Whole Parenting Family

Juggling three kids under 5 years old


Just don’t.

But let me back up and tell you about our epic morning first.

We were up & at ’em bright and early with SuperBoy coming in before he’s supposed to (7am) at a lovely 6:40. I had just packed AA out the door with lunch, bfast, and a snack, scarfed down a bowl of cereal, Mom’s Best, the fake golden grahams? Yup.

SuperBoy wanted to attack BabyLoves with his overpowering love for him. Lots of

Here’s the Twins’ yearbook from two years ago. Let’s talk about each player. I love you SO much. You can play baseball just like me, if you want to . . . .

Cue SweetPea and her stinky godzilla poopy night diaper. The girl’s been potty trained for 4 months but still opts to poop at naps & nighttime in her cloth diaper.

Mama!!! I MADE A POOPIE!!!!!

The morning starts off on rocky prickly ground as the big kids argue over who is going to touch and talk to the baby. There may be pushing and indignation. She always wins the screaming contests.

I convince them to be nice to each other with the promise that their favorite family friend, Mr. J, who is a recent high school grad and doing small projects for us around the yard & house, will be here soon. Sunscreen on. Bug spray on. Kids in the queue for the toilet.

{{What? Your kids are still getting bug bites? Aren’t you using Molly’s bug spray? It keeps even the ticks at bay when we’re at the Lodge in Wisconsin. Best stuff. Buy it now.}}

They squabble over who gets to wear which Twins hat. SuperBoy has been Mr. J’s helper since he started around here this summer. It has actually been a surprisingly amazing thing to see a just-turned 4 year old working HARD. For hours. I have to drag he and his mini-wheelbarrow and tinker bell work gloves away from it.

We wait in the backyard. She dumps sand out of the sand box. He goes ballistic and wrings his hands in tears. He’s very biblical with the wringing of the hands. The baby is screaming, very uncharacteristically, as I’m trying to make him nurse while separating the bigger kids. I’m sure my neighbors wish our fence were higher so they don’t have to see this lady nursing all.the.time.

They separate. No Mr. J. They whine and plead. It turns out he called and said he couldn’t come in today because of some other commitments. No big deal. Except to them. The gnashing of teeth continues and morphs into each one demanding to be held. Right now. By me. And that I stop nursing. Right now. And pick each of them up.

My headache from lack of sleep is clouding my brain and all I can think is it’s only 9am???

Fast forward to post-lunch swim class prep:

Get the van out of the garage while the three kids are screaming in the house.

Get him on the toilet and into his swim suit.

Get her on the toilet (protest potty) and into a just-in-case diaper.

Get her changed out of her sandy muddy onesie.

Get baby nursed while doing all these other things.

Pack a bag in case of emergency clothing meltdown for the two youngest.

Pack SuperBoy’s goggles and epipen and benedyrl (always with a peanut allergy kid).

Load up the car.

Try to quickly finish nursing BabyLoves and burp him so he doesn’t gurgle scream.

Remember her single stroller so I can put baby in the sling, put her in the stroller, and hold his hand to get into the pool building.

We start driving. I realize I have nothing for her for entertainment for the half-hour swim lesson. She could, conceivably, be entertained just watching the kids. Or she could scream and run away from me. And maybe the baby will scream the whole time too. These morbid thoughts overwhelm me and I cringe. Why am I taking all three kids?! My mom has been just taking SuperBoy all summer.

I’m not this brave. As it ended up, they were all fine, came home and had long naps, ate their dinner well, played nicely in the backyard, and enjoyed their dada’s last softball game of the regular season. But I realized in my cowardly moments that it’s not about taking three kids out and accomplishing the stated task: swim lessons, or going to the store, or the bank, or God-forbid somewhere quiet like church. If it were, every parent of small children would fail and never leave the house.

It’s about letting go of any expectation that things will go smoothly, quickly, or quietly. They probably won’t. And that buckling and unbuckling and potty ying-yangs (you know–the two year old who says she has to use the toilet, then won’t, then won’t put her undies back on while you’re carrying the baby in a sling and hoisting the toddler up and down?), the laughing and unexpected signs of love between the kids in the car, and the mama-meltdowns at the store, all are what it’s about.

So just relax, Nell. This is life with three.

Remember me talking about sample day with 2 kids? Now life with three!


  1. Olivia on July 24, 2014 at 10:03 am

    “He’s very biblical with the wringing of the hands.” — L.O.L. Dying.

    I love this little peak into a normal day! You are dong such a great job, those are three lucky kids!!!

  2. […] Don’t forget my sample day with three kids under 5. Or how to juggle them. […]

  3. Diane on July 27, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    and burp him so he doesn’t gurgle scream…LOL!!! Oh i needed to read this right now!! Thank u!!