Raising 3 children is a blessing.
It is also hard.
I remember when I was pregnant with our third, people telling me that adding a third is a “game changer.”
I didn’t care.
I always wanted three and I figured it can’t be that different than two.
After all, my house was already loud and wild. Dinner was sometimes late. Milk got spilled. And there was never ending laundry to do.
But here is what no one really tells you.
It’s not that three adds more work to a home … I would argue a third only adds more love to a home.
But a third also makes most moms – at least it did for me – feel like you can never give enough attention to any one child.
For example, when I had two children, I could spend Saturday doing something special and fun, just with Caden.
And Sunday, I would let Brix pick an activity that brought joy to him. It could be as simple as fishing in our neighborhood pond.
I added to the memory bank.
But a third, well … no one really gets undivided and individual attention because my husband and I are outnumbered.
We have to operate in a group, instead of one on one.
I don’t say that as a bad thing, because I truly believe a sibling is the best gift you can give a child.
But I do say that no one prepares moms for the guilt they can sometimes feel with multiple children.
And yes, I have seen all the motivational speakers out there and boss ladies get on social media and say you should not have mom guilt.
I get it.
And I totally agree.
But that doesn’t change the fact, it still exists.
And I am plagued with it, just like the next mom.
Not every single day. Not even every single week.
But every now and then, I wonder if Caden is getting enough attention from me. If Brix is getting enough conversation from me. If Adalee is getting enough snuggle time from me. Or vice versa.
I find myself questioning – am I teaching them enough? Am I giving them enough life lessons to survive and thrive if I was gone tomorrow.
Especially since they are different genders and different ages, I question if am I pouring enough time into their individual talents.
For example, Caden loves basketball, Brix loves Legos, and Adalee loves Barbies. Back to the guilt – the question runs through my mind before I can even realize it’s there … Am I playing with them enough so they know their individual interests matter to me?
Do you see how slippery this guilt slope is?
There is never enough time in the day for any parent, especially for parents that juggle raising children and bringing in the bacon.
So with all that said, I have learned over the years 5 things to do when I begin to feel mom guilt creep up. These have helped me time and time again to connect with my children and wash away any feeling that I am not doing enough. I hope you can apply some of them to your own life and wash that mom guilt away.
1. Every night, I lay with my kids after I tuck them in. Yes, some nights I am exhausted, but one day they won’t want me to cozy up with them anymore. So for now – At 3, 7 and 9, they still request it and I say YES, ignoring the dozens of things I have to finish downstairs. We talk about the highs and lows of their day, we laugh about something that inevitably went wrong that day, and we plan out what we want to accomplish tomorrow.
2. I keep all electronics out of their bedrooms. This way, when we are snuggling at bedtime, we can talk. I mean eye to eye connection, face to face conversation. I find myself noticing my other senses taking them in. I notice the way their chest rises when they say their prayers, the way their hand feels against my hand, and the way they smell fresh out of the shower.
3. I make a point each night at dinner to give them their own time to share a story. No one is allowed to interrupt or take over. For a few minutes they each have the stage so to speak and the rest of us listen.
4. I try to do spontaneous surprises every once in a while. Like leave a card in their lunch with encouraging words about something they specifically did good …. or pick them up early from school with no good reason, except “I missed you today … lets go get ice cream.”
5. I acknowledge the facts. “Hey guys, I know your sister takes up a lot of time because of her age … but I hope you know how much I love you and think you are amazing!” Or “ I know your brothers and I spent the entire day hiking, but we needed some time to talk about boy stuff.”
So for you parents out there with multiple kids, also remember to give yourself grace. You are doing the best you can do with the time you have the day. And when the mom guilt arises (or dad guilt), just think of this line from yours truly – God has millions of children and you still know He loves you deeply, right?
Your kids will be fine and so will you.
Wash the guilt away.