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Emma @ Bubba Blue and Me

Let’s Talk About… One Child Families: Interview with Emma @ Bubbablue and Me

It’s been a little while since I featured an interview with another parent of an only child, because life has been pretty darn hectic behind the scenes here at The Patch lately.

But today I am really pleased to be bringing you another interview with a blogger who is raising an only child, just like we are. Emma @ Bubba Blue and Me

 

Meet Emma:

Emma’s a working mum of one and farmer’s wife…yes, she has the stereotypical Aga, Hunter wellies and (occasionally) bakes cakes.  She blogs to journal life on and off the farm with N, having started Bubbablue and me to reflect how she got on having a child when she’s not really a baby person.

Can you explain how and/or why you decided to have an only child? Was it something you always planned or did some circumstance force you to make the decision?

I always thought I wouldn’t have children.  I couldn’t see myself having them, and wasn’t into babies or children at all, apart from our nephews and niece.  I did always think that if I changed my mind and wanted children, then I’d have 2.  I didn’t like the idea of only children, having only known 1 growing up.  To me having a sibling was the norm and something I’d have wanted for any children if I had them.

I hit 32, and then realised that actually I might regret not even trying for a child by the time I got old. My OH had been going on about children for years (I can never tell even now whether he’s joking) and we decided we’d try but keep it fairly relaxed.

Once N arrived I was surprised at how easy it was (apart from him not breastfeeding like I’d hoped, and the unplanned c section), and always presumed he’d be the first of two.  Then reality hits, and life gets back to normal, I go back to work, and childcare costs start.  Practically, with the OH (other half) being a farmer, he works 7 days a week, so the onus is on me to deal with working and childcare.  So having a second wouldn’t have been realistic – too expensive for childcare which would have meant me having to give up work, and there’s no way I could give up my only link to normality and enjoying the work I do (or did, bit different now in the work I do).  There’s also the change to relationships when you have a family, however long you’ve been married.  We’re quite happy now with only N, although I think if he didn’t have 6 cousins living within 1.5 miles, I might think differently.

Do you know other parents who have an only child, or are you the only person in your group of friends/colleagues who has stopped at one?

It’s a real mix.  Out of 7 in our NCT group, 3 have only 1 for various reasons, and the rest have 2-3.  Other friends with similar aged children to N, mostly only have the one at the moment, a couple have had a second.  I think many of us are in our 30s, and have taken our time having children, so one works at the moment.

I also have a lot of online mum friends – we quite often have discussions over who’s still only got one because it seems like lots of them have had more, are pregnant or trying.  But actually, I’m surprised by how many are now only having one.

Do people often ask you, “so when are you going to have another?” If so, how does this make you feel and how do you respond?

I used to get it quite a bit.  The worst was a Great Aunt congratulating me on being pregnant at my mum’s funeral.  I didn’t think I looked like I had a ‘tummy’ at the time, but her reasoning for saying it was because ‘it’s about the right age gap after the first’.  I was mortified, but mostly because I thought I’d lost a bit of weight and was looking quite good in my dress!

A couple of friends have asked, but it’s more interest than anything judgemental.  Luckily, I think people probably wouldn’t dare ask me in case I snapped back.  Now N’s older, people probably presume we’ve chosen to have one and that’s it.

Can you share some of the best things about being a parent to an only child?

Aside from the money aspect, there’s the getting your life back earlier and not having to split your time across more than one child.  With more than one, you need to be able to balance the different personalities and needs.

I think also, only children have to be able to speak to and socialise with a wider mix of age groups, where in social settings often siblings will get sent off to play together, and not be expected to sit and talk to the adults.  It’s a good way to ease them in to adult conversation while still ensuring the adults get to play at being children to entertain the only child.

And what are the hardest things about having an only child?

Definitely worrying that they’re not growing up to be spoilt, and making sure they have enough social opportunities with peers.  I think it’s brilliant that all of N’s cousins live so close, and that he’s really good friends with his 6 year old cousin.  Without them around, I’d have to organise a lot more playdates outside nursery.

They do say that only children tend to be more confident. I’m not sure N’s at that level, but that’s not surprising with a quiet dad, and a naturally shy mum (although talking for England and being opinionated tends to cover that up).  Being an only child means N will have to find his own way, and not be encouraged or challenged by having either an older sibling to follow and aspire to, or a younger one to compete with as they come up behind.

Having lost my mum last year (our dad died when I was 3), I do think it would be hard to have gone through that without my brother as well.  We’re now dealing with our Nan’s dementia and putting her in a home, and again, it’s not something I’d want to go through alone.  That kind of thing in future will be harder for N, but hopefully he’ll still be close to his cousins for support.

Does your son ever ask about siblings? If so, how does this make you feel and how do you respond to their questions?

Thankfully no.  I think N is pretty oblivious although he knows that others have baby brothers or sisters.

What are the best and worst things that people have told you about only children? Do people tell you they will be “spoiled” or “lonely”? Or are people generally positive about your decision?

People don’t really comment on N being an only child.  Comments tend to be more about how happy he is, or chatty or reserved until he gets to know someone.  I think most of what I’ve heard was growing up or in the media about other people.  I didn’t know many only children growing up, but once I started work I came across quite a few.  The ones I’ve met have predominantly been very self-assured and confident, and as adults you don’t notice if they were spoiled as a child or not, so the stereotype of that isn’t always true.

Do you worry about any of these things, or are you confident that your child will thrive as an only child?

I worry a little about N being spoiled.  He does have a lot of stuff because instead of spending money on me, I now spend it on him to a certain extent.  But I think if we can instill correct values, expectations and breadth of experience and situations where he’ll meet lots of new people, hopefully he’ll grow up having not missed out on having a sibling.

If you could offer some advice to someone who was considering raising an only child, what would you say?

If you’ve chosen specifically to only have one child, then it’s your decision and sod what anyone else says.

If you’ve not had a choice in the matter but circumstances have meant you have one child, then make the most of having the time to spend with one child.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Ultimately as long as your child is happy and fulfilled, they don’t have to have a sibling to make their way in the world.

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I’d like to thank Emma for taking part in this series and answering all my questions so openly and honestly. If you’d like to find out more about Emma then you can find her on the Bubbablue and Me blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.

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Let's Talk About... One Child Families

This post is part of my “Let’s Talk About… One Child Families” series. If you are a parent to an only child and would like to take part, please get in touch using my contact form.

Trish Burgess Mums Gone To

Let’s Talk About… One Child Families: Interview with Trish Burgess @ Mums Gone To…

A couple of weeks ago I started a new series, here at The Patch, interviewing other parents of an only child in the hopes of sharing a wide variety of views on what it is like to raise an only child.

This week I’m featuring Trish Burgess about what it has been like raising her “one and only” and how it feels now that he has left for university.

Trish Burgess Mums Gone To

Trish is mum to Rory, who is 18.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne, I now live in South Lincolnshire with my GP husband, Dougie and my son, Rory, who has just started his first term at university. My blog, ‘Mum’s Gone To…’ began as a place to write up my holiday diaries and although I write about other subjects, travel is its main topic.

Can you explain how and/or why you decided to have an only child? Was it something you always planned or did some circumstance force you to make the decision?

It wasn’t a planned decision. We had some fertility issues which meant it took four years before Rory came along. There followed a miscarriage two years later. After that, my husband and I decided we didn’t want Rory’s childhood to be affected by us constantly pursuing a wish for another child. We were so grateful that Rory had been born, we wanted to just love him and accept the dynamics of our little family.

Do you know other parents who have an only child, or are you the only person in your group of friends/colleagues who has stopped at one?

Yes, I do know one or two parents who just have one child although most of our friends have more than one.

Did people often ask you, “so when are you going to have another?” If so, how did this make you feel and how did you respond? At what point did people stop asking this question?

I was very relieved that people never asked me if I was going to have another although, interestingly, in the early years, my husband used to get a lot of queries from people, something he found very frustrating.  However, as Rory grew older, and the number of photos on his desk of Rory at different ages increased, people thought our family was larger than it was!

Can you share some of the best things about being a parent to an only child?

We have had lots of time to give to our child and, in return, he has been very close to us. He has been content in his own company from an early age, although very sociable outside of the family. We breezed through the teenage years. However, I’m not sure how much of his personality has been affected by being an only child and how much is just in his genes. He may have been the same child even if he had been part of a larger family.

And what are the hardest things about having an only child?

When he was growing up, unless he had pals round, his dad and I were his friends. It would have been great to be able to say, ‘Off you go and play with your brother/sister.’

I do worry about the future and the fact that he will have to deal with ageing parents alone. However, my husband is an only child and although his parents are elderly, he has me by his side to support him.

Did your son ever ask about siblings? If so, how did this make you feel and how did you respond to his questions?

I don’t think he ever asked about siblings. He has cousins, although they don’t live nearby, but it doesn’t seem to have been an issue.

What are the best and worst things that people have told you about only children? Did people tell you they will be “spoiled” or “lonely”? Or have people been generally positive about your decision? Has this changed as you son has grown older?

Not so much what people have said to me but I have read articles over the years which would suggest an only child could be lonely or introverted. I don’t think people consider him ‘spoiled’ but they have teased me recently because I have had to start teaching him how to cook and iron before going off to university. I think I mothered him a bit too much but would I have been just the same if I had been the mother of more than one child? Probably.

Did/do you worry about any of these things, or were/are you confident that your child will thrive as an only child?

I did worry a little when he was younger but my husband never had any concerns, reassuring me that Rory was content and that, just because he enjoyed his own company, this wasn’t something to be seen as a bad thing.

If you could offer some advice to someone who was considering raising an only child, what would you say?

A family is a family whatever its size. Try not to be overly concerned about him or her being an only child and, instead, go with the flow. Don’t force your child to have company all the time. I used to try and encourage him to play with friends, which was great, but sometimes it was all a bit too much and he preferred the peace and quiet once they had gone. Not every ‘only child’ is going to be the same.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

When your only child does leave home, the nest becomes empty straight away as there are no brothers or sisters staying at home to ease the pain: that’s quite tough.

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I’d like to thank Trish for taking part in this series and answering all my questions so openly and honestly. If you’d like to find out more about Trish then you can find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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Let's Talk About... One Child Families

This post is part of my “Let’s Talk About… One Child Families” series. If you are a parent to an only child and would like to take part, please get in touch using my contact form.

Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One

Let’s Talk About… One Child Families: Interview with Mary @ Over 40 and a Mum to One

In light of my trip to London this week to talk about my decision to never have another baby thanks to Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I’ve decided it is an aspect of our lives that I want to focus on in more detail. I’ve touched on it before and you can find out more on my “One Child Family” page.

However as one child families are on the rise, for a multitude of reasons, I thought it would be both fun and beneficial to find out from others just how they came to be a “one child family” and what it has meant to them.

I have already made some great connections online with other parents of only children and so I am beginning my series with one such parent, the lovely Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One.

Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One

Mary is mum to Monkey, who is 4 years old (soon to be 5 in December, which we all know is a very important detail at this age!)

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

“I’m a mid 40 Mum of one.  Before Monkey was born I had a busy career in Export Sales and enjoyed visiting customers across Europe.  But since becoming a Mum I decided to take time out and enjoy life with my son.  We’ve had an amazing time together and I now look forward to watching him as he starts his journey through school.”

Can you explain how and/or why you decided to have an only child? Was it something you always planned or did some circumstance force you to make the decision?

“I had always hoped to have two children, I certainly didn’t set out to have an only child.  I had Monkey when I was 41, and fell for him within 3 months of trying.  I knew that time was against me to have number two, but it took longer to fall second time around.  Lots of tears when each month nothing had happened.  Then I fell pregnant early in 2011 but had a rather unpleasant miscarriage just before my 12 week scan.  It was heartbreaking and for me I just couldn’t go through that again.  By this time I was  43 and just felt that I could either spend each month getting more upset that I wasn’t pregnant, or draw a line under it and be happy with what I had – a beautiful little boy.  My OH works very long hours so I’m practically a single parent really, with no family support.  I was tired and worn out and just realised that for me, that was that.  It was upsetting, and I’ll always feel guilty that Monkey doesn’t have a sibling. But he’ll never know what he’s missed.”

Do you know other parents who have an only child, or are you the only person in your group of friends/colleagues who has stopped at one?

“My oldest school friend has an eight year old daughter and always knew she would only have one child; and another friend tried IVF a few times after not being able to conceive for a second time, they failed.  But in general all of my friends have at least two children now.”

Do people often ask you, “so when are you going to have another?” If so, how does this make you feel and how do you respond?

“Friends and family used to ask, but I’ve always been open about my miscarriage and they know how devastated I was at the time.  I think most people who don’t actually know me, presume that I had to have IVF to have Monkey in the first place!”

Can you share some of the best things about being a parent to an only child?

“They have your full concentration.  There are no arguments about sharing/breaking toys, unlike my friends.  I don’t have to worry about activities that will cater for two different age groups or interests.  Everything can be totally focused on what Monkey likes.”

And what are the hardest things about having an only child?

“Knowing he won’t have the sibling relationship that I had with my brother growing up. Worrying about Monkey being spoilt and not as sociable as other children.  Being older parents I worry about Monkey being alone to deal with life in the future.  I’ve always been lucky that my brother and I have supported each other in difficult times.”

Does your son/daughter ever ask about siblings? If so, how does this make you feel and how do you respond to their questions?

“When our NCT group had their second children – all boys, I was waiting for Monkey to ask when he was going to get a brother too.  He never has.  But last week when he started school, he asked me why his friends were going a different way home.  I told him that they had older brothers and sisters to collect from other classes.  Oh, ok Mummy. Can I have a brother or sister then?  It made me feel sad.  I just said that I didn’t think he’d like to share his train set would he?  Oh no Mummy!  That was end of that conversation.  But if he asks again then I’ll try to explain why he’s an only child.”

What are the best and worst things that people have told you about only children? Do people tell you they will be “spoiled” or “lonely”? Or are people generally positive about your decision?

“I can’t actually think of anyone making comments about him being an only child to be honest.”

Do you worry about any of these things, or are you confident that your child will thrive as an only child?

“I am worried that I do spoil Monkey, it can also be the downside to blogging when new and exciting things keep popping through the letterbox!  I’m sure there will be times when he might feel lonely, but he is very good at entertaining himself.  He is very timid and no matter what I have done to try to make him more confident, I’ve had to accept that this is who he is.”

If you could offer some advice to someone who was considering raising an only child, what would you say?

“The most important thing is to have a happy child who knows that they are loved.  That’s the only thing to consider in my opinion.”

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I’d like to thank Mary for taking part in this series and answering all my questions so openly and honestly. If you’d like to find out more about Mary and her life with Monkey, you can find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.

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Let's Talk About... One Child Families

This post is part of my “Let’s Talk About… One Child Families” series. If you are a parent to an only child and would like to take part, please get in touch using my contact form.