The thing with toddlers, and this is probably the same with the male and female varieties, is that they can be a tad on the demanding side. Strike that, they are demanding little devils. When you are three, the whole of your little world revolves around you and if it stops revolving around you, you go into melt down mode.
A is no exception. She is an amazing little girl, of that there is no doubt. She is funny, sassy, playful, loving and great to be around. But she does like to have her own way. A lot. She loves her brothers but if she thinks that they are stepping just a little too much into her limelight, there are tears and tantrums.
R is the mature nine year old and he takes it in his stride, mostly. He gets a bit fed up sometimes but he is also old enough to understand that she is younger and more demanding. L is seven and doesn't deal with it so well. He was the baby for four years before she came along and he hasn't been happy to pass the 'baby of the family' title on. He is less tolerant. His favourite phrase at the moment is :"it's always all about A", usually accompanied by a roll of the eyes and a heaving sigh.
It is another thing to carry around in the very heavy bag labelled 'guilt'. In an ideal world I would like to find some time to have some one on one time with each child. Meanwhile, back in the real world, that rarely happens. When we are all together, we like to do things together. Is that so wrong?
Today was interesting. A woke up ill with a virus and was feeling very sorry for herself. As we are in Wales, my husband decided to stay at home with A and I took the boys out for the day as we had planned. It was so lovely. The sun was shining and we ambled around together chatting and messing around and it was a really positive experience all round.
First stop was Toys R Us. R wanted to get a birthday present for his friend and we said we would pick up a little something for A to cheer her up. Next, we went for lunch to one of these world buffet restaurants. We don't so this very often but the boys loved it. They mooched around choosing different foods to try and we had a real feast. No strops. No tantrums. No arguments.
Finally, so full we could barely move, we drove to the sea front and had a lovely walk along by the sea and a play in the park. It was really nice. We were all very relaxed and enjoyed each others company.
Now I am not saying that this is because A wasn't with us (or daddy for that matter) but I think the boys did really enjoy a bit of toddler free time and they were in great moods when we came back too.
When you have multiple children, it is difficult to spread yourself fairly. I think that 'family' time is essential. I will always make sure that we put aside time during weekends and holidays for family time. But after the positive effects of today it certainly has made me think about letting the boys having some toddler free time, even if it's not the one on one time that I would love to have with them.