Whether your family is planning for a third child well in advance or as soon as you get the news that you are pregnant with #3 (yay!) there are many things that parents can do to help get ready for bringing their third baby home.
- Telling the Family
How will you be telling your children that a baby is on the way? Wow, this is so exciting! Your children may be very aware of Mommy’s growing belly or may be completely oblivious. Or, you may not even have a noticeable bump yet but may want to prepare the kids because you may be feeling ill, tired and unable to hold them in your arms as much any longer. Or, you are just SO excited that you want to share the news right away. Just be prepared, once the kids know, there is a chance they could spill the beans! We waited to tell the kids until we were ready for our family and friends to know.
There are so many fun things that you can do to share the news. Sharing your ultrasound photos to give them the news is just perfect. You can also do something fun like a treasure hunt, give them a baby book or balloons, wrap a gift for them with baby items or include the kids in your gender reveal. Whatever it is, of course you will want to take photos to remember when your older ones learned that they will have another sibling! Life is about to change for them.
2. Teaching independence at an Early Age
I was very sure that I was not going to be dressing all 3 children each morning to get out of the house. Our mornings are stressful enough. There are many things that one can do to teach their children some independence and also make parenting life SO much easier. Dressing themselves including shoes and socks, brushing teeth, wiping after potty and washing hands (making good habits), and buckling their own car seats properly are a few things we tackled first. Also, our boys know how to clean up their toys every night before bed and also clear the table after dinner by bringing all plates, cups and utensils to the sink. This doesn’t all come naturally to young kiddos but reminders every evening gets them into the habit.
Of course, naturally, your children will vary in age when you learn that #3 is coming along but mine were 3 and 5 years old. At their ages, we felt as though they were already capable of many of these things but we didn’t enforce it all daily because, let’s admit, it is quicker and easier with our help. I had to play games, “Who can get dressed the quickest?” or “Ok, Speedracers, who is all buckled and ready to go?”. Sure we help with brushing teeth and wiping after they use the bathroom but they are in the habit of doing many things for themselves. Also, we give a few easy chores such as feeding the dog, taking their laundry to the laundry room, and sometimes helping with (very) light cleaning. Also, very simple tasks such as holding the door for Mommy and closing the door behind themselves is extremely helpful in the mornings and evenings when all 3 are being transported to/from school and childcare and I am holding the baby in an infant carseat.
3. Vehicles and Carseats
Do 3 cars seats fit in your vehicle? Many vehicles can squeeze 3 car seats into the backseat bench but not all. Also, from experience, some vehicles that fit 3 car seats can really make buckeling an issue. Be sure to test it out. Secure your infant car seat with the current car seats that you are using for your 2 children and give it a test. If they do not fit, you may have to consider a new vehicle. Also, if your older children are 4 years old or older and over 40 pounds, it may be time for booster seats which can save some room.
I know, I know. Our least favorite topic. Just as you did for your others, preparing for maternity leave and saving is extremely important. For my third child, the University where I work had a new policy and covered 6 weeks of parental leave and I had saved for a whole year to have 30 PTO days, giving me 12 weeks total. On my first two maternity leaves, I went several weeks of leave without paychecks. For example, I would save 5-6 weeks of vacation time and then take a few weeks of unpaid leave (no paychecks) and then would return early, before my 12 weeks ended.
It is important to remember that if you are not receiving a paycheck, and you are the one in the household carrying the insurance and medical benefits for your family, you still need to pay for these things monthly. Also if you are contributing to your 401K or savings, you will need to budget for this also. Make a list of all of the items that typically come out of your paycheck and account for them, knowing you will have to cover these costs without a paycheck for your estimated number of weeks.
Saving is so important because remember there are hospital bills, doctor bills and then of course you will be paying for your childcare as soon as you return to work before receiving paychecks again. (Do we ever get a break?!) Best advice I can give? Save, save, save. I understand, some parents make the decision here, at this time in life, if one parent will return to work or not.
Also, if your older two children are in childcare, I advise that you ask your childcare center if they allow your children to stay home when Mom/Dad are on parental leave with a newborn. Our daycare and pre-school allow children with newborns to stay at home for a few weeks, if wanted. This allows the children to be home while parents are home and parents don’t have to pay for those few weeks. Also, they don’t lose their spot there at the daycare facility when they are ready to return. You can also ask about sibling discounts that help make the cost of 3 (!) in daycare a tiny bit more tolerable.
5. Saving Old Items
Clothing, crib, high-chair, car seats, strollers, sheets and bumpers, diaper bag- all of it. Save it all. Hopefully you registered for or bought all gender neutral items from the beginning or by chance, you are like me and have 3 of a kind (boys I mean). But either way, I was grateful to have a neutral car seat, stroller, blankets, highchair and even nursery décor just INCASE I ever had a girl. We moved when our older boys were 2 and 4 years-old. At the time, we never knew if we would have a third but knowing the significant expense of all of these items, we moved them all with us and kept them in the basement stored away until we needed them again. Crib, changing table, swing, baby bottles, sheets, unused diapers, pack n play, even the wipes warmer were all saved. Or, we lent many baby items out to friends and then stored them as they were retuned.
6. The Nursery
Your nursery may have been through 2 children and is already set and ready to go for the next baby to come along. (Yay!) Or, you may have some improvements, updates or fixes to make before the new baby arrives. It may be fun to keep the older children involved as you prepare. They can help you wash and put away infant clothes, stock up on the diapers, prepare the changing table, crib and set up the baby swing or playard. This can get the older siblings excited and really anticipate what is ahead of them. Your first may have been very young when their sibling came along and so they don’t remember these steps of preparation very well. You second can get really excited that they are no longer the baby!
Here are some favorite books that helped us prepare on Amazon
Also, do you need to move someone out of the nursery? Are your older siblings now sharing a room or is someone getting a new room? Making the process of getting a new room can be fun for children and an added benefit. Our boys wanted to share a room and so we allowed it. We gave their new room a makeover and added superhero décor. Also, we learned that if siblings are sharing a room, it is important or at least very helpful if they have all toys removed from their room so that they aren’t tempted to stay up late playing together. We kept their bookshelf packed with many books and moved almost all toys to their playroom.
Congratulations if you are considering or anticipating your third child. We have loved every moment of watching our baby boy grow up from an infant to a toddler with his big brothers helping out every step of the way. Hopefully this short list can help a bit as you and your family expect and welcome Baby #3!