Ask The Doctor and The Dad

What’s having three kids really like? UPDATED!

NOTE: This article was originally published when our third child was two weeks old. Now we’re updating it to let you know what it’s really like to have three kids…as we experience it! Keep reading to view the entire post in order, or click below to skip to your favorite section:

So the Doctor and the Dad recently had another baby. Which, if you’re keeping score at home, means we now have three – count ‘em three – kiddos to cuddle, care for, and contend with.

Before Niña Número Tres came along, we’d heard a lot of stories about what it was like going from having two kids to having three kids. Things like:

  • You’ll need to switch from playing man-to-man to playing a zone defense,
  • Even though you’re only adding 50% more kid, it feels about 500 times harder,
  • They’re totally going to gang up on you, and
  • Two? Three? What’s the difference? You’re gonna’ be just fine.

So now that we’ve actually taken this triple-offspring plunge ourselves, we decided to record some of our own experiences and observations as they happen, so that you too, can discover what having three kids is really like!

Our plan is to update this post periodically as new information arises, so please check back here at often for more. If we suddenly stop posting altogether at some point, perhaps that means our three kids did, in fact, gang up on us successfully – and the results were not pretty.

(Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen!)

What having three kids is really like

So far, going from two to three kids has been surprisingly painless. (After Mommy’s labor and delivery, that is.)

On Sibling Rivalry

We were a little worried that there would be trouble when our son – who had been hoping for a little brother – found out he had a new sister instead. But he got over his initial disappointment crazy quick, telling his father, “Sorry it’s not a boy, Dad” on day two, and then never even mentioning it again!

On Baby Care

By the time we had our second child, we’d learned that taking care of infants is way easier than taking care of their older siblings. So it’s been more of the same for us this time. Our newborn is super portable, she sleeps most of the time these days, and when she is awake, it just takes a boob in the mouth to keep her happy. So aside from losing a little more sleep at night, we’ve been able to stick pretty close to our usual schedule.

On Adorableness

The biggest thing Baby #3 has brought to our family so far (aside from diaper-destroying, mustard-colored poops) is lots of lovey-dovey adorableness. Her big brother and big sister both love to lie down inches from her face, oohing and aahing at her constantly, and running gleefully to us whenever “the baby’s eyes are open!”

And each time Amber has found herself walking someplace holding two big kids’ hands on either side of her, and wearing our new baby strapped to her chest, it’s felt less like a whole lot of work – and more like a whole lot of love.



What having three kids is really like UPDATE #2: THREE MONTHS IN

The fact that our baby is already three months old doesn’t seem at all possible to us. But the following observations we’ve made seem real. Really, really real.

On Transportation

So many handlebars, so few hands.
So many handlebars, so few hands.

Getting the family to and from someplace is definitely more of a challenge than it used to be. Driving actually isn’t too tough – now that we’ve replaced our tiny Honda Civic that couldn’t physically fit three car seats in it with a giant Toyota Highlander that puts all the kids in comfortable reaching distance right behind us. But walking actually takes a lot more planning these days, as we have to balance what each kid is capable of doing on his or her own versus who needs to be pushed, pulled or carried (or sometimes a combination of all three). We also need to decide which of our ever-growing fleet of vehicles/child-moving apparatuses we need for each trip, and determine how to prevent all of said child-carrying devices from spilling out into the street the entire time.

On Head Counts

The new baby still sleeps a ton, can’t move anywhere on her own, and makes a lot less noise than her big siblings. Although this makes her relatively easy to take care of, it also surprisingly makes her harder to keep track of. Several times a day, we find ourselves having to stop and think: Wait, is everybody here? And then we count the kids.

On Public Perception

Every time just mom or dad goes anywhere in public with all three kids in tow, at least one complete stranger will inevitably come up to us and say, “It sure looks like you have your hands full!”

Yes, complete stranger, it sure does look that way.

But guess what? It’s nothing we can’t handle. (So far, at least.)



What having three kids is really like UPDATE #3: EIGHT MONTHS IN

Our little baby is already two-thirds of a year old – which means we’re only seventeen and one-third years away from having the house to ourselves again! Until then, here are our latest “life with three kids” observations.

On Babyproofing

Remember how you thought babyproofing for your first child was hard? You had to cover plugs, latch cupboards, affix baby gates and try to remember not to leave your kid in a Bumbo chair on top of the kitchen counter.

Well now that our youngest is crawling and climbing like crazy, we’re babyproofing again. But since she’s our third child, babyproofing this time is completely different – and completely impossible. That’s because our three- and five-year-old kids have approximately one million gazillion tiny, terrible piece-of-crap toys, every single one of which is a choke-hazard-death-trap for Baby #3. And they’re a moving target, too. The moment we finally get that minefield we call a home completely clear of booby traps for the baby, our older ones manage to sprinkle them around right behind our backs again.

On Hoarding

Goodwill, here we come!
Goodwill, here we come!

Having a baby, a toddler and a kindergartener means that we have to hang on to toys, books and clothes that cover all of those different developmental stages. And believe us, that’s a lot of stuff.

But the fact that our littlest one is getting bigger means that we’ve been able to finally start getting rid of some things! For the most part, our donation trips to the thrift shop have been just like Macklemore promised – f**king awesome – as we silently celebrate every single square inch of reclaimed living space we get. But we have to admit that part of us gets a little sad, too. It tugs at the heartstrings to know we’ll never have another baby, and that this one is growing out of her adorable little onesies so quickly.

Not sad enough to have a fourth, of course. That would be insane. Plus, that particular ship has already sailed.

On Infectious Diseases

Before our third child was born, we went on a remarkable run where nobody in our family got sick for the better part of a whole year. It was truly phenomenal (and saved us a fortune on Kleenex). Since then, however, our health streak has swung emphatically the other direction, and at least one person has been coughing, sneezing or spraying snot all over the house at any given moment for months on end.

We’re not sure about the actual “science” behind it, but our current hypothesis is that going from a family of four to a family of five is the exact thing viruses need in order to survive in your house for-freaking-ever.



What having three kids is really like UPDATE #4: ONE YEAR IN

Our tiny little baby is one already! And she is running all over our lives – both literally and figuratively. In the few moments we haven’t been chasing after her, here’s what we noticed about raising three kids:

On Bath Time

bath time with three kids
The only thing that’s unusual about this picture? You can’t see the one thousand bath toys completely covering the surface of the water.

Our oldest two kids have bathed together for a while. And now that our youngest daughter is big enough to hang with them, she’s been joining in on the communal bath party fun.

If managing three small kids in one bathtub sounds like a lot of work, it is. There’s always somebody sloshing water over the side of the tub, getting soap in their eyes, sucking on a disgusting used washcloth, threatening to pee or poop, or falling over right into a sibling’s face because getting their armpits washed is “too tickley.”

Yet surprisingly, bathtime is really no harder than it was before – mostly because our six-year-old has decided that she can now wash herself. So we basically just focus on getting the two little ones clean as quickly as we can, while hoping our oldest actually knows what the heck she’s doing over there.

She does…right?

On Babysitting

Hiring a babysitter for three kids is awfully pricey. And asking a grandparent to watch, feed and put so many little bodies to bed too often makes us feel pretty guilty. So in case you were wondering, we don’t get out much these days.

Instead, our version of “babysitting” now usually consists of asking the older kids to watch the baby for a few minutes while we try to cook dinner, pay some bills or take a shower.

For the record, they’re kind of terrible babysitters.

On Birthday Parties

When our first kid turned one, we threw a great big party and invited pretty much everyone we knew – friends, family, coworkers, the works. We planned the soirée for months, and it was quite the happening event.

When our second kid hit the year mark, we copied a lot of what we had done for the first kid, then invited only those friends who had children approximately our children’s ages, plus some family.

For our third kid’s first birthday, we had our immediate family over for lunch. We got some balloons, and played a few games, and that was it.

But even though our littlest one’s party was the littlest one we’ve thrown yet, it was still a lot of fun. Big time.


time flies when you're taking care of three kids

What having three kids is really like UPDATE #5: TWENTY MONTHS IN

Want a little indication of how taking care of three kids is going for us these days? We meant to write this update two months ago, but only got around to it just now. Here’s what else:

On Bodily Abuse

Even though Amber is finished breastfeeding our little ones now, that doesn’t stop any of them from periodically shoving their arms up or down her shirt without warning – presumably just to see how their old stomping grounds are doing.

And speaking of “stomping,” Andy has learned (the hard way) that with six little feet, knees and elbows flying at him constantly, it’s best to keep at least one hand covering his junk at all times.

On Noise

Oh, did I wake you? Guess we might as well have breakfast then.

Rock concerts, NASCAR races and Fourth of July fireworks finales have nothing on the decibel levels our three kids can crank out these days.

Now that our youngest is talking, singing and screaming right alongside her two older siblings, our life is louder than it’s ever been.

And the competition isn’t even close.

On Laughter

Fortunately for everyone involved, most of the noises we’ve been hearing lately are happy ones! While our bigger kids have loved telling jokes for a while, the baby had always been an observer on the sidelines…until now!

Her favorite first “jokes” to tell include: 1) pretending to be asleep whenever we come over to unbuckle her car seat, 2) sprinting buck-naked from the potty to a hiding spot behind her rocking chair every time we change her diaper, and 3) shaking her head “no” while saying “Mommy,” then nodding “yes” while pointing at her and saying “Amber!”

These kids are real crackups.


What having three kids is really like UPDATE #6: TWO AND A HALF YEARS IN

When you think about having three kids, you might expect to be exhausted. Well, we can tell you now with certainty that yes, you will be. Here are some other things:

On Creative Uses of Space

triple bunk bed
Things are looking up.

With five humans, one feline and a constantly replenishing collection of stuff threatening to overflow our house, we’re always looking for smart ways to make the most of the space we have.

That’s why we spent much of this past summer buying, selling and assembling cool new kids’ furniture.

The result? A former baby nursery converted to a play/guest room, and a bedroom with three kids’ worth of clothes in a newly organized closet, plus all three kids sleeping in a totally sweet triple bunk bed.

We know you’re jealous.

On the Increasing Wildness of Our Children

Our first two babies were easy – good sleepers, fast potty-trainers, and (mostly) adequate listeners. But our third kid…hoo boy. Our third kid is an absolute lunatic. She crawls into our bed pretty much every night, she’s had way more potty accidents than the other two kids combined, she talks or sings or shouts or makes ridiculous faces at everybody constantly, and her hair is usually a scraggly, unkempt mess (admittedly, that one’s more our fault than hers).

We call her our “wild animal baby.” And we’re not sure if it’s because of genetics or because we’ve just had way less time to “tame” her than we did the other kids, but lately, it really seems like she’s gone feral.

On Cuddles

People who feel intimidated about having three kids often cite the argument that “they’ll have you outnumbered.” But when you’re in need of some high-fives, hugs, kisses or cuddles, that’s a totally good thing.

Even with one kid snuggling under your left armpit, and another one cozying up in your right, there’s still a third kid left for the other parent to cuddle.

…And now we know you’re actually jealous!


14 replies on “What’s having three kids really like? UPDATED!”

I love your attitudes – very healthy. I have no patience for the doom and gloomers, if you go into this thinking you’ll be miserable and in the depths of despair- then you’ll probably find a way to make it happen. One thing you may find is that in a way, as you look back, transitioning from one to two was harder and that things are kinda rolling into place with number three as instinct and autopilot kick in. At least this was the experience of my wife and I.
This experience can be every bit as wonderful as you think it can- it’s not to say there aren’t hard times, but that’s not where you live. Enjoy your babies, cheerfully ignore the doom and gloom- it really is a wonderful time.
Dad of a 12 1/2, 11, 10, 9, 7 and {surprise} 1 year old.

Thanks, Timothy! We agree, having the second was a lot more of a challenge to adjust to. And like you said, with the third things have really just rolled right into place. So far, that is… But you can keep up with us at this post as we update it to see how it goes from here on out. While we enjoy our 3, we wish you the best with your 6! (Wow, we are in awe just writing that.)

I need more 🙁 I loved reading this post! It’s real. Not pessimistic “you’re doomed” and not “everything is great” hiding behind the rose colored glasses. We’re trying to decide on baby number 3 and we are both in the “maybe….. We should….. Maybe” category. I can see another little personality running around and see how it could work. My second one was so easy to add to the family…. But I’m a stay at home mom and wonder what days of three (plus the occasional babysitting I do) would look like. This gives me a great, and real, picture. But I really do want to read more haha.

So glad you’re enjoying our posts, Angela! We just posted another one for you, too – hope it helps you with your BIG decision! (Any updates on that, BTW?)

Great Articles! I also have three, 4 1/2, 2 1/2, and 5 months, and can definitely relate up to this point. Looking forward to following your progress and laughing along with you. 🙂

Loved and thoroughly enjoyed reading this! You sound like awesome parents and this was so encouraging to read. We have 2 and I’m wanting 3, but everything else I find on the internet about having 3 kids makes me think twice. This confirmed for me everything that I imagine it to be. Hard? Yes! Worth it? Of course! Kids are such a joy and a blessing and I think I definitely want to go for number 3. Thank you for this.

I don’t know if you will read this, but I have had a lot of anxiety leading up to my third baby..who is just 2.5 months away! I read so many horrible things about Having three. Thank you for posting positives. I am so afraid I can’t do it all, and then you say the truth..the baby will be the easy one, so even though there is less sleep, things will be ok. I needed that. Thank you.

Thank you for sharing this, it was a breath of fresh air. We have 2 under 5 and a total surprise 3rd on the way and I’ve been feeling pretty hopeless about it, then most things you read about it are really negative and insulting. I’m concerned about the mess and space in our small home, changing relationships between all of us, and mostly the fact that we both work full time 5 days a week. So many logistics to figure out, and paying for childcare. I desperately need to hear from happy working parents of 3.

Love the triple bunk bed btw!!

This was an amazing read! I would love to hear more. Husband and I are debating a 3rd, we want to do it, but it is such a big decision. We feel as if there is still room in our hearts for another.

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