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Outnumbered and Out of Control

“Mom, Gannon has a Sharpie!” 

It’s a good thing my five year old likes to tattle because otherwise a lot of really bad shit would have gone down with that Sharpie.

This is life with three children. 

I remember hearing toddler horror stories about kids who colored all over the walls and flushed cell phones down toilets. I know kids are insane and this shit occasionally happens, but I’m not going to lie, a very small part of me judged wondered about the parents. What the hell are you doing when your kid is coloring your on your walls with a Sharpie? How is it possible that your child is left alone, unsupervised, long enough to find a Sharpie and then redecorate your house? 

Then, we had our third baby, 20 months after our second baby. It all became very clear to me. When you have three kids under five, someone is unsupervised at all times, whether you like it or not. 

Unfortunately, feeding and caring for a needy newborn means my very independent and capable two year old has let himself out the front door and played around in the yard by himself once (or twice). It doesn’t make me a bad mom, or neglectful, it just means that it’s not humanly possible for me to have eyes on all three at all times. Obviously, we’ve learned to lock the front door. 

My escape artist.

My escape artist.

When I found out we were expecting our third, I asked a friend of mine who also has three kids about how she manages being outnumbered. 

“Well we’ve lowered our standards, obviously,” she replied. 

This made me laugh at the time, but now I totally get it. Our first child wore expensive toddler shoes when he was learning to walk. We served him vegetables at every meal, even if he refused to eat them. We held tight to his strict napping schedule and made sure we tracked and limited his screen time. These days, my kids play outside without shoes, eat freezy pops by the box, and skip naps whenever necessary if it means getting where we need to be on time. And when I’m really feeling like a rebel, I let them eat dinner in front of the laptop while they watch other kids play video games on YouTube.  

So the next time you see a toddler playing in the front yard alone, instead of contemplating calling CPS, pick that kid up and carry him inside. Surely the mother is busy trying to breastfeed a baby, while on the phone with the pediatrician, and trying to get someone dressed for soccer practice all at the same time. 

And for those of you moms who are expecting your third, or fourth, my advice is simple. Relax a little. Forgive yourself when the kids are chaos. Lower your standards just a little bit, and um, don’t forget to lock your front door.