Everyone has a number.
A number of kids that works for them. The trick is figuring out what is right number for your family.
Our number was 2. We were done after 2 kids. I didn’t always know we would only have 2 kids. However, once we started having kids, I realized that a lot should go into the decision of adding another kid to your family. Every family is so unique in the personalities, lifestyle, etc. and there is no perfect number of kids but instead a perfect number for each family.
Here is how we decided that we were done after 2 kids. If you are trying to decide what number is perfect for your family, this is some food for thought. Consider these points when deciding if you really want to add another kid to your family.
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What is best for the children I already had
I think a lot of times the question “should I have another kid?” results in an answer centered around what mom (or parents) want. Instead, you should make sure you are doing right by the kids you already have.
I recently had a mom tell me that they decided not to have a fourth because they needed to start giving the kids they already have the time and attention they deserve.
Consider the parenting level your kids need
Do you have a kid who will need a lot of parenting? Maybe you have a kid who will need a lot of medical support? Do you have a kid who has a disability? What about a kid who is wild, free-spirited or strong-willed or any other word used today to mean they will be your most challenging child?
If you think you already have a kid who will need a lot more time and energy than your other kids, then you might want to factor that into your decision. Is it fair to the kids you already have to have another one? Remember, each extra child will divide your time more.
Personally, I never wanted to have a middle child.
There is such a thing as a forgotten middle child. My second is the happiest kid on the block. If I had another, I could 100% see her becoming the last priority because of her personality and I don’t want to do that to her. However, I am sure there are some kids with personalities that would do well being in the middle.
So, take a moment and think about who your kids are and if adding another would work.
Consider how your parenting would have to change
With one kid, most of the peer social learning is done outside the house, with two you deal with peer learning in the house, which means they can entertain each other, but also fight. With three, you start reaching new dynamics.
More complex relationships
When you go from 2 to 3 and further, you go from one sibling relationship (Kid1 and Kid 2) to 4 sibling relationships (Kid1-Kid2, Kid2-Kid3, Kid3-Kid1, and Kid1-Kid2-Kid3). I was on a plane and a mom whose children are grown told me to stay at 2. She had three kids and said that there was always one upset or fighting. My takeaway from that conversation was that the more kids, the more chaos. Before adding another, decide if you can handle, or want to handle, a higher level of chaos.
More chaos doesn’t just mean more fighting or more noise. It also means that there are more needs. More kids who are hungry, tired, lonely, angry at all different times. Someone will always need something as you increase the number of kids. You will need to be an organized, meal-planning pro.
Personally, I know that I have reached my limit. If I added another kid, then I wouldn’t be able to parent as well. I would be overwhelmed and losing it with my kids right and left. We barely get dinner on the table already.
Consider the amount of support you have
Do you have family nearby? Is your family helpful? This was a big factor in the number of kids we would have. We live on the opposite coast from all our family. While it is a lot of fun to visit, it means we don’t have a free babysitter on call.
Could I still be the parent (and partner) I want to be?
Parenthood is a marathon. It gets easier in some ways and harder in other ways as your kids age. One thing to consider is can you be the parent you want to be if you add another. Can your other half still be a good parent? Is it a good decision for both of you?
How are you doing?
Take a second and think about your stress level, your health? Are you able to do any self-care with the current number of kids you have? Staying healthy both physically, emotionally and mentally are all very important. They will not only affect you but also your kids and your other half.
Personally, I wanted to get my body back.
Since entering “baby phase”, I feel I have given up my body. And it was definitely worth it to have kids but I am really ready to be done. The idea of being pregnant and giving birth again just doesn’t interest me. It was a well worth it to sacrifice and I love breastfeeding my babies, but I haven’t worn my clothing (pre-babies) since before I was pregnant with my first. My body is constantly changing size. I am just ready to have a wardrobe again, be able to get ready in the morning and feel like myself.
My pregnancies weren’t easy either. I was very sick and was not able to be an effective parent during them. I also had to do PT after each pregnancy. I don’t even want to think of the shape my body would be in after another. I also gain a lot of weight during pregnancy and while I have lost it both times, I don’t want to chance it again. I had a much harder time losing it after my second than my first.
I am also someone who needs alone time.
It is pretty easy to get alone time with only two. I can easily send both kids with dad. Or they are more likely to be able to entertain themselves. The higher the number, the more times someone always needs something. The more commitments you have, etc.
Moms of three or four usually always have at least one kid in tow. My mom friend of 4 said they have a rule at the house which is if you leave you bring at least one kid because it is just too much to have them all at home.
By having two, I get to have time to myself. I love to run and go to the gym. I love having time to do hobbies.
How is your partner doing?
Let’s say you are doing well but maybe your significant other isn’t. Is their health good? Are they reaching their parenting limit? Their stress limit? Are they able to do self-care?
Remember that it is just as important that your other half wants another. While they might not be the one who is pregnant, adding another kid to the family will increase parenting demands on both parents. Getting divorced because of kids is a very real thing.
Do you have time for each other?
The number of kids changes how much time and energy you have for your other half. I never realized how being a mom would be so 24/7. It is so hard to find time to go out to dinner. Honestly, I even find it hard to catch up with each other at dinner or have a conversation that lasts more than a few minutes in the evening.
Now depending on your unique situation, this might not be the case for you. We don’t live near family so we can’t just drop kids off at Grandma’s to go out to dinner.
I needed to answer why I was having another
The best way to know if you should have another is to know why you want another baby. Here are not so great reasons to have another.
You want another baby
Let’s be honest for a second mamas, we will always want another baby. There is nothing more precious than welcoming a baby into this world. Nothing sweeter than holding your newborn. Having just one more baby won’t cure anyone of wanting more baby cuddles.
Therefore, you will be sad when it is your last baby. And that’s okay. It does not mean you need to have another.
You want to keep up with the Jones’
Once you start having kids, everyone in your life seems to also do the same thing. All of your friends are people who also have little ones and therefore are also trying to complete their family. After everyone has their second, some will go on to have more.
Don’t feel like you have to have another just because everyone else is. You might feel like you are missing out, or if they made that decision, then it is obviously a good one. The best thing for you to do is to look at your family’s needs and life and decide what is best for you.
You want a specific gender
Some people try until they have one of each. This did not matter to us at all. We only have girls. I think people expect us to try for a third just because we don’t have a boy yet. I think not only does that send a horrible message to our daughters but also isn’t a good decision for our family.
Before we had our second, we talked about gender. And we both realized that after having our first, we just wanted a healthy baby. We knew we would be happy if the second was a girl or a boy. I also think there are a lot of advantages to having the same gender and very few focus on that.
You need a spare
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you this. The idea behind this is that if (God forbid) one of your children dies, then your other child will still have a sibling. As most of you know from your own sibling relationships, you can’t just replace one sibling with another. Each relationship is unique. Additionally, you could have three kids for this reason and two might grow so far apart they don’t even speak as adults. How much help will that do if they are the only two left? Personally, I would rather invest the extra time I would have spent on baby three and use it to work on my two kids’ relationship with each other.
In the event of the unthinkable
Not a fun topic at all but a very important exercise to do. Hopefully you, your other half and your kids are all healthy but what if something tragic happens? How will adding another kid change the result? Here are three possible situations that could happen.
A parent dies
Let’s say you die, or you lose your significant other. Can you handle the number of kids you want by yourself? Personally, I would be able to handle my two kids but three would be pushing it on my own. I know for sure my husband would not be okay with three kids on his own.
Both parents die
If our children lose both of us, then I really want them to be able to stay together. This means I need to have a family member who would take in all of them. I know I have a couple of options right now, but I am not sure if any could handle taking in all of my kids if I decided to have more. Let’s say I did have a family member who could take in more. Do I believe they can still parent well?
A child gets sick
Having a sick child can take a big toll on a family. It means that child needs a lot more time and energy than if they weren’t sick. Your other kids will be affected by this. Your other half will have to pick up the slack. Another reason why it’s important that the number of kids you have fits both you and your other half.
Would adding another fit our family’s lifestyle?
Each family has their own lifestyle. What type of lifestyle do you want to have? Does the number of kids match the lifestyle you want and the budget you have?
What type of relationship do you want with your kids?
For me, I want to be always able to spend individualized time with each child. I want to be able to “date” my kids. I want them to spend time with me and their dad one on one. I want to give each child a lot of personalized attention and I know that the more kids I have, the less I can do this.
Along those lines, I also want to have them do extracurriculars and be able to attend them. I want to be able to go to the soccer game and the dance lessons. I won’t be able to go to everything because I literally can’t be in two places at once. The more kids means the less they can do and the higher chance of overlap. I can’t be at the soccer game and dropping off someone else at dance lessons.
What type of life do you want?
I really love to travel. Additionally, all of our family is on the other coast so to just see family, we need to fly cross country. We hope to see family at least once a year and also go on vacations with our kids yearly. This means both plane flights and car rides. Traveling is expensive. Each child adds to that cost. If we have more kids, we cannot travel as much.
What about your family’s budget (now and in the future)?
I think most people understand that more kids means more money. You have to have a bigger car, bigger place, bigger dining room table, etc. Another child means more daycare and preschool, etc. It is very easy to see the initial costs but the number of kids changes how much you can spend on each kid permanently.
To me this is a big deal because I want to spend money throughout the years on extracurriculars. It is just a fact of life that the number of children I have will decide on just how much I can spend on their activities like dance class, summer camps and music lessons.
Additionally, I want to give my kids the best start in life and to me that also means a great financial start. Since birth, we have been putting money away for their college funds. The more kids I have, the less I can give each one. I hope to be able to help them out with college, weddings, and their first car. I want to be able to set them up to not have financial stress.
Pursue your family Today
Trying to decide if you are done having kids is a hard decision. I hope by sharing some points to consider, you will have some food for thought to help make that decision. In the end, no matter how many kids you have, I know you will love them dearly. In some ways, the harder decision is to stop having kids because welcoming a child into this world is a slice of heaven.
Some days I am sad that I will never have another child, but I have come to realize that part of that sadness is from wishing I could have one more day with my babies who are older now. I know I would feel this no matter many kids I had. As my kids get older, all I really want is more time with them at each age.
I know we made the right decision for our children and our family. I also know that by not having another child, I will have more time and energy for my other children.
I have also learned that every family is truly unique and only they know the perfect number for them.
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