AIBU to ask just how much of a change going from 2 to 3 children is?

(96 Posts)
octaviarose Tue 01-Jan-13 20:20:12

Just that really how much of change was it for you and do you find life with a family of five harder than a family of four? How do you find time for everyone?

cutegorilla Thu 03-Jan-13 11:35:53

Just come back to this and interested to see the turn the discussion took. I do think that age gaps and natures of the individual children will affect how difficult things are. The age gap thing isn't straight forward though. In a lot of ways I'm very happy with the 4ish yr gaps we ended up having both times. Going from 1 - 2 was a breeze for me because 2 was a very easy baby who slept through the night 12 hrs from just a few weeks old and was just very easy going and not demanding. My first had reflux and so had been much harder work so the combination of an easier baby, me knowing what I was doing, and my older one being old enough to be quite independent made it all very easy. In fact easier than having just 1 in many ways because my eldest would entertain the baby for me so I could get on with stuff.

Perhaps that is why going from 2 - 3 was more of a big deal to me? On some level I'd obviously expected a repeat of the experience of going from 1 - 2. A bit more washing but nothing major. The truth was that I got a baby that had worse reflux than the first one. I put myself under huge pressure to BF because #2 has a nut allergy. The baby didn't sleep through until he was 9 months old and is still pretty hit and miss now at 18 months (I've been up a couple of hours in the night over the last 2 nights). And fitting a baby in with an 8 yr old and a 4 yr old is a whole different ball game to fitting in with one 4 yr old. Immediately the baby was born I had to miss out on a production my eldest was in and a big event at pre-school that the middle one was involved with. Then I have to take the baby (now toddler) with me to swimming lessons and hang around for ages as the big two have lessons at different times. My eldest has a hobby that involves hanging around for hours every week in a toddler/small child unfriendly environment. Initially that meant looking after a baby and keeping a small child entertained. Now middle is more easily kept busy with a DS while waiting around which is fortunate because I'm very busy trying to stop the toddler tornado from doing himself serious harm.

I wouldn't change it for anything. I had a very strong feeling that someone was still missing from my life until DC3 arrived that he has definitely filled that gap. He is amazing as all our children are and I couldn't imagine life without him. That doesn't change the fact that it has been really hard work though. I'm sure for some people that number 3 does just slot in, like number 2 did for me, but I don't think it's a safe assumption to make when deciding if going for it is the right thing to do. I just think it's a lucky bonus if that does happen for you!

Also re the expense thing. It's true that babies don't have to cost much but they have a habit of growing into children that do! Even if you don't think extra curricular activities are important (and OMG the way the costs of those stack up is horrifying) they are still going to need to be fed, shod, clothed, schooled and entertained. School dinners for 2 costs me £21 a week. All three needing new shoes (and trainers for the big ones, necessary for school) nearly makes me faint at the cost (even though we can afford it). None of mine seem to be able to wear cheap off the shelf shoes. I can never get them to fit. Then school seems to demand money left right and centre. There are school trips, charity dress down (or up) days, costumes for theme days and plays, Christmas parties and discos and dinners, tickets to performances and so on. It also never ceases to amaze me the amount of food a small skinny boy can put away. BF is free but you can't expect them to live off that until they are 18...

MuchBrighterNow Wed 02-Jan-13 22:17:16

3 little ones was lovely .. it's now they're teens that 3 seems a lot !

hazeyjane Wed 02-Jan-13 22:14:14

2 to 3 was definitely the hardest for me (have dd1 (6) and 2 (5) and ds (2.6))

It was a combination of the birth being the hardest, the dds starting primary and preschool at the time that he was born, ds having very bad silent reflux and the realisation that ds had a variety of special needs, when he was about 6 months old.

We haven't found the practicalities that difficult, we bought a second hand car so that we could fit 3 car seats across the back and bought a big tent for camping!

mercibucket Wed 02-Jan-13 21:58:08

There's the positive, the negative and the clear-sighted way of looking at things. I see clear-sighted comments here, not negative comments. It's true - holidays are harder to do when you are 5+, if they are all young. I'm not leaving mine in a separate hotel room anyway, and rooms for 5 are hard to find. it doesn't mean there aren't other options, just wasn't something I'd thought about before.
Also, I do have to say, it is not when they are young that you notice the difference. A one-year old doesn't cost much, especially when you have all the basics. A seven year old costs school dinners, school uniform, school shoes etc. Then, if you want to do activities, that's a whole extra whack. Of course, you don't have to, just like you don't have to buy a bigger car, but you would be wise to think about it, and what your priorities are
Op, as my 3 are all now at primary school, my life is mostly very very organised! Activities in all directions, asking other people for lifts and giving lifts in return to activities running at the same time in 2 different places etc. I love it and love having 3, but it's busy!

BadRoly Wed 02-Jan-13 20:25:12

I DO think that the combination of age gap and child's nature can make the difference into how easily dc3 fits in.

I was lucky in that dc1 was like coming home - she had a lovely nature and even allowing for the rise tinted specs, it all went very easily.

21mths later dc2 arrived and that first year nearly ended in divorce and me walking away from it all.

3.5 yrs later dc3 (planned so dc2 must have become easier wink) arrived. Another very content and placid baby who just slipped in with what the rest of us were doing. If dc3 had been anything like dc3, we would not now have dc4 - but she lulled us into a false sense of security shock

The slightly larger gap meant that dc1 was at full time school and dc2 had started part time nursery. So we HAD to have a degree of routine which although I dislike the principle, did help in the early days. It also meant I could go home and sleep for 2 hours if I'd had a bad night. And I do agree with the poster who says that you stop caring about the little things - dc1 would never have worn the same vest and sleep suit for 48hrs because they looked 'clean enough'!

Winterwalk Wed 02-Jan-13 18:07:56

No, no hidden message about the positive experiences. It's just that nobody has challenged them or taken issue with them yet my not quite so positive story has been challenged at least 4times. And my initial post didn't even mention holidays just the change that had taken place and how it had affected the spontaneous things we had started doing as a family with slightly older kids.

As I said, I'm sure the ages of the older ones has a huge effect. Had we taken the plunge 2yrs earlier before I'd returned to work and the older 2 started school then it may have been a case of in for a penny etc but in essence, I think we had mentally moved on from the baby/toddler stage and that was an issue. Plus DH working such long hours and having no other family I think plays a part. To top it all of, DC3 has been a very difficult baby due to his severe reflux and he is very, very whingy too (as some babies just are) probably connected but this has all combined to mean that for us, going from 2to3 has been immensely difficult. But he's here and I love him as much as I do the other two.

JellyBellies Wed 02-Jan-13 18:07:07

I have 2 DC. DS1 is 3.5 and Ds2 is 1.5.
I always wanted 3 DC. With 2 year age gaps. But I found the combination of being pregnant with a 1.5 year old extremely hard and my second pregnancy was way more exhausting than my first. And what probably didn't help was I was BFing DS1 through out and that was very very uncomfortable. Even after DC2 was born I struggled.

So much so that I haven't had a 3rd so far grin

Now I feel I have missed the boat a bit as if I was to have DC3 there would be 3 year gap and I'm afraid that that's too much?

HannahsSister40 Wed 02-Jan-13 17:20:11

yes, I understand that everyone has a different perception.
There's possibly a message being hinted at there though, that anyone with a positive experience is somehow not being realistic or honest. That they're looking through rise tinted glasses.
That's not always true.
And I do find it a bit odd to make a decision about the size of your family based on a holiday you take twice a year for 2-4 weeks, if you're very very fortunate. What about the other 48 weeks of the year?
But yes, it's all down to personal experience and our third baby was our easiest, I've had a very high maintenance baby, number 2, who cried and cried and cried. I was dreading a repeat of that when I was pregnant with our third. And luckily (cos that's all it is, luck) we had a very easy happy baby. That makes a massive difference..

Winterwalk Wed 02-Jan-13 17:10:39

Thank you so much, Janey! Yes, they were just examples to highlight how dramatic the change felt to us.
And just to be clear again; I love my baby desperately. It's just that I wanted to explain that a 3rd child doesn't always just slot right in the way many people assured me they would.

janey68 Wed 02-Jan-13 17:00:46

winter - one of our close family friends who has 3 children with a largish gap between 2 and 3 feels very similarly to you. I don't see it as her being overly negative; I admire her honesty in telling it like it is rather than painting an unrealistic picture of it. I think some people are misunderstanding things here and implying that mentioning cinema trips and holidays is superficial, but these are just examples really; I guess the underlying point is that having a child after a significant age gap is going to curtail the freedom that was previously had on a day to day basis. Family trips out are just one example of that.

I see it as a positive thing that my friend is able to speak openly, and I guess we've probably talked about this because we both have 2 older children the same age, and she knows that DH and me considered having a 3rd (albeit a couple of years before she took the plunge and had her 3rd.) She is interested in why DH and me ultimately decided to have just 2, and I am interested in what her life is like with 3.

As I said upthread, we also know other families who have had 3 or even 4 but had them close together and evenly spaced and that seems to be smoother in the long term (though probably harder short term!)

To the OP, I'd also say that whatever you decide will I'm sure feel the 'right' decision, because no one (normally) regrets having a child. As winter says, you love the child unconditionally. She's just being honest that it's not all a bed of roses. Equally, if you decide not to have more children, you're not going to regret that either, because you love the children you have unconditionally and you don't go around regretting imaginary children. We thought about number 3 for a period of a few months, talked about it a lot and eventually decided we are happy as a family of 4. So take heart from the fact that ultimately there is no right or wrong - you're not going to be happier one way or the other - either way you can be completely fulfilled.

Winterwalk Wed 02-Jan-13 16:15:59

Of course skiing isn't the most important thing to me. I am trying to say that because my first two were so much older but not quite old enough to be entirely independent then I found 2to3 the toughest of all. I mentioned the skiing because another poster said holidays were nothing more than 2wks away but actually they were a big part of our lives as a family.
It is also more difficult to be laid back and easygoing if you have no extended family whatsoever. I'm quite sure things would be a little easier if my children had at least one living grandparent.

I found it very difficult to spend time with my older DCs in the evening, feeding them or helping with homework or even just finding 10mins to talk about their day at school as DC3 was permanently attached to me and screaming almost constantly every evening. DH works very long hours and is never in before 7pm so I was on my own every evening and it was quite frankly, awful.

It seems that on this thread it is ok for everyone to give their positive spin (which I'm not doubting is true for them) but not ok for me to say it was not so positive for us. I feel that's a little unfair as I haven't suggested my experience will be everyone's or even that of the majority. It is just my experience. As I have said, I love him to bits and I would most certainly not rather he wasn't here but it wasn't the easy slot in I was led to believe either and I think it's important that the OP hears all sides.

hackneyzoo Wed 02-Jan-13 15:56:06

I agree with what Filly says too, I have felt way more confident with DC3 and am far more laid back. DC3 is slightly nuts but very easy going and a complete delight to have around (so far...she's just hitting the terrible twos). DC1 and 2 get along very well and include DC3 and she is desperate to join in with them.
Now there are all a bit more independent at 2,4 and 5, I am really enjoying having a little gang, especially when they invade our bed for a mass cuddle in the mornings!

hackneyzoo Wed 02-Jan-13 15:51:27

I found 2-3 easier than 1-2. My Dcs are roughly 2 years apart each, and DC3 just slotted in.
We still have the same car (ford focus estate) and can fit all the seats in.
The big difference is it is more expensive in terms of food shopping, clothes, new shoes etc.
I can't comment on package holidays as haven't been on one, but it was no more difficult bundling 3 dcs into the car and driving in Europe than it was with two.
For days out and things like that, lots more places seem to do family tickets that cover 3+ DC now.
Babysitting is fine, it makes no difference. However the afterschool childcare costs when DH and I are working are astronomical!
I am also far more exhausted and spend an awful lot of time trying to get on top of washing, cleaning and general mess. In fact, the washing is horrendous!
I think it really depends on ages gaps, what your DCs are like in terms of personality, what your parenting style is like etc. I have a friend with 5DCs and she makes it look like a breeze and a friend with 2DCs who finds 2 tough.

Crawling Wed 02-Jan-13 15:40:10

I found it easier than 0-1 and 1-2 I knew what I was doing and I knew how to juggle needs, but also ds was age 5 so understanding and able to help and dd age2 loves babies and wanted to see all the things we did for her baby sister.

Fillybuster Wed 02-Jan-13 15:33:41

Ummm...I don't want to get into a fight but

a) you don't need a bigger car. The govt rules don't force you to buy a new car, but just mean that you need car seats/boosters where possible. My (then 4 yo) dc1 moved into a central booster and the other 2 dcs sat in proper child seats when dc3 arrived.

b) winterwalk I'm sorry you've had a hard time with your ds, but it does sound a bit strange to grumble about not being able to go skiing, for example....plenty of ski resorts do include baby care if thats the most important thing for you - and why can't you get a babysitter if you're desperate to take the older dcs to the cinema?? If you can afford skiing or multiple cinema visits, surely you can afford some childcare?

Fillybuster Wed 02-Jan-13 15:27:26

Havent read all the responses but 2 to 3 (with age gaps of 27 months each time) was way easier than 0 to 1 or 1 to 2. Partly because I had lots more confidence but also because (oddly) it felt as though I had more time....

And yes, #3 (now 2.5) has been a tornado, but also the best thing that happened to our family smile smile

Winterwalk Wed 02-Jan-13 15:24:41

It's good that you've had a more positive experience Hannah and maybe if mine had been even older, the age yours were, it would have been ok but I just feel that early stages of primary school was when they needed me most and tDC3 has been so sickly and far more exhausting, plus I'm 42 so far more exhausted anyway. Holidays have been a problem for us, both summer and skiing but that is just one aspect. We usually went out 2 or 3 times a month plus to the cinema about the same and it was a lovely family time which I guess I just miss. I don't resent him, it's not his fault, he's a baby and we chose to have him and we love him very much but I do miss the life we had before.

Oh and as yours were older, you would never have needed three large, bulky car seats across the back. Very few cars can take three large isofix type seats across the back.

TheCatInTheHairnet Wed 02-Jan-13 15:19:52

I found going from 1 to 2 easy peasy. 2 to 3 MUCH harder. In fact, I found going from 3 to 4 a year later much easier than going from 2 to 3.

HannahsSister40 Wed 02-Jan-13 15:16:27

It also depends on your general outlook. If you're positive and resourceful, you'll be ok. Having 3 definitely changes your family dynamic, but not necessarily in a bad way. We're not a very family friendly country here in the uk, so that doesn't help things. Holidays are 2 weeks away. There are ways around it. Keycamp mobile homes in France cater for larger groups easily and cheaply. Aparthotels cater for bigger families, as do gites and villas. We don't have a massive car with our three either, just a Mazda. You don't need a giant mummy wagon. Our youngest is now a year old and occasionally I ask the eldest two I'd they mind having her around and sharing me with her. They think I'm really silly asking cos they adore their baby sister and think she's the best thing we did!

HannahsSister40 Wed 02-Jan-13 15:07:01

we had two aged 12 and 9 when our youngest came along. The large gap worried me. But the worry over holidays and weekend cinema trips is a bit superficial. Holiday are 2 weeks of the year, if you're lucky enough to get away. And cinema trips are a very occasional thing too. I don't think either holidays or cinema trips should be a deciding factor in having a third baby. There's so much more to it than that.

Winterwalk Wed 02-Jan-13 15:04:00

Amber, most people with three end up needing a bigger car. Most cars cannot fit 3 car seats across the back.
Also, with 2 we could easily pick up a package holiday. We have found this far more difficult with 3 as most packages and instead most family rooms/apartments are for a maximum of 2+2.
And of course clothes do need to be factored in if you've had 2 of the same sex then a third who is of the other. Plus if you've had a big enough gap between 1and 2 to be able to use the same cot but then had 2and3 closer together you often need a new cot as no2 isn't quite old enough for a bed yet.

AmberSocks Wed 02-Jan-13 14:48:59

actually they dont have to cost more if you dont want them to.

you only genuinly need a car seat,and some clothes,i know people who dont even use nappies,iin fact you only need a car seat if you drive.

it wouldnt be for me as i love buying baby stuff-mainly clothes-but you dont need all the stuff.i think its mainly food which ends up costing more.

Mandy21 Wed 02-Jan-13 14:03:04

We had a slightly different situation in that we went from 0-2 (twins) then 2-3 when the twins were just 4. The 0-2 was like a sucker-punch that we never really recovered from wink so 2-3 seemed a breeze in comparison, at least the start with. The only real shocker was that the older 2 weren't having daytime naps when DD2 arrived, so whereas I'd previously been able to catch up with housework, cook, clean, sleep or just put my feet up when the twins were newborn & napping, I couldn't do that. I used naptime to actually concentrate on the twins even though I was like a zombie.

DD2 is now 3 (another tornado), DD1&DS are now 7 and finding time for everyone is hard (homework / stories / watching them in their various extra activities etc). I worry sometimes that my desire for Number 3 compromised the family of 4 that we had. I wouldn't change my family of 5 for the world now that DD2 is here, the 3 children are extremely close, but I do recognise that life would have been easier and we'd be better off financially if we hadn't have had her.

Winterwalk Wed 02-Jan-13 13:44:58

Oh we could have gone to the cinema just one parent plus two kids; and we did but it's not the same as going out as a family. We don't have any living parents or siblings so no family help for babysitting the little one whilst we nip out with the older two for a couple of hours. He also BF constantly as he had terrible reflux which went on until he was 7mth and could sit up independently. This of course also meant that he was a terrible sleeper which in turn made us cranky and I just felt the older two missed out on so much time as we were always occupied and sleep deprived. He's 17mths now and still doesn't sleep through even though we did all the same calm routine stuff that worked with the other two. The HV said its because he spent the first 7mths in pain (was hospitalised it was so bad) and now it's habit/comfort but I cannot bring myself to do CC so we wait it out for now.

Im hoping things get easier soon although I know outings and holidays are always going to be tricky. I'm never keen on the baby stage anyway. If I could have given birth to 18mth olds I'd have had 10 kids. We have actually considered, ridiculous as it sounds after my posts, considered a 4th simply because we think the dynamics of 2+2 will work better and that DS will benefit from a sibling close in age.

I hope I haven't put anyone off.just sharing a different experience.

DamnBamboo Wed 02-Jan-13 13:18:15

Don't be so agressive justfab

If you thought an extra child wouldn't cost more... well, I don't know what to say

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