Me before kids: I will NEVER drive a minivan!
Me after 1 kid: I don’t NEED a minivan.
Me after 2 kids: Still don’t NEED a minivan.
Me after 3rd baby was born: We NEED to save up some more $$$ first and look! We can buy some really expensive car seats that will (just) fit three across in my SUV…*sigh*
We’ve all heard the cliche ‘never say never’, and never has it applied so accurately than to the life of a mother of three. Each stage of motherhood and each additional child brings with it more ‘norms’ that I inevitably toss out for the sake of convenience or necessity. What works for some, doesn’t work for all, and the key to surviving parenthood is holding loosely to your previous ideas (perhaps we should refer to them as ‘theories’, that seems like a kinder way of acknowledging that our pre-children selves didn’t know anything).
Me before kids: My kids will be good eaters who love all fruits and vegetables.
Me after 1 kid: Easy Mac is okay once-in-a-while, especially if it’s paired with broccoli.
Me after 2 kids: Applesauce = fruit and cheese pizza = protein.
Me after 3 kids: No dessert until you finish your Happy Meal!
Food was the easiest one for me to let go of. I never really maintained much illusion about my children’s diets. With pediatrician recommendations shifting every few years, I had three different sets of guidelines for each of my kids as to when they should start solids, when to introduce potential allergens like peanuts, and how they should feed themselves (I don’t remember hearing about baby led weaning until baby number three). It’s hard not to judge yourself when your friend casually mentions that her three year old LOVED the homegrown eggplant from their garden, but if your kids are healthy and thriving, let it go. And a daily multivitamin goes a long way!
Me before kids: My kids won’t wear their favorite characters 24/7, they’ll look like mini-adults.
Me after 1 kid: The Disney Store pajamas really do hold up well.
Me after 2 kids: If I get you the Paw Patrol undies, will you finally pee on the potty?
Me after 3 kids: We’re late, it’s time to go, does everyone have shoes on???
While I still pull out all the bribes, tricks, and sorcery to ensure that our outfits are perfectly curated for our annual family pictures, I rarely have the time and energy to micromanage everyday outfits for all the kids. I’ve also realized through trial and error that giving back control over wardrobe fosters more independence and creativity, which our kids (and the world!) need more of.
Me before kids: It’s so important to stick to a sleep schedule. The sleep schedule is everything.
Me after 1 kid: Sorry we can’t make it to your bbq, it’s right in the middle of naptime.
Me after 2 kids: Maybe if I wear the baby in the wrap all afternoon, she’ll sleep the whole time?
Me after 3 kids: He slept in the car to/from soccer practice, close enough!
There are a million different tips and advice for night feeding, sleep training, nap schedules, etc. and after three kids I’ve learned it’s all a crapshoot! Keep the following on hand AT ALL TIMES: coffee, wine (you can drink and breastfeed, it’s a thing), grace, and a sense of humor. With those ingredients, you will get through whatever your kids throw your way, and you’ll come out the other side wiser, stronger, and braver. You got this, Moms!