The Mantra Every Mom Of Three Kids Lives By


It happened not long after my third kid was born. I adopted a new attitude. A mantra if you will.


Suddenly, I had to let go of it. Like, all of it. The control freak in me was still there, but she could no longer control everything because she has more kids than hands now, and that was it.

A little (super annoying) part of me died. But, honestly I’m a better parent because of it.

So, I adopted the third kid rule. Which is kind of like the five second rule, but for kids. When you have too many. And can’t stop the chaos. If first-time mom me ran into third-time mom me, she would be horrified.

The other day a neighbor texted me:

Neighbor: I saw you drive by. I know my kids were outside playing, but I was watching out the window.

Me: (why is she even texting me this?) You don’t have to explain yourself to me. Ever.

Neighbor: Yeah, but my youngest is pretty young to not be right beside me.

Me: Eh. Third kid.

The third kid rule is a mantra. And the mantra is basically this: Eh.

Baby book? Eh. I share cute stuff on Facebook.

All organic food? Eh. He ate goldfish and fruit snacks. Samesies.

Doesn’t want to wear shoes or a jacket? Eh. He’ll tell me if he’s cold.

You get the idea.

It’s a great mantra for all the things really. I didn’t bake cookies for the PTA? Eh. I have three kids.

My house is a disaster 24/7? Eh. 3 kids live here.

We forgot a project was due today? Eh. They’ll turn it in eventually.

It might be seen as lazy to some, but to me, it’s seen as a survival skill. My house became exponentially more noisy with each kid, and by the time the third kid came along, I was lucky if I could hear myself think.

Can’t formulate an intelligent sentence? Eh. Mom brain x 3.


My house became more messy, and chaotic, and frankly more chill. And chill is not a bad thing when you’re a perfectionist. Chill is a glorious enigma to the perfectionist that only granola-y moms who shop exclusively at Whole Foods have. Until you have three kids. Then chill is suddenly a likely response to broken glass, and injured bleeding foreheads, and packed schedules. It’s a survival skill for tweens screaming in your face, while toddlers pee on the floor and the middle child did what at the neighbors house?

Shrug and say, “Eh. Third kid.” is all you can do when life suddenly blesses you with a colicky infant and two older kids to take care of. After all, now you have more kids than hands, so what can you do some days?

I’ve realized too that having three kids has pushed me over an edge that I wish I would have fallen over a long time ago. I wish that I would have learned sooner to let go. Give in. Say yes. Do crafts with glitter. Say no. Pray more. Think less. And surrender to the chaos and just enjoy the messy moments more.

Some moms get there sooner than me. But, three kids is what helped me adopt the third kid rule. Which is: I have three kids now, so what can they expect? What can I expect? What can the kids expect?

It’s a relief really to have gotten here, and I’m happy to have finally learned to let go a little more.

Now to those of you that are blessed with more than 3. I have a few questions:

What becomes the mantra when you have more kids than fingers? Is it the serenity prayer? It must be the serenity prayer. If not, I will pray it for you.

Read more from Meredith Ethington here on her Facebook page Perfection Pending. Meredith Ethington is a writer and a mom to three, trying to help her kids understand sarcasm and her need for personal space. Meredith’s debut parenting book, Mom Life: Perfection Pending, provides an uplifting yet realistic look at all that is expected of moms in the 21st century. 


  1. Hi there!! Newly blessed with blended family over here! 2 for me, and 3 from my husband makes me a big mess over the past year! Lol I can SO relate to every. Single. Point. made here. I’m good to have them all fed, dressed and shoes that match without someone dying over “he’s wearing my shirt!” Before the bus arrives at 7:50am. Then snack, homework after melt downs about not playing outside first, then heartbroken after told to come inside to wash up for dinner then the conga line begins to form for showers. No more hot water you say? Oh well, I’ll wake you up early to shower in the morning (hoping I remember to ??). Clean house? Eh. Quiet house? Eh. Mom shower? Eh. Lots of “let’s see what’s around here for dinner at 6:30-8pm when Mom brain kicks in that the day has flown by and 5 kids are “starving” or after church Wednesday’s. It’s chaotic, wonderful and so blessed to call this my life.

  2. Mom of 6.. pretty much same here. I know it sounds crazy but some people expect you to be this totally put together super mom I mean if the good Lord blessed me with 6 kids I must be totally amazing right? Haha very funny most days I’m lucky to get anything at all done. Days run into each other and instead of eh.. your mantra really becomes.. but are you dead?? Works for lots of things every mom should try it I’m starving… she hit me.. she took my hoodie… perfect answer always no mom guilt with 6 kids at all.. do you want to be in the PTO absolutely not…ill send a check to show my support. Will you make cupcakes for the class nope but Wal-Mart will. It’s actually quite freeing because I really use to have a hard time saying no to anyone or anything having 6 children literally saved my life. Oh did I also mention they are all GIRLS we call our house the house of “horrormones” my poor hubby even the cat is a girl lol.

  3. Dad of 4 boys here… My wife is a SuperMom! All 4 boys are alive and well when I get home from work. That’s a pretty big win in my book. It get’s crazy in there with our awesome brood of tiny terrors and she is an amazing mom & wife to deal with it daily. I don’t know how y’all do it.. Momming is ridiculously hard. Can the house get messy? Yep, I’ve kept them all while she’s been out and I certainly fair no better. The tiny terrors are happy and we have a blessed family. Thanks for reminding parents that safe & happy is more important than a make-believe “perfect”.

  4. Mom of a blended family here as well, 2 from him 2 from myself and one together, 3 boys and 2 girls 12,8,7,5,2 just making it through the day with 5 Alive children is a win, laundry never ends,someone always has a sport or a dance class, I can’t tell you the last time there were no dirty dishes in my sink, theres nights when it’s pizza or pbj or cereal for dinner or whatever you can find in the cabinet to fix 20 min before bed because something ran late that night or there was just so much going on you forget to take anything out, there is lots of fighting , “she hit me” he took my tablet” “that’s my doll” I agree 100% with ..but are you dead, ? and …eh 3 kids well here it’s …eh 5 kids

    • “But are you dead?” OMG – you’re my hero. Gonna totally use that on a kid the next time a brawl breaks out. 🙂

  5. I have found from personal experience (5 boys & 3 girls) that the 4th kid, the 5th kid, etc. is no worse than the 3rd. Yes, the 3rd is an adjustment, no doubt. But that’s as bad as it gets. Doesn’t really matter after that. I say, the more the merrier!

  6. Single mom of three here! ???? What gets me through even the hardest day, and there are SO many, is knowing that a lot of people would give up a lot to have three healthy, energetic and loving children. It can be overwhelming, but it won’t last for eve….I am a lucky (albeit tired) lady.

  7. Mom of 5 – blended family (with the 4 girls being 12, 13, 14, and 15). “Eh” is my mother mantra (see also: benign negligence) and it’s necessary as hell. I spend endless hours ferrying kids to school, sports, therapists, Walmart, the list goes on. You KNOW what I’m talking about, my battle weary sisters in arms. “Eh” figures heavily into my day when I just CANNOT at dinner time, and we eat some leftovers despite all the bitching. Other days I knock it out of the ballpark, and still other days they’re lucky I haven’t checked myself into a residential facility. More than anything, we just need a massive dose of humor, a glass of wine, and a date night with our husbands. And, most of all, from other moms of big families who know how tough some days are (and to give dirty looks to moms of 1 kid with Pinterest-worthy houses – we love you guys, but you’re makin’ us look bad 🙂 ).

  8. Here is how I explain my three children syndrome: When my first child was born, if he dropped a pacifier or bottle, I got him a new one. Second child dropped same, I rinsed it off and gave it back. Third child – my only daughter – when she dropped her pacifier or bottle, I wiped it on my shirt and stuck it back in her mouth. Wish I had thought of that sooner…

  9. I was a perfectionist mom of 1 perfectly girly little princess for 6 years. Then I had twins. I’m now a mom of a 10 year old (still perfect) and almost 4 year old twins. The shock from going literally overnight from 1 kid to 3 was tough! My twins are very loud and opinionated and run the show around here. The hardest part is transitioning between being a mom to a 10 yr old dealing with school drama, grades, sports, applying to middle school, mean girls, swim practice, choir practice, sleepovers, more swim practice etc… to arguing with the twins over how and when to use the potty. I’m very blessed to be a SAHM but sometimes I wish I had sent them to preschool this year. Defiantly going to try to be much more “Ah”

  10. Love this…and you don’t have too many kids…just wanted you to know…Blessed is the man whose quiver is full…so be encouraged and eh, who’s counting…Have another…??????


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