Last week I shared a post on the logistical challenges of having three children or more. If you thought that was a lot to take in, well, that was only one half of the story! And of course, you have to read these posts with the caveat that there are plenty of positives, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Seriously, we collectively promise you that that is the case. Yes, we have a few daily struggles. But we eventually find our own way. And if the logistical nightmares of getting a small army out of the house and not fitting into the car aren’t enough, here are some of the additional challenges that mums of three (or more) children experience.
Spending focused time with each child
It goes without saying that the more children you have, the more you’ll find that your attention and time needs to be divided. There’s only one of you and a few of them, right? You’re outnumbered. And even when you take your partner into account, it’s a simple fact – there are more children in the family than there are grown up’s. And the one thing that stood out for me from all the comments shared by these fab mums is that the biggest challenge is spending one-to-one, focused time with each child. So let’s hear it directly from the mums.
Mums of three.
- Shel from The Willowtree (mum of three) says: “My biggest struggle is spreading myself evenly between them. They all require me for meeting their different needs, and I often feel pulled in three directions, especially when it comes to spending one-to-one time with each of them. I always worry I can’t do it enough.”
- Emma-Louise from Even Angels Fall (mum of three) says: “I feel like I’m constantly trying to spread myself amongst them. The older two have homework and reading to do, but I’m still breastfeeding my youngest. I feel I don’t give any of them my full attention daily. It’s tough, but I’m hoping it’ll level out as the younger one gets older.”
- Kate from How To Survive Motherhood (mum of three) says: “The biggest challenge for me is making sure I’m there for them emotionally to be able to help them cope with any difficulties in their lives. Looking after children physically is easy but making sure they grow up emotionally healthy is really hard!”
- Anthea from Blue Bear Wood (mum of three girls, including twins) says: “I find it hard to spread my time equally, especially when they all need help with things.”
- Jo from Cup of Toast (mum of three) says: “The biggest challenge for me is giving them all individual time to talk, play and learn. Helping them with school work can be tricky too.”
Mums of four and five.
- Becky from The Aventure of Parenthood (mum of four) adds: “The biggest challenge is getting one-to-one time with one of them, as the other parent ends up with a three-to-one ratio which isn’t so much fun!”
- Jemma from Thimble and Twig (also a mum of four) says: “The biggest challenges are listening to them all and making sure they all have equal attention. I feel there are pressure points in the day, such as coming out of school, when they all want to tell you something, and of course, the baby starts crying!”
- Claire from Bumps Babies Tots and Teens Diaries (mum of five boys) says: “My biggest challenge is making sure I have individual mummy-son time.”
Catering for different ages, interests and needs
Splitting your time and attention equally is challenging. But when you add the fact that your children are probably at different ages and stages, have different interests and personalities or needs, you can really feel like you’re being pulled in all directions and not winning.
Mums of three children.
- Louise from A Strong Coffee To Go says: “Whilst life is easier now they are older (my youngest is six), I find keeping them all happy hard. A ten-year-old doesn’t want to do the same kind of things as a six-year-old.”
- Alice from Living with a Jude says: “My eldest son is about to turn 12 and has severe autism and learning disabilities. My youngest is two. It can be hellish trying to find something my son is happy to contend with that doesn’t bore the other two. Nightmare!”
- Debbie from My Cahoticatically Eclectic Life says: “Although one is now an adult (20), my youngest two children are six and four, and my biggest challenge has always been trying to keep them all occupied with age-appropriate activities. Their levels of interest vary considerably as does their concentration. My youngest is currently being assessed for dyspraxia.”
- Nikki from Glam and Geeky Mum (mum of three) says: “My biggest challenge is that I am spread so thin on the ground. My children range in age from seven to one. My eldest has a severe form of cerebral palsy, so his additional needs are many. I just find I’m spinning plates to keep on top of everyone’s needs when I have all three children on my own. But when a plate drops, and the tears start, you just gotta pick it back up and get going again!”
Mums of six and seven children.
- Lynne from A Day In The Life of A Mum of 6 (mum of six) says: “The biggest obstacle are movie nights. The children’s ages vary from 18 to five, and it’s difficult to find a middle-ground movie. This also happens on days out – each age bracket has different interests”.
- Jen from Mama-tude (mum of seven) says: “My children range in age from 16 to two. Without a doubt, the biggest challenge is trying to meet the needs of all the different age groups at the same time!”
Trying to remember everything!
Probably the biggest challenge for me personally is keeping up with everything that needs remembering. I can only retain so much information in my head! Surely, here’s where having a ‘system’ of some sort really comes into its own.
- Beth from Twinderelmo (mum of three) says: “My children are all at school and trying to remember what day they need PE kits, Forest School clothes, when homework is due in, when their reading books and diaries need to be back, what day their spelling tests are, and whether they’re having sandwiches or dinner makes me feel like I’m on the generation game!!!” I hear you, Beth.
- Hannah from Hannah Tasker (mum of four) says: “My children are close in age, and it’s hard to juggle and remember everything, especially with them having different after-school clubs, swimming stages and groups at scouts.” Yep, exactly that. Glad I’m not alone in finding this a lot to cope with at times, especially if I have a lot going on in my mind otherwise.
Never a dull moment
‘Never a dull moment’, they say.
- Carly from Forever Cosmopolitan (mum of three) says: “Having three children is a strange dynamic, as I’ve found somebody is bound to be left out. Either it’s the two girls vs the boy, or the two youngest vs the eldest, or the two oldest vs the youngest. Never a dull moment.”
- Becca from A Mum Doing Her Best (mum of four) says: “We find being the referee so hard. Sometimes it’s the simple things of ‘she said, he said’. Other times it’s when they are physically fighting over something. You are completely outnumbered. Just chilling everyone out and calming the whole situation can be one of our hardest challenges.”
- Clare from Running After Five (mum of five) says: “My children’s ages range from 12 to nine months. The biggest challenge for me is the never-ending mini challenges. There’s always at least one child with a problem. And when that’s resolved another one pops up. It makes life interesting though.”
Never a quiet moment either – the noise!
This one made me smile. So true!
- Carly from Forever Cosmopolitan (mum of three) says: “The biggest blessing and curse is the noise. It’s wonderful when they’re all at home, happy and laughing and have friends over, so your house feels more like a youth club than a home. But let’s talk about the noise when they’re not happy or are bickering!”
- Kate from The Mum Conundrum (mum of three) says: “The transition from two to three children was actually pretty easy. What I find hardest now is the noise levels. It’s epic! It gets to a point where my brain can’t function and I have to send the older two to play upstairs for 20 minutes to preserve my sanity (and my eardrums).” I hear you, Kate. I refer to this as not being able to ‘hear myself think’!
- Lisa, host of The SuperMum podcast (mum of four) says: “It’s the constant talk that drives me nuts. Often they talk over each other, but even when they’re not, it’s the multiple conversations going on at the same time. And I’m responding to multiple chatter at the same time too. Demands, stories, questions. It gets very confusing sometimes! They’ve taken to playing music as well, but at least I can turn that off!”
No time for yourself and your partner
Do we need to say any more?
- Vikki from Mum Times Two (mum of four, two with special needs) says: “The biggest challenge for us is time. We hardly have any time for ourselves because our time is spent dealing with the kids and cleaning etc.”
- Beth from Beth in a Box (mum of five) says: “My husband and I get very little time together. By the time he gets home from work, I’m completely touched out and just need space. Our marriage can often suffer because of it.”
Something that did come up when discussing this over on Instagram with my friends Amanda from Books and Pieces (mum of three boys) and Lisa from The SuperMum podcast (mum of four) is that the more children you have the harder it is to find someone who’ll babysit them. No surprise that finding time for yourself or for date nights out can be a bit of struggle at times.
But let’s not forget the comments! Larger families attract comments. When it’s not the size of your family (i.e. the number of your children) it’s their gender.
- Deborah from Country Heart And Home (mum of six) says: “It’s the snide comments that get me! Yes we have a TV, no I’m not a ‘right one’, and no we aren’t having any more.”
- Rachel from Coffee, Cake, Kids (mum of three boys) says: “I get the whole ‘wow, so close in age’ and ‘are you trying again for a girl?’ questions all the time. But three feels like a good number!”
- Sareta from Kiki Blah Blah (mum of three boys) says: “A lot of people ask if I’m going to try for a girl. If not, then I should.”
Yep, as a mum of three boys, I get that all the time too. Apparently, according to people, my third boy was an attempt to have a girl. And ‘poor me’, ‘what have I done to deserve it’ because my house must be a mess all the time. I should start inviting people in to check or help out.
Which leads us nicely to our last point…
Keeping on top of the laundry basket and tidying the house
- Natalie from Confessions of a Crummy Mummy (mum of three), says: “The biggest challenge is our dirty laundry basket! It’s just IMPOSSIBLE to keep on top of it. So much so I have a dirty secret called Stuart – a bloke from the launderette who takes it away and brings it back clean!” We all need a Stuart, I think.
- Mel from Le Coin de Mel (mum of four), says: “A challenge I can’t see ever going away is the state of my house! I can spend hours tidying up, and it will always take them five minutes or less to turn it all upside down again!” Yep, that.
Having three children (or more) – the verdict
Okay, we admit it. We have a few challenges. Daily. In fact, we face several challenges on a daily basis. Maybe that makes us more resourceful, resilient and creative in trying to fix the issues we come across every day? I don’t know. What I do now is that we all look our brood (mainly when they’re asleep) and couldn’t be prouder. It goes without saying that we wouldn’t have it any other way, right Mums?
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the last two posts and got involved in the conversation on social media. It’s been fun! (And let’s hope we haven’t terrified anyone!)
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 so many parents had to say about their real-life experiences.