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