Parenting Guilt: Sins of the Mother

Before I had children, I had always planned to have two children in rapid succession. The philosophy was that if the age gap was small, it would be easier for them to relate to each other and form a stronger sibling bond. If the gap was too large, the older child would always find the younger child to be a nuisance. Although that was the plan, it appeared my body wasn’t ready for a second child until first born was nearly three. A three year gap was larger than I had planned for, but it was still acceptable.

Now that I have to balance two children together, I have realised that it is a lot harder to do special things with your older child when you have a younger child to handle at the same time. When I’m trying to do Fun Thinkers with Gavin, Gareth wants to be a part of the action and he keeps pulling the tiles off the grid. When I’m playing Play Doh with Gavin, Gareth tries to eat it. When I’m trying to paint with Gavin, Gareth tries to eat the paints. When I’m trying to teach Gavin music, Gareth wants to take the books and bang on the piano keys, too. When I’m trying to do flash cards with Gavin, Gareth wants to take my cards. When I’m trying to read to Gavin, Gareth tries to snatch my book.

It doesn’t matter what I give Gareth, nothing sufficiently distracts him enough to buy me the time to do something with Gavin. Well, nothing, that is, except the TV. But the TV isn’t a good distraction for Gareth either because it also distracts Gavin. The only other distraction that can keep Gareth from interrupting his brother is me, but that also means Gavin ends up doing lot of things on his own – which he doesn’t like.

Even when we’re out and about, I find most of my attention is diverted to Gareth because he is the one who is most vulnerable and likely to get into trouble if I am not watching him. It is hard to find time to devote to Gavin and I sometimes catch myself wondering if I should have waited longer before having a second child (not that I would trade Gareth for anything in the world). But it brings me back to the guilt that I am not doing enough with Gavin. But how do you find the time to do all the things you used to do with your first born now that you have a second child?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

9 thoughts on “Parenting Guilt: Sins of the Mother

    1. Ariel – That is true, but that also means they will both be as dependent on their caregiver which can be exhausting. For me, at least Gavin is quite independent – he can feed himself, wash himself, go to the toilet on his own, etc. That certainly helps when it comes to looking after them! If they are too close in age, you would have to do all that for two children.


  1. I will be going through this soon enough. My 1st will be almost 2 yrs and 9 months when I have my 2nd. But I still wonder if the answer is to space them less apart cuz then both will be at the same playful, immature stage (i.e. book snatching, banging on piano keys). perhaps its easier said then done.


  2. I have the same questions in my head. When you are trying to develop your child by doing flashcards, taking him to classes and so on, how can you have another child and continue this? if I stuck to my original plan, I would be trying to get pregnant pretty soon but my body just can’t take it and my mind is now very unclear: is that really what I want? I love giving my daughter everything I have got and I hate the thought of giving her less time, less attention, etc. If I wait too long though, she might be unable to relate to the second child. I have decided recently to wait until she asks for a brother or sister but I suppose it is a bit coward of me to leave the decision to my 19 month old toddler!


    1. Abby – it is a very personal decision. Sometimes I wish I’d waited longer before having my second because I clearly did not think this part through very well. Then again, at that time, I also didn’t know a lot about early childhood development and was just bumbling along. But if I had waited longer, I wouldn’t have Gareth and how could I wish I didn’t have him? So I guess for me, it is a moot point. It is more a matter of going forwards and trying to figure out what is the best compromise for both my sons at this stage.


  3. Tricky! So morning learning session is for Gareth only and afternoon’s priority would be for Gavin. In the afternoon, to distract Gareth, might be you can seek help from a domestic helper or family members to bring him to the other room and prepare 10 types of toys for him to play instead of only TV until you have finished your session with Gavin. I trust Gareth will understand sooner he is only allowed to remain in the room with his dearie mother and brother when he is quiet, or else he will be deprived privilege for a short while. Of course kids’ times just very unpredictable. ( But here and again I speak only from a perspective of an ideal scenario.)


  4. Going to face this problem soon too. Guess I’d prioritise activities for the older one: 15 minutes of the most critical right-brain training activities, while Daddy looks after the young one in the evening.

    When young one is in newborn stage, should be napping more, so have to make good use of those first months to focus on older child.

    After the young one is 2 years old, should be more settled (at least not mouthing things), so can try to engage the 2 in similar activities.

    A mum with 4 kids shared at a Shichida sharing session: she teaches all the kids at the same time. Amazing!


    1. MieVee – I am truly amazed by mothers who homeschool their children when they have many children at differing ages. I really wonder how they manage. Here I have only two and I am already struggling to do this little bit with them!


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