Elma Family Kitty Motherhood Pause for Thought Pip

When being alone means just one child


Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

As I write this Elma is sat at the end of the dinner table stacking her block crayons up to make a castle.  It’s past her bedtime but as I came downstairs with Pip this afternoon to find her crashed out and fast asleep in the lounge doorway it’s perhaps not surprising she’s not that sleepy.

OK scrap that, now she’s climbed up into my lap and she’s snuggling into my shoulder in what I hope is a most encouraging way.  Kitty is fast asleep sprawled across her bed and I’m keeping everything crossed that my sleepy little Pip is dreaming sweetly too.

I don’t really mind.  I wish she was asleep because she’s going to be horribly tired tomorrow and there’s a risk that she’ll fall into a cycle of too long naps and too late nights but it’s been nice to have a cuddle, to be able to snuggle her up in my arms without having to answer twenty other questions about what’s for lunch tomorrow, what day it is, or watch Pip’s face crumple into a wail as he realises that his Mama is in the room but not cuddling him (and in his mind I’m very much his, not anyone else).

I’ve always been so very happy in my own company, happy to the point of craving time to myself and even now I cherish time when the house is quiet and all the children asleep and I can just sit and think and read and knit or sew or be still.  

But right now I am never alone. Not in the truest sense, I mean occasionally I’m the only person in the room and once I even had a bath without the girls bringing me either bath toys or their baby brother. Pip is a nursing baby who categorises people as Mummy, Not-Mummy and a small side category of Sisters.  Only Mummy will really do and so where I go, so does he. And then there’s Kitty and Elma too, cuddled up on my lap or holding my hair or just shouting “Mummmmmeeeeee” from the other end of the house to summon me to sort out some sisterly dispute.

As you have more children and get further down the road as a parent so much becomes automatic; you suddenly realise that even when you’re in one room, you’re automatically still listening for the noises off, the little squeaks or thuds or patters that suggest that someone’s awake, or that you’ve cut up the children’s jacket potatoes and added butter and then moved straight on to do the same for your husband.  Actually that one might just be me, but I’m certain I’m not the only one who’s referred to themselves in the plural when actually they just mean themself.  And one of the biggest changes for me has been the shift in what alone means.  Because right now, alone pretty much means just one child.  If I go to the supermarket with just Pip that’s a huge treat (and so quiet), or when Pip and Elma are having a rare nap together and I get to spend time chatting with Kitty and find out what she thinks should happen in a Rapunzel sequel (spoiler: they go to a cafe with pink and purple chairs and then to see her Auntie and cousin, you heard it here first). Or if I need to get something done, or just want to do something that’s wholly for me then it’s easy enough to find a way to entertain just one or let just one help in whatever I’m doing.

There are times when three little ones feels a bit smothering, when I get so utterly touched out I’ve been known to retreat to the bathroom just for five minutes peace, but it’s a feeling that passes quickly enough.  I can remember the days when if I wanted to I could spend the entire of a weekend holed up in my sewing room, long before my sewing room became a nursery, but not with longing, just with fondness for a time past.  One of these days I’ll wake up and they’ll all have grown up and I’ll have more time that I want, and I know I’ll miss the chatter and the bustle and the feeling that comes from knowing that you are so essentially needed.  

So right now I might be the Mummy casting longing glances at the fabric sitting on the back of the sofa waiting to be cut up for my next quilt, or the Mummy wondering whether it is possible to have children and read more than one sentence of anything other than their books or a recipe book at any one time, but I’m also the Mummy who when woken up in the morning by at least one small daughter jumping on my legs and Pip squirming in H’s arms to get to me, or more accurately, to get to the milk, while another girl gently wakes up from a night peacefully sleeping across as much of our bed as is humanely possible, looks around at her life and knows that she wouldn’t change it for the world.


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  • Mackenzie Glanville (reflectionsfromme.com) 18/03/2015 at 8:26 am

    It is funny now that Adam has started school I have more alone time, it is a bit of a treat. And then I get a huge sprinkle of hugs when I pick them up. Loved your post, I always do xx

    • Carie 19/03/2015 at 10:04 pm

      That sounds like a lovely balance, especially with all the extra hugs!

  • Brandi 18/03/2015 at 10:27 am

    Anymore, being able to give all my attention to just one child is such a treat. Usually, when I do have any time to myself there are so many things I want/need to do that I don’t even know where to start. Some day. You have such a wonderful way of putting things into words, sounds like such a lovely time for your family!

    • Carie 19/03/2015 at 10:03 pm

      Oh I know, when I used to take a Mummy day and have a day off work with the girls still in nursery I’d have a massive list of everything I wanted to do, usually far longer than the available time!!

  • Katie @mummydaddyme 18/03/2015 at 11:14 am

    Ah a lovely post Carie. I find it crazy when I am just with one of the girls, it feels so calm and quiet, so I can only imagine what it is like when you have three and then just have one. It’s a busy, hectic, crazy old time, especially for you, but we will look back on these times when we are older and our children have flown the nest, and wish with all our hearts we could go back to them. x

    • Carie 19/03/2015 at 10:02 pm

      I suspect for all the hard work these will turn out to be some of the best days of our lives and I don’t want them to go any faster than they already are!

  • Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely 18/03/2015 at 11:32 am

    Carie, I completely understand this. Even when I’m alone, the boys take up so much of my head space … listening out for them, trying to plan for the next day/days, thinking about meals, clean clothes, etc. Alone but not really alone. And yes, a day with just one child feels so incredibly easy and almost a treat! I have a neighbour who has a four year old (in the same class as my eldest) and she is forever telling me how she has no time and can never get anything done. I’m yet to comment (and probably never will) but I think the look on my face must be one of bewilderment.

    • Carie 18/03/2015 at 10:59 pm

      I remember just having Kitty and wondering where all my time went but now looking back – it just seems to easy! I think I’d find the idea of one school age four year old taking up all of your time a bit bewildering too!!

  • Kim 18/03/2015 at 1:26 pm

    Lovely post Carie, and so very true. I look at it much the same way as you do, this is a fleeting time, it won’t last long, and before we know it we will have all the alone time we want. So for now, I will revel in this gig as mother, soak up the moments, and try as best I can to squeeze in a little mama time when I can πŸ™‚

    • Carie 18/03/2015 at 10:50 pm

      I think as long as there’s a little in there somewhere it helps to keep the balance πŸ™‚

  • preeta samarasan 18/03/2015 at 5:12 pm

    For me, being alone with just my older girl feels like a treat/a respite/something close to solitude, but being alone with just the younger one simply does not qualify πŸ™‚ . I love her to bits, but it is not restful having just her — she needs my attention 100% of the time, and it’s actually *more* demanding than having both of them, as when I have both, they play together most of the time. When big sister is not there, I become little sister’s playmate!

    • Carie 18/03/2015 at 10:50 pm

      I know what you mean, I wondered whether’d find having Elma and Pip home without Kitty harder than the three of them because Elma and Kitty play together so much but Elma is a fairly content little soul so it’s worked out OK for us (so far, touch wood!!)

  • Caroline 18/03/2015 at 8:49 pm

    I love this pic of your three, fabulous. I know exactly what you mean. I can’t belive how desperate I am for some alone time on occasion and how fiercely I miss them when I’m away from them!

    • Carie 18/03/2015 at 10:49 pm

      very contrary aren’t we, but it’s true!!

  • sustainablemum 19/03/2015 at 9:30 am

    This is lovely, just lovely. This time they are with us is so short I intend to cherish all the moments however hard they are πŸ™‚

    • Carie 19/03/2015 at 9:52 pm

      Me too πŸ™‚

  • sally 19/03/2015 at 11:29 am

    Yes, as much as I sometimes would love a bath on my own, without any interruptions, the time when I’m no longer ‘needed’ is a scary thought rather than something I’m desperate to get to. Happy cuddles with Elma when you get them.

    • Carie 19/03/2015 at 9:05 pm

      Ah the luxury of a bath alone – I think that may be a far off pipe dream, somehow I suspect that when we get to the age of not wanting to bring me bath toys we won’t be far off the age of hogging the bathroom themselves!

  • older mum in a muddle 19/03/2015 at 6:03 pm

    Honestly, I don’t know how you do it – how you manage to write such lovely, though provoking posts and be a wonderful mum to three. I can only imagine how crowded t gets sometimes – where’s YOU in all this, but the way you come across in this post sounds like you are doing okay…just! I have to say that it is a little easier with one :o). X

    • Carie 19/03/2015 at 9:03 pm

      Aww thank you πŸ™‚

  • Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper 20/03/2015 at 9:32 pm

    What a beautifully true post Carie- I only have 2 yet crave peace and quiet at times. Silence is golden as they say, yet you’re right that soon they’ll be grown and we’ll miss all the chaos. You always make me want to have 3 children- I can’t decide if I should keep coming to your blog, or stay well clear! πŸ˜‰ x

    • Carie 20/03/2015 at 10:42 pm

      Oh definitely keep coming and have three children – I absolutely love having the three of them!