Growing up, in my dreams of my future family, I always had two children. Two seemed like the perfect number. We had two in my family, my brother and me. There was that nice 1:1 ratio of parent to child. I also grew up hearing stories from my mother of growing up with 3 siblings - and her feeling squeezed out sometimes as a child who was not the eldest, not the youngest, and not the lone son.
I keep that in mind as I raise our three children (10, 7, 4), always conscious of fairly doling out my attention and time. Whenever I am on-service (which means leaving earlier and getting home later each day), I sometimes notice an increase in "needy" behaviors especially in the younger two. There's more clinging, whining, and other attention-seeking antics. I am also particularly sensitive to the contentment of our middle child who is most prone to feeling left out. He occasionally gets into these funks where he is down on some quality he has - such as that he's the only child in our family with glasses, making him feel different and more unlovable, I guess. (Mind you, he is adorable with those glasses!)
Unfortunately, coincident with being on-service is feeling more worn out at the end of the day. The kids' bedtime becomes one last hurdle before glorious rest. That means no long books. No delay tactic tolerance.
One day, when I was feeling a QT deficit with our middle child, I decided to give him his good night hug and not be the first one to let go. Just to see. I just hugged him and kept hanging on. After awhile, I felt his little arms loosen and relax, enjoying the moment so, but still hugging. The hug went on and on. I did not let go. Finally, I felt him let go first. His arms fell to his sides. He had a huge grin on his face, sated and sweet.
I've generalized the hug that keeps going to the other two children, just to be sure they are all getting enough hugs from mama. It's not every bedtime but sprinkled in there for good measure. Often it ends in a spurt of giggles (especially if accompanied by a neck nuzzle), but always I feel glad to have hugged so slow.