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What's it like having "just the one" when they get older?

(60 Posts)
Needmorewine Sat 15-Oct-16 08:22:33

We are very happy with our DD (3.5) at the moment and feel no urge for another. I think we could give her a lovely life, still have time for ourselves and careers if we just stick with having one. I have gone back to work after 3 years and feel like a new person. The thought of going back to the baby stage fills me with dread. DD is gorgeous and bright but still not a brilliant sleeper but we can cope now as she's so much easier in the day and at full time nursery.

The only thing that worries me is are there any parents of onlies out there who regret their decision once their children have grown up ? I don't want to be a little old lady thinking "if only..." But right now there is nothing really pulling me towards having another child other than "as a sibling" which I don't feel is right.

Sadik Sat 15-Oct-16 22:15:27

Well, I've got a 14 year old, and don't feel regretful smile I'm also an only child myself, which might make a difference? I think as your dc get older & gain friends, schoolmates etc, you maybe see so many different types of familes - those where siblings get along, those where they fight horribly, those who don't seem to interact at all, and every shade of blended family - that it all seems to become a bit less important.

skyyequake Sat 15-Oct-16 22:20:58

I'm just joining in as I have an only DD who is 15 months...

Not really in a position to have another right now as I'm a single parent, but I'm not sure if I want another one even if I did meet someone else... So basically placemarking to see other people's opinions with older onlies!

Knittedfrog Sat 15-Oct-16 22:21:35

My only is 21 at new year!
No regrets or what ifs here. Glad I stuck at one and she has never wanted siblings and is glad she's an only.

Only1scoop Sat 15-Oct-16 22:23:10

Watching with interest as have an only dd 6.5

ProfessorPickles Sat 15-Oct-16 22:27:35

Watching also, 3yo DS and I'm always wondering whether he will one day have a sibling and whether it'll actually matter etc.

TheScottishPlay Sat 15-Oct-16 22:30:59

DS is 12 and an only. We didn't set out only to have one child but that's life. He's a happy soul with a few close friends and sees his cousins regularly.
DH and I both work full time at demanding jobs. I also work shifts. Having one means we have time for him and us. It's a busy and fulfilling household with just the three of us (plus the bunny).

SauvignonPlonker Sat 15-Oct-16 22:34:32

I've got 2, so maybe not the best qualified to reply. They say "1 is 1, and 2 is 10". I definitely found the jump from 1 to 2 very hard. I have a 4.5 year age gap & feel like I've never escaped the soft play years. They definitely get better as they get older, and I really started enjoying DS a bit more from about 4 onwards. Having 1 child is definitely nice, 2 a bit more of a slog.

I look at the other school age parents who only have 1 , and notice how much easier it is for them. Much easier to get 1 lot of homework done. And 1 set of childcare fees is tough, but 2 can be a killer.

Although a few of the "onelies" can be very demanding, constantly wanting play dates & company. I think their parents are able to focus on them a bit more, and give them more time & attention. My DS certainly struggled a bit when DD came along, as he was so used to being the centre of attention.

It can be harder to have another when you're starting to get your life back a bit. All my friends with the 2 year gap have their 2nd at school now & I'm still trapped in the toddler years. I can't wait for DD to start school!

Not sure if any of that helps, but just sharing my perspective on the differences between 1 & 2, larger age gaps etc.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

cathaka15 Sat 15-Oct-16 22:40:48

I had a brother 15 years older than me. He was away most my life in boarding school then uni. So I felt like an only child. I used to beg my mum for another sibling ( hoped for a sis) just so I could share my day with and have silly arguments. I felt lonely and really needed someone to share my days with. I had lots and lots of cousins and friends. Lots of hobbies and clubs. But still felt that part of my life a little empty.
But I had a best friend who was an ol and she loved it.
My Ds has a best friend who is a ol and he feels his mum should have had a baby near his age so he could have grown up together. Now his 12 he said he doesn't want a crying baby in the house( he's very mature for his age).

Needmorewine Sun 16-Oct-16 08:02:21

Some great responses thank you everyone.

Life with 1 sounds so lovely & tempting. It would definitely mean we could help her out more when she's older financially if needed. She likes to be out and about a lot and she does love having friends over but now she's older days out are no problem and I'm happy to be the host for playdates it's especially great handing them back

DH and I both enjoy our careers and another child would complicate things. Realistically I earn less so it's likely to be my career that goes. I know there's the option of full time nursery but I don't know how I'd cope with working FT and another non sleeper. Neither of us are particularly close to our siblings so you'd think we'd know they are not the be all and end all. It's just the constant nagging feeling I "should" have another. Most of our friends all have two although none of them seem particularly happy...although they are all still in the think of it dealing with very young children as opposed to a 5 and 7 year old or so if that makes sense?

I just worry if I do have another we should get it over and done with sooner rather than later and I'd be doing it for DD not for me, what if they can't stand each other ?! How does one ever decide? DDs babyhood was hard enough and that was with me absolutely wanting her from the minute I found out I was pregnant 100% and never wavering. How does that work if you don't have that absolute urge for another?! But then long term does another lovely little person make up for all the "what ifs" ?!

It's nice to have a safe place to go through it all with others in a similar situation flowers

Graceflorrick Sun 16-Oct-16 08:05:37

Me me is 5 and completely wonderful. Money is plentiful so I can give her whatever she needs and quite often wants. I can see that she benefits in this way.

BrokenBananaTantrum Sun 16-Oct-16 08:13:44

My only is now 10. Life is really lovely. I do not regret having only one. She has a group of lovely friends and we see family often. She is good with others but like me also likes her own company sometimes which is imo a great life skill. We are ok financially without DH working.

BrokenBananaTantrum Sun 16-Oct-16 08:17:41

Sorry posted too soon!
We wouldn't manage with another financially without us both being full time. DD does dancing, yoga, climbing, Cubs and Guides which again we wouldn't be able to afford for more than one. Our life is chilled.

ChittyBB Sun 16-Oct-16 08:19:55

I feel rather undiplomatic coming on a thread of parents of one to say it's not always great being an only when you are older. I was an only and found it harder and harder as I grew up. As a small child it did not bother me at all but I would have done anything for a sibling to accompany through the journey of my parents' divorce, an inter continental move to live with me new step dad, settling into a new country, then my mother being terminally ill in my 20s and my father the same five years later. Now I have no blood relatives other than my own children.

My example is extreme but even lesser challenges would/could have been easier with a sibling. How I log for someone who could remember my parents and my childhood with me.

EenyMeenyMo Sun 16-Oct-16 08:23:40

DS is 6 and is an only. I think because I want(ed) another and didn't set out to have an only i am probably more aware of the downside. I worry about him being lonely - he gets a lot of parent attention but thats not the same as having someone your own age and it means its hard work to entertain him - in holidays i envy the parents who have a couple of kids who just play together (even ones whose children fight) -he's not as good as sharing as children with siblings and he sometimes struggles when he has friends round/has to take turns/lose at things.
I worry when he is a grown up that he will find being an only burden - no-one to complain about his parents to or share the burden. I also (morbidly) worry that he'll be on his own when we die!

Ragwort Sun 16-Oct-16 08:31:04

My DS is 15 and an only, I have no regrets at all, I think coping with more than one is very tough - the teenage years are not easy, the angst over homework, what to do in the future etc etc all demands huge amounts of emotional energy and I just don't think I could do it. A close friend of mine has three teenagers, all very challenging and at different educational stages of their lives - it's exhausting.

There is no guarantee in life that even if you have siblings you will get on - I rarely see either of my siblings and my DH never sees any of his. when MIL was terminally ill it was almost worse having siblings as the whole family argued over her care and the fall out has never healed - again, an extreme example but don't always assume siblings will help each other out amicably when elderly parents need looking after.

VagueButExcitlng Sun 16-Oct-16 08:37:08

My only turns 15 next month. I didn't choose to only have one, but fertility issues followed by relationship split meant it didn't happen.

Pluses are I could go back to work, and everything was cheaper with one so despite some struggling years we're now financially secure and love our holidays.

I think she has benefited academically from my undivided attention, particularly when younger.

Also we are very close, as a family of two. It can be a blessing and a curse but I think we'll stay close as she grows up.

The negatives are that she has never been a child who could amuse herselfno matter how much I tried to encourage it (until the teen years) so I spent years either playing with her or having her help me with everything. I always envied friends whose children would go off and play with a sibling, and I loved it when she had a friend over because it was the only time I could have a cup of tea in peace! The upside is she's a very competent cook and diyer now! Those years have been and gone now, and I look back on them with lovely memories. I don't regret the messy house at all!

I am already dreading the empty nest because all my eggs are in one basket! I think it's sometimes been hard for her to have my full attention, particularly in the last couple of years. She can't get away with anything! I have been a bit too involved in all aspects of her life, but I'm trying to back off now.

I think it's getting much more common now to choose to stop at one, and it sounds like you have lots of good reasons to do so.

FourToTheFloor Sun 16-Oct-16 08:39:24

My story is the same as sauvignon age gap wise. And the feeling of 1 is 1 and 2 feels like 10!

We thought about sticking with one but the pull for dc2 was very strong.

I only knew one only growing up and her dm was massively overprotective and she wasn't allowed to do anything. Needless to say when she hit 18 she went off the rails.

However in my 20s l shared a house with an only who was the best flatmate ever. She was so aware of sharing and being fair that we used to joke with her it was because she hadn't spent her life having to share or be sneaky to get the last bit of chocolate grin. But on a sadder note she's never been able to have dc and as she married an only too she says she's sad as she'll never have nieces or nephews either.

That is obviously not a reason to have more dc.

NicknameUsed Sun 16-Oct-16 08:50:01

I agree with Ragwort. DD did GCSEs this year and we are now going through the stress of A level studies. Add in friendship issues, boyfriend issues and bullying and I am glad I don't have to go through this multiple times.

Also, when they are at primary school and have lots of after school activities that take up your time you feel thankful you don't have to multiply the running around several times.

Note3 Sun 16-Oct-16 08:54:46

Chitty my sister would have been in same situation as you, I'm sorry things have ended up like that for you.

I am one of 3 but there is nearly two decades between me and my sister. My brother is close to my age. We came from same parents and my sister from a different dad.

Her father and all his side of the family that she knew are now deceased. Our mother is severely mentally ill and needs our unwelcome input as a result (unwelcome as she does not think she's ill, does not want meds and we have to give permission to then around her care).

My sisters husband became terminally ill and died. Had my mother not gone on to have children nearly 2 decades later then my sister would have been an only child dealing with a recently deceased husband, young children and an angry, muddled ill mother with no other family (mothers side also deceased). That would be a horrendous burden to bare and I'm grateful she does have us.

It's hard as you never know which way life will take you. If your only child has other aunts and cousins they're close to then hopefully they would not find themselves alone in family terms.

EwanWhosearmy Sun 16-Oct-16 11:55:26

We have 5 DC. We had a set of 4 with 5 years between the lot of them who are now 25-30, then we had a late baby who is now 9.

In a way I regret not having a 6th closer in age to DD. When the others were small they always had someone to play with. On holidays and days out they'd go off together. But they fought and argued and competed with each-other, and there were things they couldn't do because we couldn't afford x4. (Silly things like a £2 fairground ride is OK but can't stretch to £8; or 4 x candy floss; or 4 x flashy tat at the panto)

This one hangs around me constantly. She wants to be entertained 24/7, but on the plus side she has no-one to argue with grin. Our work patterns now mean she has at least 3 weeks a year in holiday clubs, which obviously is more doable with one than it would be with more. I take her to anything she wants to do and don't have to worry about dragging a sibling along. Getting a babysitter for one is so much easier than splitting 4 around various friends.

Of course we don't have the issue of her dealing with aged parents on her own that we would if she was really an only. But having said that, I have a brother and still end up doing everything for my DM, so there is no guarantee a sibling would be a help.

I would say that it sounds like you don't want another child. That is fine. It is OK to just have one. About 1/2 of DD's school class are onlies, with a few more that didn't have a sibling until they were 5/6/7/8/9. My DN was 11 when her (only) brother was born. The gap feels like a big deal at the time but quite honestly there is no law that siblings have to be close in age. You don't say how old you are but unless you are already over 40 you have plenty of time to have a second later on, if you change your mind.

The worst reason for having DC2 is to give DC1 a sibling. The only reason to have DC2 is that you and your DH want a DC2. HTH.

ChinchillaFur Sun 16-Oct-16 12:06:50

We have one DD aged 7.5 (not through choice) and our lives do seem to be a lot easier than families we know who mostly have 2, some have 3 DC.

We pay for 2 x instrument lessons, weekly boxing, climbing, lots of museum type visits and little city breaks. I often feel glad we only have one DC on a Sunday night trying to get homework etc finished, uniform/bags ready and me & DH ready for a week at work.

I'm interested to hear from those with only children who are 18-15 sort of age. At the moments I don't think she would swap!

banjostrings Sun 16-Oct-16 12:11:28

DS is 17 and and only, I've had no regrets, he has never expressed the wish to have siblings and we've had some great opportunities and experiences which would have been impossible or at least very difficult with more than one. He has always been happy to self-occupy and he has plenty of nieces and nephews nearby so he doesn't feel isolated.

Over the years we've had some health/family/home issues which were stressful and involved a fair bit of juggling priorities - having just the one made it much easier though. Personally I haven't focused so much on my career but rather my interests and hobbies, and I definitely have enjoyed more freedom to pursue these than any other mum I know. Financially we'll be able to support him comfortably through university and with a house deposit (which will be significant as we're in London) which would be halved I suppose if we'd had 2 dc.

BertieBotts Sun 16-Oct-16 13:18:29

My DS is 8 and I wish he had a close in age sibling. It wasn't possible unfortunately which might be why it's clouding me - it wasn't that I chose to just have one.

DS is very, very social and likes company all the time which can be quite exhausting.

While I think there is merit in saying don't have DC2 just to give DC1 a sibling, I think there's also a difference between wanting one child and wanting child*ren*. And you don't have to necessarily want a baby right now to want children with a certain (rough, you can't plan of course) gap.

Sadik Sun 16-Oct-16 16:50:42

Chitty, I'm sorry you've had to deal with so much hard stuff. As I say, I'm an only child myself, and I'd say looking at friends there are pluses and minuses to siblings in difficult situations. I see so many people who resent absent or ineffectual sibling/s, and perhaps find it harder dealing with stuff alone when they feel there is someone who 'should' be doing it with them - but isn't. Certainly looking around my extended family doesn't make me wish for siblings to make my life easier!

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