Want to hear my harebrained idea about parenting? It’s my ‘minus one theory’. How many kids have you got? It’s irrelevant really. I’ll bet that, for the average parent, attending to the daily drudgery of life is almost always easier when there is one less child in tow.
When the littlest lad was born we had three kids aged four and under. For basically 18 months I wrangled three kids at the playgroup, the library, swimming lessons, the doctors surgery, trips to buy shoes, you get the idea. When the biggest lad started school, my minus one theory evolved. It feels like a walk in the park when the biggest lad is at school. Two kids? I got this.
The minus one theory in practice
Sound wacky? I’ll apply the minus one theory to a real life scenario. Let’s say you have two kids. You can do the grocery shopping at a time when one of those kids is in someone else’s care. You will only drag one child around the isles. Or you can do it at at time when both kids are with you. Both kids will get to experience the highs and lows of the weekly shop. Which do you choose? I’m guessing you pick the ‘one kid’ option. You have one kid? I bet you find doing the shopping on your own a dream!
The minus one theory applies to loads of scenarios. Taking the kids to the library, birthday parties, going to the doctor, play dates, coffee trips, park plays, playgroup. Or staying at home and putting washing out, doing craft, baking, playing lego. Doing any of those things minus one child is like a 20 kilo weight off your shoulders. Life with one less child in the mix, temporarily, feels somehow more manageable. The theory applies regardless of how many kids you have, you just need to change the numbers. Two kids is easier than three, one kid is easier than two, zero kids is easier than one.
My minus one theory depends a little on the dynamics between the kids. While there are ‘better’ combinations of my three boys, if we’re talking about say, a trip to the pool* or park with two or three kids, I’ll take two. Any two, I’m not fussy! The less kids involved the less chance of bickering and tantrums. If they run off in different directions, I only need to be in two places at once. There are only two little person’s emotions to manage. I only need to supply snacks for two kids.
I’m not suggesting that you should have had one less child! Not at all. In fact, the minus one theory is almost the opposite. You can really only appreciate how much simpler life was with one or two kids once you’ve had the second or third. I feel like I can conquer
the world library story time when I have two kids with me. Most chores seem doable. If I’d had two children, I’m sure I would feel the same when I had only one kid in my care. It’s all about perspective. I do feel compelled to say that I love each of my three boys fiercely and equally. Life is somewhat chaotic but I’d never change it!
Now I have no idea if the minus one theory applies to a family of four or more. Right now getting stuff done when I am outnumbered 3 to 1 feels like running a marathon with small people heckling me. But perhaps if I was to add a fourth to the brood then the ‘minus one theory’ would apply and three would suddenly feel manageable?
Does my minus one theory make sense to you? Is life simpler when one of your kids is hanging out elsewhere?
*I have taken all three of my boys swimming at the same time. Not lessons, we do that every week. I mean 1 parent (me) in the pool with 3 kids. No-one drowned. Remarkable really.