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.