As a mother of four children, I often get “Wow you are so brave!” from other people. But you know what? I’m actually not. Because I have come to the conclusion that one child is actually harder than four. Yep, you heard me.
Recently, my family offered to have my three older girls overnight as a treat for them, which my girls were quick to take them up on. So they went overnight and my husband Cj and I stayed at home and chilled with our toddler. (Except, of course, when I say “chilled” I mean “didn’t relax once,” and when I say “at home” I mean “because going anywhere alone with a toddler is f*cking torture.” But then again, so can be staying at home.)
You would think, logistically, that having only one kid at home at a time would make for an easier laid back day. Except no, just no. It isn’t. Here’s why.
1. One word: playmates!
They don’t cling to your leg constantly because you aren’t their only source of social outlet. They have brothers or sisters who are always doing way more interesting things than, say, attempting to have a shower or trying to sneak in a solo dump.
There are other people’s toys to play with, and we all know that everyone else’s toys are always more interesting than the ones your child already owns. You don’t have to pretend to be enthralled by LEGO or drawing or stickers or some lame-ass kids movie because you have other children who actually feel this way about those things. And they wouldn’t be faking their enjoyment, either.
2. One more word: Distractions!
Wanna make dinner? Sure… if you can do it whilst wrestling a toddler off your legs. And you know the kitchen cupboard isn’t as interesting as when you’re making high-pitched squealing noises at the same time you’re on the phone with someone.
Your distraction powers when you have one child are lower than what they’d be if you had more, believe me. Siblings really are the ultimate perk in distracting a determined small person.
3. Sure, there might be more mess but there are ALSO more helpers.
Having more than one kid means there’s always more food to make or clean up, more laundry to do, or more crap to pick up from the floor. But having one child means you’re the only one who can do all the boring jobs.
When you have more than one child, you at least have the benefit of having other children to boss around, er, I mean, collaboratively clean up the mess with. Forgot to grab some wipes while you’re doing a nappy change? It’s OK — just call for help.
Can’t be bothered picking up the books torn by the toddler from the shelves another time? It’s OK — wait for one of the older children to argue and then make them do it as penance. Feel like a cup of tea while you enjoy your three-minute sit-down? You can easily teach one of your older children to make that for you, and then they can go play with their baby sister outside.
Of course, there are downsides, too — like the laundry and food bill — but the positives majorly outweigh them. Parenting one child is intense; it’s full-on and mind-numbing. That’s why you should have more than one child so they have each other as playmates; or rather, so your single child has someone else other than you to fight with.