I read this question shortly after I took my pregnancy test and I think I buried my head in my arms, right here at the computer, laughing and shaking my head. I could answer it with two, but I have absolutely no idea how it will be three close together. THREE. Phew. That's still crazy to me!
But, like I said, I can answer that question with two. Obviously, this is spoken only from my own experience, so my answer will be subjective, plus, it is comprehensive only up to one year, as I have only had two kids for one year. Ask me again in ten years and my answer might be a tad different.
We found out we were pregnant with Number Two on Cub's Number One birthday, which was thrilling for us. They are twenty months apart. As I sat down to type this and put my thoughts in order, I realized how much of it was really dependent on my kids' personalities. Which brings me to the conclusion that there are some aspects of having kids close together that just depend on the kids! For example, the pending arrival of Baby Sister meant that we chose to move Big Brother to a big boy bed at an early age--sixteen months--and he did just great with it. But, I had comments from a few people who told me he shouldn't leave his crib until he was at least two, possibly three, and that I was hurting him developmentally. That's all fine and good if you want to wait until your baby is three, but mine was fine at sixteen months. See? It's not good or bad if you do it earlier or later (as long as they're ready), it's just different. Naomi could be (and will be) a totally different story.
So, let me try to approach this a different way. The basics. Some pros of having kids close together from the Mom's perspective could be that you are, to some extent, still fairly familiar with the baby stage. Sleepless nights and breastfeeding weren't totally erased from my memory yet, so they were easy to transition to after Naomi was born. Our baby gear was still within reach and we remembered (for the most part) how to operate the infant seat and set up the pack 'n play. Cub will never have a memory without his sister, which is neat to think about.
Some cons could be convenience. It's tricky to take an infant and a toddler anywhere and I'm assuming it's probably easier if your older one is, well, older! We learned the value of parking next to cart returns and being willing to accept that entering and exiting the car could take just as long as the shopping trip in the beginning! Once we got the hang of it, it was fine, and all of the time spent training Cub how to behave in the grocery store before little sister came along definitely paid off. Also, it can be tricky just caring for both in general. Even though Cub was old enough to do some things on his own, he wasn't (and still isn't) completely independent. Again, this just depends on personality, but a twenty month old and a newborn both require work from Mama, just on different levels. And Cub still needs help getting dressed, brushing his teeth (I choose to supervise that!), sometimes getting his shoes on, getting food (he can't exactly microwave his own mac 'n cheese yet!) and things like that. They both require sippy cups to take to church. They both require snacks on trips. It's just the fine art of remembering TWO of everything. Even though it becomes habit, I've still left the house short a cup a time or two, and that's just part of it. But, it also becomes a great time to teach the older kiddo responsibility and Cub has loved being in charge of gathering his own things when we leave (again, something that still requires some supervision!).
There's a pro to every con, you know?
It definitely keeps you en pointe as a Mom. When Naomi was born, I simply surrendered to the fact that I would probably live in chaos for a few months, possibly a year, and I was fine with that. Accepting the pending change for what it was helped me transition to it more easily. I made an effort to get out of the house with both kids as soon as possible, just so I wouldn't grow too comfortable not going out at all (and for Cub's sake, who loves running errands). But, there were lots of occasions where going out just wasn't going to happen, and that was fine, too. You just roll with the punches and do what you can. I can definitely tell you that the supreme title of "Super Mom" that I so desperately tried to attain with one child fell off the priority list completely with two. Having two kids close together has been the most humbling, wonderful experience of my life. Naomi was a much harder baby than Caleb and I just had to grit my teeth and push through until she turned a corner at seven months and became happy smiley easy baby. But it was seven months--seven LONG months--before we got there. Cub was easy at seven days. Transitioning not only to two children but also to a hard baby was no easy task, but oh my goodness, it was a wonderful one. God used that time (and still uses these times) to show me my need for Him and His graciousness to me in allowing me to experience these things in the first place. There are days where I feel like I'm running the gauntlet and other days where I feel I am witnessing heavenly grace firsthand. I am shaped and formed as a person, not just as a Mom, more and more every day.
My advice to surviving kiddos close together the first year?
1) Accept that two close together is going to be a big change! Toss expectations out the window and enjoy the ride. Your life will form a rhythm again soon enough, and for now, embrace the round-the-clock feedings and pajama days with both of your kids.
2) When you get your brain back, plan, plan, plan. When you run errands, be strategic with where you go and when. Map out the grocery store. Write your list in order of the aisles you will hit first. Planning takes time but pays off once you're there. Bring your sling (or carrier). Pack a snack. You can do this! And, if you only make it out of Target with some saltines and a gallon of milk, keep your chin up, wipe your eyes, and praise God for the Chick-fil-A drive-thru!
3) Get a really great double jogger. :)
Great question for a really great experience.
Have a lovely day.