Having three children relatively close in age creates undeniable challenges but for every cloud there is also a silver lining.
Our three are separated by less than 4½ years and, as anyone who has multiple offspring of the same or similar ages will know, that comes with its attendant baggage. The clamour for attention. Hand-me-downs. Sibling rivalry. Occasionally, as parents, wondering whether we should have stopped at one. Or indeed none.
Equally, there are upsides to having more than one child. Hang on a second while I try to remember what they are …
Seriously, though, while there are numerous advantages to having a single child, there are just as many plusses to having more than one.
It’s a matter of swings and roundabouts. Literally, in some cases.
It’s particularly obvious to me when our kids go to a playground together. They run around as a pack, cackling with delight as they pile on to the giant swing together and egging each other on to do things they might not necessarily try if they were on their own.
It works both ways too. It’s not always the boys encouraging their younger sister to jump down a fireman’s pole. (Kara, who has yet to discover fear, needs no encouragement to do that.) There have been times when our cautious and conservative Isaac, who is so hot on health and safety that I’m constantly amazed he doesn’t play in a hard hat and a hi-vis jacket, is moved to take a tentative step outside his comfort zone by the adventurous nature of one of the others.
We were visiting a playground near my parents’ house last weekend that included a rope swing that enabled young swingers (that may not have come out quite right …) to cross from one wooden bollard to another. This rapidly became a self-created three-way game of who could swing across a crocodile-infested swamp without being eaten, as you do. It kept the trio occupied (and delighting in each other’s hypothetical demise) for ages.
Would any of them have tried this if they were on their own? Maybe. Maybe not. But as Isaac paved the way and showed them how to do it, it certainly gave Toby and Kara some extra competitive incentive to emulate him rather than give up after a couple of failures. Sure enough, after a little practice, all three of them succeeded, with obvious pride on the faces of the two youngest siblings.
That’s the power of three for you. More than one is definitely (at least) twice the fun sometimes.