Friday, May 10, 2013

The Truth About Three

Ever since Stella was born, the most popular question people ask me is, "are you done?" Which I will not be addressing in this post.....sorry.

The SECOND most popular question is, "so what's three like?"

Usually I respond with something vague like "busy" or any word that closely resembles, depending on just how "busy" of a day it's been.

In an effort to keep it real, because you know that's how I roll, today I'm gonna lay it all out there for you. What our day looks like with three kids, things I've learned so far, and what the differences have been from 2 to 3. Keep in mind, my kids are young, I've only been at this 3 kid thing for 7 months now so my wisdom bank is pretty much empty. It may not be entertaining or informative, but I don't have anything else to write about right now so take what you can get and hopefully there will be a few cute pictures of the kids for you to enjoy.

Honestly, the jump from 2 to 3 was not as difficult as the transition from 1 to 2. Part of that may be because Annie as a newborn and Stella as a newborn were complete and polar opposites. Annie had reflux, was fussy all the time (although very laid back and happy when she wasn't refluxing...), was very resistant to a schedule, and was a very light/unpredictable napper. I think a lot of her newborn issues can be attributed to reflux because now she is my best sleeper and eater. And probably the happiest kid you've ever seen.

So after her, Stella has been a dream baby. She sleeps all the time and is a champion nurser. As long as she is in the same room with us, she is happy to be in a bouncy seat or jumper. This makes things a lot easier on me. Although I've talked to other moms with 3, and some say the transition from 2 to 3 was harder. What DOES seem to be consistent however, is that somewhere....whether its from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 kids, you're gonna have a come to Jesus moment (or month) as a mom. 

One thing that has been difficult for me about 3 kids however, is the lack of privacy. I don't get a lot of me time. Heck, I don't get any me time. I shower, get dressed, go to the bathroom, cook, clean, and everything else a person does in a day, with an audience of AT LEAST one child. Usually 2. Annie is absolutely always present. If Stella is awake then she is present too. Lucy is by my side if whatever I'm doing is interesting enough that she wants to help. My personality is definitely that of a loner, but I have learned to love my little companions. As long as I get a little alone time in at some point in the day, I'm good to go.

Not to use that vague word again, but having 3 truly is, busy. Just to give you a glimpse of what a completely and totally normal moment in the day can look like for me:

 One morning I was trying to get everyone bathed, groomed, and dressed for the day. I started the bath for Annie and Stella and went to tell Lucy to get in the shower while the babies bathed. She was on the toilet, dealing with...umm....something she deals with frequently, so I told her to come into my bathroom to shower whenever she finished. Meanwhile, Annie is wreaking havoc on the house and has every toy that we have ever owned out, open, on and spread throughout every room. I put Stella in the bath and washed her super quick because she was getting fussy and ready for her morning nap. I put her down for a nap then chased Annie around the house 6 times until I finally caught her and put her in the bath. I washed her and then let her stay in the bath and play so I could take a shower (RELAX. The bath and shower are right next to each other and I can see her so don't freak out and tell me I left my child unattended in the bathtub.) About 5 minutes into my gloriously hot shower, Annie starts screaming bloody murder that she wants to get out of the bath. I jump out (with the water still running) drain the tub, pull her out, dry her off, and slap a diaper on her. Then jump back in. Five minutes after that, Lucy comes in and says she's ready to shower. Not gonna lie.....I had kind of forgotten about her at that point. She then gets in with me and my hot shower is now lukewarm. And there's a kid in it with me. Finally I get out and get everyone dressed and glance at the clock. It's 10am. Yeah.....that was a long day.

But for every chaotic moment, there is a moment filled with love and peace. Not like, actual PEACE, because that would be a miracle....but my heart is at peace. The kids playing quietly together while I nurse Stella, or pushing all three of them on the swing. These moments keep me going, and are a great reminder that motherhood isn't all instant gratification. Raising children takes time and it's hard, messy work. Some moments will be ultimate fails and some moments I swear I hear angels singing in the background.

One thing I've learned about having 3, that I didn't learn with 2, is that I have to let some things go. Usually, this means the house. I love to clean. I was born to clean. I was raised to clean (just ask my  mom). But if you walked into my house right now you would swear we were auditioning for the next episode of Hoarders. I know I can't keep my house clean and my kids happy at the same time. So I opt for the latter. I've read several times in different places, that when your kids are young, the days are long but the years are short. I don't want to miss these years because I was mopping the floor. 

Recently Mark came home from work and the house was in complete chaos. We had been back and forth from playing outside and then back in, so there were shoes and tracks and toys everywhere. I hadn't started dinner yet, and I needed to nurse Stella. I usually try and have the house somewhat calm and collected when he comes home because I don't want him walking into chaos straight from work, so later that night I apologized for it being so crazy. He smiled and said, "Sweety, I don't care about the house. The kids were playing and you had a smile on your face and I could tell you weren't stressed and you had a good day. That's all I care about." He gives me more grace than I give myself. I think I'll keep him.

Since I'm very type A, I serve my family best if I have a plan. Because of this, we try to stick to a schedule. That does NOT mean that at 9:05 am we have a planned activity that ends promptly at 9:25 am. It does mean that I keep a general flow to our day so that my kids, and I, know what to expect next. We also have fairly strict bedtimes and naptimes (see below).

Another thing that keeps me sane, is I'm a sleep nazi. I honestly don't understand how people function when they have kids who don't sleep. SERIOUSLY. Sleep is huge for me. Maybe it's genetic, maybe it's because I started good sleep habits from birth, maybe it's because I prayed for good sleepers, but for whatever reason, all three of my kids are great sleepers for naps and at night. The only break I get is when the girls are all sleeping. I know this will change as they get older and stay up later and don't nap, but when they are this little and so dependent on me in the daily moments, I rely on nap and nighttime to recharge and rest. Because of this, I have all three girls take a nap in the afternoon. Even Lucy is required to lay down. Whether she sleeps or not is up to her :)

Along with sleep, I've realized that I need to get up early. This seems counterintuitive. But I am more rested, more patient, and more willing to serve my kids when I wake up before them and have some me time and some Jesus time. The mornings that I decide to sleep in and then hit the ground running because the kids wake me up, I'm cranky, snappy, and I get a lot less done. I didn't do this when it was just Lucy and Annie. But in order to juggle all three of them first thing in the morning I need to be fully awake. I am NOT a morning person, so it's not like I'm waking at the crack of dawn and scrubbing the house and making breakfast and putting on make up. I just need a good 30 minutes to wake up, drink my coffee, read my Bible, and spend some time alone. I'm hoping to learn to get up earlier and earlier so that I actually CAN get some of those aforementioned things done as well, but for now I'm proud of myself for those extra 30 minutes.

I'm not super mom. Most days all that gets checked off my list is feeding and bathing all three of them. I'm slowly learning to be okay with that. This is life with three girls born in 4 years. Its busy, chaotic, and absolutely beautiful. 


Kacy said...

I really appreciate this post! I learn so much from you in parenting. Prepare yourself for my Q&A emails coming soon! Any day now :)

Tori Kauffman said...

I've decided you should write a book. You know, in your spare time. ;-) I would read it over and over. Love you!