Congratulations, you are expecting number three! This baby will be a game changer, tipping the scales so there are more children running around than arms available to hold them. And hang on a minute, you haven’t slept for about five years anyway, how the hell are you going to function when another sleep depriver appears in your life? Making the parenting transition from two to three children is a daunting experience (well, that’s parenthood in general!) so we consulted paediatrician Dr Tamara Bugembe on how to ease the pain for everyone as you get used to coping with another baby.
Here are a few survival tips that Tamara has gathered from the parents she sees in her practice who are coping with three or more babies.
Cut yourself some slack
The third child will take you to new realm of parenting chaos that you have never seen before. With the pressure of meeting the needs of three little humans, household chores, complicated meals and needy friends will get shoved to the side. Do not overstretch yourself. Rewrite your perspective on what matters and carefully pick your battles. Accept that your house will never be pristine, nor will you be able to reply to everyone’s texts. As long as your children are thriving and happy, just glide over the hidden pieces of Lego, past the sock sticking out of the sofa and enjoy your wine.
Schedule Quality Time
It is easy to get caught up in the haze of meals, bath time, school runs and colds only to emerge a ten years later and wonder where all that time has gone. Make a conscious effort to spend quality time with each of your children, create memories and family rituals and take lots of pictures to document them (in case they dare to claim that they had a miserable childhood)!
Ask for help
Gather a team of helpers around you (family, friends, neighbours and even paid help) and agree on roles that everyone can play to help you. Do not neglect the small things people can do, like a two hour babysitting slot while you finally wash your hair or grab a power nap. It will improve your parenting ability in the long run! If your family and friends are reluctant, appeal to their competitive streak and hold a competition for the role of godparent.
Outsource and shop online
Children may be expensive, but stress costs us so much more. Outsource your cleaning and ironing, and order your groceries online. Dedicate the time that you have saved to pampering or recharging yourself. Not only will you have the satisfaction of crossing items off that to-do list, but you will feel energised as you do it.
Make consistency your friend
Borrow from Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs who are famous for the lack of variation in their wardrobes. Use consistency to free you up to focus on the big issues. Keep certain household tasks running on autopilot at the same day, time or location. Fuel up the car every Saturday (so there are no surprises midweek), turn on the dishwasher at midday every day regardless of how full it is, wash colours on Wednesdays and whites on Fridays. Keeping these tasks on a schedule also makes it easier to delegate them to anyone who offers to help.
Teach independence early
A great parenting tip is to use a sequence of visual cards or checklist to help your children dress themselves, pack their school bag and select a snack form the snack drawer. Visual cards are much easier than reading or remembering a list of things, and enables younger children who can’t read to participate. Don’t forget to incentivising and rewarding them for achieving independence.
- Dr Tamara Bugembe is a paediatrician and the founder of www.helperbees.co.uk, a company that provides specialist home help to families with babies aged 0-18 months.
Have you made the transition from two to three children? What did you find that helped, and what tips would you give to other mums in the same boat? Comment below or join the conversation on our Facebook page here.