Over the Rainbow: Entertaining a Lonely Only Child

Over the Rainbow: Entertaining a Lonely Only Child

When our little boy was 18 months old, I found out I was pregnant. I was so excited! I had always wanted our kids to be two years apart in age, and my dreams were coming true! But when we found out at our baby girl's 12-week appointment that she had a rare skeletal defect, and probably wouldn't live longer than an hour or two, I was (get ready for the understatement of the century) absolutely devastated. It's been almost two years since she was born, and my heart (and arms) still ache to hold her, but more than anything I'm sad that our son doesn't have a little sister to play with. And he is, too!

When I was pregnant, and in the months leading up to our daughter's birth, we didn't really talk about or explain the situation to him. I mean, how do you explain to your 18-month-old son that mommy is pregnant with his baby sister but that he will only get to spend a few moments with her? And at that age, he didn't realize what my growing belly meant. But now that he's almost four years old, he definitely realizes what's missing in our lives and in our home. And every time he asks me why his cousins and his friends have siblings...or when he asks me if we can buy a minivan...my heart breaks all over again. But the void in our home is most apparent when the two of us are home alone during the day. Because lately, he's just lonely. Since he rarely takes naps anymore, and he doesn't have a sibling to play with, I've had to get creative in finding ways to keep him entertained throughout the day (in an effort to avoid sitting him in front of the television). Here are a few of the things that have helped us (and most importantly, our son) the most:

Get Out of the House

We are both always happier when we get outside and get some fresh air, so I try to make this a priority every day. Whether we play outside in our own backyard, or head to a nearby park, we always come inside much happier...and often ready for a nap. Now that is a win-win! During the winter when the weather keeps us indoors, this can be a bit harder. But not impossible. Even though fresh air is always best, an indoor play place is a great second option! And I'm sure you and your little one will be much happier (and less lonely) if you just get out of the house!

Plan a Play-Date

On days that I just need to get something done around the house or cross something off of my to-do list, I plan a play-date with one of my son's friends. We're so lucky that we live five minutes away from my sister who has a little boy who is only two months older than my son. I often "borrow" her son to play with my little man and keep him entertained for an afternoon. And I'm pretty sure it's a win-win for all of us!

Sign Up for a Class

Participating in extracurricular classes is one of the best ways I've found to make sure we get out of the house. When my son was younger and I was trying to find a way to lose the baby weight while taking care of a baby, I signed up for a "mommy and me" exercise class. And we both loved it! As my son has grown, I've started signing him up for his own extracurricular classes. Most recently, a spot opened up at the preschool we planned to send him to in the fall, and we jumped at the opportunity! Getting out of the house a few times a week to play with other kids his age has been so good for him...and for me.

Plan a Mommy-Son (or Daughter) Play-Date

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend who has five kids and she casually commented that she never plays with her kids. I was shocked, because I didn't even understand how this could be possible. But as I thought about it a little bit more, I realized that her kids probably don't ask her to play with them as often because they have each other to play with. Because it's just the two of us at home during the day, I am everything to my son. And this means that it's more important for us to spend some quality time together and for me to play with my little boy!

These are a few things that have helped my lonely only child, but I'd love to hear other suggestions! Mamas of only children, what have you done to entertain your kiddos and help avoid the loneliness that comes from being an only child?

The "Over the Rainbow" series is a series for, and from, mothers who have lost their little ones or experienced infertility. We know this can be a very sensitive subject, and sometimes hard to talk about. We hope we are able to help others through these tough experiences as we share our stories with you. 

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