The last two years seem to have passed us by in a whirlwind. They have been incredible in so many ways, but they have also been a challenge.
We’ve gone from a family of three to a family of four.
Our previous life, which revolved almost entirely around the Bear has had to shift, to adjust to the fact that we now have two children who have very different needs.
As a tiny baby the Lion was easy in many ways, primarily because unlike the Bear as a baby he didn’t scream from the second we put him in the car until the second we took him out, and (also unlike the Bear) he decided sleeping (during the day at least) was a good thing.
It meant that very little about the Bear’s life changed, the Lion was a much loved appendage.
He slept through sports day, meals out at her favourite places and didn’t cause havoc when her friends came to tea.
He had his moments of course, not helped by frequent hospital visits and I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the Bear’s disappointment when I rang her after the second hospital admission in a month to say Good Morning, only to hear her reply ‘But Mummy it’s pancake day and parent’s evening.’
It was the first time I had ever let her down. The first time I had really had to choose between the needs of one and the needs of the other.
But on the whole those early days seem less complex than life now. As a bubbly, over excited toddler who now naps less, demands more attention and interferes with pretty much everything the Bear wants to do, I’m increasingly conscious of their very different needs.
Right now, eight years is a big gap between them.
The Bear likes calm consistency; she enjoys trips to the cinema, and hates places that are too crowded. She would spend hours in bookshops and loves to eat out. She likes time to sit and write and to watch films on TV.
The Lion meanwhile hates to sit still, he likes to run. He wants to be pushed in his pram through busy places; the more people there are the more there is to watch. He likes to eat on the run (quite literally) and climb on everything and everyone.
So the Other Half and I have come to a conclusion.
As much as we love our family time as a four, our children also need some time apart. They need one to one time with us individually. We need to make them both feel special, and we need to make sure that we give them both what they need.
And now seems like the right time to start.
You see, right now the children adore each other. They are inseparable, there’s not a single shred of resentment. And we want to make sure it stays that way.
Losing some family time now seems like a small price to pay to make sure their relationship lasts.
So, the Other Half has booked the Bear’s teacher training days off work.
Back when I worked full time, they were always their days. They’ll go to the cinema and have some lunch. Their special time together will have returned.
Whilst they sit and relax the Lion and I will go to the park. We’ll run round and look for dogs. We’ll get excited when we see birds and swing as high as we can.
Meanwhile the Bear and I are both determined to improve our photography.
Last week we went on a course together. And somehow both survived. So once a month we’re going to escape together for a few hours. We’ll go somewhere quiet and photograph flowers and birds and maybe the odd squirrel. We’ll sit and drink chocolate and enjoy mummy daughter chats.
And whilst we do this, the Lion and The Other Half will have father son time. They’ll play in the garden, chase each other, or kick a ball.
As time goes on no doubt their needs we’ll change again, maybe their interests will converge, or maybe they won’t. Who knows what the future will bring.
What I do know though is this, life with two may be more complex than life with one, but I wouldn’t swap it for the world.
We’re new to this though, so always up for advice. How about you, how do you juggle the needs of children that are different in your family?