Is Three (Kids) the Magic Number?
When Danielle Walker of Floyd, New York shared the happy news that she was pregnant with her third child, the responses she received weren’t all positive.
“People started reacting to my family size with wide eyes and an uneasy ‘Ooh, well you have your hands full!’” the 27-year-old remembered.
The average number of children in US households today is roughly two, and for some, it’s easy to understand why so many parents stop there. If you’re raising your children with a spouse or partner, having more than two means you’re instantly outnumbered.
If that thought makes you feel anxious, you won’t be surprised by a recent survey of 7,000 mothers by TodayMoms showing that moms with three children report higher stress levels than those with fewer kids and those with more. TodayMoms explains the lower stress levels of the latter group as “the Duggar effect,” suggesting that a “critical mass” of children can make life easier.
But if you’re still deciding the size of your family, don’t dismiss the idea of three just yet. Many moms of three say it’s a great number to have under one roof. Here’s why:
You’re More Experienced and Confident by Baby No. 3
Devan McGuinness, the mom of a 7-year-old, a 6-year-old, and a 4-year-old in Toronto, says she’s less stressed out now than she was when she had just one child.
“I feel like I finally know what I am doing when it comes to parenting and feel confident that even if I don’t really know that things will work out okay,” said McGuinness, 31, who blogs for Babble and her own site, Accustomed Chaos. “I am used to juggling more things than I think I can handle and have become quite good at the triage system of what needs me first.”
More Helping Hands and Just Enough Playmates
Christina West, 33, of Chapmansboro, Tennessee, recalled worrying about her older son while nursing the younger one when she had just two kids.
“(My older) son would be in the fridge or getting into something and I would just be so stressed because I didn’t know if I should just yell at him like a crazy woman, or unlatch the baby and go deal with him. I cried a lot over things like that,” she said. Now, she said, when she’s busy with one child, the other two can entertain each other. “And,” she added, “you can ask the bigger ones to fetch and carry while you’re busy.”
Sara Lanan, 32, of Durango, Colorado, and blogger at Craft Snob, says her children always have someone to play with, even when illness strikes. “When one child is feeling under the weather there are still two that can play together while the other rests,” she said.
Improved Social Skills
Wendy Young, 48, who grew up with two siblings of her own, said her children had no choice but to learn how to share.
“Three kids have to learn how to share at warp speed, so it’s a total boon to social skills,” said Young, who blogs at Spin Doctor Parenting and Teaching in Newberry, Michigan. “Seriously, you cannot always have a window seat!”
Jessica Hehir’s three girls have learned how to play well together despite differences of opinion.
“There’s always one more idea, one more craft, or one more game to be considered,” the 36-year-old Cape Coral, Florida woman and founder of Sugar&TheSpice.org said. “They have learned the art of compromise and are gaining patience simply because I cannot tend to their every whim on demand.”
Traveling With Ease
A number of parents told BabyZone that having three kids means you can still fit the family in a standard-sized car instead of splurging on a minivan or SUV and the higher gas bills that come with them.
“We fit perfectly in a car without a third row,” said Lacey Moler, 31, of Austin, Texas, who blogs at BabyNames.net, “and they all have two siblings to talk to.”
And venturing outside on foot isn’t too bad either, according to single mom Heather Meyer Vulpone, 40, of Midland Park, New Jersey Vulpone said that once all three of her children could walk, she used the buddy system: two of the children held each other’s hands while she held that of the third.
“When we go some place, everybody’s got a partner,” she said. “It’s great.”
Meagan Church, 34, said she loves how unique each of her children are, despite the fact that her son and two daughters come from the same gene pool.
“Having three kids means extra love, more cuddles and the sense that our family is complete,” said Church, who blogs at Unexpectant.com in South Bend, Indiana.
Enjoli Francis, 33, said seeing her three kids—two young boys and one girl—together can be an emotional experience.
“They have conversations, play games, miss each other, love on each other and I can actually sit back and just watch and enjoy and, admittedly, get teary-eyed,” the New York City mom said.
Perhaps the number three isn’t so odd after all.
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