Whole Parenting Family

planning for sanity when you have a third child on the way

check my diaper?

who, me?

bugs out the window

A friend just messaged me about being pregnant with number three. Did I have any tips on preparing oneself? I had to laugh a little because my pregnancy has been so rough in so many ways that getting it through and done is the biggest part of preparing myself for three, four & under!

Then I thought about it a little more. How did we know we were ready for another life, or the possibility of it? How was I crazy enough to embark on throwing up for weeks and weeks on end? And then the capstone: wanting no pain meds for labor??

The answer is that you have to leap, always, when you’re open to more kids. There will be unknowns and unexpecteds. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. There will be floods of joy over your porous heart. Porous because they keep stabbing you in it. I also hate being pregnant, but know it’s not a disease and I’ll get over it (as my paternal grandmother used to tell my mom and her five miserable pregnancies).

How I’ve actually prepped myself for three kids? A few of the following, but lots of ice cream, lying in bed when I could be productive, and letting my husband play rough house with the kids right before actual bedtime.

1) Get help. Now.

My family is awesome. They’re really about as close to perfect as you could get. Devoted & doting grandparents, super involved aunties & uncles, and many of them in close proximity. I also know I could call up any of my cousins or aunts in a pinch and they’d do anything to help. We’re just those kind of Irish Catholics. That being said, if your parents are both still working, or otherwise not geographically available, find help.

Be it nursery school, day care, mother’s helper, regular babysitter, neighbor in your building, whomever. If you think you can superwoman through this, you’re being silly. Just don’t try this at home. Alone. You will go nuts, your marriage will suffer, and you will hate and resent your children for sucking the life blood out of you. Unless you’re saintly. Then you just offer it up.

Sometimes I run errands or clean up. Sometimes I lie down and watch something on Net-flex (that’s NuNu’s pronunciation). I truly try to check out when I have a babysitter. Check in to my body, my baby growing, my need to tweeze my eyebrows. Whatever.

2) Daily routine.

I love routine. I’m not that type A, even for a lawyer, but routine helps me make space to breathe, and gives the kiddos predictability for when they have their own private time and when I have mine, if no sitter is around. You know I love quiet time routines for toddlers & preschoolers {as described here}, and naps. Big believer in protest napping. DO NOT DROP YOUR KID’S NAP unless it’s proven over weeks that they are ready to drop it. Even if they appear to not want it for a few days, or even a week, they need it. Sleep is crucial for development. And for mamas eating ice cream out of the bucket. Little kids must nap. {More on sleep here.}

I aspire to be a mom who takes her kids to the park regularly in her stroller and athletic pants. Honestly, when it’s -20 for years here in Minnesota, we just rush in and out of the car to get to Mom’s Group at mass. And that’s about it for outings. But maybe I’ll get a triple stroller a la Grace and be all athletic with my three. Once BabyLoves is big enough to want to get out of the sling/carrier, that is.

3) Let go.

Two paths for this letting go discussion: when you’re pregnant with number three, and when you have number three. I don’t have number three yet so I can’t speak to it. I know I had to let go of a lot of things with two kids–that was a bigger leap for me than 0—>1. So if it’s anything like that, the sinks are going to get dirtier and we should invest in Amy’s Organic Pizza stock.

Letting go when you’re pregnant for me means choosing which activity to do during the day. Don’t plan more than one. You’ll be exhausted and crabby from hauling the kids in & out of the car seats or stroller. You’ll be burnt out from talking and talking and talking, even if it’s with your girlfriends. You’ll hate checkout lines because inevitably yours is the longest at the store when you’re pregnant and have both kids with you.

If the kids have a crap day, or you didn’t sleep, don’t power through. Cancel and regroup. Camp out. Have a few arts & crafts things in the wings that can distract them while you lie on the ground. Don’t run errands with the kids. Don’t plan a big meal. If the meat isn’t defrosted by 4, call it a day. Breakfast for dinner, people!

And most keenly, in letting go of doing everything for everyone, the one person I still try to do for (aside from my lumbering bod) is my husband. Letting our relationship suck because I’m barf-central would just make being in barf-central that much worse. I genuinely think that putting yourself outside your normal complaining comfort zone when you’re struggling and pregnant, and genuinely treating your husband like he’s still that hot guy you fell in love with helps. At least it does for me. And means he’ll get me ice cream late at night!


  1. Laura @ Mothering Spirit on March 18, 2014 at 8:07 am

    YES. Love this. I too struggle so much with pregnancy that one of the small blessings is that I actually look forward to birth and life with newborn! It is indeed all about letting go. I feel like I am finally learning that, even with my two right now. When I overschedule us with playdates and errands and outings, we all get exhausted. Our best days seem to be the slow, simple ones at home. And I’m grateful to have learned that – AND the absolute necessity of asking for/hiring help – before baby #3 arrives!

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 20, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      Overscheduling is the WORST! See, you’ve got it all down. You’ll be great with number 3!!

  2. Susanna on March 19, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Alright, I already have three. Who can I hire for help? That is the hardest thing not having family around is finding someone to hire… 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      Maybe there’s a nice family at church with a reliable teen who can drive??

  3. Mandy Skinner on December 12, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I am so nervous about having #3 and everyone is just like “you make it work”, but I love how you give real strategies to make it work! Letting go is going to be key for me. My blog Soccer Mom with Muscles (www.soccermomwithmuscles.com) is about raising a healthy family, so I used to go, go, go, going. I am going to have to work hard to simplify and let go. 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on December 13, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      It kinda kicked my butt (nothing as hard as going from 1-2 for me) but you can totally do this! Can’t wait to check out your blog!

  4. Caroline on July 2, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I stumbled on your blog and love it! We are about to have 3 under 4 (due in October) and we can’t wait but I need all the reminders that it’s okay to let things go! I’ve finally accepted that my giant garden is a hot mess of weeds and I’ve cut back helping out at church and cut out most play dates – because we have more simple fun at home. I daily remind myself to focus on outdoor adventures with the kids, healthy home cooked meals and loving my sweet husband, then we are all peaceful and much happier. Thanks for the inspiration! We also co-sleep (the plan is for all 5 of us in our giant combined bed), baby wear, gently parent. Such a blessing!