Five Quick Thoughts on Three Under Four

Hello, friends.

Baby Sister is now three months old and I’m checking in briefly to share some of my observations on the first three months of our life as a family with three [kids] under four [years of age]:

1. Going from two kids to three isn’t nearly as hard as going from zero to one.  (With apologies to any parents-to-be among my readers for any fear this comment may induce.)

2. On hubris: beware of taking to the phone lines to announce that your magnificent two month old daughter is sleeping through the night.  She will undoubtedly overhear you and decide to remind you who is boss (i.e. not you) by developing a cold and looking for company at 3 a.m.

3. On hubris, part two: Remember how I spent lots of time during my pregnancy improving my eating habits and celebrating the success of my Happiness Project?  Well, let’s just say that I’ve lowered my standards (i.e. “exercise” = cleaning up Legos; “healthy eating” = devouring doughnut holes instead of an entire Cinnabon; “reading” = a third straight recitation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar).

4. Newborns are cute.  So are toddlers.  And so are preschoolers.

5. Newborns are exhausting.  So are toddlers.  And so are preschoolers.

I’ve missed you and I’ve missed the me that I am when I’m writing and blogging.  So, I’m back.  (I think.)  Back and hopefully better than ever.


57 responses to “Five Quick Thoughts on Three Under Four

  1. Welcome back! I’ve missed you and can’t wait to hear about your new family dynamics. I can’t comprehend what it must be like to have 3 under 4 but I do remember the Very Hungry Caterpillar phase.

  2. Welcome back! So nice to see you here today 🙂

  3. Welcome back. I look forward to reading more as you settle in with the new family. Do tell, how does going from 2 to 3 compare to going from 1 to 2?

    • Great question. In my experience, the transition gets easier with each additional child so 0 to 1 was hardest and 2 to 3 was easiest, with 1 to 2 falling somewhere in between. That’s not to say that I’ll be having any more to test the theory – we’re definitely stopping at three!

      I wonder what other parents think. Any takers?

  4. Welcome back, Kristen! I’ve missed you. Sounds like things are going well (how can it not with your three beautiful kids – love the new banner!), and I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures with your three under four. Especially since I’m going from one to two in just a couple of weeks. I will look to you for inspiration. 🙂

  5. Welcome back! I like it that you’re here.

    You cracked me up with this one. And you have my wheels turning because it fascinates me–the whole going from none to one, to one to two, and from two to three–I wonder if it’s different for everyone (what was the hardest) or if it’s generally the same for most people. I have no idea why I’m this fascinated…but I am. 🙂


  6. Woohoo! I am so glad you’re back! I can’t commiserate on three under four (or even three, no matter the span), but I do understand parental hubris. We never say certain words in our family– Q-U-I-E-T is one of them!

  7. And delighted I am to see you here!! And looking forward to reading whenever you can write. Also, I find it reassuring to know about the relative ease of a third. I always thought that going from none to one was the hardest. It will remain to be see if I will test out this theory on two to three.

  8. Miss you as well! And I agree about the transition from 2 to 3 being easier than 0 to 1! (Easier than 1 to 2, too!)

  9. I love the last one 🙂
    So happy to see you here, and your three little ones up top!!

  10. I’m soooo glad to see you. AND so glad you gave yourself time to rest. (And if you need more time, I’m still here, faithful reader!)

    Kids are all that: sleepers, cuties, exhausting and teachers. It’s a path. I hope to be gentle with myself as I continue to take it one step at a time instead of in leaps and bounds.

    • The last few months I’ve been giving the small steps thing a chance. You know me well enough to know I’m usually a leaps and bounds type, but – with kids, at least – there’s no sense in fighting the natural rhythm of things. Especially when that natural rhythm is such a beautiful one.

      So nice to have you here, Rebecca. xo

      • I think this IS the gift of parenting. I’m naturally a fast person. Kids slowed me down. I remember catching myself the time I was telling my son to hurry into the grocery store (he liked to leap frog EVERYthing).

        Then I realized “why?” So we can get home and hurry through unloading the groceries and hurry through story time to hurry to the park to play? He wants his life to be play.

        What a way to live. This is why I had kids. To learn. First hand. You’re so in the right place (and I know sometimes it feels really wrong 🙂 I hated going slow. )

  11. So glad to have you back! Yes, they are adorable, they are exhausting, and the jump from 2 to 3 isn’t as bad as you think. I am glad you are getting your bearings. We’ve missed you!

  12. Yes, absolutely going from none to 1 is completely mind-blowing in a way that nothing else is. For me, going from 2 to 3 was tough, just because I was trying to manage everyone’s school & other schedules on top of doing the new baby thing. I have a girlfriend who’s just gone from 3 to 4, and she’s struggling a bit, as her kids are older. I guess everything just has its plus sides & down sides, and you have to suck it up. Yay!

    • Thanks for your input, Kirsten. I can see how balancing competing calendars would be a real challenge. With the exception of my older son’s two-morning-a-week preschool (which goes on summer break tomorrow – egads!), my three are at home all day so I don’t have much juggling to do schedule-wise.

      But you’re absolutely right: every transition has its benefits and drawbacks. And I’m sure I’ll be doing plenty of griping about my choice to have three, especially when they all get to school and start playing sports and instruments, and I find it impossible to be in three places at once!

  13. Going from 2 to 3 was easier in the beginning. Now that mine have grown a bit, however, I can see how much easier 2 would have been in the long run. There are just never enough hands. Or eyes. Or voices to say no, don’t do that, get down, what are you doing? 3 is constant. Constantly constant. And just takes so much more work. I don’t even want to comprehend what 4 might be like, and then more.That could give me nightmares.

    Good luck! (No seriously, it’s not that bad. Really. Was that believable?)

    • Ack! Now I’m scared of what’s to come. 😉

      A good friend used a basketball metaphor to summarize the challenges you describe: the choice to have more than two kids means moving from a man defense to a zone. (Hope that registers among my non-sports fan readers!)

  14. Welcome back!

    I’m intrigued by the theory. I think age spans may need some special factoring in. Zero to one was life altering, but also I could and did focus on my baby. Maybe all that attention makes it harder in some ways? My second gets woken from naps a lot, and her world is built around the school schedule. I felt like kindergarten was a rough and traumatic transition for me. Not her. In getting time apart, there are more deadlines and requirements and less time to just be.

    I’ve heard the defense analogy before. I feel like it’s two on one right now in this house. I’m not sure I’ve energy for three.

    • I like this movement toward a Single Unified Theory of Age-Spacing (aka SUTAS…hmm…that acronym doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?). I have no doubt that we can come up with the perfect mathematical formula by day’s end. 🙂

  15. Loved this update and glad to see your sense of humor has survived, even if your healthy eating habits haven’t. 🙂
    So glad you’re “back”!

    • Healthy eating habits are definitely on pause. And I’m still looking forward to our in-person date, when we gorge ourselves on peanut butter and chocolate confections. Now that summer weather has hit our state, we need to make a plan soon!

  16. I imagine as the hubs and I begin what we’re only willing to call “negotiations” on having our second that the fear we’re feeling is actually, oh, about a fourth of the drama that is actually experienced. Terrified would be an understatement. That took me by surprise b/c with my first, I was like “bring it on.” I felt 100% ready to tackle it. Maybe it’s b/c I have one now and I think about unleashing big change on her and it makes me kind of want to crawl in a hole.

    But then I see baby toes and I’m all aboard the 2nd baby bandwagon.

    • I have the clearest memory of saying goodbye to my older son as I left for the hospital to deliver my second. Tears streaming down my face, woeful laments issued to my husband: “How could we do this to him? How could we have made this choice to disrupt our perfect family?”

      But you know what? All of that changed the second – literally – that I laid eyes on Little Brother. So, I say, if you want a second, go for it. Your heart and your capacity to handle the drama will expand right along with your uterus. 🙂

  17. Kristen, Yea, you’re back! Funny, when I needed to be on my hiatus, I knew there wasn’t enough of me around to blog, and when I was ready, I was totally ready!

    About the kid thing, I don’t have three but I can comment on the zero to one and one to two thing. Also, with my son born a pound and a hald, I’m not sure I didn’t go from zero to two and then added a daughter later! I agree very big shock suddenly having a baby to think about all the time – who’s watching it, where is it, etc! Once you’re doing that already, what’s the difference, adding more? 🙂 with my second, I became more organized, more able to juggle both, better than I could juggle the one, if that makes any sense!

    • Thanks for being here, newly published memoir author! 🙂

      I think your comment makes total sense, as does your insight about different newborns giving us different challenges. Interestingly enough, I think Baby Sister has been by far my easiest baby even though she was a preemie and, by the book, should be the toughest. I bet there’s nothing like that trial by fire that comes not only from being a new mom, but a new mom to a baby with health challenges. (Does that make the teenage years seem easy by comparison?)

  18. Welcome back! Was 2 to 3 easier or more difficult than 1 to 2?


    • For me, 2 to 3 was definitely easier than 1 to 2, although you should check back with me in a few months when some increased sleep might heighten my mental capacities and I might be singing a different tune!

  19. I have five children (10, 8, 5, 3, 1). But like many folks have said here, I found going from the kidless life to being a mother of 1 the most challenging adjustment of all. That said, I did go from 2 to 3 with trepidation (more children than hands!), and was seized by irrational fears of what I’d do if there were a fire in the night when my husband was traveling. Going to 4, and then 5, children has been more about logistics than anything else, and the incremental wear of patience in the face of bickering and clutter.

    One of the biggest things I’ve noticed about myself along the way is the need for candor in those around me. We have lived in many towns in the past 10 years, and I’ve experienced many women working hard to show themselves and their families in an ideal light. When you work too hard to show certain facets of your life and conceal struggles, there’s a cost to yourself psychologically and to your relationships with those around you. My thoughts on this moved me to write my first novel, coming out next year.

    • Hi Nichole,

      Thank you so much for visiting Motherese and taking the time to leave a comment. I am a devoted follower of yours on Twitter and it was such a treat to see your name show up in my comments section.

      Thanks too for sharing your perspective as a mom of many. It sounds like you have experienced – on a larger scale – what I’m coming to think of as a Marginal Theory of parenting: as you add more children to the mix, the complications increase, but not necessarily in direct proportion to your number of kids. (So, for instance, having two isn’t necessarily twice as hard as having one.)

      I also really appreciate what you have to say about parents – perhaps mothers especially – showing themselves for who they really are. That is one of my goals here at Motherese: to create a community where we can talk about parenting and life as our true selves, and not as the perfect people we might sometimes feel tempted to impersonate.

      Thanks again for your visit. I eagerly anticipate your upcoming novel!

  20. I’m so happy to see you! You’ve been sorely missed! But seriously, I don’t know how you do it. You must have far, far more energy than this old goat.

    • Old goat? No way! We all know you are a red hot mama.

      As for how I do it: let’s just say that my return to blogging directly correlates to the end of my college professor husband’s spring semester and the beginning of his summer vacation. Juggling three under four by myself plus trying to get into a writing practice? Not so much. It’s all hands on deck around here.

      I’ve missed you, lady, and can’t wait to catch up with your posts.

  21. Oh how I’ve missed you! I am so glad the transition is going well for you–I must say that going from 1 to 2 was so much better for me as well. Hopefully 2 to 3 will be the same.

    You know, eating habits vary as you settling into the newborn stage. Once you, and she, get more sleep you will find more energy. I know I started losing the baby weight once Andrew turned 6 months, and I figured that’s the age I should always remember when it comes to exercising and other things.

    Your banner is adorable.

    • Hi, Amber!

      Six months seemed to be the magic weight loss mark for me too. The only tricky part this time around is that my sister-in-law is getting married next month: we are all in the wedding and I want to look my best. The good news is that I fit into my bridesmaid’s dress; now it’s just a matter of toning what’s there. All in due time.

  22. Hi Kristen,
    I’m new to your blog, but very glad I found you. I loved reading about your lowered standards for exersice and healthy eating habits–they made me laugh, as I know them all too well. I am the happy (and busy, and exhausted) mama of a 3 1/2 year old boy, and I look forward to the support, joy and inspiration your blog provides!

  23. Kristen – Welcome back! I’m so happy that you seem to be doing well and adjusting to life with three under four reasonably well. And I look forward to reading your thoughts again. You’ve been missed!

  24. Welcome back stranger. 😉

  25. Welcome Back Kristen! So glad to see your words. I’ve missed them. It made my day seeing your site pop up in my reader.

  26. It’s like talking about He Who Shall Not Be Named in Harry Potter. My husband and I were afraid to say anything good about Finn for fear it would disappear the very moment we spoke the words.

    I’m so nervous about the balance between going from one preschooler to adding our baby girl in a few short weeks. At least I know it’s possible to still have a humorous attitude about it!

  27. Hi Kristen,

    You came so strongly into my mind today that I was going to drop you an email… and then I saw you posted. It’s so great to hear your virtual voice today.

    So… sending lots of great warm wishes to all you guys (and slightly sad for the long lost days of The Very Hungry Caterpillar). Maybe you are the part of us that gets that delicious reading experience at the moment (but also the vagaries of disrupted sleep and the torrents of tidal toys).

    XO, BD

  28. Welcome back! I hope the little one gets to sleep through the night soon again.

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