The 2-To-3 Child Transition Was A Pleasant Surprise

by Ashleigh Wilkening
Two Little Boys And A Little Girl Posing On A Beach
ArtMarie / iStock

Initially, my husband and I were apprehensive about adding a third kid to the mix. How would it change our family dynamic? How would my husband and I successfully juggle the demands of three kids under the age of 4? Of course, in the most responsible fashion, we didn’t fully consider them until we were already pregnant.

Much of our concern stemmed from normal worries most commonly expressed by parents when considering adding another family member. How do I successfully divide myself amongst three highly demanding children? Is it possible to give them all the attention they need and want without anyone feeling left out?

Then there was some overthinking and overanalyzing involved. How come no one else we know has three kids? Are we crazy? Do we need to buy a shuttle to accommodate another car seat? Is there any truth to this whole “middle child” syndrome?

Honestly, I think my biggest fear was tackling the whole “being outnumbered” obstacle. Two parents. Three kids? Adding a third seemed to resemble a bad math problem: If X needs to be fed, Y needs to be changed and Z? Where’s Z? Maybe I should’ve paid more attention in high school math class. Sorry, kids.

Our anxiety only increased when thinking back on how smooth the transition from one to two children was — and by smooth, I mean horribly jarring. I can’t explain why the additional child felt like it was five times as much work when it should’ve just been double.

Maybe it was because by the time the second one came around, my first was turning into a terrible-twos demon child requiring a lot of attention and patience, both of which I was running low on while operating on little to no sleep and caring for a newborn. Maybe it was the stress of still trying to be that perfect parent I was with my first kid until coming to my senses and realizing eating raisins off the floor won’t kill them and TV time is our new BFF. Who knows what it was, but the hop from one to two kids was definitely brutal. Keeping all this in mind, of course, I was nervous about welcoming the third.

When I encountered people with three or more children, I couldn’t help but pick their brains and ask if the transition from one to two or two to three was harder. I also googled the shit out of this topic, reading every article and blog post I could find. It seemed like the majority found going from one to two harder, but it was all relative. Experiences vary so much from family to family so that although these resources provided great insight and advice, they didn’t provide me with the comfort I was looking for. All I could do was just let go and let whatever was going to happen, happen. After all, I was already knocked up, so I really didn’t have much of a choice.

Then the blessed day came, and we officially welcomed baby No. 3.

Overall, the transition has not only been easier than the jump from one to two little ones, it’s also been easier than the two-child dynamic we were previously operating in.

Enemies Turned Besties

Pre-baby No. 3, my boys were each other’s worst enemies. From sun up to sun down, the constant fighting, bickering, yelling, and screaming would drive me crazy. Refusing to share and take turns made me the eternal referee often stepping in to break up wrestling matches. All day, every day.

Now? They are each other’s best friends. They willingly play with one another in actual enjoyment. I never thought I’d see the day. Sure, they still fight and behave in the typical toddler fashion, but it’s a huge improvement. I used to worry that my constant preoccupation with taking care of a newborn would leave my boys aching for attention and cause them to act out. What’s going to happen if I’m not always available to watch them like a hawk or be on guard to step in if a fight or disagreement were to arise? Apparently, my inattentiveness and some extra space was exactly what my boys needed. I could get used to this “hands-off” approach.

Little Boys Turned Into Big Brothers

I also found myself worrying whether the addition of the baby would force my boys to grow up quicker than they were prepared to do. Well, this is exactly what happened, and it has been such a positive transformation.

Both my boys are completely enamored with their baby sister and have stepped up to be such helpful big brothers — always providing me with a welcomed extra set of hands to throw away diapers, fetch a blanket, and whatever small task asked of them. It truly is amazing. There are no feelings of resentment or jealousy you often hear siblings experience with the addition of a new baby. Only nurturing, loving boys proud to be big brothers to their new little sister. This experience has given them such a sense of responsibility and purpose while also helping them to feel included with the baby and what’s going on.

“Get It Yourself!”

Now that I’m always busy with a baby, I don’t have as much free time to fulfill my sons’ every request and demand. I am embarrassed to admit some guilt over my sons’ laziness and quickness to beckon me for everything and anything. Lost toy? Call for Mom. Milk? Snack? Call for Mom. Bored and in need of entertainment? Call for Mom. I hear my name being screamed and yelled all day long. Most of my day is running around granting my children’s wants.

Enter new baby? Mama ain’t got time for that. Lo and behold, my boys grew a sense of independence. Without me by their side, they figured things out for themselves. They now are finding their own toys — or at least attempting. They know how to go to the fridge and get their milk. They’re learning just how capable they are to do things for themselves, and it’s a win-win for all of us! I sometimes used to doubt their ability, hence my willingness to be their self-appointed servant, but not anymore. I’m actually amazed just how much they can accomplish on their own. Who would’ve thought all it would take was for me to be unavailable to them so they could learn and embrace this valuable trait?

Three’s a Charm

Overall, I’m shocked and astonished by just how natural the transition from two to three has been. If anything, it’s almost easier than just having two. I even joked with a friend saying, “If I knew three would’ve been this easy, I would’ve had her sooner.”

The influence this experience has had on my two boys and our family as a whole has been incredible and a more than welcomed surprise.

If three is this easy, why stop there? I wonder what baby No. 4 would bring?