is, "Wow, she is so tiny! I love the baby bathtub! Oh how quickly she will outgrow this!"

When you have your 3rd baby, you think, "I know I didn't give him a bath yesterday, but I'm so tired I think I'm gonna skip that bath again today. He's a newborn; it's not like he played in the sandbox or anything! I mean, how dirty could he be?"

When you have that 1st baby obviously everything is new and exciting. But it is a huge life change! Nearly everything becomes different overnight when that baby is born! Honestly it is hard for me to even remember life with zero kids but the adjustment from 0 to 1 kid has to be the hardest.

I think everybody ought to have at least 2 kids, because the huge blessing of that 2nd baby is that you
enjoy them so much more. Now you know a little more what you are doing, you worry less, and you know just how quickly all those phases pass! The baby is the easy part about having a 2nd child. The big adjustment is managing the toddler/bigger kid with the baby. There is no napping when the baby naps if your 2 year old is awake! And try having the patience needed to manage a toddler when you have been up all night with a newborn! My husband used to say the adjustment to 2 kids was harder on the dads because their free time diminishes substantially. After mom has been juggling two kids all day, when her husband gets home he's either taking 1 or both those kids. The other big adjustment with having a 2nd child is the sibling fighting. In my experience, this is an issue earlier if your firstborn is a boy. From day 1 you will have to worry about him being too rough with the baby, both by accident and on purpose. I remember distinctly the first time my son hit his baby sister. Oh the conflict when your mama lion instincts see your precious baby hurt by someone but realize that someone is your beloved other child! At the same time, you get to witness the blessing of watching the sweet interactions between your 2 children, and watch their friendship grow. With the addition of a 2nd child there's also the issue of managing 2 different kid schedules. With one baby, life revolves around their nap schedule, but with the 2nd baby you will have to navigate around the older child's activities, and you'll find yourself waking up that baby to go pick up the older child at school. But as a positive, most second born kids are more easy-going as a result!

Now the transition from 2 kids to 3 brings, for lack of a better word, chaos. If you are a momma that must have your children under control, perfectly dressed, noses wiped, nobody crying, and everyone with shoes on the correct feet every time you go out, don't have 3 kids (or at least not 3 close in age to each other). Because you are 1 momma and there are 3 of them. Chances are very high that anytime you are out and about with all 3, someone will spill a drink, have a fit, get lost, fall down, or do something embarrassing. You just can't control them all, all the time. The best way I can describe having 3 kids is more life!

You have one more child and with that one more child you have more joy, more wash, more hugs, more crying, more smiles, more messes, more laughter, more teeth to brush, more dancing, more throwing up, more playing, more getting hurt, more "I love you"s, more runny noses, more kid artwork, more dishes, more memories.

More love!

Of course, the more is there with each of the transitions but it becomes more pronounced with the move from 2 to 3. For example, moving from 1 child to 2 children the noise will double in your household, so for the move to 3 children it triples, right? Wrong! Multiply the noise level by about 10! I'm not sure why it works like that but I've noticed that math is true even for playdates among non-sibling kids. A playdate with my 1 child plus 1 friend (2 kids) = rather calm and quiet but if I add another friend (3 kids), suddenly it is like a stampede of elephants have invaded my home!

I could say a lot more about this subject but this post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge, so I'm out of time. Maybe I'll revisit this topic in a future post!

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  1. I am hoping for a third...but need to convince my husband yet. He is happy with our family as it is...but I see him tip his head with a little far away look when he pauses and sees how quickly our little Henry is grown up. We'll have to just wait and see.

  2. Two to three was quite a commitment - suddenly I needed to change my game plan - just not enough hands!!! Had to figure out the whole "hands free - eyes in multiple places - ears on super alert" thing... and after that any number of kids could join the party and it made very little difference to our parenting or "mode of family"!!! Have a fun week!!!

  3. Visiting you through the 30 Minute Blog Challenge!

    I love this post! My son is just about to turn 3 and my daughter is almost 5 months. Making no decisions on a third for a while! Everything you describe about 1 and 2 is so familiar, it's a joy to read. :)

  4. Yes, each child brings so many blessings. I often joke about the pacifier being disinfected for the first child each time it falls to the the third...well, you know. Enjoy your precious gifts from God. :)

  5. I remember the transition from 2 kids to 3 VERY WELL even though it was years and years ago of course, but that's just how large it was for me. Suddenly everything took soo much longer. I needed to be soo much more organized. And at times it was just flat out, "out of control", haha. I had 3 very active, very wild (it seemed anyway) little boys. WOW...But by the time I added the 4th (a girl) the boys were all older. The oldest was almost 14 and the youngest was 5. What a difference it made as they were ALL such a big help and she was nothing like her big brothers. Soo easy and laid back. haha...How we all enjoyed her. When I was in the midst of the 3 wild boys stage of my life I thought it would last forever. I will never not be in the midst of choas I often thought. of course did pass, and now I look back sometimes and wonder how I ever kept up. But I do miss those days. ENJOY yours, it really does go faster than you think. HUGS, Deb

  6. And that's precisely why I'd like AT LEAST 1 more! I just think life was meant to be messy and the messier the better!! You put this so eloquently!

  7. Your post is perfectly stated!! I always wish with my three kiddos, I could do like the wife in "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" did and tie a rope around their waists and they could follow me around like little ducks! but, unfortunately, I think the boys would have the rope tied around their big sister's neck!!

  8. I love this- I coudn't agree more. We just added number two and I have been so suprised at how much easier it is than I expected and how much more I love the infant stage (I loved my son- our first of course- but was so stressed). I feel rather zen for having a six week old and it feels nice! The transition from 0-1 like you said, is a much harder adjustment.

  9. Hey Allison, THanks for answering my question!!! What a delightful surprise when I pulled up your blog and saw your post!

    What a great post it is too! I think the adjustments to the transitions must vary from person to person...I've found it harder to go from 1 to 2, but know many others who have said 0 to 1 was harder...The chaos you describe with 3 feels like my life already with 2, oh boy!

    That said, you almost brought me to tears when you were talking about the love and the hugs and the kisses that increase...oh don't those things just fill a mothers heart! enough to make us want to have more children, obviously!

    Cheers to motherhood and ALL that it brings our way!

  10. Oh wow, you really pegged it. I can't stop smiling at the bath description... Yesterday I bathed my 2 older ones while baby Zeke was napping, thinking I'd wake him at the end & pop him in for a bath too... and then I just forgot. I think my oldest had more baths in her first month than he's had in his whole first year!
    3 is great, you're right. It's definitely chaos and a big adjustment in parenting style, as se7en mentioned. But it's AWESome! More love! Can't get enough of those cuddles.
    And sometimes I feel embarrassed because my kids aren't all *exactly* clean and cute and matching in their Children's Place matchy-outfits like my friends' kids are.. then I realize I'm 3-to-1 and they're 1-to-1 (mostly) so I don't worry so much. 3 times the love. :)
    Sorry this comment is eternally long. I have the same problem with phone messages...

  11. I have also found that past 3 or 4, it does actually get a little easier at times. I can shower and know that the older children will make sure the younger children do not squash the baby while I am jumping in the shower. I also have more hands to help when we cross a street or buckle little ones in car seats. Great post, I loved the bath tub story!

  12. Just saw your blog on the Ethiopian Adoption bloglist and wanted to say hi! We're with Gladney also, have bios the same age as yours, and are on the waitlist for siblings. Do you know about yet?

    Oh, and about going from 2 to 3--I tell anyone who will listen that it took me a full 9 MONTHS after the 3rd baby to get back to feeling like I was managing our family well. I caused myself a lot of grief because I thought I should be able to do it faster. I wish I had gone into it with no expectations and given myself permission to take however long I needed. We'll see how 3 to 5 goes...

  13. We have two. But I'll never forget what my mechanic told me when I was pregnant with my first. He said:

    With the first, you worry. The second one, you enjoy. The third one, you throw him in the back and hope he don't choke himself.

  14. I've got three boys...with the first two, I found that it was wonderful! They entertained each other.

    With my third...I was finally more relaxed...and he learned to defend more for himself. (poor fellow.) To this day, he's the most competitive and still tries so very hard to keep up with his older brothers.

    I found that taking time to teach them to fold their own laundry and other small tasks helped me immensely.


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