When my third child was born, everyone said my middle child was born to be a middle, she was loud, confident and precocious, the kind of child who instantly looks comfortable wherever they are. Despite these reassurances I felt a huge sense of responsibility towards her, determind that she wouldn’t ever feel like the stereotypical middle child. As it turns out, it’s harder than you’d think to give the same amount of time to three children. For example, Z, my eldest had me all to himself for 18 months, and my littlest has had me to herself during school hours for a whole year, S has always had to share. When Z started school there was only him we had to read with, we could focus all our school energy and time on just one child. For two years, we had just one school child to focus on, only one to teach to read.
When S started school, of course we read everyday, we practised letters, we did our best, but reading with two every night is not as easy as one, we found ourselves rushing, spending less time reading slowly to make sure she understood. Part of it is a personality difference, Z was always keen to learn, easy to teach. S is bright, I am in no doubt about that, but she is not as enthusiastic as her big brother and often can’t be bothered. H started school last week, and again without realising we’ve found ourselves spending more time on her as she now needs the most help.
Then it’s the smaller things, every year the Dads get to spend a day in school with their children. Little S will never get a day with her Dad there just with her, as she will always have a sibling in her school at the same time.
There are of course many benefits to being a Middle child. She can follow in her brother’s footsteps, he is the one who has to be brave first, the one who has to start new schools for the first time when neither he nor I have a clue what’s going on. By the time she gets there we all know how things work, we know it’s ok, fun even, and that there’s nothing to be worried about. Yet I still think I could be doing a better job, that I should be making up for the one on one time she hasn’t had.
So what can we do? My husband and I are ALWAYS saying we need more one on one time with the kids, but when it comes down to it we’re reluctant to split up on the weekends after busy week, instead preferring to get out as a family, but perhaps that’s the wrong approach.
Do you have a middle child? How do you split your time?
Sarah MumofThree World
We have a middle child and he is AMAZING – the most amazing of my kids. I don’t know if he’s thrived on neglect or what, but he is a complete all-rounder – easygoing, intelligent, hard-working, good at sport – he is everything you could wish for in a child and more.
Growing up, all the middle children I knew (including my own brother) were hard work and disruptive, so I expected ours to be like that, but he is the easiest of my three and adored by his brother and sister (who can’t stand each other!).
I think now the kids are older we give him more time than his brother – just because his brother is 13 and can be left to do things on his own. We often go our separate ways at weekends just for practical reasons – the boys are playing rugby in different places – rather than to give them ‘quality time’. It’s not ideal, but I think that’s the reality of parenting three big kids.
Sim @ Sims Life
I really don’t envy middle children! Luckily it is just L and myself so all my cuddle time is spent with her 🙂 x
lucy at dear beautiful
This is really interesting to read, as some one who is still undecided on the whole “third child thing” (and when I say undecided, I mean I want one, and hubby isn’t sure!) I’ve joked right from the start that my little miss is a typical middle child, and for the time being she is still the youngest. She is somehow a mixture of independent and needy, loud and quiet; she a great baby sister, but I think she’d be an awesome big sister too. I know that with our two we sometimes feel like we have to fight for alone time with them, and I’m sure that’s even trickier with three when you can’t just ‘divide and conquer’. But I’m sure there are advantages and disadvantages to wherever you are in the pecking order of things. And I’m told that children in families of three kids are the happiest…. So there is always that!!! x
I have this all the time with the twins, they never have one on one unless one stays home from school sick and then it’s not the best one on one time.
I hear you and understand your thoughts but I have no solution I’m afraid other than continue doing as you are doing
Emma she is just beautiful and after spending lots of time with you on holiday I think she’s got the biggest character, although her little sister seems to be just as cheeky. H is definitely the cheesiest. She’s a credit to you. I still don’t know whether we will have another but spending time with your three on holiday has definitely made Mr E see there are plus points to having three. X
Gosh it’s hard being a Mum sometimes isn’t it? I think we feel guilty about too many things, and I often finding myself thinking the same about my eldest and my youngest in terms of time divided etc. Speaking as the eldest myself, I reckon we get the roughest deal. I remember my younger sisters getting a much better deal when we became teenagers. My parents had been through it all with me and seen that I was still alive! 😀 xx
Penny A Residence
You seem to have all three kids so sussed Emma, I am sure you are doing it already! You are a fab team 🙂
Michelle Twin Mum
We have an odd situation as of course the girls are the same age, so I think they flit between being the middle child. I do 20/30 mins 1:1 time every Friday after school with each of them. They choose the activity and then about once every 8 weeks one of them will have 1/2 day alone with with either dh or I to go out somewhere and eat, chat, play etc.
It works well for us. Mich x
what a thoughtful post Emma being aware is being half way there
I can’t imagine how hard it is juggling the individual needs of more than one child!
My middle child was a middle child before even I got pregnant with number 3.I had never thought about the whole sharing aspect before.Kieran was 3 when Caitlin came along and she was 2 1/2 when her Mia came along.I do feel for her as she not old enough to do some things her older brother does but too old to do things that her younger sister does.I hope by the time her brother leaves home she’ll be more settled.
I am always worrying about not getting any real quality one on one time with any of mine but I do wonder if it’s one of those things we’re told we should make a point of doing but they’re not super fussed about. I grab any fleeting chances when ferrying them to individual activities for a catch up and obviously my youngest will now get her opportunity with the older three at school.
I’m not sure which of the two middle children should have middle child characteristics so it’s really hard to judge whether they feel ‘in the middle’. Madam acts like the ‘eldest girl’ over the other two, Cian has such a huge charm and character – everyone seems attracted to him so although he may be attention seeking it is never a negative.
I believe in doing things as a family and find some of the most magical moments are when you catch siblings spending quality time together.
I’m sure you and her are doing just wonderfully! xxx