My poor third baby– I really do love him every bit as much as my other two children, but my parenting game is not where it used to be. Sometime between my first baby and my third, my parenting style and habits changed. It’s not so much that I purposefully started doing things differently; it’s more that I simply stopped doing a lot of things the way I did with my first.
I’ve talked to other moms of three kids, and I know I’m not the only one. Something has to give when you have three kids, and these are some of those things.
9 Things Moms Stop Doing With the Third Kid:
1. Dressing him/her in actual clothes.
I loved picking out different outfits for my firstborn, even on those days when we didn’t leave the house, but my third baby practically lives in his pajamas. To be honest, I feel like I’m doing pretty well if he’s in PJs because half of the time he just sports a somewhat droopy diaper as he toddles around the house.
2. Leaving a detailed list for the baby sitter.
Emergency numbers, minute-by-minute instructions, and a detailed routine-– that’s the kind of list we made when we got a sitter for our firstborn. Nowadays, on those rare moments when my husband and I do go out, we practically run out of the door when the sitter gets to our house and yell back, “Just keep ’em all alive. We’ll be back later.”
3. Celebrating every milestone (in the same way).
It’s not that I don’t celebrate my third’s milestones; it’s just that all his milestones are quickly followed by panic. It’s “Yay” and clapping for a half a second and then more an, “Oh no!” as I think of what a mobile baby actually means-– little hands in the toilet, eating things out of the trash, pulling cereal boxes off the counter, and baby proofing every single thing in the house. I’m no longer naive to what that transition to toddlerhood looks like, so I hope my third baby can forgive me for pushing him back down when he pulled up on the furniture the first time. I’m kidding, but I can’t say I wasn’t tempted.
4. Googling every single thing.
As a new parent, I googled everything – all the time! With my third baby, I don’t have to Google nearly as much. I already know that it won’t hurt my baby if he eats cat food and things like that. Been there. Done that.
5. Keeping track of the number of hours slept.
When I had my first baby, I obsessed over how many (or few) hours of sleep I got at night, but when my second and third came along I stopped counting how much sleep I got-– it was too depressing with two or more kids waking up all through the night. All I know is, it never felt like enough.
6. Sanitizing everything.
I was terrified of germs with my first baby-– and they were everywhere – on the ground, on other kids that had the audacity to touch my baby – everywhere! I spent half my day sanitizing pacifiers and baby toys, but with my third baby – there’s no time for that! Plus, don’t germs build immunity? We do a lot of immunity building around here.
7. Worrying so much about naps.
I lived and died by how well my firstborn slept. We kept a strict schedule, and I was kind of ridiculous about it. Naps were everything, but I could not keep living my life like that with my third. Third babies must become experts at napping in the car or wherever! These days we go with the flow. His sleep schedule isn’t always ideal, but it beats being trapped in the house for days on end.
8. Making a cute baby album.
I literally have thousands of pictures of my firstborn, complete with a personalized baby album with tons of pictures and handwritten notes, but my third baby? Most of his pictures are on my phone or computer with the hope that one day they will make it into an album. It’s not that I don’t want to make him one, but with three kids, I’m just too busy. One day when I’m not busy I’ll make him that album, so maybe when he goes to college. That sounds about right.
9. Doing everything by the book.
I did everything by the book with my first baby. I was convinced if I just followed that book I would get him eating well and sleeping through the night and not crying so much. If he had a rough day, I was convinced it was something I did wrong. I glanced at that book a couple of times with my second, but completely threw it out by my third. Instead, I did what worked for me and what worked for my baby. I also treated him like a baby, instead of a problem to be solved.
Throwing out the book was one of the best things I’ve done as a parent. Third babies may not have cute baby albums. They may not always wear cute clothes or get good naps, but those third babies do have an advantage. By the time third babies (or any babies after that) come around, we parents are more comfortable with parenting. We’ve learned from our mistakes, and third babies reap the benefit of having seasoned, laid back parents who have learned a thing or two along the crazy ride that we call parenthood.