I’m a mum of three boys. And one of the things I hear the most from other well-meaning parents is “You must be busy!” I certainly am. And I think that having three children (or more), no matter their gender or age, is definitely a recipe for busyness. But it’s not just that. A lot of your everyday activities (think getting out of the house or into the car, for example) become a little bit more challenging (and, dare I say, stressful) when you have several people in tow. You have some serious space issues to take into account. Not to mention the various logistical nightmares of having children in different schools or just needing different things depending on their age and stage in life.
So let’s hear it from other parents of three children or more. What are the biggest challenges you face as a parent of three or more children?
Space (or lack thereof)
A good place to start is always your home. Two of our children share the same bedroom, but our youngest sleeps in ours! This is something that will need to change. So space definitely is something that parents have to take into account when their family grows.
- Sarah from Mummy Cat Notes says: “The biggest challenge we faced is probably our lack of space. My third baby was an accident. We had plans to get me working when my now middle child was in school, find a bigger place and then have another one. But it’s all worked out fine. We cope and are hoping to move to a bigger home later in the new year.”
- Carly from Forever Cosmopolitan (mum of three), says: “We live in a four-bedroom house, so our children all have their own space, but my husband says if we had another they’d have to share rooms, which equals carnage in his eyes!”
In the car…
Having three children, for many people, means upgrading to a bigger car. Without going into the details of which car you should get for your large family, let’s hear what people say about cars!
Mums of three.
- Carly from Forever Cosmopolitan says: “I’d go for a fourth child if my husband was up for it, but he isn’t. He says we’d have to get a bigger car, which would damage his street cred. You don’t turn up in a minibus when meeting your friends.”
- Amy from Mama Mighalls says: “Our biggest issue is travelling in the car. My son is squished between two car seats and there’s not a lot of room left once the pushchairs are in. We are going on holiday soon, and I have no idea how we are all going to fit!
Mums of four.
- Carly from Mummy and the Chunks, says: “I have three children and a stepchild (or will be soon) but our biggest issue is a car! Our five-seater is fine most of the time but on the weekends we have an extra child and all of a sudden we have to ask for help to get to places, walk or take the bus, as I don’t drive yet. As soon as I pass my test we’ll get a cheap seven-seater and use it when we have him over!”
Mums of five and six.
- Beth from Beth in a Box says: “We have a seven-seater but with two children in rear-facing seats and one in a high booster seat it’s difficult to get to the rearmost seats!”
- Lynne from The Mad Madden’s says: “I have five children, including three under three years of age, and my biggest challenge is the school run in my eight-seater minibus!”
- And Lynne (mum of six), from A Day In The Life of A Mum of 6 says: “We can’t all fit in the car at the same time as I only have a seven-seater.”
Remember when going on holidays with your partner or your friends was a time to switch off, have fun, read a book and relax? Not anymore. In fact, larger families on holidays face a number of new challenges.
- Anthea from Blue Bear Wood, (mum of three) says “Generally we have to have two hotel rooms when on holiday, so we mainly opt for self-catering holidays. Family tickets are often for a family of four.” With three children, we also go for self-catering holidays, but you’ll often find that the second (children’s) bedroom only accommodates two children, and no one wants to sleep on their own on the sofa bed!
- Susan from Susan K. Mann (mum of three), says: “Tables that have only four seats in cafes are a challenge. This means that either one parent or a child has to sit alone. Everything is for two adults and two children. Also, most hotel rooms only accommodate two children max.”
- Sareta from Kiki Blah Blah (a mum of three boys, like me) says: “Most deals usually cover families of four, so we rarely get discounts. Booking rooms away is also difficult, as the most family rooms only allow for four people.”
The different… everything!
My three boys are three years apart, but they all tend to go to sleep around the same time, which I’m sure isn’t ideal (or hasn’t always) for the youngest children. Since having my third son, my husband and I tackle this as a team – he takes the older two, and I stay with the youngest one until he sleeps.
But let’s hear it from other parents.
- Jennii from Life With Three and Me says: “My two youngest go to bed earlier compared to the older one, who enjoys reading in bed, and his bedtime is delayed.”
- Kate from Family Fever (mum of four) says: “The biggest challenge is negotiating bedtimes with children of different ages!”
Different food options
How many times have I found myself making at least two different meals – one for the children and one for us? In fact, scrap that, I’ve been known for making up to four or even five different meals! And it seems I’m not alone in this.
- Mandi from Big Family Little Adventures says: “I have seven children and mealtimes are a bit of a nightmare. One is vegetarian and one doesn’t really eat. So trying to find something suitable is often a challenge.” I bet!
While my children, as of this year, are in the same school, they don’t all have the same pickup times. From next year, when my youngest son starts Reception, I’ll have all my children in the same school for a whopping two years. That’s before my eldest starts secondary school. Then the logistics of having them in two different schools will hit me!
- Carly from Forever Cosmopolitan (mum of three) says: “I find the biggest challenge is the age gap. Having three at different schools (miles apart) means my school runs take up three hours a day at least, which wastes valuable coffee time!” I feel for you, Carly!
- Mandi from Big Family Little Adventures says: “I have seven children. School holidays are challenging as they all have different term dates, PD days etc.!” I hadn’t even though about that yet!
Different after-school clubs and activities
How do you get all your children to follow their own interests? How do you sign them up to the after-school clubs they’re more interested in? And how do you get them all where they need to be when activity times clash with each other?
- Pete from Household Money Saving (dad of three) says: “We struggle with which groups to allow them to do. There are so many they want to join, but there aren’t enough hours in the day. At the moment, they do two clubs each. If there’s something they really fancy then they are allowed to try it. If they want to carry on with the new club, they have to drop an old one. It’s a little cruel really, but we just don’t have the time.”
- Anthea from Blue Bear Wood, (mum of three – twins and one older) says: “Juggling school events and clubs can be difficult. Mine are all girls, so we tend to put them in the same clubs to make it easier. I wouldn’t have been able to logistically get them to different things.”
Going out with the children (and doing the food shopping)
Let’s just talk about what going out with a large number of children in tow entails.
- Hannah from Hannah Tasker (mum of four) says: “Taking them out on my own can be stressful. I count them and people laugh, but it’s the quickest way to check I’ve not lost one. And toilet trips! I always get a good tour of every toilet in the places we visit. Even if we all go, I can guarantee that someone will still need to go again 20 minutes later.”
- Vicky from Mumma and her Monsters (also a mum of four) says: “Just getting out of the house is a chore – it takes us minimum half an hour if we all rush!!”
- Karen from The Mini Malpi (mum of three) says: “When we were leaving a play date recently, my friend with one child was driving away when we were still trying to find the car. Just now, my husband had to make two trips to the bank. The first to do what was necessary. Then he had to come back to the car for change to give to the two eldest to put in the charity slot box back in the bank. Thinking of adopting ‘going nowhere fast’ as our family motto!”
- Laura from Five Little Doves (mum of four, plus Joseph who lives in Heaven) says: “The biggest challenge for me was doing the food shop. I’d have the girls in the trolley seat and Harry in the actual trolley in his car seat. And then nowhere to put my actual shopping!”
Related posts from fellow bloggers and mums of three:
Outnumbered – an honest account of having 3 children, by Sonia from Buzymum.
The Truth About… Having Three Kids, by Renee from Mummy Tries.
Thank you to all the mummies (and the one daddy) who contributed to this post! Are you a mum of 3 or more children? What are some of the logistic challenges you face on a daily basis?
This post is by no means meant to put any of you off having your third or fourth or fifth (insert appropriate number) child. But we hope you enjoyed reading what real parents had to say about their real-life experiences.
Please tune in next week for Part Two, where we’ll hear all about how we try and split our time and ourselves amongst our children!