Having one child is like not having a child at all. How many times did I hear this sentence, as the “mother of an only child” at the time? As if I would sit around at home, bored, with one child. 😉 But I have to admit, now that I am a mum of two children, I can see a lot of truth in that sentence. One of the main differences between having one child or several children is that, as a parent, you have almost no breaks. When one child is asleep, the other usually wants your full attention and, of course, as a mum, you want to do the best you can for all your children.
WHEN BABY NUMBER 2 IS ON THE WAY…
When I was pregnant with baby number 2, my first fears appeared relatively quickly: would I even “be able to cope” with two children? Could I do my best by both children? And would I be able to respond to the different needs of a child who’s almost three and a baby to the extent that I would like? Would my daughter feel neglected if she had to share me with her baby brother?
More and more questions. But as with most things in life, it is really not worth worrying too much about things in advance… I would say that you’ve got to “cross the bridge when you get there”.
THE FIRST YEAR WITH TWO CHILDREN
For me as a mum, the first year with a baby and an older sibling worked really well, in particular. In the mornings, I was able to take care of the baby while the older child was in kindergarten and in the afternoon I focused more on my older daughter. There was next-to-no jealousy in this first year. And with time, we settled into our life as a family of four really well (even if it takes forever to get everyone dressed in the morning 🙂). None of us could imagine a life without our child’s little brother. But of course, the baby brother grew bigger too and had his own needs.
LIFE AS A SIBLING
Having siblings is really something wonderful, which also really shapes you! Of course, “being siblings” also includes quarrels that can be exhausting not only for us parents but also for our children. And as siblings, you have to share! You don’t just have to share your toys: above all, you have to share your parents’ attention. In principle, I do not see anything bad in this. It not only promotes the willingness to compromise but also encourages a general attitude of thoughtfulness.
But sometimes you do not want to ALWAYS have to share mum or dad. And to be honest, I think every child really deserves to spend time on their own with their mum or dad. Whether it’s for telling stories without being interrupted, or doing something together just the two of you, or even not having to be quiet when your brother is already asleep.
TIME SPENT WITH JUST ONE CHILD IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO MANAGE DURING THE DAILY ROUTINE
The daily routine often means there is little room for spending quality time with just one child. But it is in this phase that downtime is of enormous importance! My daughter is now almost 5 years old and, of course, has different needs from her 2-year-old brother.
And one evening, when we were reading a bedtime story together in bed, my daughter said that she would like it if we could do something together, just us. She misses me and she would like to stay in a hotel with me, alone. And the boys (brother & dad) could make themselves comfortable at home. Although I was shocked for a moment, I was delighted that my daughter could communicate her need for some time alone with her with mum so well. Her brother is smaller and “needs” his mum a little more, and demands this time much louder than his considerate sister does. But that does not mean that my daughter always has to back down.
SPENDING TIME WITH JUST ONE CHILD
Of course, I immediately took my daughter’s needs seriously and thought of a few things that I could do or experience with just her. A mother-daughter break, where SHE is the centre of attention and we only do things that she enjoys! And these do not always have to be “big things”. Sometimes it is enough if she is “seen” and “heard” more in everyday life without her mum being permanently distracted.
I’ve put together some ideas for how you can spend time alone with just one child.
WISH-DAY WITH MUM/DAD
For once, stay at home instead of going to kindergarten and do lovely things with mum all day… Maybe go to the hairdresser together, eat ice cream or go to the zoo. Sometimes it does not even have to be a whole day, but a few hours spent just the two of you is usually enough to strengthen the bond between parent and child.
My daughter loves role-playing. Be it with her dolls, mice or Playmobil figures. And if mum plays too, her eyes light up. Or how about dressing up together and raiding mum’s jewellery box?
SEPARATE LEISURE ACTIVITIES
Leisure activities such as a dance class, trip to the cinema or seeing a play are perfect ways to spend time alone with just one child while the other child is with dad or still at kindergarten.
A NIGHT IN A HOTEL
My daughter wants to spend a night with her mum in a hotel. Cuddle together and watch TV in bed, get dressed up for dinner and tell stories until late at night. I am currently planning a small mother-daughter trip and am looking forward to this little adventure together.
Now I am trying to spend more time alone with just one child. They are such valuable moments and sibling children really need it sometimes.
Photos: David Visnjic