How to survive three under three

I have three babes, all under three years old. I get a lot of comments like, “you are brave,” or “how do you do it?!,” or “I could never handle that.” It always puzzles me, because it really isn’t all that impossible. And “brave” is certainly not a word I would use to describe raising babies. Anne Frank was brave. Joan of Arc was brave. Martin Luther King, Jr. was brave. I’m just a woman with a lot of mysterious substances on my shirt and pants.

Without further ado, here are my tips on surviving three under three

1) Get a baby carrier that suits you. Personally, I love the Ergo. It is expensive, but it is quick and easy to slip on and it is better for the baby’s hips than the Baby Bjorn apparently? The only thing is, sometimes they get frustrated not being able to see. Bonus points if you can nurse while wearing it. I thought the Moby was impossible to get on, but if you prefer wraps, I’ve heard the Solly is excellent. Using a stroller for the toddlers and Ergo for the baby has worked great for us when we leave the house.

2) Get yourself a double stroller. Our city mini has been so good to us. It is tandem, but it fits easily through doors. It is lacking in cup holders and storage places, however. Quick tangent. If you see a mom with a stroller heading toward a closed door, FOR GOD’S SAKE HOLD IT OPEN FOR HER! I can’t tell you how many times people have idly watched me fight an epic battle between a door and my stroller without any inclination of assisting me.

3) Put the older two on the same schedule! This is pivotal. They wake up at the same time, eat the same thing at the same time (do not start feeding them different things per their requests because that will drive you crazy), nap at the same time, bathe at the same time, go to bed at the same time.

4) Delegate. Let your husband know that you will be needing his help for a little while so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Have a meeting with him and figure out some duties that he can fulfill. For example, my husband is in charge of grocery shopping, bathing the older girls and putting them to bed. This helps me out enormously.

5) Enclose a little room or play space for the older ones to play in while you are nursing or bottle feeding the baby. That way you can keep an eye on them and don’t have to toss the infant when if you hear one of the older ones in distress or discomfort.

6) Have a place handy in each main area where you can safely place the baby if you are suddenly needed elsewhere. I keep a pack n play downstairs and a bassinet in our room, just in case. Make sure it is somewhere out of reach of the older ones, who are well meaning but not exactly qualified in infant care.

7) Don’t rush potty training the older ones if they are not ready. It will end up frustrating the heck out of both of you. I have Amazon mom deliver all of our diapers and wipes. It is the cheapest and easiest option.

8) Coordinate pediatrician appointments. If two or more of them have a well visit in the same month, just have them do it in the same appointment.

9) Have date nights with your husband. It is really easy to let the marriage fall by the wayside when you are super busy with all the littles. Make it a priority. Your children will thank you later.

10) Keep them all in cribs as long as you can. That way, you know exactly where they are at night and during nap times. One less thing to worry about. I tell my kids: you don’t have to sleep, but you need to have quiet time. I put some books in their cribs so that they have a quiet activity to do if they aren’t sleepy.

11) I do try to limit screen time as much as possible, but I have been known to put on a Disney movie and put out some snacks so that I can cook dinner. It is pretty impossible to cook and have two toddlers hanging on me and running around all of the dangerous kitchen items.

12) Make sure to bring changes of clothes and plenty of snacks with you wherever you go. Whenever a meltdown begins, stuff that little face with snacks.

13) If you are breastfeeding, get a nursing cover that you like and feed that baby wherever you may be. The toddlers are going to need to leave the house every once in a while, and you should be able to feed the babe while watching the other two. Ain’t no shame in that game. If you are adamant about not using nursing covers, then don’t use them. I have been known to use just a baby sun hat myself, but that is about as exhibitionist as I’ve gotten (so far. I’m sure the more children I have, the less I’m going to care.)

14) Get the biggest diaper bag you can find. One with an organizer inside of it would be invaluable. A pack mule would be even better, if you can find one.

15) You are going to fall behind on housework. Don’t stress about it. Hire a house cleaning service, if you can. Even just having one come once a month makes a big difference. If a cleaning service isn’t an option, take advantage of those coordinated nap times and bed times to do what you can. My mom gave me a Roomba for my birthday and let me tell you, that is the best gift ever. I run it once a week to keep all my floors clean.

16) Drive throughs are your friend. I use drive throughs for banking, food, and dry cleaning. Dry cleaning I use all the time especially because I just don’t have time to iron all of my husband’s work clothes. And dry cleaning your shirts is surprisingly affordable. Also, check your local grocery store to see if they will let you order groceries ahead of time and then bring them out to your car for you. Sometimes they do.

17) If you are at a crowded family event or play date with friends, DO NOT ASSUME SOMEONE IS WATCHING YOUR CHILDREN. Especially in places with pools or any kind of body of water. Always keep tabs on where your children are and who is in charge of watching them. In crowded situations, people tend to assume that out of all the adults present someone must be watching the children, but sadly this is not always the case.

18) Pick restaurants that are kid-friendly and will serve your food promptly. Make sure there is an area where a toddler can stretch his legs, if need be.

19) If you have a play date in an unfamiliar place, take another adult with you. When in doubt, always bring the stroller.

20) You will forget when the baby last ate and wonder how long she has been napping. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

21) If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, do not panic. It is completely normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed when you have little ones. Reach out to your husband or a close friend and tell them how you are feeling. Don’t be too proud to accept offers of assistance. Heck, feel free to email me if you are in need of some support and encouragement. I’ve been there; I know how it can be. These hectic days will pass and you will look back on them fondly, I promise. Enjoy those babies because it really does fly by.

These are my survival tips. Of course, I have only had three under three for five months. Can any of you mommy veterans think of anything I’ve missed?20140616-210341-75821433.jpg


About sylcell

Wife, mom of four girls, Catholic, insatiable sweet tooth
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13 Responses to How to survive three under three

  1. VillageMomma says:

    We had three 3 and under for 6 months (all in diapers) and will soon have four 4 and under for four months. YIKES. So happy to find your blog. I can so relate to you and all the other commenters! Whew–I am not alone.

    One thing that we have found to work really well for most days is to wear new clothes to bed forgoing pjs so that it is just one less thing to do in the morning. Really what are jammies other than comfy clothes anyways. Cuts down on time and laundry.


  2. Michelle says:

    Great tips! I have 8 kids ages 14-2, and for a long time, I had only littles and no helpers. I think you nailed the most important aspects of managing such a hectic time of life. One I would add is to not rush into solid foods for the baby. They don’t need it for nutrition, and it unnecessarily adds to a mama’s load of work. I had a few kiddos who skipped the mush and went right to table food at 7/8 months or so. Much easier!


    • sylcell says:

      I was seriously considering this with my third. Thanks for giving me the reassurance I needed! Nursing is WAY easier (and cheaper) then going through the hassle of solids from four months on

      Liked by 1 person

      • morgan says:

        Do what feels right!
        We started with our first with mashed vegetables when he was almost 6 months old and it went just fine – until he was 8 months old and started bashing the spoon away until we shared our food with him (it was a challenge cooking, because he still didn’t have a single tooth). Our second already had 2 teeth when she was 6 months old and wasn’t too enthusiastic with mashed vegetables, she practically skipped that phase and directly went on to solid food.
        No. 3 downright refused anything that didn’t come from our plates and the other two weren’t very helpful there (“Mama, I shared my nutella sandwich with [little brother]!” – “Wait. WHAT? He’s 8 months old and doesn’t have a single tooth, how should he eat that?!?” He managed to eat it… and the next time someone had a nutella sandwich he threw his own cream-cheese sandwich at my head. repeatedly.)
        So, once more I had to come up with recipes for dishes an 8 month old without teeth can eat easily. This time with the added challenge that it has to be stuff the other ones wouldn’t refuse… 😉
        Until the age of 1 they all three agreed that the dessert (breast milk) was the best course ever 😉

        Maybe I could’ve tried harder with mash, but with the other kid(s) around, eating time always is a challenge in itself – as you might have noticed at some point down the road ;-), so it was just a hell lot easier that way.


  3. Melissa says:

    Also, great trick my mom came up with: having a gallon ziplock bag dedicated to snacks and another one just for diapering needs in the diaper bag. That way instead of offering snack after snack to no avail or instead of searching and searching for that last juice box, you just pull out the ziploc and ask them to point to what they would like. Also makes it nice for changing a diaper if you’re out with your husband you can leave behind the rest of the goods and just take the diapering stuff with you to the restroom.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Melissa says:

    Love your list! Starting with the baby carrier and double stroller is so spot on when you have three under three, we have a Bob and the swivel wheel in the front and awesome tires make all the difference, especially living in a city, with snow. I have a baby k’tan carrier and it’s so great, I wish I would have discovered it sooner!

    You’re doing great! And on those days when you’re having a hard time know that it will be easier, the day will come when everyone sleeps through the night, and packing to leave the house will not be like packing a suit case! (Literally we went through a phase were our diaper bag was actually a small luggage bag). My babies are 3, 2 and 1 right now and my new favorite diaper bag is a canvas tote that I stuff some diapers and snacks in and we’re off to the park! (Great thing about the tote is I just stick it in the washer when it’s gross, so I’m not walking around with dried banana or whatever I couldn’t get out of the pockets of the diaper bag)…

    Just keep enjoying every phase, because really every phase of three in a row has so much that is great about it.


  5. Kimberly Johnston says:

    Appreciate the tips. We are going to have Irish Twins by the end of 2014 and the logistics of how to care for them are overwhelming to imagine. It gives me hope to know you handle more than I will have to!


  6. morgan says:

    have been laughing 😀 had 3 kids under 3 for two months (with no #1 and #2 already half the day in kindergarten / child care / whatever you call it), but many of these things are just the same. especially that “toss the infant” – it still happens like all the time. occupy yourself with one kid and all hell will break loose…

    for no. 14) I converted my extra-big office backpack (36liters of room) where I usually stuff at least two notebooks plus books and stuff into a diaper bag, because I couldn’t find any diaper bag with enough compartements to keep at least some of the stuff under control, knowing that I only have to open *that* zipper and I’ll find *this stuff* there is extremely helpful.

    for no 11) It was a blessing when our kids got a toy kitchen and we put it right next to “ours”. They love to cook in it every time I need to prepare dinner or lunch… That keeps them out of my way, too. The bigger ones (now 4 and almost 3 yrs old) also love to help me. I try to give them tasks that aren’t too dangerous (washing vegetables, slicing them, stirring pots, opening pasta packages and so on) and plan a lot more time for cooking.

    my no. 21 is: do not lock yourself into the toilet at home. in fact, forget about privacy and do not even close that door. dooms day is just around the corner and the world starts to end as soon as you take a seat. so you’ll be out of the room so much faster if the door isn’t closed PLUS your little ones will follow you to the bathroom anyway so you can keep an eye on them and entertain them by asking their 1000 questions (like “are you a girl or a boy?… why?… do you have a penis?… why?”, “do you pee or make poo now? what color? how many?”…)


    • sylcell says:

      Thanks for the advice on dinner! I have been struggling with that ever since no. 3 was born. And the bathroom thing is so true! I was going to put that in but forgot! Mama brain strikes again.


  7. I currently have 3 under 2 and a 4 yr old.
    I have a 16 day old one has just had his first birthday the other is 2 next month.
    We have just done our first family outing. Hubby and I baby wearing . I wrap he had a mei tai one in a pushchair the oldest walking. Within an hour I wanted to run and hide not because of my children but the stares, the rude comments, the omg are you mental comments left me replying, if 3 under 3 makes me mental but I don’t care,
    are they screaming? No
    Are they misbehaving? No
    Are they nosisy? No
    Where they planned? No
    Will we have more? Hell yea when the time is right!!
    Now shut up and keep your thoughts to yourself!!
    I agree to routine its defo helped the 2 middle ones.
    Baby wearing rocks too! Love the constant cuddles and yes baby bjorns can cause hip dysplasia in young ones.
    Excuse rushed comment on a mobile and I hate it!


  8. Cayla says:

    I just recently started following your blog after someone posted your ‘to the lady being ashamed…’ post on facebook and I love reading your thoughts!! Especially the one about holding a door for a lady with a stroller! I only have one so far and I’m always amazed how people seem to not notice me struggling with the door. Keep up the good work! Blessings on your day! =)


  9. As a fellow mommy of three under three and soon to be four under four, the only thing I would add is if your tired/had a rough night sleep when they are napping/resting. Cleaning is good, but the mess well still be there. Nothing worse than a tired Momma!

    Liked by 1 person

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