MUM SAYS Why I love having just one kid

Families may come in all shapes and sizes but this mum feels fulfilled even though she has just one child…

“A few weekends ago, our friends asked if we could babysit their 3-year-old son for a few hours while they ran some errands with their other child, who’s 19 months old.

My husband and I jumped at the chance, because not only is this little boy a joy to be around, he is also our son Andreas’ BFF ― they are just five months apart and thick as thieves. I was also secretly wondering what a Sunday afternoon would be like with two toddlers, since we’ve gotten used to life with just one.

We had good fun with the “fearsome twosome” as we ended up calling them after a day of mischief, mayhem and mirth. I also learnt a few things that day. Firstly, having two kids means getting everything times two. I had to cut two apples, order two servings of juice, and ask two kids every hour if they needed to go to the potty. My husband and I had also to run in two different directions when we were at the park, because each tot wanted to explore a separate area.

As I sat down to catch my breath after Andreas’ friend left, I wondered if I was ready to have another child. Wait, do I even want another child? I guess every parent who stopped at one ― temporarily or permanently ― would have this same thought cross their minds at some point or another.

“My husband and I started getting bombarded with statements like “time to have second one!” as early as our son’s first birthday party.”

I’ve come to realise that once you have your first kid, you are automatically signed up for this imaginary race to see how soon you can have another child ― then a third and maybe even a fourth. And if you’re a parent who has decided to sit out this race to have a mini-me part two, you don’t get off easily.

My husband and I started getting bombarded with statements like “time to have second one!” as early as our son’s first birthday party. I still remember a relative asking me when I was going to have my next child when she came to visit my newborn!

Then there’s the inevitable bump watch. The second I look chubbier than usual, an eager friend or relative will ask me point black if I am preggers. “Nope, just a food baby” I’d reply, patting my protruding belly and rolling my eyes on the inside.

My husband and I have always been on the same page about kids ― we would like to have two. However, we haven’t jumped on the baby train the second time round just yet for several reasons, but mostly because parenthood really kicked our butts the first time round and we haven’t gotten over the “trauma”!

Many parents would agree that baby’s first year will be very much a blur. The constant crying, chaos and sleepless nights can drive even the most well-adjusted individual insane. When this phase passes, things become more routine because your child sleeps through the night and you have time to regroup and feel “normal” again.

For my husband and I, having another baby at this point and going through all this again seems, well, insane. So, we’ve decided to press pause for the time being on procreating.

Among friends and family, we are among the few who hasn’t had a second child. We know we aren’t alone either as numbers show that Singapore’s fertility rate dropped to an all-time low of 1.2 kids per family in 2016.

Having one child may buck convention, but it does come with a whole host of benefits. Here are several things we get to enjoy as a family of three.

 

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#1 We focus on quality time, not quantity When our son entered toddlerhood, he started exploring the world, forming a personality and meeting new milestones. My husband and I were there to give him our undivided attention every step of the way. We were able to soak in everything he did, whether it was a step he took, a syllable he uttered, or a smile he made. It was also then that we realised that our child needed for us to be there for him during this important time in his life. For example, whenever he has a tantrum ― and he has had several! ― we have the luxury of time, energy and patience to help him get through it. One of our favourite activities these days is walking Andreas through his day. We ask him what he loves most about it, what he likes least about it and how he would have done things differently. Our son is so used to opening up to us about everything that he never shuts up!

#2 We organise dinner parties without scaring guests away Now that we’ve taught our kewpie table manners, he can actually sit with other adults and have a semi-civilised dinner. Our child-free friends never pass up a dinner or brunch invite to our place because they know they won’t have to endure a screaming match or food fight. That said, Andreas did once have a potty accident at the dinner table when we had couple friends over. They apparently found it more hilarious than hideous ― or at least that’s what they claimed.

#3 We are more motivated to be better parents Having just one child makes you more determined to get things right the first time because you might not get a second chance for a do-over. My husband and I can’t make excuses if we feel like our parenting is not up to scratch ― we only have the one kid, after all. There’s also no reason for us to say we are too tired to play with our son, refuse to sit down and just hug him when he’s in a bad mood or skip tucking him into bed. It’s the least we can do for our cutie.

“Having just one child makes you more determined to get things right the first time because you might not get a second chance for a do over.”

#4 We have more time and energy to focus on ourselves and our marriage Do you know what’s the secret to being a happier parent? Filling your “cup” before your fill your child’s. In other words, if you’re feeling exhausted and empty, you will never be able to give your kid your best. My husband and I fell off the radar the first year of Andreas’ birth because we determined to teach him good sleep habits and wanted to be the ones who did it. Now that our little fella sleeps like a champ all night, we are able to put him to bed and head out for date nights while the grandparents keep an eye over junior. We can do it as regularly as we want, which has helped put our marriage back on track, because as we all know, babies add stress to a marriage. My hubby and I are happier when we get back and so excited to see our little one in the morning.

#5 We aren’t scared to travel This is a big plus point for my hubby and I because we are both avid travellers. We started travelling with our son when he was 3 months old. It was initially hard, which is to be expected, but Andreas has become quite a good travel buddy. We’ve taken several long-haul flights to Europe and within Asia, plus road and train trips. Travelling extensively has benefitted my child greatly. He is comfortable being around strangers and plays well with other kids. Since he has also seen how others live, he understands when we tell him how blessed he is with all that he has.

#6 We have so much fun! I find it hard to relate to friends who say they can’t wait for the weekend to be over so they can “escape” their kids and go back to the office, which feels like a holiday for them. I, for one, can’t wait for the weekend to come around because it means 48 uninterrupted hours with my family. In fact, by mid-week, I’m already planning where to take my tyke. And I look forward to it, because he is so much fun to be around. Not all of our weekend escapades are made up of picture-perfect moments, I’ll admit, but they are precious and I love every minute of them. Every Sunday night, before we put our peewee to bed, my husband and I always thank him for the lovely weekend and for being such an awesome child, because it’s the truth. Life with our one-and-only wee one is simply sublime.”

Jassmin Peter-Berntzen, 36, SmartParents assistant editor, is mum to Andreas Dhiraj, 3.

Photos: Melanie Ng

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