Being an only raising an only.
I am an only child raising an only child…who by the way arrived in this world via c section when I was 41 years and working full time, I did not breastfeed and - wait for it - we live in The City. So there it is. Some people may be shocked, gasp, shake their heads, judge or try to convince me I’m crazy. But I prefer to think of myself like a rare and magical creature, a unicorn if you will.
Don’t ask me if I want more kids. I can assure you I don’t. “But are you sure???” Yep, still sure. It was a conscious decision my husband and I made together both before we had our daughter and reconfirmed afterwards. It certainly doesn’t mean we don’t love being parents, because we do (most of the time anyway). For us, one is enough. She made us a mom and dad. She is healthy and happy and we feel incredibly lucky.
It’s so fun to visit our friend’s houses with 4 kids, grass in the yard, finished basements filled with toys and chaos and weekends taken up by crisscrossing the suburbs in a minivan to accommodate multiple sports schedules. We are equally as happy when it’s time to leave. We love city living, routine, being able to hand off to each other when we need a break, ganging up on her 2 against one to lay down the law and maybe above all else having a Super to fix things in our apartment. And we are smart enough to know that “our way” is simply that, it is what works for us.
Here’s the thing…no one can tell you how to be a family or raise your child. We all need to think twice before imposing our views on other people and be thrilled we have the choices to do it anyway we want.
Here are my top observations about parenting an only in case they might be useful:
All only children are not, I repeat NOT, destined to be spoiled brats. It is not a self-fulfilling prophecy. If it is important to you to not have a spoiled, self-centered child then just don’t allow it.
If you want more socialization for them, you have to seek out classes, play dates and activities. (And I would say the earlier on the better.)
You will occasionally have to play some very involved make believe games where there are one thousand instructions and you would rather do just about anything else. But your child is so excited and dying for a playmate that you simply have to oblige.
Which brings me to my next point, put some thought into games that play well for one. Having these games or activities on hand that naturally work independently makes it easier to suggest them when you need a break. (Did you know they still sell Simon, yes the one with the lights where to have to follow the pattern.)
Give thought to car rides and trips, especially if you are not big into electronics. We always keep a to-go bag of car activities under the seat.
We have a child that loves to read (I am quite sure I can take all the credit for that…maybe). Books are a great solo or together activity and book characters can be like friends that expand the child’s world. Coloring is another great one.
Take extra time to teach them to share things and ideas and take turns. Sometimes that means acting like a sibling would and digging your heels in over what color person you choose for Candyland. Hey, it’s for the greater good after all.
So cheers to all the onlies out there. If you are only doing this crazy ride once, be sure to celebrate all the milestones (big and small) along the way!!