I think the fact that it took me a full four months to type this one up speaks volumes to the level of craziness we’ve felt around here since adding another baby to our family. Life is insane and wonderful and I hope that by addressing the questions you guys sent my way, I can give you a better idea about how life has shifted since we brought Rhett home at the end of August.
Since this blog post is no less than a bazillion words, let’s dive right in, shall we?
The Transition from 2 to 3 Kids (Q&A)
What was harder — going from 0-1, 1-2 or 2-3 kids?
Talk to mamas of three kids everywhere and I feel like you’ll get so many different answers when you ask them this question. I think every phase has its challenges. Going from zero to one child is a total lifestyle shift and you have to learn how to do ev-ery-thing from swaddling and installing car seats to navigating feeding and your child’s development for the first time. While that was hard in its own right, and I can now safely say that in retrospect Chase was not an easy baby, and yet the transition from 0-1 was still the easiest for me.
Going from one to two kids brought chaos into our house in full swing! Adjusting to such limited downtime was hard, especially as a mom trying to work from home without childcare (my choice, I know!) but I admittedly like a little craziness in my days. The transition from two to three kids has been challenging, but I’m not sure I would say it’s harder than 1-2. It’s just crazier. Messier. More intense. Filled with ZERO downtime. If I thought I had little downtime before with two kids, I legitimately have NONE with three.
My motto as a mom of three has been let it go. Let go of the clean house. Let go of getting a ton of work done in large blocks of time while juggling three kids. Let go of doing my hair and embrace the mom bun. Let it go, let it go, let it go. Once I realized I couldn’t come close to doing what I did before as a mom of one or even a mom of two, I found a sweet spot of grace for myself as a mom. I recognize that this is a seriously intense phase of life but it’s also a seriously wonderful phase of life and I don’t want to miss the amazing moments by focusing on the hard ones. (Although some days, HECK YES, I focus on the hard ones and feel like I got my butt kicked by my kids.)
I guess my long-winded answer to this question is that one kid is harder than no kids, two kids are harder than one kid and three kids are harder than two, but there are certain aspects of motherhood and sibling dynamics that shift and change and make each phase easier in some ways as well.
How has the age gap been so far between your kids? Chase was a year older than Ryder was when Rhett was born. Which age difference was harder?
Chase and Ryder are almost exactly three years apart, while Rhett is almost exactly two years younger than Ryder. We wanted our first two kids closer together but after two losses in between our boys, we were just so incredibly grateful for a three year age gap. I can honestly say I think the three-year age gap helped a TON with our transition from one to two kids. A three year old is a million times more mature than a two year old. When we had Ryder, Chase knew what was going on and was super psyched for a little brother. His ability to “get it” and understand when I needed to feed Ryder or tend to a crying baby was incredibly helpful.
The two-year gap between Rhett and Ryder has been pretty good, too, however my GIANT caveat is that I have 5-year-old Chase in the mix to help with Ryder. If it was just me and Ryder and Rhett right now, I think I would say the two year age gap was much more challenging because Ryder still needs me and looks to me for comfort and help even though I’d wholeheartedly describe him as a rather independent kid. With Chase in the mix, Ryder and Chase primarily look to each other for play all day long which can free me up to hold, soothe and feed Rhett. Chase is Ryder’s “person” right now (he’s legitimately Chase’s little shadow!) and that is very helpful to me as a mom with a little baby to care for all day long.
What has been harder than expected? Easier than expected?
Without a doubt, the moments that are harder than expected for me are moments when every single kid is losing their minds. When everyone is screaming and crying and I’m the only one able to help, soothe, comfort and love on them, I feel my heart race and sometimes want to just begin crying myself. I also struggle with occasionally feeling like I’m not able to discipline exactly the way I want to in the moment when Chase and Ryder’s brother battles escalate and I’m in the middle of holding and bouncing their screaming baby brother. I am all about communicating and talking about feelings and consequences and taking Chase or Ryder aside to discipline from a place of learning and when I feel like all I can do is yell out, “Stop!” or “Don’t do that!” it doesn’t feel like I’m parenting from my heart and my best place which can be very defeating.
I would say that the way Ryder is around Rhett has been easier than expected. I fully expected him to be more jealous/needy/fussy or something but, honestly, bringing Rhett home wasn’t a huge thing for him! He is still waaay more interested in what his big brother is doing and almost seems to look at Rhett as a real live toy or something and loves holding, kissing and playing with him. To say this has been a gigantic relief would be a serious understatement.
How do you juggle various nap times?
This is admittedly a challenge and, at least for me, requires some serious flexibility. While I’ve always adhered to loose timelines for nap and bed time, I’ve never been super strict about keeping them down to the minute, so being flexible works well over here for the most part. (Note for those who may be new here: Chase — our oldest — does not take a nap.)
What exactly do I mean by being flexible? Usually this looks like pushing back Ryder’s nap until I can get Rhett to sleep if their naps seem to be lining up… OR getting Ryder down for his nap a little early so I can take the time to soothe Rhett and get him to sleep since Ryder is a LOT easier to get down at this point. Since Ryder is the “better” napper right now, he is usually the one I look to when determining whose nap to alter. If Ryder is super fussy and challenging, he’ll go down first. If he’s happily playing with Chase, I’ll do my best to get Rhett down first.
There have been for sure been missed naps, cranky kids and a stressed out mom, but approaching naptime with a more laidback, flexible approach works pretty well for us most days.
How do you get out the door? Is it hard to leave the house with all 3 on your own? Any tips?
Getting out the door is a marathon. Phew! The process for getting our whole crew out the door by myself over the past four months has morphed quite a bit but here’s what it looks like right now: First, I try to get as much of our stuff loaded into the car as possible (backpacks, diaper bag, water bottles, snacks, etc.) before getting the kids out the door. Chase is responsible for getting his own shoes on and while he does this, I get Ryder’s shoes on if he needs help (he can do rain boots on his own but still needs help with other shoes) while Rhett is secure in his bouncer seat or on his playmat. I then send the boys out to the car on their own and tell them to get into their car seats while I scoop up Rhett and follow behind them. Chase buckles himself while I buckle Rhett and then I buckle Ryder and off we go… sometimes with screaming kids and tears and sometimes with happy kids and giggles. Ya never know which one you’re gonna get!
A few things that make car travel easier:
- Doona Car Seat + Stroller: This was the big splurge Ryan and I made for baby #3 and it has been worth every penny. It’s a car seat and stroller in one (yes, in ONE!) and makes popping Rhett in and out of the car a breeze since we don’t have to unload a stroller when we’re out and about.
- UnbuckleMe Car Seat Release Tool: Chase can buckle himself in his car seat and unbuckle his chest strap, but the buckle between his legs can sometimes trip him up. This tool makes it so simple for him to unbuckle himself AND unbuckle Ryder, too. He knows its his job to unbuckle both of them while I get Rhett out of the car. Team work makes the dream work!
How do you manage bedtimes?
Bed time is a team effort! BIG TIME. The pandemic is hard for so, so many reasons, but one silver lining is the fact that Ryan is pretty much always home right now to help with bed time. Before Rhett was born, we’d have story time as a family on the nights Ryan wasn’t working late and then Ryan and I would each take one of the boys and settle them in their rooms individually.
When Rhett entered the picture, everything got flipped upside down. Ya know the “witching hour” they talk about with babies? Well, Rhett experiences that almost every single night. It is HARD. Rhett from 5:30 – 7 p.m. is a bit of a beast right now so one of us will take Rhett (usually me) while the other one is in charge of Chase and Ryder. We try to have the big boys in their pajamas a bit before bed time so bed time only involves teeth brushing, stories and settling them into bed to make it a little easier. Ryan then typically puts Ryder to bed first and Chase usually comes in with me and we sing to Rhett or try to keep him happy if he’s still awake. Then it’s Chase’s turn for prayers and tucking in for his bedtime. This makes it sound smooth, but sometimes it feels like one hot mess express as we try to get everyone to bed!
A few things that make bed time easier: 1. Beginning the whole bed time process EARLIER to give the big boys adequate time to wind down. 2. Bath time + pajamas as early in the evening as possible… sometimes right after Ryder’s nap in the late afternoon! 3. Dividing and conquering with Ryan!
On the rare nights when I’ve had to tackle bed time myself because Ryan has a late conference call or work demands, etc., I apply a similar approach to naptime and look to Chase and Ryder to determine who is going to bed first — the big kids or the baby. If Chase and Ryder are a mess and clearly exhausted, they go to bed first. If they’re playing well and seem happy, Rhett will go down first and the older boys’ bedtime will get pushed back a bit. It’s not ideal but it’s what works over here right now!
How did you make the decision to try for a third child?
Ryan and I have always been on the same page when it comes to discussing expanding our family. We’ve pretty much always said we’d have one baby, embrace and love that baby and then evaluate things after that to see how we’re feeling and how our life is going in a myriad of ways (our relationship, stresses, jobs, finances, etc.) before making a decision about another child.
I will say I always knew I wanted two children because I have a sibling I’m extremely close to and I hoped and prayed Chase would have a brother or a sister. When I was pregnant with Ryder, a huge part of me felt like I might not be done. When Ryder was born, he was such a sweet little baby and I knew fairly early on that I didn’t feel like our family was complete. Ryan felt the same and we tried for another baby earlier than we might have otherwise began trying, as we were worried about miscarriage after our two previous losses. We did have another loss and a big part of me began to feel myself shut down and wonder if I could emotionally handle another loss. I’m so grateful Rhett is here and he is healthy and we all fully believe he was the perfect addition to our family.
How do you breastfeed with two other kids running around?
I tried to establish early on that I cannot be interrupted when I feed Rhett. For the most part the boys get this and understand when I tell them I am feeding their brother but I can help them in a couple of minutes if they need something. They also know they’re more than welcome to come sit with me and talk to me when I feed Rhett but I cannot get up to help them and, for the most part, they get it. I struggle big time when brother battles break out and Rhett is in the middle of nursing and these are the moments that can feel just plain hard. I don’t have all the answers for this, but will usually tell Chase and Ryder to give each other space and play separately until I can intervene properly and get to the bottom of any issues. Often times this is all they need to realize they actually DO want to play together nicely and so the issue can sometimes resolve itself.
How insane is your life right now? Be honest. I have two boys under four.
It’s really insane. Honestly. It’s truly crazier than I could’ve anticipated and I feel overwhelmed and exhausted every single day. Our house is almost always messy and there are always multiple items on my to-do list that get pushed to the next day. I say all this in one breath but please hear this: Life with our three boys is truly the BEST kind of chaos. I know I’m smack-dab in the middle of living a phase of life I’ll long to go back and re-live one day and I try not to lose sight of taking time to enjoy my kids even on the crazy days… because they’re ALL crazy.
How do you get rest when your oldest doesn’t nap?
I don’t. It’s hard. The end.
Honestly, though, I’m very used to not resting during my boys’ naps because nap time has always been work time for me ever since Chase was born. My blog and my business are extremely important to me and I know I’m really lucky to be able to do what I do while staying home with my kids. Fortunately, we’ve established a “quiet time” routine with Chase where he understands Mom needs to work while Rhett and Ryder are sleeping (if their naps overlap), so that is very helpful!
Do you have any personal space/time for yourself?
During the week, not really, with the exception of the hour or two I have to myself/with Ryan after all the boys are in bed. (I usually spend this time catching up with Ryan, straightening up around the house and/or reading.) I don’t see this as very different from many moms out there, though. About three times a week, I also try to work out in our garage for 30 minutes or so at 6 a.m. while Ryan takes care of the boys before his work day begins.
On the weekends, Ryan will often take Chase off on some kind of a father-son adventure (fishing, the park, walks, etc.) during Ryder’s nap time. (Ryder will go, too, if he skips a nap which he does on occasion these days.) This frees up a couple of hours for me on the weekend which I use to work while Rhett (hopefully) sleeps. It’s not exactly “personal” time but it is a bit of a break from all three kids and gives me some much-needed work time which is crucial for keeping this blog afloat in this phase of life.
Is Ryder regressing at all? Middle child syndrome type stuff?
Not really. I haven’t see any regression, but I do see a lot of big emotions, a lot of “NO!” and some neediness but I attribute that more to his age (2.5 years) than his new role as big brother/middle sibling.
How do you go on walks with all three?
It varies but usually our walks include Chase and Ryder in their Power Wheels Jeep and Rhett in the baby carrier. Chase will also ride his bike and Ryder will sometimes ride his new bike or drive the Jeep himself but having both boys in the Jeep is preferred for me since it makes it easier to manage when everyone is closer together.
What is it like when you’re home alone with all three?
It’s LOUD. There are toys everywhere. We try to get outside as much as possible.
I’ve learned to let go of my desire to accomplish absolutely anything productive when I have all three kids at home with me and everyone is awake. This realization helped immensely with my patience since I’ve noticed that my impatient/angry mom moments happen most often when I want to be accomplishing something and I feel like I can’t because of my kids. When I take a moment to remind myself that being a mom and being present with my kids is my #1 priority above everything, I can often take a deep breath and find some calm in the craziness.
I share all of the above in one breath, but please also know that there are absolutely days when I find myself looking at the clock over and over again waiting for naptime to arrive so I can get something done other than kid stuff.
What are some new things you’ve used for Rhett that you didn’t use for Chase or Ryder that you would recommend?
I’ll absolutely share more about this in an upcoming post since I’d like to give a more detailed review of the items we’re loving this time around. Stay tuned!
How is Sadie handling another baby?
We joke that bringing home another baby is a non-event for Sadie at this point. For Sadie, the toughest adjustment was when we went from 0 – 1 child. She really struggled with understanding that time on the floor with baby Chase didn’t always mean play time for her since floor time used to exclusively be Sadie play time. She also had a hard time learning that our high-pitched baby voices for Chase weren’t for her either since we often talked to her in a similar way. She now knows the drill and just rolls with the punches like a little champ. She loves to snuggle up to me and Ryan any chance she gets and is my best breastfeeding buddy!
Aaand that’s it! I tried my best to answer all of the questions you sent my way about the transition from 2-3 kids via blog comments, Instagram and email. Please let me know if there’s anything I missed that you’d like to see addressed and I’ll do my best to reply in the comments section or even with a follow up post if there’s a lot I missed!