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15 Tips and Tricks for Thriving with 3 (or More!) Kids

Photograph by Twenty20

A little less than two months ago I entered the ranks of "moms with many." By this I mean those brave souls who have ventured off into unchartered territory and brought a 3rd (or 4th...or 5th...) child into their family. Many people choose to have one or two kids, but once you start adding more than that, life can become, well... a bit more interesting.

I'm obviously still a novice to this whole thing and learning as I go, so I thought it could prove useful to ask friends (and strangers) who have lots of kids to share their secrets for not only surviving, but thriving, as a mom of many. So here it is, advice from the sage ones who have gone before us. Also, #10 is basically the best advice of all time.

1. "A full-time nanny." - Austie

2. "I am so not a schedule person but when the littles were really little—it was a must. That and prepping in advance, everything from meals to outfits. I'm a total Type B and it was so difficult, but the only thing that kept me sane." - Molly

3. "Laying out clothes the night before helps so much! Then the bigs can start getting ready on their own in the morning." - Gretchen

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4. "The family calendar is real. I keep it on my iPhone and it's also on a whiteboard in the house complete with color-coding for each person." - Lisa

5. "Remember that bribery is never beneath you." - Meredith

6. "Two things have made life with three a tad less overwhelming. The first: babywearing! I remember the first time I ever went out in public with all three by myself—I was terrified. But with a baby strapped to my chest, I had two free hands, one for each of my other kids. The second: one-on-one time! As my girls have gotten older, they tend to fight for our attention quite a bit. We do our best to get some one-on-one time with each of them at least once a week. It isn't always a fun "date" night either. It might be as simple as taking one of them with me to run an errand or doing a workbook together while everyone else cleans up dinner, etc." - Lacy

7. "Never stop praying. With five kids, and two of them being twins, prayer is key for me. And bribery. And nap time. And lots of coffee." - Kassi

Find yourself a good hiding place and always keep the chocolate-covered peanut butter-filled pretzels from Trader Joe's in stock.

8. "Always keep a backpack of snacks, tablets and other miscellaneous things in the car to bring with you to keep the kids busy!" - Jennifer

9. "A few things that have helped me survive three kids in three years: 1. Training and teaching the older ones to help the youngers—it makes the bigger ones feel helpful and lightens my load. 2. Brainwashing my kids into thinking that their siblings are their BEST friends ever so life is always more fun with your best friend at their side... Chores, errands, whatever. 3. Teaching my children to work—if we all work together we can play faster! It took a while but now at 5,4 and 2, my kids can put laundry away in five minutes flat! 4. Carving out me time everyday. Basically, anything that doesn't remind me of toddlers. 5. Having my kids all take quiet time every day." - Rachel

10. "Find yourself a good hiding place and always keep the chocolate-covered peanut butter-filled pretzels from Trader Joe's in stock." - Lynn

11. "Getting my iPhone really was a game-changer for me. Calendar and alerts for EVERYTHING. Also, I have color-coded my kids for everything. Their toothbrushes, plates (when they were little), luggage, hairbrushes, ear buds, house keys, you name it. I always know what belongs to whom. I color code their personal calendars in my iPhone calendar too. It's so much faster to know who needs to be where and when." - Pam

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12. "I gave up on trying to plan things around feeding schedules and nap times. I felt like we would never do anything if it always had to be in such a short window. The kids will be more flexible if you are. The baby will nap if she's tired in the car or while I'm wearing her. I don't even try to get the 3 and 4.5-year-olds to nap. With that said though, we moved their bedtime up to 7 p.m. and are pretty consistent with it as long as we are home. Helps with the sanity. And if all else fails, just turn on the TV."

13. "Don't feel bad if your 'survival mode' lasts a couple of years. I'm going eight years strong." - Chaunie

14. "It really is different for everyone, but perspective helps. Figure out what's really important in your life. Everything else is just busy work, even though some of it is fun. Deep breaths and time outs are sometimes for you as much as them." - Stephanie

15. "Ask for help when you need it. ALL THE HELP." - Rose

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