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Thursday, July 24, 2014

mom to 3 - Karen Wood

Thanks to Karen Wood for sharing her story as part of our summer series, Mom to 3 about having more than two babies around. Such a sweet looking family, with a hard working, organized and totally real (letting things go sometimes!) mama. Thanks, Karen!

All photos from Karen Wood

1. How many children do you have, and what are the age span between them? Sharing their names is optional.
I have three children. Isla is almost 3.5, Magnolia (Maggie) just turned 2 and Nolan is 4 weeks. The girls are 16 months apart and Nolan and Maggie are almost exactly 2 years apart. 

2. When did you know you wanted a larger family?
My mom is the oldest of 9, so having a big family was a given. I love big families and big gatherings. Seems strange when we only have like 15 people at a party!

3. Why did you want to have the number of kids you have?
I would have more than 3 if my husband was on board. I think four is a good number, however, with his job taking him away most of the week, it doesn't seem possible for me to do it alone.

4. What are the best parts about having this number of children?
Three kids is nice, especially having them close together in age.  The girls are already becoming great playmates and it will only be a matter of time before their little brother joins in.  I have two siblings and I loved always having someone around to play with when the other one was gone.  Right now it seems like a lot of work, but it will pay off in the end.

5. What are some challenges you face having this number of kids?
I am finding the afternoon/evening to be quite challenging. Running the show by myself and trying to do dinner, baths, and bedtime is really hard. I also really try to give the girls some "mama" time at bedtime as they are accustomed to with stories and snuggles, but attending to Nolan makes that hard and I feel as though I am short changing them sometimes.  

I also find leaving the house to be somewhere on time impossible. It takes us like 45 min to get all packed up and in the car. It seems like I have to remember a ton of stuff (water, snacks, bottles, sunscreen, baby carrier, etc!). Someone is usually crying or whining too which makes it extra fun!

6. Would you have anymore? Why or why not?
I don't think we would have more unless my husband got a new job or babies came out being 1 year old already! I don't know if I could do the newborn thing again (although I would probably change my mind once I am not so sleep deprived!)

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. 
0-1 Turned my world upside down! 1-2 Why did we have them so close?! 2-3 This isn't so bad!

8. How did you know you wanted a third one? When did you know the timing was right? 
Three has always been my number...maybe b/c I am one of three. It took some convincing on my husband's part but he came around.

9. What do you think most people don't understand or perhaps even judge about the size of your family?
Most people think it is too much work and that once you go for three or more you are outnumbered. Yes it is a lot of work, but once those early years are over and everyone is getting more sleep I don't think it is as hard as they think..  

I find it so funny when people comment on how "big" my family is. When did 3 kids become a large family?

10. What do you wish you could say to those people who seem to not understand your family?
My grandma came up with a good comeback when people would ask her if she "knew what caused having kids" or would comment "you have your hand really full!"  

She told me to tell them "better hands full then hands empty." She is happy now to have so many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren b/c they make her life so full.  

Those same people who used to criticize her choice for having nine kids are the ones telling her now how lucky she is to be surrounded by such a loving family.  

11. What is a typical day like for your family?
We always try to get out of the house after breakfast. We either go to the park, or play with friends, or swim. After lunch, everyone takes a nap (myself included!). After naps we have snack and play around the house or go for walk. We have a nice backyard so we try to be outside as much as possible. Once dinner is done, we do baths,, the girls get some ipad time so I can attend to the baby and then it's stories and bed. I am sure this routine will change as everyone gets a little older but it's what we do now.

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 am just extremely organized by nature. I am a clean freak and totally type A when it comes to a lot of things. It isn't uncommon for me to vacuum the house once everyone is down for the night. I do a lot of multi-tasking. I have had to let some things go, but I am a list maker and I feel so accomplished when I can clear things off that list. I put a lot of things on my phone too which helps.

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 worked as a high school math teacher through the first two pregnancies. It became pretty clear though that I wasn't going to be able to get the kids out of the house by myself and make it to school by 7:15. I am on year number 3 of 3 from my job. After next year I either have to go back or resign. I probably won't go back. Thankfully I can make money private math tutoring. I tutor a lot online and work one day a week at a private high school while my inlaws watch the kids. I love being a stay at home mom but I also love working one day a week. It keeps my brain sharp and gives me a break from the kids. 

14. Have you changed as a mom from having the first to the second, third, etc. children? In which ways, positive or negative?

I think I am a bit more relaxed now. I was a nervous wreck with my first. Now I realize that I can't make everyone happy all the time, so I just try my best without putting to much pressure on myself. 
15. What are your go-to : a) meals-anything from Trader Joes! b) bath routines-every night. Girls take bath together and Nolan is in his little sink tub c) bed time routine-stories for each girl. Right now baby goes in the swing while I try to put girls to bed. Often he sits with my oldest and me in her bed and I nurse him and do stories at the same time. d) rules in the house-no screaming, be kind to your sister, and don't take food without asking! lol. e) method for getting them in the car-baby goes in first and then girls. They like going in the car so it's pretty easy. f) suggestions for outings with the kids-bring help whenever possible. We have a high school girl down the street and if she is around I don't mind paying her to come someplace with us so I can have some extra hands.

16. How has having this many children impacted your relationship with your partner? Does it make you stronger in some ways?
I certainly appreciate him a lot more when he comes home at the end of the week and pretty much tries to take over all the household chores and childcare for a while. Our relationship is great but it has been from the start. Kids just make it more interesting and funny. They are always cracking us up.
17. What is your advice to a mom considering having her third, fourth, fifth, etc. child? 

Once you get past 2,having, more just adds to the fun. It is a lot of work but consider when the kids are grown. It will be so wonderful to be surrounded by a lot of family. The hard work in the early years will totally be worth it!

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