The Differences in Parenting a First and a Third Child


three kids

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how differently we approach things now that we have three kids versus having one or two. When I say we, I mean ME. Maybe you guys have it more together than I do. If so, I’m happy for you and not at all jealous. These days, I’m just striving for them to be clean(ish) and fed. When we had only one kid though, my parenting was vastly different…

Monthly Photos
First kid: Take a cute picture of your child on their “monthday” holding a sign or wearing month stickers on their onesie.
Second kid: Get most of the monthly photos, but skip a couple; may or may not have props or cute clothes.
Third kid: Not.A.Chance

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First kid: Photo cards for every occasion, including Valentine’s Day and Easter with pictures of our baby, sent out to friends and family.
Second kid: Celebrate Valentine’s Day and all the other non-big holidays, but no one gets custom cards.
Third kid: SHIT, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow? Run to the store at 11:00pm for box cards, and hope your kids get good stuff at school since only the reject candy was left at the store.

First Birthday Party
First kid: Meticulously planned, Pinterest worthy first birthday celebration, complete with smash cake and photo session.
Second kid: First birthday party at home.
Third kid: First birthday cake with family (sorry, honey.)

First kid: Diligently teach them everything kids their age should know, and a little more.
Second kid: Try to teach them what you can, but don’t sweat it…they’ll learn.
Third kid: Wonder “when did he learn THAT?”

First kid: Call the doctor for every sniffle or fever.
Second kid: Call the doctor sometimes.
Third kid: The doctor is calling you because you missed another well visit.

First kid: Read up on what milestones they should be meeting and worry if they miss something.
Second kid: Think, huh…I guess that’s about when the first one started doing x,y,z.
Third kid: Meh. He’ll get it eventually.

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First kid: Oh, no, she fell! Rush to her side, look for signs of a concussion, give meds, and put a call into the doctor “just in case”.
Second kid: He fell! Go to him, look for blood or bumps and determine he’s okay.
Third kid: He fell. He’ll get up.

Thank God my husband got a vasectomy after that last one; I don’t think a fourth would make it… at least not without more therapy than we can afford.


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  1. Frankie Lawson says

    Don’t forget discipline. First kid: you chastise them immediately (especially in public). Second kid: you yell from across the playground, “Hey, cut it out.” Third kid: you assume he’s probably still in the playground, but you don’t bother to check until it’s time to leave.

    I’m only guessing of course. I have two kids.

    My 3yo daughter is so “I do it on my own,” she put herself in timeout.

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  2. Amy - Funny is Family says

    I treat my first kid more like a second kid, and my second more like a third. Like you, I imagine it would be unwise for me to have another.

    Thanks for the laugh!

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    • Myndee says

      That’s kind of great though. I think I’m a better mom being more relaxed about everything…only I was forced to relax because of all the kids. You are free to have another if you wish. ;)

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    • Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife says

      Amy, I am the same way with my kids. Thank God we won’t be having any more…I imagine they would be more like outside cats…only coming home for meals.

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    • AnneB says

      Oh thank GOD there’s someone else here like me. My first fell off the changing table at Gramma’s onto the concrete floor when he was 8 months old. Gramma freaked out and insisted he be taken to the ER. I was all, “Meh. He’s not crying anymore? Eyes aren’t dilated? Didn’t lose consciousness? Nothing obviously broken? He’s fine.”

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    • Siouxqietk says

      I was more like first to 3rd on the second. The first one I fell asleep nursing, dropped him and my mom (who was visiting) had to pick him up. I was convinced he’d broken his neck, and I wanted to call an ambulance. She had to convince me he was fine. Second kid, I also fell asleep nursing and dropped, I just picked him up and was like, “meh, he’s fine.”

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  3. Lynn from For Love or Funny says

    Oops. I’m guilty of many of those parenting observations between first and last child. Maybe my youngest will forgive me if I buy her a car…

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  4. Traci says

    I am cracking up at the thing about photographs. My first daughter had her portrait taken on EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE HOLIDAY in an outfit purchased just for the occasion. And sometimes in matching outfits with her cousin, my sisters first daughter. My poor second daughter cries every time we have a project to do where she needs pictures of herself! My son is my third but my husbands first so he gets a little more attention being the only boy and all. But one day he dropped a mozzarella stick at a restaurant and was about to eat it anyway when the next table over freaked out. I took it away from him real quick, but as soon as they left a few minutes later, I let him eat the cheese stick!

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  5. Debby Lewis says

    OMG this is my life almost to a T. When I was about to be discharged after the birth of my third girl, yes you read that right THIRD GIRL, the head nurse came in to give me the "Safety Speech" and I looked at her and said, "This is my third child. I have managed to raise the other two to the house broken stage. I think I can manage with this one as well. I do not worry unless I see one of three things, bleeding, bone protrusion, or brain matter. Bleeding you have to stop, bone protrusion you should get set quickly and well, with brain matter, it doesn't matter if you have a medevac in your backyard, it's not going to help!" She looked at me like I had just grown two additional heads. But she got the point and saved her breath. Told me to sign on the line and said enjoy the newest member of the family!

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  6. Debby Lewis says

    We do the first three in the home surrounded by family and friends. At 4 they all were in preschool and we had classmates to invite so the parties moved out of the home. That way there was less stress on momma!

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  7. Heather Pollock Hose says

    That sounds about right! Exactly right! Except the 3rd kid scenerio in this story actually happened with my 2nd kid. So your doing a lot better then me! LOL

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  8. Marta says

    HA. I only have two (though I want a third at some point) but this was still sooo spot on. And reminded me that I need to think about my daughter’s upcoming birthday party.

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  9. Maria says

    I have a 20month old. A 4month old and expecting twins!! Lol deff the more u have the more relaxed you makes parenting easier and the kids aren’t so stressed like the first one.

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