I Forgot How Busy One Toddler Can Be!

posted by Andrea | 08/2/2019

Last weekend, Dave and his parents drove to Wisconsin to visit his grandma and his mom’s relatives… with the 3 older kiddos!

It was SOOOOOOO much fun for our kids to have a “road trip” with Papa and Nana, and to stay overnight at Great Grandma’s house! I have a feeling it was fairly enjoyable for Dave too since he had 3 other adults to entertain our kids (all 3 of which were certainly more “popular” choices than mom or dad!) 

So what did Clara and I do?

We stayed home and hung out together all weekend! 

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Since our family rarely travels anywhere, our children are not great travelers. Heck, I’M not even a great traveler!

This is fine with us as we are home 99% of the time… and are children ARE great at being home and sleeping in their own beds! 

They do become better travelers as they get older, and Dave assured me the older 3 did really well on the 6+hour car ride each way. However, leaving Clara home was a practical decision that made the weekend much more enjoyable for our whole family. 

The older kids got to do something “extra fun”.

Dave got to visit his relatives and do something special with the older 3 without the need to pack our entire house!

Our van had 2 extra seats available so Dave’s parents could ride with Dave and the kids instead of driving separately

Sleeping arrangements at his Grandma’s condo were significantly easier without a pack ‘n play or 2 extra bodies to find space for. 

Clara got to enjoy lots of extra one-on-one time with mom, and the comfort of being in her own home and her own bed. 

I was able to catch up on a bunch of house work, laundry, yard work, and finish James’ yearly photo book. 

Dave’s grandma was able to enjoy spending quality time with most of our family.

Everyone enjoyed better sleep as we didn’t have to listen to Clara cry for hours at night because she wasn’t in her own bed

Eventually, we will travel back to Wisconsin (and other locations) as a complete family — but for this trip, it truly was SO much easier and simpler for me to stay home with Clara. 

That said, I definitely forgot how physically and mentally demanding it is to “only” have one young child at home with me all day! 

I’m used to siblings playing together and entertaining each other while I can sit and watch for a while (or read a book!) 

I’m used to the older 3 helping Clara reach things or find things she needs and wants when I’m not RIGHT there. 

I’m used to them all running outside to play together without constant supervision as I can still hear or see them through the windows while I’m finishing something inside or doing yard work outside. 

I’m used to kids actually sitting still while I read to them! 

I’m used to hearing a logical response when I ask a question. 

Even though they fight, even though they push each other’s buttons, even though they pester and bother and annoy and anger their siblings at times, they really DO have so much fun together — especially when they are all home in the summer! 

This past weekend with just Clara was SO much fun (and honestly quite relaxing for me as she slept a lot), but it was also very “busy” as she constantly needed and wanted ME! 

I was her sole playmate (certainly not as fun as her siblings either!) 

I was her sole companion.

I was the only person who could do, get, or find anything for her. 

I was the only person for her to “talk” to (she must have shouted “mom!” at least 2000 times over the weekend!)

When she was sleeping, it was SO relaxing. When she was awake, it was busy! 

Yes, it was fun to spend so much extra quality time with my “baby”. 

Yes, the house was so clean and quiet all weekend long — which was nice for a change. 

Yes, I enjoyed my break from planning and preparing meals and snacks for 6 people (I planned for enough leftovers from earlier in the week so I didn’t have to cook all weekend!)

Yes, in many ways 1 child WAS significantly “easier” than 4 children — especially at bedtime and meal times! 

However, being the sole care taker, entertainer, and playmate for one young toddler all weekend definitely required more time and energy than I remembered.

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These days, almost any time I get out of the house with all 4 kids (which is surprisingly a lot!) I have someone make some type of comment about how I must be such a “busy mom”. 

I completely understand that these people are just trying to make conversation by acknowledging the fact that motherhood is a very demanding job… and I appreciate it. 

Motherhood IS hard and it is definitely under-appreciated. I am not offended or put-off by these “busy mom” comments in any way. 

HOWEVER, as I’ve mentioned before, I am 100% convinced (after years of first-hand experience) that having multiple children close in age is actually EASIER (most of the time) than being home alone with 1 young child who isn’t old enough to entertain themselves. 

This is not to say parenting multiple children is “easy”… just often “easiER” since the older children naturally end up entertaining the younger ones. 

If you are the parent (or care taker) of one child — or even 2 or 3 really young children who need you to do everything for them, please know that it WILL get easier as they get older. 

Also, resist the temptation to look at moms with multiple children and wonder “how on earth can they do it without going insane?”

I used to have the same thoughts when Nora was a toddler.

I was sure I’d never be able to handle 2 children, let alone 3 or more. But here I am, 7 years later and I can honestly say that 4 children FEELS easier for me in so many ways! 

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I thoroughly enjoyed my low-key weekend at home with Clara… but boy was I eager to welcome the rest of our tribe home Sunday night! 

I’m assuming I’m not the only one who feels parenting several children is (at times) easier than parenting 1 child!?!?! 

Yes? No?

 

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34 comments

  1. Samantha

    08/04/2019

    Very true! I have 2 boys almost 4 years apart, so as soon as one was off to kindergarten all day it was time to “do it all again” in the sense it was back to one on one playtime on the carpet, one on one storytime at the library & one on one parent tot swimming class…which I loved because I could totally focus on their “moment” treasuring it while feeling confident because it was my “second time around”. True though that once the naps finished (at 2yrs old for the second vs almost 4yrs for the first!) it was definitely a “now what” for the whole day!!! My older one also would sit daily for a double showing of Sesame Street or a Disney movie—-the second, not so much! Follows me around everywhere, upstairs, downstairs, so I can’t get “anything done” during waking hours! Until the older one comes home & the fighting begins!!! Now I’m counting down until September when the little one is in half day preschool 3 days a week! So yes I’ve been home close to 8 years but felt like 2, four year blocks.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I’ll have this with Clara in a couple years once the older 3 are all in school full time. It will be weird!

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  2. Tiffany

    08/03/2019

    Spot on! I just added my 5th and it is so much less intimidating than when I added #2 and #3 when they were “3 four and under”. My 4th hasn’t cramped our style a bit and I am not even worried about this 5th baby! Surely we’ll have positive and negative moments, but- They all entertain each other and it takes “all the pressure” off of me… which I think is truly what makes being a new mom so difficult. When it’s all mom all the time it can make our heads spin!!! More hands makes a lighter load for all once those hands can be helpful! I encourage moms of one that they seriously are doing God’s work! Often I have significant breaks in my day while the “bigs” entertain the “littles”- mother’s of one don’t get that!

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    Andrea Reply:

    congrats to you on baby #5! our neighbor just had her 5th baby too 🙂
    It’s crazy busy sometimes, and actually fairly relaxing other times.

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  3. Madalena

    08/03/2019

    We just came back from a trip with our 2 year old twin boys, our friends and their 4 year old son and our friends kept saying how easier it was for us having 2 kids than it is for them to have just one.

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    Andrea Reply:

    how fun! twins are built-in play mates and best friends!

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  4. Shelly

    08/02/2019

    I have done the same as you (stayed home with one or more little ones) for exactly the same reasons! My boys ALL loved to sleep in their own beds, were not good car-riders, and sometimes it was just easier to stay home with the baby. Now that they are all older (11, 14 and 16) we have enjoyed many whole family trips, including logging over 5,000 miles on a trip out west to Yellowstone, Tetons and Colorado last year. They all enjoy listening to an audiobook in the car together, and sleeping in “new” places isn’t quite as upsetting or stressful! You’ll get there too.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, our time will come! We will all travel together soon enough. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement!

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  5. Molly

    08/02/2019

    I only have one child (age 5). But I go to another home and babysit (ages 5,3,1) I think you are 100% correct. I go to work, bring my daughter, and get to have more of a break and relax than I ever do at home. The kids all play so well together and entertain each other. And I get the added bonus of being “stuck” at a house that isn’t mine, so there’s nothing to clean while my daughter is occupied by someone else. It’s wonderful.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — what a perfect job for you at this point in your life!

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  6. Natalia

    08/02/2019

    So many times I wish I could add a child into the mix! I do wonder if that would make it a little easier….
    I have 2 “only child” daughters, in the sense that one is 13, the other 4. They rarely play together and when they do, it ends up in disaster. And boy, do they keep me busy. Seperatly!

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    Gramma CC Reply:

    My kids were 8 years apart. It was nice when the 2nd was born in Jan as the 1st was in school full time. But as the 2nd got older & started getting into the older child’s thing’s, it definitely became more difficult to explain boundaries. Their 39 & 31 now.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’m sure it feels like just yesterday for you too! now that they are older, the age gap probably isn’t as noticeable.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — that is a big age gap. But do you have a built-in baby sitter?

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  7. JJ

    08/02/2019

    So special to have one-on-one time with Clara! Yes, that is so true about the older ones helping with the younger ones. Haha! I have had several women wrangling a toddler in a store, and they look at me in the moment my kids are being on their best behavior[mainly because they are staring at the free show of Toddler versus Mom…waiting for the reactions of both ‍♀️] and comment that it shouldn’t be so hard to take care of one kid when I have three that are behaving. I assure them that they didn’t see what happened in Aisle 5 or at home right before we left; I also remind them of exactly what you wrote about. Motherhood is a calling–not a competition. Once we each embrace our family/situation and make the most of it(quirks, tantrums, and all!), we can just enjoy(like you wrote about so well!) our crew and love them through and through. Haha!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, it was a fun weekend with Clara!

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  8. Melodie

    08/02/2019

    100% agree. We had 5 kids within 7 1/2 years. Such a joy at the same time as being very busy. We homeschooled until last year. It was quite the change and adjustment to go from teaching 4 kids grades 1-6 to just being at home with my toddler who was 3 and didn’t have his playmates at home.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — I can imagine that was a HUGE adjustment for you (and your toddler)!

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  9. Michelle

    08/02/2019

    Used to hearing a logical response so true. I forgot about that. Thanks for the laugh!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes! Clara just chanted “mama” all weekend — and can really only answer yes/no questions, so it got a little boring!

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  10. Christine Meurer

    08/02/2019

    Totally. It is a little easier when the little ones are gone and the big ones are just home, but when the big ones are gone and the little ones are just home, it’s so crazy busy! Makes me really appreciate how much the big ones actually do for me. Such a fun trip for your oldest 3!

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    Andrea Reply:

    for sure — I really did miss the older kids too. Our house was too quiet without them. I will say that I loved how clean the house stayed all weekend though!

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  11. Jennifer VeStrand

    08/02/2019

    Totally agree! Going from 1 to 2 kids was the hardest for me. Plus, our oldest two were a little more than 3 years apart so, in a lot of ways, it felt like starting over. But by the time 3 and 4 came along, it was just adding to the chaos! 🙂

    I also think, for me at least, it had A LOT to do with my comfort level. That first baby is hard–everything is new–and I had been babysitting multiple children for more than 10 years by the time our oldest daughter was born. My confidence and comfort grew with each baby and, consequently, life got easIER!

    Happy Weekend!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes for sure! I was more comfortable and confident… and I definitely cared less what anyone thought about MY parenting choices as I had more children!

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  12. Esther

    08/02/2019

    Yes! I have 5 kids, ages almost 4-11. And I totally agree it gets easier. My 2 youngest almost don’t know how to entertain themselves without the older kids because they always run with them! It’s so fun to have them all play together and definitely gives more moments of peace,

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, lots more mental “down time” for me when they can play together for a while!

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  13. Megan

    08/02/2019

    I have three kids, and I totally agree! They spend so much time playing together (even with the bickering that goes along with it) – I can’t imagine having to entertain one child all of the time. I noticed this especially when I brought my third home and the older two loved having a baby brother to take care of, and they still act like that 6 years later! I love reading these blog posts about your family – thanks for always sharing your great ideas!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Megan! So sweet that our kiddos enjoy playing with each other!

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  14. LauraR

    08/02/2019

    “This is not to say parenting multiple children is “easy”… just often “easiER” since the older children naturally end up entertaining the younger ones. ”

    YES – as a mom of 3 I totally agree with this!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — glad to know I’m not the only one!

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  15. Meghan

    08/02/2019

    Such a smart decision to stay home with Clara! I tend to push through because of guilt when maybe it wasn’t the best decision for everyone.

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    Alicia Reply:

    I do the same thing !!

    I just did this a couple of weeks ago. We are in the process of relocating and buying/selling a house in a different city, and I have 4 boys and am also 8 months pregnant with my 5th. We usually take an annual family trip a couple of states away and we drive. this year my husband couldn’t go with us due to all that is going on, and instead of just staying home, I allowed myself to be talked into taking the WHOLE gang, minus my husband, all by myself! (The grandparents came too, but it’s different when you’re the only parent!) I don’t know why I do this to myself! My kids had a ton of fun, but it was a SUPER stressful trip !

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh my word Alicia!! Moving at 8 months pregnant with 4 other children. You need a vacation alone 🙂 Maybe you’ll get a couple days alone in the hospital when the baby comes!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I definitely felt a little guilty at times — and I almost talked myself into going. Thankfully, Dave kept saying “no, it’s not worth it” — and I’m SO glad we stayed back!

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