Growing up, I always thought I would be the mom with a litter of children — dozens of little ones bouncing from room to room in chaos — I knew what motherhood was like. It was my plan to have kids, enough kids to compose my own soccer team with at least a couple left on the bench (and if they inherit my skills, they'll be benched for a while). My life goals included doing laundry every 20 minutes until my death and knowing how to prepare school lunches so well that the government gave me an award for efficiency and service. Well...all of that didn’t happen. Here I am, one child by my side, which is just one of at least a million other ways my life didn’t turn out as I'd planned.
But that’s OK. In fact, it's better than OK. And I’m not just saying that because there’s not a lot I could do to change the whole "having just one kid" thing apart from accepting sperm donations and hoping the cobwebs on my uterus are removable. As a mom of just one child and a person in the world who sees other families with only one child, there are definitely some perks to the particular arrangement of our family portrait. Yes, it's not the ideal I'd pictured as a kid, but I mean, I also assumed I'd have a pet unicorn. The fact is, our childhood notions of what our adult lives will be like often bear so little resemblance to what our adult selves want or need, which is why it's crazy to be so attached to them.
And when I take the time to appreciate the life I have and the little girl I share it with, I wouldn't have it any other way. What I've realized is that having just one kid isn't merely how some families "end up" (although that also happens and that's fine). For some of us, having one kid becomes a very real choice, based on what we know to be best for making our families as strong as possible. Here are a few of the ways having only one kid makes families stronger:
Quality Time Much Easier To Come By
Yes, there are a myriad of ways to stretch daylight when you have a houseful of kids. However, having just one kid does make it easier to find the time for them. Whether it’s when they get home from school, when you get home from work, or a weekend worth of parental snuggles, it’s easier to prioritize the time when there are fewer people vying for it.
Less Financial Stress
Children are expensive. I don’t have the exact statistics in front of me but I’m pretty sure for the cost of a child, I could buy all the shoes. Every single pair of shoes to ever strike my fancy. I could buy them all. Instead, I have an adorable spawn who steals the shoes I do have. While money is always going to be an occasional source of stress for every family, the simple logistics of it are that having fewer kids means you've got exponentially money going out. By having only one child, there’s less financial stress and that can help so many things: It gives you more wiggle room with which to do cool things with the money you do have (like, I can afford to send my one kid to camp; I could not afford to send three kids to camp), and can keep relationships from going off the rails when things get tight.
Grandparents Are Way More Likely To Offer To Babysit One Kid
Grandparents are a blessed gift from the heavens and if you don’t have a set to love on your littles, you should try to find any cute, older couple and adopt them. (Yes, you are allowed to adopt people over 60. No, I didn’t actually check, but the state hasn’t asked for me to give any of my adopted grandparents back yet so I assume it’s good.) Though grandparents are made of magic and sugar cookies, even they can get exhausted playing with your spawn for extended periods of time. Having only one child makes the grandparents a bit more willing to house them for an overnight. When you need mom time or special time with the significant other, it’s a whole lot easier to drop off one kid than a whole bunch.
How does this make a family stronger? I mean, being able to take time for yourself as a parent is so crucial to making you calm, rested, and fulfilled, which are undeniably awesome things to bring to the table when you pick up your kid and resume interacting with them. When you only have one kid, it's a hell of a lot easier to find a suitable temporary caretaker to relieve you for a bit so you can go off and spend some time engaging the non-parent parts of yourself that will make the parent parts of yourself way more primed for action when they need to switch on again.
Babysitter addendum: Also, babysitters charge less for one kid, and are more willing to accept jobs if those jobs don't involve a whole fleet of kids.
Date Night Is Way Easier To Come By
Just kidding! Having only one child is still having a child so good luck with this. Best wishes and whatnot, but it’s still pretty unlikely to have any sort of consistency when it comes to regularly dating or having sex. (Dear sex, I think I remember what you are...) OK, I'm being dramatic; Parents obviously do have dates and sex, but whether you have one kid or five, finding time for these things is never as regular as you'd hope.
You Can Honestly Say Who Your Favorite Child Is Without Hurting Anyone's Feelings
Forget saying “you’re my favorite child” being told to every kid in the house. Nope. With just one little, you can promise that monster they are your favorite child in the entire universe and there is a solid chance it’s true. This might seem like a little thing (and honestly, I'm half-kidding because I don't think that a lot of parents actually say those words to their kids), but the core idea behind it is valid: When you have just one kid, there's no struggle to evenly divide your love/attention/money/energy between them; there's no battle to not play favorites even if you clearly have a favorite (which I secretly suspect all parents do, because how could you not?!)
You...Uh, Have To Be Around Fewer Kids
Here's the truth: Not all parents are "kid people" and building the strongest family for you means being honest about the true wants and needs of the people in that family. Maybe that means having zero kids, or maybe it means having a whole squad of them...and for some of us, it means having just one. Maybe kid-me assumed that I would looove kids, but the fact is, I don’t particularly like children in general, even though I adore my own kid.
For people who truly like kids a lot, perhaps the prospect of being surrounded by them all the time sounds amazing and fulfilling, but for a lot of people, that sounds like a nightmare that would severely hinder their mental health and mitigate their ability to be good parents. For some people, being around just one kid is...the perfect amount of kid. And let’s be real: In a house full of children, at least one of them is going to be a jerk. That could also happen if you just have one kid, but if you do have one and they aren't a jerk, then I can totally understand not wanting to roll those dice again.