"So if you’re hesitant about going for a third time ... I can assure you, that it won’t be easy - but it will be worth it."
When I first became a mother, the reality of having to be the whole universe to one tiny human being did come as a bit of a shock to me - even if I did have over nine months to prepare. But even after battling PND and PTSD from birth-trauma, we did eventually find our flow and it was easy then - just the two of us.
By the time my second daughter came along, things definitely got a bit more full-on because there were now two small mouths to feed and two small bodies to keep safe - but as before, we found our rhythm. Our days were busy and the months kinda flew by, if I am honest. I felt almost smug ... like seriously; shouldn’t this be harder?
My smugness peaked too soon though, because nothing, and I repeat, NOTHING, could prepare me for the whirlwind that was my third daughter. I’m not sure anything could prepare me for the head f**k that is the third born child: the wild child.
There is definitely something about third-born children that sets them apart from their siblings. So please allow me to break it down for you.
The third child is certainly ... different! Image: supplied.
There’s more of them than you
When you’re the mother of two - you can fit each child in each of your hands. Or even one child on each hip, if you’re desperate. You can even fit one child on each knee! When you’re with your husband or partner - you can have one child each. Tidy, tidy. Easy, peasy. But when the third child comes along and they all just want you - where are they supposed to go?! On your head?? Welcome to parenting a third born: you’re officially outnumbered.
Be strict about bedtime. A study published in 2013 in the journal Pediatrics found that seven-year-olds who had irregular bedtimes had more behavioral problems than did those with consistent bedtimes. And the longer the lack of a strict bedtime went on, the worse the problems became. If you work outside the home, it's tempting to keep kids up to have more time with them. But as much as possible, stay the course—even if that means you sometimes miss lights out. "We all make sacrifices," says Heather Taylor, Ph.D., a psychologist at the Morrissey-Compton Educational Center, in Redwood City, California. "Call or video-chat to say good night. Just be part of the routine."
They don’t think the rules apply to them
From my experience, and from what I have observed in other families - the first and second born children are usually pretty opposite. For this reason, as a mother you’re already pretty adept at dealing with two different types of variations. But when the third child comes along and they don’t want either of what the other two have - they want something else, then shit man, you better come up with a third solution, and fast! Third born children just don’t seem to think that the rules or boundaries apply to them, and they discover their independence pretty quickly when it comes to getting what they want out of life. Often this is because you’re still trying to sort out their older siblings, and they have therefore learnt to take matters into their own hands.
Trauma Touches Every Child
Jess says the rules don't apply to the third kid ... or so they think! Image: supplied.
They make it their own personal challenge to be unpredictable
Speaking of not fitting inside prescribed moulds - third born children have this uncanny knack at being completely unpredictable. As soon as you think you have them sorted out, they turn the tables or decide to flip the switch. It’s like their sole purpose for living is to keep their mothers on their toes, and to keep them guessing. Don’t make the mistake of becoming complacent because as soon as that happens, the third born wild child will catch you off guard, quick smart!
Know the value of face-to-face communication. Very young children learn best through two-way communication. Engaging in back-and-forth "talk time" is critical for language development. Conversations can be face-to-face or, if necessary, by video chat with a traveling parent or far-away grandparent. Research has shown that it's that "back-and-forth conversation" that improves language skills—much more so than "passive" listening or one-way interaction with a screen.
They change you, forever
Let’s face it, even research backs up the fact that having three children is harder than having four. And while I’d totally and utterly, emphatically agree - it’s not all bad. Because the thing about these precious third-born children is that they really do change you as a mother. And I promise you - it’s for the good.
Third-born children teach you that you are capable way beyond your wildest dreams, they teach you that you have so, so much love to spread around, they teach you how to be resilient and to bounce and finally, they remind you that you really are an incredible mother. You won’t be the same parent with your third child, wild child, that you were with your precious first born - but in fact, you’ll be a better one.
So if you’re hesitant about going for a third time ... I can assure you, that it won’t be easy - but it will be worth it.