Juggling Multiple Children

By Tracey Black, REDBOOK

My youngest son is six months old now. It's hard to believe that just seven years ago I was completely clueless about parenting and thought managing one kid was the hardest thing in the world.

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When we had our first son, my husband and I had to tag team to get things done. I vividly recall the time we tried to figure out how to put a diaper on our newborn son who still had his umbilical cord stump. It probably took us 10 minutes to get that thing on, and we had four hands between us. We stumbled our way through breastfeeding, pumping milk, figuring out bottle and nipple sizes, sleep schedules, and everything else in between. I was lucky that my husband worked at home at the time, which meant I had constant help.

Then we had our second son. Suddenly, taking care of one child seemed like a piece of cake. My husband often took my oldest son while I stayed with the baby, but taking both kids out together was a challenge. My husband refused to do it, while I begrudgingly did it when I needed to get errands done. I still remember my rambunctious son at three years old breaking free from my hands and running amok in Target thinking it was hilarious to play "chase." My older son and I had to run down the aisles to look for him. After that, I bribed him with popcorn from the Target food court to get him to sit in the shopping cart.

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And forget dining out! We ate at home with them for nearly two years because it was so hard to manage the boys in restaurants-despite trying various tricks like bringing coloring books, puzzles, or Legos.

Then, we had our third son. That's when things go interesting. We couldn't tag team because we were outnumbered, so we often had to divide our time between the new baby and older kids. For me, taking all three boys out to run errands or even go to the park was daunting; I just didn't have enough hands.

But over time I got used to it. I learned to do almost everything with our little guy in the baby carrier. I couldn't do anything without it. And I've learned that pretty much everything in parenting seems scary and chaotic in the beginning-from the first day at home with a newborn to the first day of school. But I eventually got the hang of it, and I've learned to manage the chaos.

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As for my husband, he no longer finds taking our older boys out on his own to be so overwhelming. Let's see how long it will take him to go on his own with all three boys.

What used to scare you about parenting?

Tracey Black is the author of Don't Mess with Mama, a blog about parenting, work-life balance, healthy eating, and life as a far from perfect mom. She has three boys under the age of eight, and lives in San Diego, California.

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