Everyone says that your years with little kids go by quickly. It’s true; before you know it, you can go from bringing your first baby home from the hospital to squeezing a third into the same house. Even though it’s the same structure, it’s a totally different place. I realized this the other day when we visited our friends and their one baby in their chic condo and thought, “We used to live like this.” We’ll probably always be in our starter home, which is just fine with us because we love it, but as we drove back that day to our 1,450 square feet of heaven, I couldn’t help but think of all the ways our home has changed in just a few short years.
Here are some differences between your starter home with one baby vs. your starter home with three little kids.
One Baby: Everything has its place.
Three Kids: The computer is in the kitchen, the pop-up fire truck tent is in the living room, the pack n’ play is in the hallway.
One Baby: When you want to open a cupboard door, you open it. When you want to lift the toilet seat cover, you lift it. When you want to get some toilet paper, just unroll.
Three Kids: Simple tasks now take 2.7 times longer to accomplish because everything is childproofed. The additional time gets deducted from your sleeping time. Combined with the fact that you now have three kids, you are down to sleeping an average of 43 minutes within a 24-hour period (52 minutes on weekends).
One Baby: Glass wine bottles rest on a funky rack mounted on the kitchen island, directly at a toddler’s eye level.
Three Kids: No bottles on display, for obvious reasons--if you buy a bottle of wine, it doesn’t hang around long enough to get put on a rack.
One Baby: Your dining room built-ins provide the perfect place to display your fragile wedding gifts.
Three Kids: Oh, that all got stored away a looooong time ago. You now understand why your mother unwrapped her china pieces like they were old friends when you cleaned out the attic during summer break from college. Currently, you have a large collection of pump and bottle parts on display where your porcelain cake stand used to be.
One Baby: You have a lovely wrought iron and glass-top coffee table.
Three Kids: Your coffee table is a train table. Sometimes you mix it up and switch in the dress-up clothes chest instead.
One Baby: If you need to use the bathroom, you walk through the door to the toilet.
Three Kids: Don’t waste anytime getting to your (one) bathroom because you’ll need to go through an obstacle course of step stools and potty seats before you make it to the toilet.
One Baby: You take uninterrupted showers in your (one) bathroom.
Three Kids: Bwahahahahaha.
One Baby: Cleaning is a chore to do while the baby naps, and/or it impedes on family time and “me-time” on the weekends.
Three Kids: You shoo your kids outside with Dad at 8:15 every Saturday morning so you can clean. Whatever it takes to get some time ALONE. On rainy days, you “accidentally” wax yourself into the far corner of your 9X7 kitchen and threaten everyone to within an inch of their lives if they walk on the wet floor. Then you turn to face the wall and drink your coffee in solitude while it dries.
One Baby: You put your baby’s soiled clothes in a personalized wicker hamper. You wash onesies, receiving blankets and such in separate loads so as to avoid contamination from other household dirt.
Three Kids: The laundry area is a total free-for-all. If you push through the mounds of clothes in various stages of laundering, you’ll manage to reach the washer and dryer. There is just too much of it to do separate loads, so spit-on sleep suits, applesauce-smeared t-shirts, grass-stained jeans, nursing bras and Dad’s underwear all go in together.
One Baby: Potential babysitters’ phone numbers are posted on the fridge.
Three Kids: No babysitters at the moment. You’re not convinced anyone else could handle this. To be honest, you’re not really sure how you do it yourselves.
One Baby: At the end of each “play session,” you tuck your baby’s toys away in the fabric-covered bins labeled “Toys” in the living room and his bedroom.
Three Kids: You wave the white flag as you reluctantly allow your five-year old to carry his plastic bucket of Legos into your bedroom which had, up until that point, remained the sole toy-free zone in the house. He will spend his “quiet time” in there. This is the sacrifice you make to keep him from waking nappers and disturbing you on the main level. Nobody needs quiet time more than Mom does.
Despite all this, it’s still kind of fun to live in your starter home after your family has expanded. There’s less square footage to clean, which is awesome, and a lot of times you can squeeze in some Facebook/email/blog-reading while the Hubs is outside with the kiddos during “housework” time. Your living room may be full of toys, but at least you can relax each night knowing that you don’t need to figure out how to pack for a move when a toddler would just find ways to unpack everything as you went. Best of all, you really can’t beat knowing that every day you, your husband, and your kids live surrounded by all the wonderful memories your family has created in the one place you all call home.