Thanks to Jordan for sharing her story with us of having three children - all beautiful, creative little girls! She is such a great writer, I teared up reading parts of this, as she made it seem so possible to have more than two kids, and yet that it's no walk in the park. Love honest moms!
In this new series on the blog this summer, I am featuring moms with more than two children, how those with a bigger family do the day-to-day mommy stuff. Enjoy!
All photos from Jordan McVeigh
1. How many children do you have, and what are the age span between them? Sharing their names is optional.
I have three girls. Luca is 4, Arie is 3 and Elliot is 4 months. The age span between Luca and Arie is about 18 months.
I always knew I wanted more than one baby. After Luca was born I was surprised how strong my desire to be pregnant again was. I never went on birth control and we let it just happen when it was "meant to happen".
After Arie was born I had a huge sense of completion. Austin (my husband) was deployed and didn't return until she was between 4 and 5 months old. When people asked me if I wanted more my response was always no. I didn't think I had any more of myself to give. So to answer that question.. I never knew I wanted 3 kids until I had three kids. Austin had returned from another deployment and whoops... pregnant!
The best part for having three (so far) is seeing how perfectly they all fit together. Seeing Arie become a big sister and seeing her growth has been amazing to witness. They all come together like pieces of a puzzle and Elliot was definitely the missing piece.
Some of the challenges I find is being able to manage my patience level. When Luca is asking me millions of questions and Arie is whining and the baby is crying... or when I'm trying to nurse and Luca and Arie are fighting I really have to channel inner peace because I feel like my head is going to explode. Ha! But together we are working on managing this better.
Another challenge is just day to day activities. I don't have a babysitter so the kids come with me everywhere. Food shopping is a trip! And they love watching me get my eyebrows waxed!
Another challenge is the fighting between Luca and Arie. I am preparing myself for when Elliot is old enough to join in. I think it's wishful thinking that they will grow out of it.
6. Would you have any more? Why or why not?
This is a great question because I thought I would say no. Since Elliot was a wonderful surprise I figured we were done. But as I sit here and type this with her sitting on my lap I feel like I could have another. What it really comes down to is money. Sad but true. Austin and I love to travel and on top of that, being a military family we always have to travel to see family. It's just too expensive. Not to mention colleges and weddings!
7. What was it like going from 1 to 2, 2 to 3? Give us examples of what was harder or easier than the previous transition. Give us a 1-3 words to describe each addition of a child.
Going from 1 to 2 was easier than I expected. But when I take a minute to think back, I don't think I thought too much about this. I just took it on. Like I said, Austin was deployed so I just embraced it. I think what made it easier was I was still in "baby mode". Still tired, still working through my first-time-mommy-fears, and still giving every part of myself to them.
While I was pregnant with #3, I imagined going from 2 to 3 to be a bit more challenging. I was just getting back to "me" and I was very selfish with this new freedom. Luca was a very challenging baby when it came to eating and Arie never slept. When I found out I was pregnant these challenges were finally working themselves out. My only thought was... what challenge will this baby bring?
But surprisingly the transition was a breeze. She fits right in! The house is loud and we are always out the door and she just takes it all in with a smile.
1-3 words for addition of each child-
Luca- blissful, naive, quiet
Arie- busy, juggling, humorous
Elliot-relaxed, loud, non stop
8. How did you know you wanted a third one? When did you know the timing was right?
I have come to realize (for me) there was no perfect timing. I have relinquished all control of my ideal life to the military. Austin's schedule, moving, deployments and so on make it very difficult to plan anything. Our wedding was squeezed into a weekend between trainings. Honeymoon? What honeymoon? I've stopped thinking so hard and started living. Knowing I'd be taking a lot on myself.
I never knew the timing was right. I just told myself not to be a "planner". I knew I wanted to start a family after we had been married for 3 years. I was just ready. I guess my "clock was ticking". I was 29 and I when I looked back at my life I was fulfilled. I had checked everything off my pre-baby bucket list. After the first baby, I let the chips fall where they may. Who knows if there will be a number 4. Maybe...
9. What do you think most people don't understand or perhaps even judge about the size of your family?
I don't really know what people think about my three.
But I do hear a lot "wow, you have your hands full". I just smile. I do. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
10. What do you wish you could say to those people who seem to not understand your family?
The only thing I ever want to say to those who seem "put out" by my walking tornadoes is, get over it. In the grand scheme of things, this isn't so bad. They are learning to be functional human beings but that takes time. Have patience people!
11. What is a typical day like for your family?
We get up and get going around 7:00/7:30. If Austin is around in the morning he will get breakfast for the girls while I nurse Elliot. I work from home so I will do some work while I drink my coffee. The girls will clean up their toys that managed to explode all over the house while I am in the shower. Elliot sits in a bouncer outside the shower (on a good morning she sits happily cooing).
The girls dress themselves which is always a pleasant display of mismatched chaos. We all manage to get out of the house for a morning playdate. We try to have have one every day. Sometimes we have lunch out or we come home for lunch. The girls no longer nap (humph) so after lunch we will run our errands or take a walk to the park across the street. Sometimes we do a craft or the girls just free play while a do some more work. Dinner is between 5 and 6. Bed is between 7 and 8. If Austin gets home at a good time and all goes well we try to make it to the beach after dinner.
12. How do you keep your family and life in order, organized? How do you keep track of everyone's needs, play dates, doctors visits, etc.? Or does all of that go out the window with a bigger family?
I feel like I am well organized. Ha! I'm sure people say otherwise. I live by my calendar. I have to write it down or it will be forgotten. Time management has been much easier than I expected.
Things for myself tend to get pushed out further than I want. I need to make a dentist appointment. My hair needs a trim and my eyebrows need a wax. But Elliot is in a dry diaper. Luca ate a snack and Arie isn't whining. It's a win!!
13. Do you work at home as a mom, or outside the home in another job? How does this make it harder or easier to care for the number of kids you have?
I am an independent consultant and I work from home. I love my job. I pepper it in throughout the day. Very thankful my friend introduced me to it. I always knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom. This helps me do that.
(Check out Jordan's Rodan + Fields Dermatologists Independent Consultant skincare adventure! www.facebook.com/pages/Jordan-Saire-Rodan-Fields-Dermatologists/115017105352883)
14. Have you changed as a mom from having the first to the second, third, etc. children? In which ways, positive or negative?
I have certainly changed from being a mother of one to a mother of three. Being a first time mother is a mix of complete bliss and absolute fear. I was learning. The house was quiet, all my attention was on the baby, everything was scheduled out. Everything was looked into and analyzed.
By number two I become more confident in my decisions and daily plan.
By three, I feel experienced. I still question myself, but there is no fear behind it. I am comfortable knowing I don't know everything. And I am always learning from other mothers. There is no "one way" to do things. Having digested this concept I have gained some freedom.
I think some negative changes I have faced is simply being able to devote 100% of me to each child. The first baby got that 100%. Second it was 50/50.. now the balance is always an imbalance. I guess there is comfort in that realization. Knowing each day brings different needs and challenges and I have to just take it as it comes. My time is now given to whomever needs it at the given time. Thankfully my older girls are learning patience.
15. What are your go-to :
a) meals: a chicken dish with rice or pasta and a salad.
b) bath routines: every other night or every night if needed, after dinner. The girls take a bath together. They play for a bit before getting washed up.
c) bed time routine: The big girls share room. After bath, brush teeth, read 1-3 books. Fishtank light on. Music on. Fan on.
d) rules in the house: if you fight over it, it gets taken away. If you are hurtful and mean, you go to timeout. If you don't listen you go to timeout. It's okay to get mad but use your words not your hands. Share. Respect. No whining (wishful thinking). Be thankful and greatful. Compliment each other and praise one another.
e) method for getting them in the car: they are very good about this. When it's time to leave they know it's time to go. I start the process an hour or so before by telling them "the plan". They will start cleaning up. 30 mins before departure they start putting shoes on. This all takes place with lots of "reminders".
f) suggestions for outings with the kids: we love playgrounds, library storytime and activities, Barnes and Noble story time, Michael's craft day, the beach, and going to lunch. We LOVE playdates and are a part of various play groups in the community. I highly recommend getting involved in a group. You will meet some amazing mothers.
16. How has having this many children impacted your relationship with your partner? Does it make you stronger in some ways?
Austin and I are in a great parenting groove. I think because he was here for the whole pregnancy and birth, he was able to find his role. With the other two I was already set into a routine and I think he was never quite sure where to step in. Now that the bigger girls are older he feels more confident taking them out on his own. This has been awesome. He has taken on the bedtime routine too which is amazing!
Honestly, what has impacted our relationship the most, is giving Austin everything he needs and vise versa. This has been a struggle for me ever since we started our family. This is something we work on every day. I know each year that passes brings us back together.
The fact of the matter is, we are a family now and we will never have that one on one attention we had in those first childless years of marriage. No one tells you this. But your relationship changes and molds and grows. Ours has become stronger.
We have very different parenting styles so we are always challenging eachother. Seeing him father our girls makes my heart swell. I consider myself lucky.
This craziness with three young girls is just a blip in time. We will always be faced with new challenges and they will always test us. I think we would be bored otherwise.
17. What is your advice to a mom considering having her third, fourth, fifth, etc. child?
My advice would be to take it as it comes. You can't control everything. Be open and honest with yourself. There is NO perfect mother. NO perfect child and NO perfect family. Find what works for you and your spouse/significant other and be confident with that.
To the mothers out there... You are all beautiful. Love openly without fear and regret. Give yourself honestly and purely. Your children are watching you in the way you live your life. It's ok to make mistakes, show them how you change for the better after making them. Push yourself and them to try new things. And cuddle every day!