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Mar 29 / Caro

The Positives of an Only Child

Another of the more hurtful things someone has said to me recently is how full of negativity I’ve been lately.

“Do you honestly blame me?” I want to scream.

I feel as though I’m stumbling a bit in the wilderness, trying to navigate a new, unexpected path, without a map or compass. I’m well aware that “things could be an awful lot worse”, but I do think that I’m entitled to feel a little confused and a little sad. And, given that I have absolutely no idea exactly where I’m really heading right now, other than that it definitely isn’t where I wanted to go, I also think a bit of negativity is not unwarranted.

All of that said, I’m not entirely negative. Back before the surgical sperm retrieval in January, I’d forced myself to plan for the possibility that we wouldn’t get any sperm. In which case we would have been unable to even pursue IVF/ICSI. So I made a list of what we would spend the money earmarked for treatment on instead. It included a new kitchen. And a new, dedicated playroom for Thomas. Plus some longer term plans that at one point seemed quite enticing and had me jokingly questioning whether we should bother with IVF at all!

We’re in a different situation now. I don’t think I can justify a kitchen as a consolation prize, having actually already spent all that money. But I have begun a list of the positives associated with Thomas being an only child. And in the interests of bringing some positivity to the pages of my blog, I’m sharing it here.

  • The age gap no longer matters – it’s no secret that I’ve spent a lot of time obsessing about the age gap, but if you only have one child, there is no age gap! And so gone are all the worries about children at completely different stages and with very different needs at different times. Our lives can synch perfectly with the phases of Thomas’s life, and be driven by his needs at any given time.
  • More time – I’m well aware that you don’t have to split your love when a second child comes along. I’ve read enough times about how the love grows. But unfortunately the number of hours in a day doesn’t increase, no matter how many children you have, and there will inevitably need to be some division of how time is spent and some compromises all round. Thomas will only have to compete with Ian, and myself (you know, that famed “me time” thing. Yeah, I guess I’m likely to get a bit more of that!) for his share of my time.
  • More money – An extra child obviously brings extra costs. For starters we won’t need any more new baby stuff. Or a second car seat. I won’t have to take more maternity leave, with its associated pay drop. We also won’t be paying two simultaneous lots of nursery fees, and our nursery fee paying days will be over a lot sooner. Overall we’ll have more money to spend on the fun things, like holidays and days out, which in themselves will often be cheaper with one less person to pay for.
  • Flexibility for education – the above bullet point notwithstanding, we’ll have the choice to spend more on education should we so choose. We live between two good state primary schools – about a quarter to a third of a mile from each. But there is a very real chance we won’t get a place at either. In that case, we’d likely get a place at a school about 6 miles away and be expected to put 4 year old Thomas in a council-funded taxi to get there. No thank you! We also live close to a couple of good independent prep schools, and with only one child to fund, the 10K per yeaproblematic much more do-able. It’s good to know we have options.
  • More space – The second bedroom that has always been earmarked as a bedroom for a second child will now be extra living space in our home. The plan is to turn it in to a dedicated playroom (and later playroom-cum-study/homework area) for Thomas. (He currently shares spce in our front room and our study and guest room in the loft conversion.) Not only will that be fantastic for him, it will also mean our downstairs becomes a completely adult space again, and we will physically have more room without the toy clutter. Win-win!
  • We’ll reclaim some freedom sooner – I’m hesitatant to share this one in some ways, because it almost makes me sound as though I see kids as an inconvenience (although if you believe that, you’re obviously new here). If we had another child now, it would mean going back to the beginning. Night feeds and being unable to stay away overnight. Needing to lug a changing bag everywhere. Pushing a pushchair everywhere we go. And at the other end of the line, it’s would be an extra three years until school and exams are out of the way (and they move out….?!) Thomas suddenly seems so grown up lately, so it’s lovely to be able to do much more grow up activities with him and I’m enjoying moving forwards.
  • I’ll spend less of my parenting time acting as a referee – parents I know with two or more children say that they spend a lot of time refereeing disputes between their offspring, and breaking up petty squabbles. Not dealing with sibling rivalry means more focused, quality time with the one child. And similarly no need to worry about favouritism or treating everyone the same!

These are things I am trying to focus on as I adjust my expectations to our destined reality. I’m sure there may be more – if you can think of any, please share!

Oh, and of course, the biggest positive of all is the fact that we have this adorable little man in our lives!

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