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

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.

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. 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. 3

    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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    • 4

      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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    • 5

      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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    • 6

      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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    • 7

      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. 8

    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. 12

    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. 13

    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. 14

    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. 15

    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. 16

    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. 17

    Maria says

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

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  10. 18

    Wendy says

    As a ninth child myself, I was kind of raised by my older sisters (the oldest was almost 16 when I was born!), but my mom tried to not put too much responsibility on them. I never cried because my every need was always met almost immediately! My mom always said every third child was the easiest! But new outfits, birthday parties, etc….forget it! I got hand-me-downs (as did most of us), and family-only birthday celebrations.

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  11. 19

    Joanne says

    You forgot sleep training and nap obsession.

    1st kid is home for every nap and times and durations are obsessively charted and graphed.

    2nd kid is lucky to get cat naps in the car while driving to errands or drop 1st kid off at activities.

    3rd kid is familiar with every late night talk show television host and often puts YOU to bed.

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  12. 20

    Maureen Wallace says

    I think I may have skipped the second-child approach and arrived immediately at the third-child approach, even before he’s here. But, to my credit, by this time I know the difference between an “ouchie-I-want-attention” cry and a “oh-dear-God-mama-my -limbs-are-pinned-inside-furniture” scream. I’m good like that.

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  13. 24

    Mama says

    This post is part of the reason I’d like to have another child – surely I can do this in a way that’s more enjoyable for us all! I’ve made this MUCH more difficult and stressful than it needs to be. Our pediatrician made rounds on the NICU babies before they were discharged so that he would be familiar with their situations and histories prior to the anxious mom arrival at their office. I always called during pumping sessions to get the latest updates and stats. One morning around 6 AM our Ped was rounding on the girls and offered to give me the updates. Within a minute of our conversation he sighed and said, “We’re going to have to desensitize you.” Yeah, I was kind of a nut.

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  14. 27

    April Roberts says

    I still go all out for birthdays for all 3 even though I'm starting to wish I never started in the first place lol. As for everything else, totally my life.

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  15. 29

    Tina Bietler@One Tired Working Mommy says

    So funny and yet totally true. For my first it was even worse. I had already been teaching first grade for 5 years. I already knew kids fell, got sick and all that stuff. So when he became mobile and would fall down I would literally tell him to “Shake it off, you’ll be fine.”

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  16. 30

    Susan says

    I love your blog! I’m so glad I found it. Posts like this so make me chuckle even though I’m now living the teen years with my kids. Thanks for your honesty and humor!

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