Going from two kids to three means triple the work and a bigger family that you'll want to keep happy and strong. Organizational skills become more important than ever when you mix in growing your career. If you're wondering how to make working motherhood and three kids work here are a few four tips you can follow.
Create and Follow a Consistent Plan Day and Night
Getting three kids, and yourself, out the door in the morning is easy peasy when you follow a plan.
First, you need to get up before everyone else. Never under estimate the power of silence. When you have three kids peace and quiet is hard to come by.
Keep your morning exit plan consistent. To keep disruptions to a minimum keep all bags, shoes, jackets, and anything else that is needed for the day by the door. It's disruptive and stressful when you have to look for something at the last minute. The night before, put out everyone's dishes, cups, and utensils. Then enlist help, if you've got it. If your kids can prepare their own breakfast ask them to help the little ones.
At night, follow a schedule like unpack, tackle homework, sports and then get some fresh air. Try to serve dinner at the same time every night (and meal prep to make this time of day easy). Then start the bedtime routine. Rotate the kids through the bathroom so everyone isn't in there fighting over the toothpaste. Read them a book and enjoy the quality time.
Last, put the kids to bed at the same time every night so you are guaranteed some alone time with your spouse.
Schedule Time with Your Spouse
When you're outnumbered three to two it's important to show lots of love to your teammate, aka your spouse. It's easy to get caught up in the kid's lives and work and put your marriage to the side.
This is why it's important to hug longer. Sneak in quick kisses regardless of how grossed out your kids get. Plan date nights to get the oxygen you both need to reconnect.
It's hard to have a conversation with three children around. Interruptions are annoying when you're trying to get your point across. You may say the wrong thing about a sensitive topic and anger your spouse or cause confusion that could have been avoided.
What is your top priority? Talking with your spouse or being with the kids. Assess how critical the topic is and if it can wait. If you can't wait, grab your spouse and pull them into a room with a lock on it. Think of this as taking a time out during a game. Huddle up in the room, make eye contact, get to the point, and if needed agree to talk about the subject at a later time. Then, unlock the door and get back in the game.
Model Time Management
It will feel like all three kids will want your attention all the time. Especially when they are bursting at the seams to tell you about their day! But it's hard to listen when they all talk at the same time!
In this situation, practice good time management. Explain that you can't hear anyone because every is talking. Then pick one child to listen to and give them a short amount of time to share their story.
For example, you can say, "Luke, it's your turn first. What do you want to tell me?" Then end that conversation with something like, "That was great! Thanks for sharing!". Then talk to your next child, "Lucy, what did you want to tell me?"
This act will model good time management skills. Instead of you becoming frustrated with the noise you'll show how to take control and honor everyone's story. Your three kids will learn how to respect what each of them has to say. Plus they'll all receive the attention that they crave.
Use Your Car as a Control Center
Three kids in school, sports, and other activities means you're in the car often with a lot of gear. Instead of dreading the time you'll spend driving your kids around make it your control center. First, find a channel on Pandora or iHeart Radio that will pump you up after a long work day.
If you're into podcasts listen to them while you carpool the kids around town.
Next, keep your car stocked up. Have a car charger for all accessories so you don't have to go without your phone or tablet. In your glove compartment, keep a pen and pad of paper together, a first aid kit, and hand sanitizer. Put a folder between your seat and your center console to easily stash paperwork and receipts. If your car seats have back pockets in them keep plastic bags, toilet paper, paper towels, a hand towel, and wipes. You never know what kind of mess your kids will get into!
Last, keep either a big bag or plastic container in the car. You can use it to throw random stuff in it that needs to come into the house or sports equipment. No one will waste time looking for things when they're all in one spot.
Pay Attention To Your Oldest Child
The oldest in the family should "know better" and "help out around the house". But sometimes they don't know better. Just because they're the oldest doesn't mean they are wise. Also, just because they are capable of doing the laundry and the dishes means it's always their job.
Remember to show your oldest a lot of love. They probably work hard around the house helping others out so reward them. Give them extra kisses and hugs and say thank you often for everything they do. You are raising a leader. Show them the support they deserve by not taking advantage of their effort, time, and energy.
It's hard to imagine how to manage being a working mom with three kids. Regardless of how many children you have there will be challenges along the way. The first few years may be rough, but once they are all in school, it gets easier. If you create a strong support system and you stay as organized as you possibly can, you can make it work.