Almost a decade ago my partner begged me to let us get a cat. I was dead against it. I knew it would be the classic case of him having all the fun and me doing all the work and I wanted to avoid that or at least delay it until parenthood. After a year or so he wore me down and I reluctantly agreed to adopt us a fur baby. At this point my partner informed me that some genius had told him that if you have one cat, you might as well have two - you already have all the paraphernalia, it's just one more fluffy creature to love; so we got the demanding Saffy and her independent sister Rosie and what I discovered was two cats just meant twice as much poop to scoop. I often think of this when people I know have two, three and four children - I've experienced motherhood, it's like a chocolate coated hell, why oh why would one make that more difficult? Eventually we decided that two cats was one cat too many for our small first floor flat and we gave Rosie to our mate's ex-girlfriend, where I'm told she lives a lovely life but it's not really practical to do that with children. Given this I reckon there must be a reason people keep popping out the sprogs, beyond some innate biological need designed to further the existence of humanity and I think this might be it - having more kids makes parenting easier! And here's why...
STUFF JUST HAS TO GET DONE. As I lay with my son for three hours as he sings 'Old McDonald' on repeat until he passes out from exhaustion, I wonder how parents with more than one child do the bedtime thing but the truth is they just do. They don't have a choice. You can't afford to pander to one child when his or her siblings also need your attention, the kid goes to sleep because other people have to go to sleep, that's just the way it is. Less indulgence, more independence can only be a good thing.
YOU LEARN TO SAY NO. When you have one child you can sometimes get caught up in the belief that you should do everything you did before but with a child in tow. Sure I'll come to your wedding in the Outer Hebrides! Absolutely I have time to listen to you break down your seventy sixth break up from your sociopath boyfriend. When you have several children, the limitations of time and space mean you have to put boundaries in place and this means saying no. Saying no is like a muscle, the more you do it the better you get and soon you're finding yourself saying no on a daily and boy does it feel good.
YOU LEARN TO PRIORITISE. It's a lot of hassle organising a big family, so it gets to the point where you only do things you only really have to do and by and large those things are the things that really enhance your life and so you find yourself living your best life.
YOU GET ORGANISED. If you want your children to enjoy all the wonderful stuff life has to offer you're gonna need to run a tight ship because play dates and parties and after school activities do not organise themselves. It feels really good for everyone to know what's coming and when but particular for the person that's supposed to make it happen.
YOU DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. Sometimes we get it wrong but when you're a parent of more than one child you don't really have time to dwell on it because there's someone else that needs you, so you learn from your mistakes but there isn't time to dwell on them and this is good because wallowing in mistakes is not a fun time.
Given the above this is what I plan to do, rather than have another child, I will behaved AS IF I have more than one child and in doing this I hope to beat the system! If you would like to practise your multi-child parenting skills, I have a tot you can borrow.