From the Original Poster: Thank you all for your lengthy, thoughtful, and heartfelt responses to my question about raising three kids in Brooklyn. Turns out, there are a lot of families of four, who are wondering if they could manage in this city with one more. I received many more responses asking me to post to list, than I did responses from those raising three kids. (I'm sure there are plenty of families raising three kids here, but most of them probably don't have the time to read and respond to this list!) I am very grateful for the responses I did get, and very comforted knowing that I'm not alone in facing the decision about whether to try for a third.
And no, I have not come any closer to making a decision :)
“We are very similar to you:) We have three kids under 8. I am a SAHM and my husband works full-time. We have been living in a 2 bedroom condo for 8 years in Windsor Terrace. It's tight, but we manage. I do wish we had some more space, but cannot afford it at the moment. We finally got a new car about 6 months ago after our 14 year old Camry started costing too much to keep going. We need a car as we travel out of NYC often.
In short we love it here and wouldn't change a thing for now. It is hard to shuttle the kids around, but I have a sitter a couple of times a week to help out. There is no other way since we don't have family nearby. I also have some very good friends and neighbors. We help each other out as much as we can.”
"I just have one kiddo so I can't really offer any good advice. However, the elderly couple that lives above us raised their three sons in the very same apartment they are still in....a single floor of a brownstone! It's a third story walkup, two-bed railroad with one bath. I haven't taken measurements but I’m guessing it's about 800 square feet. So, it can certainly be done with a little creativity and determination. They even did it through the 70s and 80s when the neighborhood wasn't at its finest.
Maybe start researching bunk beds that also have a pull-out trundle?”
“Let me say right off the bat that I'm only raising two kids in Brooklyn, so I can't be of much help in terms of logistics. I will say that the people I know with three are wealthy and either have some help or most kids in school. You did not mention schools in your post, but I think it's a really important consideration. If you have to move, you might not be in a good school zone, and that's the thing that pushes a lot of people to move out of the city. I'd look at the prices of three bedrooms in areas with good schools, and add that to the decision-making process. (I personally don't think you can have a family of 5 in a two bedroom for very long).”
“I have three and think it is the most perfect number in the world. My husband was happy with two and was VERY reluctant to add a third but he is just in love with our third (and now wants more but I am DONE!). As a result of all our back and forth on the issue, we put off having a 3rd for several years so my first two are older (they are 9, 7, and 2 now). That has probably made the shuttling around issue easier - the older two are in school a lot and also much more independent than they were in the toddler years.
Anyhow, there has been no adjustment or decrease in quality of life for us at all. We love having three! We have 2 bedrooms plus a small bedroom - our two boys share one of the large bedrooms and my daughter has her own, very cute, small bedroom (it used to be a small office). We bought a bigger sedan but it's still a regular sedan and the 3 seats fit across the back; they also fit across the back of my mom's pretty standard Honda Accord; it's a little tight but it is temporary. As the kids get bigger, they won't need these crazy car seats and can just use regular seat belts. So, no minivan for us.
We own our space in Carroll Gardens so we didn't need to move but I am so happy with three and would rather move out of this neighborhood than settle for two kids.”
“We're a couple in our mid-forties (yikes! how'd that happen?) and our kids are older, 16,13 and 9. We moved to Park Slope 8 years ago, after living in various parts of upper Manhattan for ten years. We've never needed a car- maybe rented one less than 10 times in all the years we've been here. I've also been a stay-at-home mom (I write while the kids are at school, but not making any money just now...). We're in a three bedroom, with 2 of the kids sharing a room with bunk beds, which is fine; more of a problem is only having one bathroom for the five of us! (Friends of ours in Morningside Heights, with a rent controlled 2 bedroom, have 4 kids though. So it can be done.)
The logistics of three kids does get complicated. By fourth and fifth grade, my kids liked to walk places in the neighborhood on their own a lot more. Part way through middle school they were taking the train on their own. But before that, there were years of wearing babies and pushing strollers around the neighborhood. It still feels like I have to plan activities out like a general.
Physically, I think it gets easier when they're older. Well, except for the fact that they're all eating like ravenous maniacs and I have to lug home tons of groceries every week. Or that my oldest will wake me up at two in the morning after she's been up studying for an exam. As they all get more verbal (and emotional as pre-teens and teenagers) it can definitely be stressful and chaotic. Even when both parents are home, we're outnumbered. There's an awful lot of school stuff to deal with if you do public schools. In the next two years we'll have to tour and apply for middle schools, high schools and colleges for the three different kids! And it really does seem like school budgets and the competition for good school options get worse every year.
I certainly don't regret having a third child. But it's definitely much harder than two.
I remember reading books that said a third child wasn't much more work. Don't believe it! If you want your kids do things like swimming, soccer, track, music lessons, art activities, play dates, birthday parties, summer camp, family vacations, cultural outings, get good grades, get into quality schools, etc. etc. those things all take a lot of time, energy and/or money.
Also, when you have three kids, you can't even take a regular taxi or stay all together in one hotel room!
We've been able to scrape by and do all these things for our kids, but we're not in great shape for retirement and I cringe thinking about paying for college soon...
(Probably some things would be easier for us if we had family nearby to help out, but ours are all in California, so we generally only see them a few weeks every summer...)
Hope this doesn't seem too cranky. My kids are all really great, fun, quirky, interesting human beings. Actually, we used to think about having four kids, but I don't at all regret not having that fourth child. I'll just hold someone else's baby or make a logo tower with a toddler friend every now and then...”
“We are raising three boys in PS (5.5, 3.5 and 14 months). #3 was the last attempt for a girl, but oh, well. We both work in the city, so moving deeper into Brooklyn was not an option. We moved almost next door to PS 107, so for now one kid and later on two kids and for one glorious year all three kids will be in a good, close-by neighborhood school. We bought a 2-bedroom apartment with large even-sized bedrooms - so the three kids will share a room. The one bathroom will be trying, I am sure. I really wanted some outdoor space (we have a roofdeck). We don't own or plan on owning a car (we use fresh direct and amazon for most things). We have near-by grandparents who babysit.
We bring the older two to each other's playdates sometimes, we plan their activities to be at the same time in the same place and don't over schedule them - 1-2 activities per kid per season at most; 1-2 playdates per month per kid. The baby just tags along for now. With three kids - one parent is always handling two, no matter what.
I am not sure what we'll do as the kids hit teenage years and how the middle school/high school situation will look. I call assembly line parenting - everyone eat breakfast, everyone takes a bath, everyone to bed, everyone do some sort of homework. If the kids are different genders, there are more logistical problems.
It feels like there is disproportionally more laundry and doctor appointments with three than 2.”
“We're in the same boat (we have two boys, almost 3 years and 8 months old), so I'm afraid I can't offer any real advice, but I was hoping you might be willing to share what you hear back from folks in the community. For me, I love the idea of having a third (only I'd really like a girl!), but I have the same worries that you do about space, money, etc.--we've found having two to be pretty overwhelming at times! Friends and family I know with three talk about how it is kind of crazy at first, but that it gets easier as they get older.
That said I was just talking to a mom of three last week who's moving to New Jersey because she and her hubby found that having a third child really tipped things for them (she talked about not having enough hands to hang onto everyone at the subway, not being able to watch all three at the playground, etc.). I guess ultimately a lot depends on your kids, your family dynamic, and your financial situation. For what it's worth, my father-in-law always says nobody ever wishes they had fewer children in their old age.”
“I am the mom of 3 kids ages 5, 3 and 10 mo. a 2 bed suffice for us although we bought a house with 3 br. life does get busier with 3 and if I had been younger I would have waited until middle child was at least 3 to get last baby and plan better. Many financial sacrifices with 3 but siblings is the one gift I was lucky to have and want to give to my children. I have discovered that children don’t need material things but a mom who is happy raising them.
If you can handle the chaos without going crazy then you will be fine. None of us have family around so that has been rough but can’t imagine my life without any of my 3.”
“Yes, I am raising 3 kids in Brooklyn - a 6 year old, 3 and a half year old and a 17 month old. We are committed to staying at this point. I was a stay at home mom, but now also run a preschool program in my home but I am still with my kids quite a bit. I definitely can't imagine life without my 17 month old and am happy to have 3. It does get tougher than 2 and we are still figuring it all out after 17 months. I think the flux is temporary though - next year my daughter will be in 1st grade, son in prekindergarten and baby in preschool with me which means there aren't as many moving parts in terms of pick ups. This year, I end preschool at 12noon and on some days I have a 1:30 pick up and then a 2:40 pick up and it feels like my life is pick ups!
I always thought I would have 4 kids, but 3 children is certainly making me pause (especially with the preschool program and I also teach graduate school so my part time jobs are becoming more full time on top of my mommy job). We have a house - albeit a small one - with 3 bedrooms, but right now the baby is in the crib in our room and the other two are in bunks in another so the 3rd bedroom remains a spare room. We also have a minivan and it's a lovely thing to have.
I am doing less subway trips then with 2 - with 2 I had the carrier, stroller thing down even for the subway. We live on 18th Street (not sure what you mean by deeper) and love it. I know that Sunset Park is also booming with families as well as Greenwood Heights which is my area is. I like that I am close to lots of things in the slope, but down a bit more. The shuttling can be difficult, but since my older daughter is in Kindergarten this year, she gets home only a couple hours before dinner so I most often let the 2 older kids play together and (hopefully) nurture their love for each other as prior to K, they were playing together all the time. To get one to a play date on their own is tricky and to volunteer to help out is tricky. I am not able to do an individual class with my baby as I have with my older kids. However, she has them to make her laugh and play. I am definitely still adjusting, but wouldn't change it for the world...”
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