The Big Question: Should I Have a Third Baby?

For as long as I can remember, I knew I only wanted two kids. Honestly I thought one kid was more than I could handle, but because my husband dreamed of a bigger family I was willing to compromise at two. But then, I had a change of heart (one that surprised many people…myself included) and within a year we added Baby #3 to our family.

The Big Question: Should I Have a Third Baby?

I wrote a post about my change of heart over at Babble (“The Advice That Helped Me Decide to Have a Third Baby”) and at least once a month, I receive e-mails and messages about it. Sometimes people reach out simply to thank me because the perspective was helpful to them as they sat down to decide whether or not they should have a third child. But more often, the thing they really want to know is:

“WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?! Are you happy you had a third baby? Do you ever regret your decision? What’s it like? Tell me the good, the bad and the ugly!”

I try my best to respond to these e-mails and messages when I can, but it’s sort of a loaded question because there are so many elements to it. I always said I should just write an entire blog post about it, so…here it is.

First off, let me say that never in a million years would I change adding Alice to our family. God knew she was the final piece to our family puzzle. She is funny and sweet and ridiculously cute and we all love her to pieces. That said, having two kids was certainly a lot “easier” than having three which has hands down been the most difficult transition for me.

So, let’s just start with all the challenges of adding a third child to the mix. Basically this is my cautionary list of reasons you may not want to have a third baby. Please note that child spacing may have a lot to do with my personal experience. My kids are 5, 3 and 1 – none in school – and spaced 2.5 years and 23 months apart. Basically they’re all at home with me and I am deep in the trenches of the little years. Those with larger spacing gaps may have different perspective on this. OK…now back to my list.

“Don’t have a third baby unless…”

1. You are OK with not sleeping…like ever.

Having three kids basically means that someone is always awake in the night. Even though mine were good sleepers before our third arrived, middle of the night wake ups just happen. Whether it’s a bad dream, illness or a potty accident…there’s basically always something waking you up. And on the nights when they don’t wake you up, you’ll find yourself suddenly turned into an insomniac. Awesome.

2. You are an extrovert who likes loud noises

OK, I’m exaggerating slightly with this one, because I know there are plenty of introverts out there who are thriving with 3+ children, but I’m not gonna lie…It. Is. EXHAUSTING. I consider myself to be an extroverted introvert and at the end of the day I am so touched out…talked out…everything’d out. All day long it is noisy and tiny people are climbing on my body and asking questions and needing ALL THE THINGS. I am overstimulated and overwhelmed and once they go to bed at night I basically just want to zone out and watch TV and have nobody talk to me or be near me. My poor husband.

3. You want to drive a minivan

I mean, technically you don’t need a minivan, but while there are plenty of people who will remind you that seating three kids across in a vehicle is indeed possible, it sure isn’t a fun time. Many of my wildest daydreams involve us owning a minivan. We have a “sport wagon”, which I really do love, but it has captain seats and seats 7, not 8 and doesn’t have sliding doors or as much storage which can be tough when I’m grocery shopping with kids in tow.

4. Laundry is your jam

There will be laundry. SO MUCH LAUNDRY. Before having Alice I probably did one of two loads of laundry a week, but now I do laundry almost daily. It literally never ends. I’m pretty sure our clothes are just sitting in the laundry basket procreating and making little laundry babies all day long.

5. You have family nearby

I cannot even imagine how people who don’t have family at least semi-nearby manage life with three children. I call on my parents or my in-laws to tap out often. If you have a very tight knit village of friends nearby, you could sub this out for family, but basically you need a tribe…like a LITERAL tribe for the sake of your sanity.

6. You like getting sick ALL THE TIME

I kid you not, the sickness with three kids is unending. They basically just pass all their viruses back and forth between one another and us. We were sick pretty much all winter and half of fall and spring. This may be less of an issue as kids get older and stop slobbering all over each other and all over everything, but in this current stage of life they do those disgusting things and the incessant illness it results in is pretty awful.

7. You are willing to give up more of your social life

For a number of reasons, your social life will definitely take a hit when you add a third kid to the mix. You have a 33.3% higher likelihood of having a sick child (see above) which will often result in cancelled plans. It is harder to convince your friends and family to babysit when you have three kids, since two kids seems/is much easier to manage (because : two arms) and if you hire a babysitter you’ll pay more. You’ll have more schedules and naps to juggle when planning things with friends and it will probably seem like a bigger undertaking for them to invite you over, because three kids is kind of a lot of kids to have suddenly overwhelming their home. It’s not that your friends won’t love you or your kids just as much…three is just a lot sometimes. Also, see numbers one and two: you will probably be more tired and need more alone time.

8. You want everything to take longer

Doing things with three kids, pretty much any outing becomes “a thing”. There are more shoes to put on, more things to remember to bring and more potential for tantrums along the way. Loading three kids in and out of a car takes longer. Life in general just takes a bit longer.

9. You would like to complicate all future outings

I have quickly learned that the world is heavily geared toward families of four. You will probably wait longer at restaurants, because getting a table for five is often trickier than getting one for four (five don’t usually fit in booths). Hotels get complicated because most only have two beds: one for parents and one for the two kids to squish in…not enough for five (in fact, many won’t even allow 5 because of fire codes). At theme parks, one person will have to ride a ride alone or you’ll have to trade off, since most rides seat two (one parent + one child) and you have more kids than parents now. Also, this is not an outing, but I felt like it fit here…houses are really made for families of four. Three bedroom houses are sort of the standard (this is what we have), but when you start looking for four bedrooms the difficulty in finding what you’re looking for as well as the price both increases.

10. You have a super helpful/involved partner who you like a lot

I literally could not function without my husband’s help. On the rare occasion that he has been gone at bedtime it all goes downhill very quickly. When we had two, I could hold things down on my own no problem, but with three I don’t just want his help…I need it. If you have a husband that travels a lot or who works really long and crazy hours, then you may want to think about what that might mean for you. Also, since you’ll be spending so much time together wiping all the butts and snot and diffusing tantrums, it’s probably best if you really like each other a lot (see also: #7).

11. You never want to work from home again

Working from home with three kids is basically impossible. When I wake up early, one of them always senses it with that sixth sense kids seem to have and wakes up extra early. They all nap (or don’t) at various intervals and then late at night when they’re asleep, I am exhausted and my brain is way too mushy to form any coherent thoughts, so writing cannot possibly happen. The only time I actually get work done is on the one day a week when my mother-in-law takes the kids and I get the whole day uninterrupted. You will definitely need at least some form of childcare if you want to work from home after having three kids.

12. You don’t mind a bit of chaos and straying from routine

I’ll admit that this one has maybe been the hardest adjustment for me. Being a Type A (lowercase a, but Type a nonetheless) person living with tiny people who basically spend their entire waking lives creating entropy wherever they go can be really depleting. They all make messes, they’re noisy and they will forever cause you to be late or throw a wrench in your best laid plans. You’ll probably want to start practicing your deep yoga breathing in advance, because you’ll probably need them.

13. You like giving all your money away a’la Oprah

Kids are expensive, but you probably already knew this, so I don’t need to elaborate, do I?

Alright, now let’s move on the the upsides, because I swear having three kids isn’t all doom and gloom and utter misery.

Reasons having 3 kids is pretty great:

1. Everything feels more like a party

There is so much more joy and fun in our house with three…crazy, loud joy, but it’s joy nonetheless. We laugh a lot more and dance a lot more and have a lot more fun in between all the chaos and my heart is overflowing.

2. The kids will have more options

As they get older, sibling relationships will ebb and flow so it’s nice for them to have more friend options at times when one might not be as strong. Right now my three and five year old are thick as thieves, but when my oldest goes to Kindergarten in the fall, it will be fun to see how the little ones bond together.

3. You’ll have your very own tribe

Having a third child forced us to slow down our pace and stick closer to home more often which means there’s been a lot more time to really bond together. For some reason having a third really cemented the feeling of being a tribe and I couldn’t be happier about it.

4. You have more helpers

Sure they make more messes, but they also like to help out too. Mine are still young so their “helping” isn’t always super helpful, but I have no doubt that in the future it will definitely will be.

5. More adult children to hang out with as friends later

While the little years and teen years may be trying, having adult children sounds pretty fantastic. Both my husband and I are close with our parents and hang out with them often as they feel like friends now and I can’t wait to experience the same with my own children one day.

6. More people to take care of you when you’re old and dying

My husband said to add this one sort of as a joke, but honestly, taking care of aging parents is no joke and can be stressful for adult children. The goal is to have things in order so you won’t be a burden, but more kids can share the weight.

7. If one kid is a dud, you’ll have a “back-up”

OK. Obviously I’m only kidding about this one, but my husband and I like to joke that it was one of our motivations for having Baby #3. Haha!

The Big Question: Should I Have a Third Baby?

So there you have it. Again, please know that this is only my experience. For me, the transition from 2-3 kids has been the hardest…on par with transitioning from 0-1. I thought going from 1-2 kids was a breeze, but if you search online you’ll read many different experiences. Some will say that 1-2 was the hardest and that 2-3 was a breeze. I honestly think it depends on your unique personality and the unique personalities of your kids. So please take this with a grain of salt. In the end, the decision to add a third baby to your family is one that only you can make, but hopefully this will provide you with a bit of perspective.




  1. Cindy Willey says:

    Yes to all of this! My children have roughly the same spacing as yours. My youngest is now 2.5 and I just recently noticed that things have gotten a tiny bit easier. He is giving up naps and this has opened up our day, which has helped me feel less isolated. I would say the biggest difference between 2 and 3 is money, child care and intensity. Having a 3rd made our car too small and our house too small. I work part time and my child care expenses are stupid, sometimes I wonder why I bother to work but we need even the modest amount that I bring home. Finances, which were limited before, have become extremely tight. I mean, extremely….I have very limited family support and babysitters are hard to find as many simply are not willing to watch 3 kids. I don’t always blame them, a family of 5 is just very, very intense. Lots of noise and chaos and I can actually see that on the faces of my friends and family when we are around. We are just a LOT. Having said all of this, I would not trade it. I am proud to be a family of 5. I never thought I would have 3 kids but each is special and wonderful and crazy and “we” wouldn’t be “us” without all of us.

  2. Hello Lauren,
    I used to follow your blog back in 2010 when I just started to blog and then you stopped blogging for a while and mine fizzled out somehow but I recently re-started my blogging journey (I used to be at “God and the world and me” but I shut it down and now have new blog) and thought about all the fun blogs I used to read and then googled “Fill in the blank Fridays” frantically and was so happy when finally found it – The little things we do! So just wanted to say hey and that I am overjoyed that you are back to blogging and thriving with your family. (I remember the arrival of baby number one and the days before when you used to go to meet ups that had to do with your husbands car – do you still do those? Or is it all minivan these days? Haha).
    Anyway, I hope you have a lovely day!

  3. Anna Norman says:

    i laughed out loud at many of these. And to think we are even remotely crazy enough to do four…I guess they say it is all the same after three! And yes, this is the reason us moms can never hang out-nap prison, sickness, schedules, exhaustion, don’t want to leave the house, etc 🙂 Can’t wait to hang out soon! And i love your posts…

    • @Anna Norman – Love you friend! And boo to sickness and schedules and exhaustion! Oh to be carefree again. One day though…one day. And when it happens we’ll probably long for days like this ;).

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