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The Ups and Downs of Raising Three Kids Close in Age

May 29, 2018

Three kids born close together are less work.

Parents with only one or two "little rays of sunshine" have no doubt heard this seemingly counterintuitive statement ad nauseam.

I’m here to tell you that I believe it is an incontrovertible fact. Roughly 18 months separate my three school-age kids — they are 6, 7 and 9.

And the old adage is correct: Three is company. It can even be a party at times. And — hard truth — in my experience I've seen that three kids of whatever age just learn to expect, proportionally, less. Or maybe just expect less from their parents.

There are other advantages. We managed to squeeze a succession of three little bums into a single infant car seat before it expired. If you aren’t impressed, you haven’t bought a car seat recently. 

All things considered, I feel like the breeding of in-house playmates has certainly been the highlight for me.


Relevant Reading: Are Only Children Lonely? 


Don't get me wrong. There are certainly roadblocks you might face if you have three kids close in age, but that's not an argument to not have three kids.

But you may experience, as I have, the issue of one kid being the odd one out, like when one is better friends with one and not the other. And the endless tally of who got what, whether it's a Christmas gift, play date or lollipop. And the financial decision-making of whether to upsize from a five-seat car to a mini-van, or to have both. And of course, the squabbling and screaming and slamming one another’s fingers in doors.

These victories aside, I feel like the breeding of in-house playmates has certainly been the highlight for me.

At this very moment, one of them is repeating every word that the other one says.

And while my three kids have been self-sufficient as a trio when they aren't slamming each other's hands in doors, I've recently started thinking about how having three children could be challenging socially. 

For example, I was at my sister-in-law’s cottage, a lovely place that's quaint and downright intimate, especially when crammed with our three children and theirs. We were discussing a dilapidated sleep-camp that had been built over the boathouse, the kind you would never be allowed to build so close to the water today.

“Squirrels have gotten into the walls,” she explained. It would cost a fortune to clean it up enough to even think about renovating.

I felt a sudden twinge of nostalgia.


Relevant Reading: The Real Reason I Have an Only Child 


“My family cottage had a camp like that,” I told her. “It was a great hideout for the kids. You could stay up all night doing dumb stuff with your cousins and friends while the parents did their own thing in the main house.”

“I don’t know if we’ll have friends up,“ she said. “I kind of thought our three boys would play with each other.”

I got where she was coming from. The cottage was already a tight squeeze with our still-young kids. Would it happen less often as they grew? Would it ever happen again? What about my own family? Could friends have a place in our family vacations and adventures? I didn't have the answers yet, because they're still so young. But it was something I suddenly thought to consider. 

I let it all sink in. We were having such a great time, it was sad to imagine that the size of our families might limit our experiences, and who might be able to take part in them.

And I had plenty of time to dwell on it, too. Six self-sufficient kids at a cottage can keep each other pretty busy.

Article Author Rob Thomas
Rob Thomas

Read more from Rob here.

Rob Thomas is a writer, editor and a work-at-home dad. Brood, a book of poems inspired by his experiences of fatherhood, was launched at the Ottawa International Writers Festival in 2014. His journalism has appeared in places such as Ottawa Magazine, the United Church Observer, Canadian Running and on CBC radio and television. He is also a founding member of an Ottawa social club for dads called The Ugly Mothers.

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