The news is out (and soon will be the bump). The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have chosen to go for a third child. And why not? Children are wonderful, each unique and special. It occurred to me on receiving the royal news that I have no idea about the inner workings of a royal home and what help they may receive or challenges they will face with three kids in tow.
I was suddenly reminded of some of the things I'd never have done with our first child Anthony, that Jane, our third, has either well and truly got away or just had to put up with. Some of which maybe even makes me question my parenting.
These are my third child parenting admissions. Jane is our third child and she....
1. Had chocolate and ice-cream before she was six months old. By the time I'd had Jane I couldn't remember what food etc was supposed to happen when. Both the boys had delayed areas of development that you could only register when they got older so I just got on with it with Jane. Maybe I was also just a bit more relaxed about things - I'd noted that with each of the other two the 'rules' about when to do what had changed and now realised much of the guidance was exactly that - guidance and not a baby bible to be obeyed as it seemed with my first.
2. Has watched (several) 12A movies at four years old. It's either that or get complaints from the eldest that all we watch is 'baby stuff'. Unbelievably we have three (yes three) TVs downstairs and there is often also at least one iPad in operation and yet somehow I know Jane will be drawn to the excitement of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. If for no other reason than her older ADHD brother is literally jumping around in front of the TV for every action scene, of which there are a lot.
Which brings me onto..
3. Has had a lot of screen time. I sometimes worried that watching the CBeebies Bedtime hour might be too much for Anthony. Now entire season's of Ben & Holly will drift over the day. I'll be honest, I don't know how many screens are going in the home at once. It's true that the boys, and David in particular, uses the iPad for learning and keeping calm as many kids with autism do. However as I am typing there are four screens in use, in this room alone.
4. Had a lot of shouting and telling off. Jane may get away with watching movies too old for her and eating chocolate early (which I may add has definitely already turned into a life long relationship - she is so like her mother) but I'm afraid she got discipline (read naughty step) much earlier than the older two too. I think perhaps because she understood earlier than the boys about what she was doing.
She lied before she was three years old whereas I can still count Anthony's lies on one hand. The boy is so incredibly truthful. But it is also an operational requirement. When there are three to take on the school run, there's no time for naughtiness or uncooperative children. If I had to 'shout' them out the house, that's what happened.
5. Had to be dragged on the school-run and more. I had many late mornings with our first son Anthony. I'd be up feeding in the night and then in the morning we would lounge around the bed together. Ok, so there was maybe a bit of TV for Anthony too, but the day was relaxed in it's start. No, not for Jane. After two weeks of Daddy being at home, Mummy (that's me) was taking three kids on a school run and then nursery run.
Our third child was (almost literally) thrown into a giant fluffy baby grow and into a car seat, into a Baby Bjorn, back into the car seat and back home again in what can only be described as a mad rush. Followed by a nursery run the middle of the day to take David to the specialist communications pre-school on the other side of the borough. Jane has also been dragged to many therapy and school appointments where we have tried to 'hush' her in the corner (...enter iPad...again).
There was no scheduled nap times or feeds - these fitted around car journeys and school pick-ups. I didn't think anything of handing Jane a bottle in her car seat. I once realised that Jane and I spent usually about four hours doing this everyday. I wasn't sure, but it seemed to me this was a long time to be strapped into a baby seat. Fair to say she's used to it now - and she needs to be as she starts reception in a weeks time.
Yet, despite my illustrious third child admissions, I delight in her and the boys everyday. Jane is blooming and the boys with her:
The way the kids look out for each other - never more obvious than when three year old Jane effectively saved her older autistic and ADHD brother from falling into the Thames.
Hearing Jane say she loves her brothers, seeing our pre-verbal son love her back.
So good luck dear Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I'm sure your experiences will be different, but you will still hopefully delight in the wonders of your third child in their and your own unique way. Despite my often chaotic third child parenting, Jane is turning into a pretty great person and I wish you every joy as your third child grows with you too.