Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is Three Really More Work Than Two?

I have been asked this question since I had my second child. People always want to know if someone with more than one child finds life unmanageable. I often wonder if they are really trying to ask, "so, do you regret your family planning choices"? Is three that much more work than two? Is two really more than double the work of just one? I have always responded with, "no, not at all". But I'm starting to wonder. The reason I'm wondering- my two year old... I find I'm having such a hard time working with her. I can't get her to listen to a word I say, much less agree to something I suggest- let alone something I threaten her with. I know, for those that know me, you are thinking this is easy, "you need to have more authority in your voice when you speak to her." Or maybe you are thinking, "if only you had more follow through, Jennifer." Or as my mother-in-law pointed out before I had children, "Your dogs are so poorly behaved, I imagine your children will be too". Well, the last suggestion is not the case, since I have one child that is what someone would call well behaved (or at least to my standards). So what is it about my second child?

Tonight I spent the evening with Audrey (#2) alone. We had a great time. She listened to what I had to say, wasn't set on destroying the house and went to bed without an issue. All around, she was as well behaved as my first. This isn't the first time I've noticed this. In fact I have seen this before and it's always when she is the "only child" that I'm watching.

If life is as simple as I think it is, what we can take away from this is that she really needs more one on one time. This isn't the same as focusing on her when her sisters are around, because that doesn't have the same results. When she is surrounded by her siblings, she is constantly trying to stand out. I will sit down and play a game with her when her older sister is busy doing needlepoint, and in a matter of minutes, she is up from the game tormenting the two others that are quietly minding their own business (or sleeping). So with that said, I'm going to make an effort, at least once a week, making Audrey and Daddy time, or Mommy and Audrey time a priority. Hopefully if she gets the true alone time with her parents that she seems to be craving, then maybe it won't always seem like having three is so much more work than one or two.

As my friend Bill used to always say, "no, having two kids isn't more work than one" and then he'd add under his breath, "misery loves company".


Jayne Martin Dressing said...

This is such an interesting post. I often have the same issues with my second child (issues I've accredited to "second child syndrome"). It seems that I rarely get to do things with just him and, quite frankly, he is a handful. I also have an older child who is a "pleaser." I read an article recently in Wondertime magazine about a woman who decided to say yes to her 3 year old child for a week. She realized that she spent most of her time saying "no", "not now", "don't do that", "let's go", etc. In that week she discovered that given the opportunity to sometimes hear "yes", her daughter became this totally happy and cooperative child. They skipped preschool for a day, she got to wear the same outfit for days in a row, eat candy, basically all the things we put the kibosh on regularly. I feel sorry for my little guy sometimes because it does seem that our lives revolve around the older child; she has school, and religion class, and often has friends over to play. It can seem like he is just along for the ride, and he definitely tries very hard to be noticed. I think that children crave attention and they'll take it anyway they can get it; negative or positive. This post reminds me that I have to make more room for the opportunity of positive attention. But seriously, is three much more work than two....

StuntMom said...

In answer to your question. YES. It's not the work that makes it so challenging, it's the time. Having three is more work because no matter how you look at it, I'm spending a lot of time taking care of #3 and not focusing on #2 and #1. Not to mention the obvious- having three is more laundry, more diapers and more general messes.

It's a funny story, going an entire week with letting go of "no". At best, I could give it a chance for a day.