Emma Hollingworth: Three is a magic number for children but getting a spare moment can be very tricky

Emma Hollingworth
Emma Hollingworth
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ONE of my friends is about to have her third baby in less than a month’s time. She has just left to start her maternity leave and is very grateful to finally be off work.

Another friend has just announced she is expecting twins later this year. She already has one boy, so by July she will suddenly be a family of three.

They have both been asking me lots of questions about how we cope having three small children in tow.

Life with three is always busy I tell them. There is never a spare moment to catch up with anything and you just feel satisfied if you have managed to adequately dress and feed them and get them to school or nursery on time.

Having three is a whole different ball game - especially when you are both working as well. Before we had our third, another family of three told us it was a bit like crowd control, dealing with three children.

Another mum of three also told me you have to just be super organised and run every little detail like a military operation.

I have been trying to follow that rule ever since the third made her appearance last year. But despite this, every morning there is a battle with each one of them – mainly about what they are going to wear. Even the one-year-old has her opinions about what she will and won’t put on.

Every night when they go to bed I try to be organised and get the next day’s clothes laid out. As they are usually quite sleepy they often agree to what I have chosen for them.

But then something happens overnight and when they get up they decide they “can’t possibly” wear what has been laid out for them.

You would think the eldest having a school uniform to wear would stop her being able to have much of a say but somehow she still argues about what colour tights she is going to wear or what shoes or coat she’ll put on that day. Winter time is a particular nightmare as then there is even more debate over hats, gloves and scarves.

Somehow it always seems better to just agree rather than waste the precious little time there is to get them ready with endless arguments. I always think at least if they are in something suitable for the weather that is enough for me.

When you first have a baby you immediately begin looking forward to all the major milestones – eating, walking, talking etc. But it seems to me these are the very things that you later have the biggest battles over.

If I had a pound for every time I am heard to say “Will you please finish your food,” or “Sit down and stop shouting” I would be extremely rich by now.

How nice it would be to go back to the blissful newborn stage where the child is little more than an accessory which you can dress up to match your outfit and take out and about in nothing more than a sling across your chest.

But what I don’t envy is the endless worry you feel with a newborn. Am I dressing them too warmly? Are they going to overheat? Have I fed them enough? Why are they crying again?

In particular I no longer worry that I am going to look into the crib one day and find my baby dead. Cot death is always a huge fear for new parents. Sheffield City Council and NHS Sheffield have teamed up to help new parents abate these fears with a campaign to reduce the number of Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy (SUDI).

In particular they are urging parents to always put babies on their backs to sleep. For more information about best sleeping practices, visit: http://www.nhs.uk/Planners/pregnancycareplanner/pages/cotdeath.aspx