Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Doing Life With 3 Little Boys (+ 5 Tips for you!)

I know it's only been 7 months since I've been a mom of three, but it seems a lot longer than that.

Maybe it's because when you go from having 2 to 3 kids, you're already used to being worn thin - what's a little thinner? And thanks to wearing Jake everywhere (a-thank you, Boba), I still have enough hands for the older two boys.

I'm often asked how I handle life with 3 little (crazy) boys, and I seem to garner a lot of sympathy when people try to imagine the logistics of things like grocery shopping and other errands. Though, really, many families have a lot more children than I do. I think there's something about little boys, specifically, that people see and think, "OH gosh, that's got to be a handful." The truth is - you just take every moment as it comes. What else can you do?

Tips for taking multiple children out in public without catastrophe!

Once in a while I think back to life when there was only Luke. Gosh, I can't believe it's been 5 years. When Luke was just a babe, we lived in Charlotte and I had no one. Matt would go off to work for the day, and it was just me and my baby. Since I was new to being a stay at home mom, I used to get really antsy being stuck at home. I could only go 2-3 consecutive days at home before I'd go a little crazy. (These days of preschool and gym class and sports, I wish I had that situation!) In order to maintain sanity, Luke and I used to go everywhere together. We'd go shopping, attend playdates, wander around mall play places and visit parks. It was kind of wonderful, really, having a buddy to do everything with. I not only had a constant companion, but he gave me the excuse to do some things that I wouldn't do otherwise. Like tour a small airport since my mom's group was going (Luke was my "in"!), or lounge around the mall play place without looking like a creeper - ha!

But things have certainly changed since then.

I remember when Henry was born and Matt went back to work, and I was facing my first outing with two boys. I was unreasonably terrified. I remember texting my friend about it - she'd gone through the same situation in recent history, and she said to me - "You're wearing Henry, right? Put Luke in the cart, you got this!"  And she was right. It was so much easier than I'd feared. And before long, I was going everywhere with both of them. It was more complicated, of course - loading up two kids, keeping them both happy and safe, but I wasn't about to stop living or running errands for simplicity sake. Being a career stay at home mom kinda meant that's what I'd signed up for, anyway! We got a routine down - we grocery shopped on Mondays, went to gym class on Wednesdays, and preschool was Tuesdays and Thursdays. We'd sometimes meet friends for lunch, or venture out for a playdate.

And then I went and complicated things further!

Matt went back to work earlier than ever before after Jake was born, so I was on my own to "do life" with three babies a lot sooner than I expected to be. Now, getting things done is a carefully orchestrated ordeal. Whenever I have plans to get things done with all three boys in tow, Matt shudders at the thought and often tries to help out by being around to watch at least one of them. But honestly - I'm not scared!

The only thing that gives me pause from time to time, is how we effect others when we're in public. I don't want to be a burden or intrusive, but that's kind of the extent of it. To be quite frank, I don't care what anyone thinks of my children. Unless they know and love them personally, their opinion doesn't matter. Based on the way the general public spoke to me while I was pregnant, they all have ignorant and insensitive minds, anyway. So I try not to let it bother me when people make comments like, "Wow, you really have your hands full!" or "Some people don't know when to stop having kids!" (and yes, that last one actually happened). The one that really gets me going is when people tisk-tisk at the sight of my three boys, as if I could control their gender or that I regret any of my living children being who they are. But that's a story for another day. My point, really, is that I'm not going to let the public make me shy away from letting my children be a part of the real world.

My husband gets more nervous about this, and I think part of that is a man thing. He's always terrified of being "that family" that's loud and annoying...but that really doesn't get to me. If my kid is throwing a massive fit, or attacking strangers, or uttering profanities (for the record, none of which has ever happened), then yeah....I'd be concerned, too, and probably pull us out of the situation. But normal kid stuff....some whining here, complaining there, getting a bit too loud when they're excited, and even sneaking under the table at a restaurant to pretend they're in a cave - as far as I'm concerned, the public should get over it.

My kids need to learn how to behave in public (how will they do that without practice?), and I've had to deal with everyone else's kids through life. Now it's my kids' turn. Kids are a part of this world, too. And I certainly have more patience for families in the same situation, now.

(The one exception Matt and I agree on here is taking Henry to church. He can be restrained and behaved in many situations, but for whatever reason, church is not one of them. He wanders the aisles, and welcomes himself up on the altar...and maybe it's the Catholic guilt we were raised with talking, but that particular behavior feels like disrespect to us and since he's too young to reason with still, we avoid that situation.)

I've been thinking about how hard things will get a year from now, when I won't be wearing Jake as much anymore and I've got THREE kids on feet - all wanting to take off in different directions. What will I do then? I know that at least Luke won't stray far, but Henry is our wildcard - who knows what it'll be like when we throw a new energetic toddler into the mix. And maybe the simple fact that I can't race off in three directions at once will be a game changer for me and we'll stay home a little more often. But for now, this is life, and that's how I see it.

Oh, and to the rare exceptions we encounter - the little old ladies whose eyes light up at the sight of a baby, who kindly comment on how special this time in my life is, and the gentlemen that offer to reach something I'm struggling with since I'm wearing my babies, or tell me how they love and miss their mothers and love to see me loving on my little boys the way I do - thank you. Thank you for seeing it like it is. 

BONUS: Tips for Taking Multiple Kids in Public - if you're new at this ;)

Wear your littlest one. It gives you full use of BOTH hands, and you always know where at least one of your babes are! In my experience, wearing a child from birth - 18 months is really the way to go when you're out and about!

 Feed them before you leave. Hangry toddlers are a force to be reckoned with.

 Get them involved. As I mentioned, Henry is our wild one. Grocery shopping is made much more pleasant by allowing him to pull the produce bags off the dispensers, put the food in the bags, and push the buttons to print the stickers on the scales. Asking him questions through the rest of the store helps, too - like asking him to "read" the list, or what kind of cereal we should get, or what snack he would like.

 Come prepared. Put some toys and snacks in your bag and break them out when things get rowdy.

 If all else fails - iPhone. Put it on airplane mode so they can't make calls or go online, and let them play on some kid-friendly apps.


  1. Great post Jenn! I honesty get those "handful" comments a lot when I am out with my ONE kid! And he is! But random strangers don't need to point it out as I am already aware! Great post and great tips! Oh- come link up with us at Time for Mom today if you want! :)

    1. Thanks, Rachel! :) I think people just loooove to talk. It's so strange, though - I never make comments, I don't understand why people are so compelled to make them to me! lol

  2. Agreed. I ALWAYS took my girls everywhere. I honestly hardly remember having one ever.. since I had only one for only 13 months! lol. and yes.. with two kids 13 months apart.. i got some handful comments.. mostly because I literally had one on each hip.. lol.. but i'd put them in the cart in the stores.. and they were fine in restaurants..When they could walk i taught them quickly to hold my hand or to hold onto the cart at stores and I did not care about normal kid behavior either. I tried to enjoy it.. it goes WAY too fast! ;)

  3. My second is only 3 weeks old, so we haven't gone out much yet as a complete family, but while I was pregnant, people would look at me and my 22 month old daughter and tell me I will have my hands full. I definitely plan on wearing #2 a lot more than I did with #1 so that I have my hands free to take care of #1. Thanks for the tips!

    1. No problem, definitely wear that babe! It's a huge, huge help!! :) Congrats on your newbie!!