Who said two were better than one?

Who said two were better than one?

‘You can’t just have one’ they say, ‘they’ll need a sibling to play with’.

‘Oh it’s so nice you have had them close together, they will be best friends. They will grow up together and be so close’, they say to me. I think they are trying to make me feel better about my 11 month age gap and darkening circles under my eyes and loosening grip on my sanity.

The reality however looks a lot more like this:

Zara and toby fighting

They are one and two and already fighting over toys. If one has something the other wants it. If one is sat on my lap the other wants to get closer – even though it is impossible. The fighting has already begun. What is it going to be like when they can both talk, run, punch? Neither of them listen to me now so I don’t hold out much hope as the authoritative figure for the days to come.

Having two children, two young children at that, is hard. Oh so bloody hard. You do not have a second to yourself. If one doesn’t want you the other will – or they both do at the same time. You have to give up all your time to these little people but we know that though right? That’s what we signed up for. Maybe, yes, but that doesn’t make it easier when you just want to sit on a loo without a baby, or two, clawing at your knees.

Some days I look around at people in the park playing with one child, giving them their undivided attention and wonder. I wonder if that child is better off for having that one on one. I wonder if that mum feels less stressed at the constant demand of her offspring (although somehow I doubt it).

I see people’s face when we board a flight with not one but two young children. I see the horror in their eyes and the disapproval at our presence on ‘their’ flight and wonder – would they look at us like this if there was only one potential disruption to their flight? Would they judge us if we outnumbered one child by two parents?

I remember the look on people’s face when I used to arrive with my one-year old and a new-born. I remember their judgment, their whispers, the occasional sympathetic if not condescending smile. I remember thinking it must be nice to blend in and sit and play with your one child and not feel the looks of others watching to see how you cope with two.

I remember the stress of a crying newborn vs a crying one-year old. I remember trying to decide who’s needs come first. Who’s nappy to change, which mouth to feed.

Me zara and toby

I remember going from one sleepless baby to another throughout the night.

I remember, vaguely, what me time was.

I remember, vaguely, who I was, before my life became consumed by keeping two small and needy humans alive and attending to their every need.

I wonder how much more money we would have if we had just had the one. I wonder if we would have travelled more. I wonder if I would have gone back to work, my career. I wonder what it might have become. I wonder what I would be like.I wonder if my children would have fared better as one.

Then I saw something, something that shut me up and stopped my wondering. Something that gave me a lump in my throat and filled my eyes.

I saw Alistair Brownlee help his struggling brother finish a triathlon. You no doubt know the Brownlees’, the are successful tri-athletes who won gold and silver medals in the Rio and London Olympics. Younger brother (incidentally only younger by two years) Johnny was struggling, he could barely walk let alone run, he was but minutes from the finish line in first place. Struggling with the conditions, he was almost passed out on the floor when older brother Alistair caught him and propped him up. He kept him that way for the remaining several hundred meters to get him across the finish line, but it didn’t end there. When he got to the line he thrust his brother over the line to finish in second place and himself in third. I have also heard that part of the reason for ensuring his brother finished the race was not just to keep his world standing in tact but because he knew that’s where the medical staff would be. That’s where his brother could get the best help that he needed. That is a sibling.

Alistair and johhny brown lee

Photo credit: www.standard.co.uk

Alistair and johnny finished race

I expect Mrs Brownlee had times when her two were small when they weren’t always so compassionate, when they fought or when she wanted to tear her hair out, but look what it has become. She must have exploded with pride watching her sons, if it’s possible to be anymore proud when you have two Olympic champions for sons eh.

The world didn’t just see a race that day, the world saw the loving bond of a sibling that you cannot break, something you are brought up with, something that is part of you. We saw someone being there for another and putting that person ahead of themselves. That is the relationship I hope for for my children.

Having had two babies I can totally understand being part of the one and done club. I find myself worrying so much that I am not giving each child what they need, that having two so close has somehow halved my ability to parent. Yet what I saw by the Brownlees’ put all my worries and wonderings to bed and it gave me some much needed perspective.

zara and toby cuddling

What about you? Do you worry about the impact of having one, two or more children?



  1. September 21, 2016 / 8:02 am

    I have 3 children. There is a 4.5 year gap between my eldest and my middle child which worked out pretty good. But between my middle and my youngest is just 13 months. I thought having them close together would be so lovely, but how wrong was I? They are always fighting and bickering with each other, it’s a nightmare! #FamilyFun

  2. September 21, 2016 / 8:06 am

    I read about the brownlee race on the news with tears in my eyes, what amazing sibling love and respect. I am sure your two will also make you proud and help you forget the current tiredness and stress! My husbands brother is 11 months older and they are very close! Hope you have a good day xx #familyfun

  3. September 21, 2016 / 10:02 am

    I must be feeling particularly emotional today because that brought a tear to my eye! It must be hard for you now, but in a few years they’ll play together and you’ll have some time to yourself! #familyfun

  4. September 21, 2016 / 10:32 am

    Oh such a lovely post about sibling love, it nearly made me cry actually. Especially about the Brownlee brothers. Brilliant post #familyfun

  5. September 21, 2016 / 11:13 am

    Great and powerful post. We went from happy with two girls to whoa pregnant again to WHOA TWINS. Two kids to four kids overnight. My feelings and attitudes are very similar to yours.


  6. September 21, 2016 / 12:07 pm

    It really is an inspiring story! I also have 2 kids and I worry that I have to divide myself, my time, my resources between them. But when they play together, my heart sings. When they comfort each other, my heart melts. When they encourage each other, my heart bursts. It is hard work, but it’s worth it, in my opinion #FamilyFun

  7. September 21, 2016 / 2:12 pm

    I worry about this all the time but I truly believe they are better off with each other than on their own. As for having a third, I’m still unsure if it would be a good idea or not. #family fun

  8. September 21, 2016 / 3:29 pm

    and what a fantastic perspective those Brownlee brothers gave – just incredible. My husband always says to my three that they don’t need to get on with us as parents but as each other as siblings – he’s so right – they are a team and a unit to be reckoned with – obviously they do get on with us but I knew what he was trying to say #FamilyFun

  9. September 21, 2016 / 5:39 pm

    As a twin mom… I here ya! Its hard!! We are no the family the restaurant stash at the back because they don’t want to put the customers off. We’re flying back to England next summer… can’t wait to see the look on people’s faces when we get on with twin toddlers and a 7yr old! But it’s great isn’t it, and the Brownlee brothers’ footage alone is enough to sell the concept of siblings… even the photo makes me want to blub!! #familyfun

  10. September 21, 2016 / 6:20 pm

    I wanted my boys to be closer in age (there’s 2 1/2 years between them) but it wasn’t to be. It took me ages to het pregnant and them I had 2 miscarriages. I wanted them close together so they’d have a strong relationship but thank fully they still do. Yes they can fight but they also adore each other, like your two will because you are a loving, kind, caring mummy! I loved watching the Brownlee brothers, that is true sibling/family love, just fabulous, they obviously have an amazing mummy too! #FamilyFun

  11. September 21, 2016 / 7:29 pm

    Having two children is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I thought having one child was constant and overwhleming at times, but going from one to two is a bit of a shock to the system at times. We have a three year age gap so at times its not so bad as the toddler can be left to entertain herself for 15-20 minutes, but when both children need my attention or want/need something and its constant all day, its exhausting! I cant even begin to image what its like only having a one year age gap (you must be superwoman!), but thing that keeps me going is knowing that in the future itll pay off for them and for us and the Brownlee story is a perfect example of that :-) Emily #FamilyFun

  12. September 22, 2016 / 1:25 am

    I loved watching those two brothers. What a special moment. Nothing beats having a sibling/siblings. #familyfun

  13. September 22, 2016 / 6:20 am

    We have two childrren very close in ages to yours and with simulate age gaps so I totally understand how hard it can be! But yes, watching the Brownlee brothers gives you hope doesn’t’ it. It was genuinely moving to watch.
    Potty Adventures

  14. September 22, 2016 / 6:31 am

    I always look at parents with awe when they have kids close together. It makes sense to get it out the way so to speak but equally it must be really bloody hard work! That said they’ll grow up together. My husbands cousins daughters are 15 and 16 and best mates and do everything together. #sharingthebloglove

  15. September 22, 2016 / 7:25 am

    Great post. The Brownlee race really stopped me in my tracks when I saw it this week, puts so much into perspective. I only have one child and will likely only ever have one child but that’s OK with me. It bothers me when people say “you can’t just stop at one”. Why cant I? Because you say I can’t? Do you know the ins and outs of my life and the reasons I’ve arrived at this decision?
    I can fully appreciate just how difficult having 2 (especially 2 under 2) because I know how difficult it is having 1!

  16. September 22, 2016 / 7:29 am

    Thank you for posting this. I have 2 boys with a 21 month gap between them and it is so hard. Its not the picture perfect sscene facebook would lead u to beleive. My eldest swaps between loving his brother and wanting to slap and bite him (the baby is 8 weeks old).

  17. September 22, 2016 / 7:54 am

    You almost made me cry on the tube with your replay of the Brownlee brothers story! I can only imagine how tough it is having two young ‘uns. You’re a trooper for getting through each day! But it’s great you found solace in what happened to the Brownlee’s. I have a good friend who has 2 children with a similar age gap. She said the first year or two were so hard (as you are finding) but as they got older they’ve become best friends. So I’m sure you’ll see that bond grow over the years! Until then, just keep smiling :) #FamilyFun

  18. September 22, 2016 / 8:52 am

    Beautiful beautiful post. I worry about the impact on my daughter of not having a baby yet. I’ve just applied for a three-year degree leading onto a job and I think it means I’m going to have to delay having another baby for quite a long time. It means my daughter could be six or seven by the time she gets a sibling and I really don’t want that for her. It’s such a dilemma. Thank you for such a lovely post. #familyfun

  19. September 22, 2016 / 11:17 am

    I think you’re such a superstar for raising two kids so close in age! I don’t know how you do it – I find one challenging enough, especially when she was younger and demanded ALL of my attention. I know loads of people have two kids, but I still can’t quite work out how to balance the needs of both. Maybe I’ll find out one day…#ablogginggoodtime

  20. September 22, 2016 / 11:21 am

    My heart went out to you reading this post. It is not easy with two at time and you are certainly not alone in finding it challenging. The only thing I can say from my experience is that the children’s relationship goes through different stages and it won’t always be like this. With regards to feeling concerned that you are split between tow, having a sibling teaches children different skills so whilst there are losses (Mum has less time being a big one) there are also some real gains. Hang in there.

  21. September 22, 2016 / 11:54 am

    Watching the Brownlee brothers was beautiful. I have one child and I’m really not tempted to have a second, quite happy with our little family x #familyfun

  22. September 22, 2016 / 12:46 pm

    Watching the Brownlee’s was incredible, that is one amazing big brother. I always wanted to have children fairly close in age as i thought it would be nicer and they’d have a greater bond. Life threw us a few curve balls though and there is a 5yr gap between my two. My son desperately wishes he had a sibling closer in age to play with and can’t wait for his sister to grow up a bit more (although I think by the time she does he’ll no longer be interested). That being said, I honestly don’t know how I would have coped with all the extra demands that brings so I take my hat off to any parent who has more than one so close together. I do think it will get easier as they get older though x

  23. September 22, 2016 / 2:30 pm

    What a perfectly beautiful post. I hear what you’re saying and feel what you are feeling with the siblings’ dynamic.
    I don’t even know or see the Brownlees but I had tears in my eyes just reading about them. (Going to Google them now).
    Really loved this post.

  24. September 22, 2016 / 3:47 pm

    As a Mum of one with no intention of having any more children this was a really interesting read. I feel sad that my Daughter won’t have a sibling she’ll grow up really close with but I have to be ok with my decision or the guilt will eat me alive. Your babies will have a lot of love for each other growing up- I had 4 brothers and they used to perform wrestling moves on me all the time but I love them millions now that we’re all grown up #coolmumclub

  25. September 22, 2016 / 6:57 pm

    I totally had a lump in my throat when I read about the Brownlees, OK a tear in my eye too, what a lovely post, I totally agree! I have the same memories of my two boys and not being able to give them one on one attention. There’s only 20 months between my two, you were much braver having two so close! They fight, they annoy each other and they really know how to get on each other’s never but then you see them laugh and play together and cuddle and kiss each other goodnight and your heart melts. We always said the greatest gift we could give our eldest was a sibling. No matter what happens he will always have a friend!

  26. September 22, 2016 / 7:34 pm

    That Brownlee brothers clip was incredible wasn’t it? I never really related it to my own children – who, as two girls certainly have their moments! I can only imagine what they’ll be like when they’re teenagers! Yet, they are also incredibly close already. Brownlee Brothers moments will come in all shapes and sizes throughout their life, and I am certain they’ll always be there for each other.
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub. PS Keep going, you’re doing amazing xxx

  27. September 22, 2016 / 10:24 pm

    My sister has two a year apart (plus two older ones and a newborn right now) I think the small age gap is definitely the hardest! Some days when my youngest has been a handful I can see why people might be put off having more x


  28. September 23, 2016 / 12:38 pm

    I loved the Brownlee brother’s story! Totally inspiring and such a great sibling story. Whether to have a second or not has been on my mind for a long time but I think we are totally in the ‘really want another’ camp now! I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with being an only child (and having another is no guarantee they’ll get on – my husband has two brothers he’s not close to at all), but I want my son to have the opportunity, even if there are lots of tough times along the way. Thanks so much for joining us again at #SharingtheBlogLove

  29. September 23, 2016 / 5:34 pm

    I’m one of three as is my husband but we have two little girls who are 16 months apart. I’ve only ever witnessed the kisses with my girls so far. #FamilyFun

  30. September 23, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    The days of having one child were blissful!! I didn’t of course realise this at the time, it is only when you have the next one that you realise that life looking after one child is infinatly easier than chasing after 2!! Its a simple numbers fact.
    Now my girls are gettitng older though life is getting easier, because they play together – when they aren’t fighting together… life’s good with two – life was good with one.
    I dearly hope our girls form a Brownlee bond, and will stand by each other throughout their lives.
    lovely post, and you have such cute little boys.
    big love, L

  31. September 23, 2016 / 9:03 pm

    There are so many opinions out there about age gaps. We are debating what we would like as the ‘perfect gap’ but sometimes I just think it’s all a load of bollocks – will 6 months make that much difference really!?! You just do what’s right for you (some things take longer or happen quicker than anticipated). Those brothers did give us all great perspective though. As long as siblings are there for each other I don’t think age gaps really matter. #FamilyFun

  32. September 26, 2016 / 3:55 pm

    The Brownlee story is beautiful. I always wanted Alice to have a sibling if we were lucky enough. My husband was keen to have a small age gap, smaller than the 2 years, 10 days that we have. It’s tough and at times I questioned would have it been easier to wait and I think the answer is, there is no easy age gap. They all just have different challenges. It was really tough for 2 years, but I feel we have turned a corner recently. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove X

  33. September 27, 2016 / 5:48 am

    I have a 3 year gap between mine and i worry . I worry i should have had the 2nd sooner, a year later , was it selfish to have another one . In other words i worry.They love each other and hate each other all within a 10 second space. I woyuldnt have it anyother way but it’s hard and i worry !! #FamilyFun

  34. September 28, 2016 / 8:14 am

    What an honest post! My folks have kinda decided to have only me, unless there is a change in their circumstances. They get judged all the time too, but it’s whatever makes your family unit stronger and makes you happy. Every family is different. We loved Brownlee race footage too! #SharingTheBlogLove