The 3 Biggest Challenges of 3 Under 3

DS turned two on Sunday, so we’re officially out of the 2 under 2 AND 3 under 3 camp (and now we’re just in the 3 under 3 camp)! We have two 2-year-olds and a 7-week-old, so I thought this would be a good time to write this post since we’re in the thick of it and honestly, life feels HARD right now. Every day is a new challenge with three under three, but here are the top three things that I find to be difficult:

  1. Pure Exhaustion. This one is really, really hard, especially during those first six weeks at home with a newborn. You’re recovering from a physically challenging 9 months, which ended in labor and delivery. Your newborn, of course, is waking up multiple times a night. You expected that. But what you didn’t expect is TODDLER SLEEP REGRESSION. A new baby is a big transition for older siblings, and both of my “big kids”—who were awesome 7p-7a sleepers—started waking up in the middle of the night AND super early in the morning. Then they both got sick and literal poop hit the fan. Everyone in our house was beat tired for several weeks. On top of the lack of sleep is the fact that you’re spending your days chasing after toddlers, instead of resting quietly on the couch with your new baby. My advice? Invest in a Keurig.
  2. Constant needs (and neediness) of children. This one will drain you dry if you don’t make sure to take care of yourself. Again, when they’re sick the neediness is almost more than you can take (and some days it is and you have to turn the TV on and pile everyone on top of you on the couch so that you’re simultaneously able to hold three crying children at once). We have three kids in diapers still, so that’s one area of neediness. Then there are three small mouths to feed, three sleepy kiddos to put to bed, three stinky kiddos to bathe, three times the laundry to wash & fold & put away…the list goes on. On top of all that is the fact that you’ve got two kids around the age of two, so tantrums and meltdowns are no joke. So. Much. Crying. I often feel like I’m playing that Whack-a-Mole game, the one where you knock one mole (child’s need) back under ground, only to have a new mole (child’s need) pop up somewhere else.
  3. Leaving the house. Three kids—who hate their car seats—to buckle into car seats. An infant to carry around, and two walking toddlers to corral. Three times the stuff to carry in the diaper bag (I actually have two diapers bags that I bring with me now—a big one for the car and a small one that comes everywhere with me). Leaving the house is both mentally challenging and physically challenging. Three small people + all of their things to move from point A to point B makes it physically challenging. It’s mentally challenging because you only have one hand free to grab hold of a toddler, but you have two toddlers who may suddenly make a break for it. For now I’ve found the best ways to deal with these challenges is either to keep the baby in a front carrier (ideal because then you have one hand free per toddler) and/or to teach your toddlers to hold hands. Also, invest in a stroller that can carry three children, such as the Uppababy Vista, the CitySelect or the Joovy Qool. Joovy also makes The Big Caboose, but I’ve heard it’s not as easy to maneuver (which you want to be able to do easily with three under three).

Moms who have had three under three, did I miss anything? For those of you who might be preparing for three under three, what questions do you have? In case this post seemed less than cheerful, I should note that my next post will be about the three BEST things about having 3 under 3. 🙂

Our Daily Schedule with Three Under Three

I have a 6-week-old, a 23-month-old and a 2.5-year-old.  I’ll be honest: I’m exhausted, so much so that I had a hard time recalling what my day yesterday even looked like (I’ve been trying to reflect back on my days in order to write this post).  Every day DEFINITELY has new challenges, but what I’ve found to be nice about three under three is that life is more orderly than it was with my first two.  We have our routines in place, and the new baby is fitting in to what we already do rather than dictating a new way of life.  So here’s a loose schedule for our days:

12:30am: Nurse baby

4am: Nurse baby

7am: 3 kids get up (I wake the baby up if she’s still sleeping so she’ll move towards being on the same schedule as her siblings); milk for toddlers and nursing for baby. 1 hour of TV (during which time I have my daily prayer time).

8/8:30a: Breakfast—when I do daily prayer time with the kids—followed by cleaning up the kitchen.  Big kids play independently during this time, and the baby either sits in her bouncy chair or I carry her in my Tula.

9a-12p: “Big” kids have preschool 2 days a week.

> On preschool days I used this time to snuggle with the baby, to rest, to read and to write.

> On non-preschool days the cleaning of the kitchen extends to other rooms of the house.  Laundry is put on to wash and clutter is organized.  Then the big kids and I have our “special time” together, when I paint, draw, read, play, etc with them.  If it weren’t so stinkin’ cold where we live, this is the time we’d play outside.

10a: Nurse baby.

12/12:30p: Lunch time followed by another kitchen clean up.

1p-3:30p: Naptime/rest time.  The kids nap anywhere from one hour to two and a half hours (unless they’re sick I don’t let them sleep beyond 3:30p as it messes up bedtime).  When they wake up we either play quietly together or they get another 30min-1 hour of TV (honestly, it’s mainly TV right now since I’m pretty tired).

1p: (As soon as older kids are asleep) Nurse baby. After nursing I either sleep, read or write. I also have a special “afternoon pick-me-up”: a decaf Starbucks k-cup and a piece or two of chocolate. Even Mama needs a treat now and then 😉

3:30p: Teatime.  This is when the kids and I sit down together at the table for an afternoon snack—it’s usually a treat like chocolate milk, a cookie or fruit, etc.  I try to read a special book to them—more literary or “grown up” than the board books we usually read—or we do our prayer time and read from our Bible if we didn’t get to it in the morning (school days are rushed and it can be hard to fit in morning prayers).

4p: Nurse baby. The big kids play independently and I do chores and prepare dinner.

5:30p: Gather around the table for a sit-down dinner.

6p: Bath time, PJs and cuddle/read.

6:45p/7p: Brush teeth, read nightly prayer book, and go to bed.

7p: Nurse baby.  Husband and I have our quality time, usually reading together.

8p: Shower and get ready for bed.

8:30p: Wake baby for “dream feed”.

9p: Aim to be in bed with the lights out at this time.

Like I said, this is a very loose schedule.  The baby often likes to cluster feed in the evenings, so the times I listed often change.  My big kids were sick last week so have been waking up extra early in the morning.  But this does represent the general flow to our days—what we aim for—as well as how we prioritize our activities.

What do your days at home with little ones look like?

Goal Setting for Busy Moms: Moving Beyond “Survival Mode” in 2018

In my last post I talked about my plans for the New Year. I’ll be starting out 2018 as a Mama of two under two AND three under three, so in many ways just surviving seems like a sufficient resolution. But the prospect of a whole year of simply surviving felt a little depressing to me, so I decided to pause and think (and pray) about what would make this a meaningful year for me as a mama, a wife and a woman. Here’s my 4-step process for how I’m creating my purpose and tracking my progress this year:

START WITH: A Big Picture Resolution.  For me it is Col 3:14-17, which I came to during my Bible study time after praying for guidance (this is my guiding principle for the year): “Put on love…and let the peace of Christ control [my] heart. And be thankful…do[ing] everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Col 3:14-17).

FROM THERE, I BRAINSTORMED: I came up with my Big Dreams for 2018 by asked myself, “With Col 3:14-17 as my guiding principle, when I’m at this point in my life next year, what will I [and most importantly God] have liked to have accomplished?). Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Daily Prayer time & spiritual growth (focusing on joy and patience)
  2. Improved spending habits and a less materialistic heart
  3. Create a Family Culture
    • Intentional faith education for my kids
    • Modeling Christ’s love for my kids (1 John 3:16)
    • More intentional, less distracted quality time with my kids
    • Improved boundaries and discipline for my kids
    • Daily home care and lifestyle routines
  4. Become a more engaged, disciplined blogger
  5. Finish my novel
  6. Develop healthy & consistent exercise routine
  7. Monthly goal setting and reflection: Set new goals at the beginning of each month with the aim of taking daily meaningful steps towards my Big Dreams. Reflect at the end of each month on how well I did in meeting my goals.

NEXT, I TURNED THE BRAINSTORM INTO MONTHLY GOALS:  I am taking this one month at a time, so have only done in-depth goal setting for January.  The reason for taking this one month at a time is because I want to reflect on my progress at the end of each month, and from there set new goals. For the month of January I asked myself: what can I reasonably expect to accomplish in order to take steps towards my Big Dreams? Here’s what I came up with:

January: Establish and stick to daily prayer & home care routines while adjusting to life with a newborn, a one-year-old and a two-year-old.

  1. Daily: “Discovery Prayer Process”/Bible Study + Rosary
  2. Daily: 1 chapter (or section) a night of a soul-strengthening book (Currently I’m reading The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson and love it!).
  3. Daily: Bedtime Dynamic Catholic prayer process
  4. Daily: 15 minutes (minimum) of blogging
  5. Daily: Wash, dry & fold 1 load of laundry
  6. Daily: Run the dishwasher at least once (if not twice)
  7. 3x a week: Breakfast Bible reading with kids
  8. 5x a week: Afternoon “tea time” + reading time with kids (Start with Bible if we didn’t do it at breakfast)
  9. 1x a week (preferably more): Take a walk (this is difficult with winter temperatures in the single digits)

I also jotted down some future goals I have so I don’t forget them:

February: Buy & read “Our 24 Family Ways: A Family Devotional Guide” by Clay Clarkson; Start BBG postpartum program; buy large white board for book outlining; maintain and expand upon daily routines; give up online shopping (i.e. don’t even set eyes on Amazon or other online stores) for Lent

March: Implement “24 Family Ways” devotional in our daily routine

June: Buy PowerSheets planner & start using

December: Jesse Tree with kids (for Advent)

FINALLY, I BROKE MONTHLY GOALS INTO DAILY TASKS: Looking at the week ahead, I asked myself what small tasks could I accomplish each day to move me towards my monthly goals.  It’s helpful to have a basic planner for this process (see below for how I wrote out my plan for today):

Monday, January 8th: Prayer time & rosary in the morning after settled in at the hospital for my induction (including soul-strengthening book reading); Publish blog post (morning); Start working on next weeks blog post; Dynamic Catholic Prayer process before going to sleep (post-birth)

I did this for each day of the week, then went back though my calendar and made sure I was meeting my monthly goals (eg. daily prayer time, number of Bible lessons for the kids I wanted to do each week, etc.)

A big change for me this year (a goal in itself) is to check in and reflect upon my progress, and to always be taking small steps towards big goals. I’m going to make my first blog post of each month this year a reflection on my progress towards my goals from the previous month, and a plan for my goals in the upcoming month.

 

Are you doing anything special to hold yourself accountable to your resolutions this year?