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divide and conquer

If you have kids and you’re like me and Tom, you spend your weekends being slaves to the concept of “family time.” The thing about family time is that consecutive days of it can create the opposite of the intended effect. If you’ve never wanted to run away from home at 4:00 pm on a Sunday, you’re a better parent than me.

This last weekend, Tom packed Finn up for a trip to Ann Arbor, nominally to watch the Michigan-Northwestern game and to visit Finn’s beloved Grandma and other family, including his amazing Aunt Susan and Uncle Matt, and cousins Ramal and Amya. I say nominally, because as evidenced by these photos, the trip obviously ended up being some heady mixture of epic grandma spoiling + early recruiting for U of M. I am told that Finn wore this helmet all of Sunday while tooling around town, except when he took it off to eat.

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Back home, Tate and I were doing our own thing. To quote my friend Suzanne, I’m one hell of a mom when I only have one kid around. I’m more patient, kinder, more loving. And here’s what I learned about my three-year old. He says really funny things, which I usually don’t notice when Finn’s here, because I’m too busy breaking them up in the middle of a ninja fight. And he’s getting so tall, which I never noticed because his older brother is usually physically casting a shadow over him. His shoes were too small. So we went and got new ones. I learned that he can identify the Eiffel Tower and Adele’s voice on the radio. When we made french toast, I noticed how carefully he mixed the eggs with his whisk, so they wouldn’t spill. My little dude.

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I’m sure Tom learned new things about Finn in their time away together. And while I miss Tom and Finn a lot, it all makes me think that there might be something to the concept of splitting the kids up once in a while, instead of driving ourselves batty from too much forced togetherness. A little time to enjoy each kid without the mitigating influence of a sibling.Ā  A little time to dally.

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25 Comments Post a comment
  1. having just spent a week in a static caravan (trailer) with my two toddler boys I fully and wholly support this strategy.

    November 20, 2012
  2. I have two boys as well – now ages 11 and 13 – As a family we spend all our time together, but there are times when all together is not possible and it’s during those precious times when my husband and I (just like you) have come to realize just how special alone time with either child can be…

    November 14, 2012
  3. I’m tickled for you both – divide and conquer is central to long term parental survival. Secondarily, there is the additional benefit for a usually-in-the-background child suddenly getting more attention. Which, when you are used to being the one scooting by without such rapt and continuous adult supervision and commentary? It can be a mixed bag. At least for any slightly older kiddo – I’m guessing your sweet little Tater Tot was pleased as punch to have Momma all to himself. And vice versa.

    That photo of Finn lugging the bag filled with UofM booty is absolutely priceless. Be sure to hang on to that shot – it will look great on Finn’s dorm door when he begins school wherever else he attends other than Michigan. Surely Tom realizes by endorsing any school early/often he is simply setting that up to be front and center for your eldest’s teen rebellion gesture? It is already at least 50/50 that when Finn begins to apply for college, “anywhere but Michigan” will top his unwritten list of criteria.

    November 14, 2012
    • i dunno, the early indoctrination seems to work pretty well in my husband’s family, as all five of them went to michigan. and i do love how passionate they get about the school, since i’m a bit ambivalent about my own alma mater.

      tater and i simply had a blast.

      November 14, 2012
  4. Courtney #

    so true. i always imagine martha stewart moments of crafting and homecooking on the weekends but it usually ends up with lots of yelling, scrapping, and mac n cheese.

    November 13, 2012
  5. šŸ™‚ precious moments !!

    November 13, 2012
  6. We always seem to tag team here. Could never get everything done otherwise.

    November 13, 2012
    • apparently i am long overdue in taking advantage of this concept

      November 13, 2012
  7. We had twins first and then another and found that everything’s much more peaceful with :one less.” I hear from some loonies with 4 or more it’s always the case. Btw – I was at the UM-Northwestern game. Saw a bunch of lil kids with the same helmet!

    November 12, 2012
  8. I think one on one time with a parent makes kids feel special.

    November 12, 2012
  9. mmweldon #

    Are you telling me that you and Tom have just now discovered this life saving parenting miracle? If it’s taken you this long, I applaud you. I discovered the ‘separation party’ when my first born, Jack was probably around 5, with my youngest, Hudson being 2. This was around the age when I realized how much they liked to fight and that separating them was the only option for keeping my sanity. With loads of grandparents living close by, the times they would take one for an overnight or even for a few hours, was glorious. Now 11 and 8, it still continues to this day and I love every minute of it.

    November 12, 2012
    • yeah i feel like occasional separation is more vital with two boys. i’d swear mine have magnets inside them that require they be touching or bugging the other at all times

      November 12, 2012
  10. Tis is so very true! when we’re all together my eldest talks so much you don’t even know that my youngest can too.

    November 12, 2012
    • it’s so true. that older kid just loves to talk for the little guy

      November 12, 2012
  11. Pegs #

    I pick E up from school some days while Levi stays home with the babysitter, and it’s some of my favorite time with him. Given their age difference, we do divide and conquer pretty often, but it’s usually E with Tim and Levi with me. Mixing is up is so nice – plus it gives Tim a chance to appreciate my mad skills with a 10-month-old that much more.

    November 12, 2012
    • hey peggy. i used to pick finn up early for basketball, leaving tate in aftercare. i eventually started picking them both up but i really miss that hour of alone time with finn. it must be an upside to elijah and levi being years apart–i imagine it would be hard to find activities to please both…

      November 12, 2012
  12. Hilary #

    SO true! I got to have Julian all to myself for 3 hours on Saturday and it was one of the most enjoyable mornings I’ve spent with him in a long time.

    November 12, 2012
    • ah little julian. i imagine he makes stellar company.

      November 12, 2012
  13. Maria Elena #

    Every year we try to do trips where Josh takes only one girl and I really get to focus on the other one. It’s really different. We love it.

    November 12, 2012
    • a great idea. when are you taking the girls to burning man?

      November 12, 2012
  14. sshowalter73 #

    Great advice for when my second one comes along šŸ˜‰ . ! I’ll have to try and remember this haha.

    November 12, 2012
    • enjoy this time when you have no choice but to focus on the one. and congratulations!

      November 12, 2012

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