Should we go for child number three? Have you contemplated this question – maybe during the few minutes each day when both existing children are playing quietly or sleeping peacefully? Look how sweet they are. How could we not give them another sibling? Yet worries about the additional work, increasing costs and inevitable stress creep in. Can you handle it? Should you make the leap?

Many parents of a trio will tell you that three kids is no joke, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. And as time goes on, and sleep gets more plentiful again, you’ll learn the truths that all parents of three come to realize. Read on for a few words of wisdom from parents who’ve been there.

8069354597_d3ff7c7d3a_z

Photo: Ben Gray via Flickr

Pregnancy? What Pregnancy?

With your first, you have ample time to read all the baby books and take all the Lamaze classes. Your second is a bit more hectic as you need to coordinate hospital tours and baby registry shopping trips around nap times. But by the time you’re pregnant with number three, you’re lucky if you can even remember to take your prenatal vitamin each morning. Between two other children and all their activities, your third learns to go with the flow from the time he’s in the womb.

Photo: J.K. Califf via Flickr

Delivery is Orchestrated with the Precision of a Space Shuttle Launch

No longer do you have the luxury of simply rushing off to the hospital once “it’s time.” For your third delivery, you will need to begin preparations weeks in advance to ensure that your other two children are accounted for. Schedules, locations, contact numbers and contingency plans will be documented and emailed out to your entire circle so that everyone can be picked up, dropped off and cared for while number three is being born.

Photo: Chris Yiu via Flickr

Practical Trumps Cute in the Clothing Department

With your first, you buy all the adorable baby outfits. You know, the ones with the 10 billion buttons and snaps and ties and buttons. With your second, you still outfit her in the precious dresses and petticoats, while also adding some simple sleepers to the rotation. By the time your third comes along, she’s living in onesies and pajamas that provide easy access. Your hospital nurse will take one look at your baby’s sleep gown and knowingly ask, “third baby?”

17405004226_055a9140a7_z

Photo: Jeremy Segrott via Flickr

Someone is Always Hungry or Thirsty

We’ve learned to always be prepared with snacks and drinks. Whether it’s nursing an infant or peeling oranges for a toddler or pouring milk for a preschooler, someone always requires sustenance. Usually when you’re using the restroom or otherwise preoccupied.

diaperman-cc-Brian via flickr

Photo: Brian via Flickr

Nature Never Stops Calling

All that sustenance results in a lot of bathroom breaks. Have three children and throw in a dog, and you’ll be constantly changing a diaper, taking someone to the potty or picking up after a pet. Accidents are cleaned up in a flash and no longer will anyone in the household be squeamish about poop – whether it be talking about it or cleaning it up.

inthemidstofchaos-cc-Juhan Sonin via flickr

Photo: Juhan Sonin via Flickr

Everyone Adjusts to the Chaos

With three young children, you become accustomed to a minimum threshold of background noise. You accept that it will always be there and become quite adept at tuning it out. Fortunately, so do the children. Just wait to be amazed at how quickly baby number three will fall asleep despite all the shouts, laughs and musical toys of your toddler and preschooler.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photo: Ian D. Keating via Flickr

It’s an Instant Party

With families of five, the party never ends. Scheduling play dates is no longer necessary because every single day is a play date. Right at home. Bring three kids to a park or an event, and suddenly it’s a bash. All the neighborhood kids come calling to play with one, two or all three of your children.

25872792853_208c1571c2_z

Photo: Edd Grant via Flickr

Cuddles Galore

With three, you will never want for love. Eager arms are always outstretched and waiting to hug you, and you will constantly find children snuggling into your side. Someone always wants to play with you, giggle with you or simply be held by you. It’s as heartwarming as it sounds and does wonders for the ego.

crawlingbabynursery-cc-Kelly Sue DeConnick via flickr

Photo: Kelly Sue DeConnick via Flickr

Maximum Return on Investment

I remember looking at all the stuff we bought for our first child and commenting to my husband that we would need to have another one simply to yield a return on our investment. With three kids, you will ensure that everything you purchase is fully utilized. Clothes, strollers, toys and gear have all been passed down, eliminating the need to purchase much of anything at all for baby number three.

4508639159_fc7a36f996_z

Photo: ThomasLife via Flickr

Built-in Teachers

With your first, you are the model for everything she learns to do. You teach and instruct as she hits each milestone. But once you have two and three children, much of the load is lifted as the older siblings step in to help teach their younger brothers and sisters. Potty training a second? Leave it to the older brother! Teaching life’s lessons should just get easier with the third – we hope.

whowillcleanthemess-cc-Upsilon Andromedae via flickr

Photo: Upsilon Andromedae via Flickr

You No Longer Sweat the Small Stuff

First children tend to be subjected to parental micromanagement and concern as their every step is carefully monitored. Second children fare better as you’re learning to divide your attention between two. But by the time number three is born, you’ve realized that kids are pretty resilient. Besides – you no longer have the time to obsess over minor details. So all three children are given more latitude as you save your energy for things that are truly important.

14470595576_e549f7bb4b_z

Photo: Katie Thomas via Flickr

The Love is Overwhelming

This is really what it’s all about. Triple the love. Three times the hugs. Your heart is sure to be full to bursting every time you look at all of your children together. You’ll realize that they’ll always have each other, and once you have them, you won’t be able to imagine your lives without a single one of them.

Tell us: If you have three children, what have you learned that you want to share?

— Faye Nagy