So far, having an only child has been great. The anticipated downsides that I might have expected haven’t really appeared. Having an only child has only been a benefit for us. But has this changed as N’s grown?
After having N we just went on with life. We never really thought about having a second, although I always presumed if I decided I wanted children, we’d end up with two. But I don’t think I’d have enjoyed having 2 children. Too much sacrifice needed, and logistically just the one is a challenge when you’re working full time and doing 95% of everything for your child is hard enough. Adding a second to the mix would have been more than I’d want to do, and would mean missing out on a lot of the things we can, and do, do.
We’re lucky in that N has never really said anything about having a brother or sister. I recall one conversation where he asked. But when I pointed out that he has lots of cousins, including one who’s only 2 school years old, who mostly live nearby, he was happy. Especially when he realised he’d go on on fewer holidays, have smaller gifts and probably do fewer extra curricular activities, he decided it was much better being an only child.
Because N’s had lots of family around, and is used to talking to lots of people on the farm, as well as being in nursery from a year old, he’s never struggled on the social or conversational aspect. He does get a bit spoilt by his Gran and Gramp in seeing them nearly every day, getting nice meals cooked for him, and having their leftover smoked salmon and having nice pork pies brought back from holiday from them. The other cousins get less of that because they don’t live next door. But he doesn’t act like a spoilt child – he’d not get away with that. And he does appreciate what he’s given. I think that’s helped by understanding how hard they work on the farm, and how he also helps out. It helps keep children grounded.
He’s not precocious, or over confident, and will quietly go about what he’s doing. When I read the traits a first born child has, he has them in spades.
The last year and a half, going through lockdown with all the remote learning, was certainly easier only having one child. It meant we had the equipment available for him to use, and he’s used to doing things independently (helped by school drumming that into them too). There was very little I needed to do to support, which meant I could continue to work pretty much as normal, but from home.
The only downsides we’re finding is days out, or thinking of days out.
We use to do a lot of days out (and short breaks), but haven’t had any for ages. N’s now at the stage where he starts to find my suggestions boring. National Trust isn’t interesting, we’ve done all the nearby zoos and wildlife parks. Museums are like school trips. So I struggle to find things he thinks he’ll enjoy. If we do go out, I try and mix things up for places I’ll like as well as him, or do one place for me and one for him on the same day.
Once we’re out he does tend to get a bit bored after a couple of hours unless there’s a lot of specific activities involved. We rarely stay at one place all day. Generally it works for me because it means we fit more in, but sometimes you do want to stay somewhere longer, but there’s no point if not everyone’s enjoying it..
Days out may be more interesting if he had a sibling. Or maybe not because sometimes that means more arguments, and one enjoying it and the other not. This is where we need to start planning trips out with friends.
N does have quite a few friends who are only children as well. Quite a few in his class, and outside of school. It always interests me because there’s so many more compared to when I was at school. I remember only knowing one only child from school all the way through primary and secondary.
So my mission is to get wiser for days out. Start thinking more in advance to plan coordination of days. Whether it’s friends who are only children too which means it’s easier for us all to get out together, or some friends with 2 children are happy for their children to do different activities and go with different parents. Hopefully it means N and I will get more out of days out, and he’ll get more opportunities to be with friends as he grows up.
I’m not ready to give up on our days out yet, there’s still plenty of time because he becomes a teen who wants to stay home all the time!
If you have an only child, how have things changed as they’ve got older?