You have probably found yourself here because you already have 3 kids under 3 years old or you are currently expecting and will be in that situation soon. I am a twin mom who also has a singleton and I survived 3 kids under 3.
I thought it would be helpful to share my own personal experience with you, including my top tips to getting through this chaotic phase of life. It can be very rewarding, but it’s also exhausting. So let’s get started discussing what to expect and what you can do to make it a little bit easier.
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What Does 3 Under 3 Mean?
To start let’s define 3 under 3. When parents mention this term, they are referring to having 3 kids all under the age of 3 years old to care for. This stage of parenting is A LOT of work, and that’s likely why this term has been popularized
What Can You Expect With 3 Kids Under 3?
Some of the things I remember the most from this part of my life are the following:
- So many diapers – our garbage was extremely full each week
- Exhaustion – between needing to constantly watch the kids and dealing with any sleep regressions, it is very tiring
- The older kids entertain the younger ones – my baby would just sit and observe his older toddler twin sisters
- Lots of milestones – rolling over, walking, starting solids, talking, and the list goes on, all three of your kids will go through many milestones during this time
- It’s hard to get out of the house – you just need so many things like diapers and strollers to go anywhere, plus you need to schedule around nap times
- The house will be overrun with baby toys – there was a lot of clutter from toys, but they were lifesavers
>>Get baby & toddler sleep help to reduce stress and actually have a little time for yourself each day<<
Top Tips for Surviving With 3 Under 3
Now that you have a little insight into what to expect with 3 under 3, I’d like to share my top tips to help you get through this fun, but exhausting stage of parenting life.
Your patience will be tested daily. Tantrums will happen, there will be messes in the house, it’s important to be as patient as possible through it all. Your kids are not quite old enough for timeouts yet, so it can be a struggle if they do something wrong.
Mess Is Okay
I’ve mentioned this above too, but it’s okay for your house to be messy. Maybe there’s some dirty dishes in the sink that you just can’t get to, or the laundry is overflowing.
I know I constantly felt like my house was so cluttered too. Baby gear and toddler toys were sprawled in multiple rooms.
If you feel like your house is always messy, don’t stress about it. You are very busy right now and you will clean the best you can.
But remember to also give yourself downtime when you can. Sometimes you might have to leave the mess there to clean up another day, just so you can get some rest.
Don’t Try To Do Too Much
This is a time in your life to spend a lot of time at home. At least that’s how I felt.
The idea of bringing all three kids out to run errands or go to the library was just overwhelming to me. Specifically, if I was on my own.
Now if both me and my husband were around on the weekend, we would often go out as a family. So my recommendation would be to try to have two adults when you go do things, when possible.
Schedules Are Important
This was vital for me. I guess it started as soon as I became a mom to twins. Keeping my kids on a reliable schedule was the only way I could find some time for myself too.
Now if you have a day where you are out and your kids nap in the car or skip a nap, that’s okay. But overall, it’s a good idea to have a reliable, established schedule for your kids. It’s makes bedtime much easier and you get some downtime for naps too!
Have People To Help
It’s time to assemble your army of helpers. Do you have family nearby that can watch the kids occasionally?
With 3 kids under 3, it is more important now than ever to find some extra helping hands. Maybe you have family nearby that is willing to help.
Personally, we do not live near family. That’s why we decided to hire a nanny for our twins. With 3 kids, it might be cheaper or the same cost as daycare.
In addition to the nanny during the day, we also had a couple date night babysitters. Another way to find help is to reach out to other moms with young kids.
Maybe you can get together a couple times a week for play dates. When needed you can help each other out watching the kids. Whatever your situation, try to have at least two reliable people who can help you out.
They Won’t Be This Little Forever
On those especially tough days, remember that this is just a phase. Your kids will continue to get older and eventually be more independent and have other needs.
I always found it helpful to remind myself of this. I don’t know if I can sincerely say I did it on a particularly hard day, but it’s important to keep this attitude in your mind.
You can’t go back in time. Eventually you will not have 3 under 3 – and it will get a little easier when this happens.
Strategically Pack That Diaper Bag
When you leave the house with the kids, make sure you have your diaper bag packed to the gills. Make sure you have enough bottles, snacks, diapers, wipes, burp cloths, medicine, and toys.
If you have a well prepared diaper bag with all the items babies and toddlers need, it will make life a little less stressful. You could also consider having a car diaper caddy, to ensure you always have some essentials with you.
Make Time For Your Partner
This one might seem impossible, but it’s so important if you’re married or in a relationship. If you are able to, go out on a date night once a month.
If you can’t make that happen, at least make sure you spend time together at night. Keeping your relationship in a good place during a stressful time is important not only for you, but also for your children.
Who Gets The Most Attention?
You might find yourself feeling like you are giving one child more attention than the others. Through the various phases children go through as they get older, they might need more attention at certain times.
I would recommend giving your child the attention that’s needed, if the other ones are fine with it. However, be mindful to not make this a pattern where one or two children get all your attention and the others are ignored.
I found that the child that needed more attention tended to rotate. However, this will not always be the case in every family.
Until at least one child is potty trained, the diaper situation will be a lot to deal with. In our town there is a weight limit on garbage.
If you exceed it, you get a bright yellow sticker as a warning. I recall getting slammed with this sticker numerous times when we had all 3 kids in diapers.
As far as potty training, pretty much any parent I know who potty trained when pregnant had a child regress after the baby was born. So, it’s best to just hold off. This is also what our pediatrician recommended.
But, once you are able to get your oldest child potty trained, the diapering situation will at least ease up a bit. Buy diapers and wipes in bulk to save money.
My favorites are the Huggies sold at Costco. They are supposed to have extra protection when compared with Huggies from other stores.
What Kind Of Stroller Do I Need for 3 Under 3?
Unless you have triplets, you will not need a triple stroller. You should have at least one child who can walk at this stage.
I would recommend getting a double stroller, mostly because a triple stroller is extremely large and bulky. You can make do as needed with a double stroller.
For example, if you go to the grocery store you can put one child in the cart seat and the others in the double stroller. This would work if you are going with another adult.
If you are alone you could use the double stroller as a cart and use a baby carrier. But let’s be honest, chances are you are not going in the store alone with 3 kids under 3 very often.
Helpful Items For Moms to Three Kids Under Three
The following items were huge lifesavers for me to get through life with 3 under 3. Most of the items listed below revolve around helping babies and toddlers sleep. But, ensuring good sleeping habits is a huge factor to getting through this stage of life.
These are my top favorite items, along with links the to actual brands and products I have used and absolutely loved:
- Side-by-side double stroller or tandem double stroller
- Swaddles, toddler sleep sacks, & Baby Merlin sleep suit
- Blackout curtains or shades
- Sound machine
- Motor skill toys for toddlers
- Baby seat
What’s It Like To Be a Working Mom Of 3 Under 3?
When my kids were little and under 3 years old I worked full time as a chemical engineer. For me, going to work was a break from the chaos at home. We were incredibly lucky to have a wonderful nanny.
By having a nanny, I did not have to do the kids laundry, take them to and from daycare, or worry about them getting sick and missing work. Of course, if my kids did go to daycare they would have had the opportunity for more social interactions. There are positives and negatives to both scenarios.
Once home from work, I would make dinner, have about an hour of play time with the kids, and then it was bedtime for them. I was also pumping at work and nursing until my little one was 14 months.
That gives you a general idea of what it’s like to work with 3 under 3. Everyone’s schedule is different of course, but at the end of the day you will have a few hours with your kids (if that). Then of course you will have full days with them when you are off from work.
Having 3 kids under 3 is no small tasks for moms and dads, but you will get through it and it WILL get easier as your kids get older.
I know it seems like an overwhelming task to care for 3 kids under 3. Use the tips above to make it as easy as possible.
And remember, this stage of life is TEMPORARY. As your children grow, it will get easier and new and different problems and issues will face you as a parent. Good luck, you got this!