Is it One and Done? Or the more the merrier?

more the merrier?

Is parenting one easier than parenting multiple children? Or is it the more the merrier?

More the merrier?

“One is like one and two is like twenty.”

That’s what my great-grandma always said. But I’ve heard so many conflicting opinions. I’ve heard moms say:

“Having my first was the hardest- it got easier after that.”

“The hardest transition is going from 2 to 3 kids.”

“Having the third almost did me in!”

What in the world is a girl supposed to believe?

Last week, my four year old went to visit her grandma (my mom) for a week. Living 3+ hours from my parents, this is a great way for them to bond and spend quality time with their granddaughter. It used to be a nice little break for me, but two visits ago, I noticed little sis got crabbier and crabbier as the week wore on. By the end of the week without her sister, she was a whiny mess, and I was one tired mama. I chalked it up to teething or a slight bug, perhaps. But this time, I noticed it again- almost immediately after my four year old left, the two year old became clingy and out of sorts. She whined constantly and was just very unsettled. I couldn’t make a move without her. The poor little thing missed her sister terribly.

On one hand, I wonder if she’s just come to depend too much on her built in playmate and security system. Maybe some time apart is a good thing?! On the other hand, I wonder if having two kids is just plain old easier.

While pondering this question (and its potential for a blog post!), I thought it might be good to get some insight from other moms. I belong to a group on Facebook for moms to connect and chat, and I received such a comprehensive comment, it was essentially a post within itself. And unsurprisingly, it turned out to be from a fellow momblogger!

Read what MaryAnne from mamasmiles.com has to say about her experience in mothering four children.

I feel like it changes everything every time you add a child. Four was definitely different from two, and it was different from three as well. I think there are things that are easy and hard with any number of children. I was the fourth child out of ten, and I know that as one of the “older” kids I helped out a lot – made everyone’s lunches all through high school, washed the dinner dishes every night, cleaned all the bathrooms every week, etc. etc.

Here’s my experience with four kids so far:

– One kid is hard because you are the sole source of entertainment. One child is easy because you only have one child!
– Two kids are hard, because your attention is split, and they have different needs you are trying to meet at the same time. Two kids is easy, because there is a built-in playmate.
– Three kids is easy, because the second child watches the first child, and learns how to be an older sibling from them. The oldest child can play with the second child while you look after the baby. Three kids is hard because you have three different sets of needs, your attention is split in three, and you only have two hands. Three kids is easy, because there are almost always two kids who want to play, which means if one child needs down time without playing with siblings, they can get it.
– Four kids is hard, because you still have only two hands and one brain, and now you are dividing it into four all day long. Laundry beat me out with my fourth baby and I still haven’t gotten back on top of it. You can only rent a minivan for trips and they cost double a lot of the time. Four kids is easy because they are their own little club, the oldest kids can (usually) help out with the younger ones, and you are used to this mom gig.

I do have one child with special needs, and that DOES change everything. My child’s struggles are relatively mild, but they still consume a lot of time and energy for the entire family. At the same time, I feel like their struggles have taught our entire family a lot about patience, kindness, and focusing on what matters most.

Interestingly, I had several strangers chew me out when I was pregnant with baby #3 (“You have a girl and a boy, why have another one?”), but nobody has ever said anything about my having 4. Maybe they decided I was past saving?

more the merrier?

MaryAnne lives in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley with her
Stanford professor husband and their four children, aged 3, 6, 8, and
10. Raised in five different countries on three continents as the fourth
of ten children, MaryAnne travels when she can, and remains close to her
nine siblings. She studied music (B.A.), education (M.A.), and
medicine (Ph.D). She uses all three degrees as a stay-at-home mother
who occasionally freelances as a photographer. You can find parenting
tips, educational activities, crafts, and travel adventures on her
blog, www.mamasmiles.com. When she successfully schedules free time,
MaryAnne enjoys taking pictures of her kids, singing, walks in nature,
sewing, and crochet. She hopes to learn woodworking, someday.

Is it One and Done? Or the more the merrier?

don't call me supermom

17 comments

  1. Hi there! This is a great post! So if you know me you know I have 3 bio kids and 2 step (bonus) kids, for a total of 5. I honestly find it so much easier when they are all together opposed to just having one or two home. They all keep each other occupied and there is always someone to play with. They rarely ask for play dates, or for me to drive them places because they always find something to do together. I love having a big family, and if someday I could afford to have another I want to adopt more 🙂

    1. Hi Jennifer! Thanks for the comment and sorry for the late reply! I totally agree about only having one at home being harder…at least for my kids and what they are used to! My girls really do love each other and are great playmates for each other!

  2. As a woman with 1 child, and who wants to more, thank you for this post! I grew up in a family of 3 and I was the oldest (9 & 11 years older to be exact) so I totally understand when you say the older child helps out. Thank you for sharing this, and don’t worry you’ll get back on top of that laundry pile one day ;). Thanks for stopping by for some #mommatime!

  3. I’m not so worried about number three after reading this post. I loved how insightful her description was. I was the only child (so is my husband). So this is all new to me.

    1. Oh wow, this IS a learning curve for both of you! You will do great- I always think if other mothers can do it, so can I! 🙂

  4. That last part got me. I never understood why people think that having one boy and one girl is the “perfect family”. Maybe that’s NOT the perfect family for everyone! Anyways…haha

    I like the descriptions of what’s hard and what’s easy about having a certain number of kids. It *almost* makes me want to have three like we had originally planned…but the possibility of having 3 girls still scares the heck out of us! lol

    1. The thought of having a boy scares me…I don’t know what I would do with a boy after having two little girls! But who knows, it might be a great change of pace! Luckily, it is not up to me what we get!

  5. As a mom of 4 children, I can totally relate to every word of your post. The laundry thing can get out of control if I don’t do it everyday. Meals also can be an issue because my kids are picky eaters. You go girl.

  6. I had my first two kids back to back and then waited almost 5 years to have my last. I I had wanted to have them all in a row just so that their needs and schedules would be more closely aligned, but life didn’t happen like that. But I will say it made my transition to 3 easier since the big kids could really help me with things! I say the more the merrier!

  7. I have two girls (3 and 1). I think it will get easier when they get a little older. My biggest issue right now is the 3 year old tries to play with the 1 year old and can be a little rough so I feel like a referee!

  8. Haha, I love that quote from your great-grandma, it’s kind of true! I think it all really depends on how close in age they are, what their temperaments are, what your style as a mother… I think it’s a lot of things that factor in. At the end of the day you just have to do what you think is best and right for your family. 🙂

  9. I have two children and they both have special needs. Two feels like four most days and I’m too old and exhausted for another. But I wouldn’t change my life with my son’s I just wish they’d sleep when it’s bed time. 😉

  10. I grew up with my brother and sister , so multiple kids is good in many ways but
    now I have only seven yr old son and I wish I have another kid .

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