How many kids is right for me?

One of the biggest dilemmas swirling around my head daily (and nightly….) is whether or not to have another baby! Possibly one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life is whether to have kids and when to take the plunge into the deep abyss of the unknown. But following that to decide how many kids and how far apart to have them are also rather difficult dilemmas – life changing stuff really!

I have been incredibly blessed with 2 wonderful little people in my life and I adore them both immensely (except maybe at 2am after 2 hours of screaming, but that’s another story) My “pigeon pair” seems to be what many moms hanker after – a boy and a girl – in that order. I’m not quite sure who or what decided that this was the “holy grail” of family planning but I guess it must have something to do with the 2.5 kids, Labrador and white picket fence ideal we have been lead to believe is the utopia of family life.

Anyway so here I am. My baby girl has just turned one and has started taking her first few steps away from me….. a happy occasion but also a little heartbreaking. She is growing up way too quickly and can no longer be called a baby, but a toddler! I feel the need to make a decision about my future family plans quite soon (within the year) in order to avoid dragging on the ‘baby stage’ for too long. I was on holiday recently with my family and had to forgo the fun on the boat in order to look after the baby on the beach…. Just a small sacrifice but, it made me realize I would like to get on with my life too, at the moment it feels like it is on hold. And while the baby stage is incredible cute it is equally demanding!

One of my main motivators to have another baby is to give my little girl the opportunity of a sibling closer in age to her than her big brother. My age gap (another hot topic of conversation at moms group) is bigger than I had planned at 3.5 years (4 school years) due to a battle with secondary infertility that lead to 16 long months of temperature taking, old wives tales, doctor’s visits, drugs, prayer and ultimately ended in my little miracle. I was one of the fortunate ones whose journey down that road was short and ended happily but for a brief time it did expose me to the pain many face every month. Anyway, I had hoped to have my kids closer in age so they could have experienced being at school with mutual friends etc but that did not happen and ultimately my age gap has been the best one for me. I don’t think I would have been cut out for a 18 month gap….I actually I know I wouldn’t be. Let’s just say patience is not my strongest virtue!

Another reason I am considering another baby is to give one of my kids the opportunity to have a same sex sibling…. I have a good relationship with both my sister and brother but definitely played more with my sister growing up as we were closer in age and nowadays we see more of each other as we are in a similar life stage. My kids are still establishing a relationship as it’s only been a year, but they do adore each other, I wonder how it will pan out once they reach the teens! I have been conducting a bit of research (aka. Asking my friends) how they experienced their own sibling relationships – if they had one of the opposite sex how they got on, how it was growing up in a family of 2 or 3 or 4, how they get on with their siblings today. I find it rather interesting to note that most of the time the relationships that thrive among siblings seem to be those based on personalities that connect rather than gender. What has your experience been of having siblings – as a child and an adult???

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As I mentioned I was from a family of 3 and my husband is one of 4 which is another consideration to take into account – I have always envisioned a slightly larger family (3 or 4 kids) as that was my experience and a family with just 2 kids seemed small and a bit boring to me? The chaos of more kids seemed like fun – but maybe that was just for the kids…. What about the adults, did they find it as much fun?? If truth be told I’m not quite sure how I would handle more kids – 2 seems quite hectic as it is and I haven’t even reached school yet, with all the extra sports, homework, ballet, school lifts, meetings, exams, etc. I’m sure it’s just going to get crazier. I recently read this article about the “best” family set up on Femail.com based on a survey of over 5000 families. They concluded that 2 girls was the ideal set up, followed by a boy and a girl – maybe I should quit while I’m ahead?!

A factor most people raise when discussing kids is finances – I have tried to not let this reason creep in to dictate to me my decision as I firmly believe that God will provide and I would hate to look back in a few years time when our financial situation has improved (positive thinking people!) and regret that we didn’t have the third due to lacks of funds! I realize these days that it is a huge concern for most – school fees (esp the private schools most people seem to be aiming for.), clothes, feeding teenage boys, university, sports equipment, the list is endless. The nappies and formulae are small fry in comparison to what’s ahead let’s face it! Another related factor is the need for a larger ‘family’ car, maybe another bedroom – be it to build or buy, as well as planning for holidays. Most places cater to families of 4. Not to mention the cost of another airline ticket. BUT one thing I keep thinking about is what if you asked kids what is more important to them – lots of toys, holidays, a private education OR another sibling to have a lifelong relationship with – what do you think they would answer? What would you answer now as an adult if you had the choice? Do you learn more about life growing up in a bigger family or attending a private school?

I have heard a few older moms tell me that the biggest regret of their lives is that they didn’t have more kids. There is a saying that goes “You only regret the kids you don’t have” which confirms this but it is so hard to remain neutral and thing logically in the midst of the first 2 (or 5 years) of your kids life it is such a busy, stressful time. (According to Focus on the Family, all families with kids under age 5 should be seen as “families in crisis”) I fear I may make the wrong decision and not have another baby based on lack of sleep, teething and far too many doctor’s appointments and money spent at the pharmacy when “this too shall pass” and very soon these few years will be a memory. In the grand scheme of life, 2 years is just a blip. A child could be a part of your life for potentially 50 years (based on me being 30 and living to 80!) or even eternity if you both believe in heaven!

So, have I confused you enough yet? As you can see this is an incredibly difficult decision with so many pros and cons (and I haven’t even touched on trying to conceive again, pregnancy and BIRTH – am I ready to do that again???) Everyone has had a different experience growing up and with their own family planning so you can never get an answer. You have to make the decision for yourself!! (well with your co-parent of course!) Speaking of which, mine is happy to stay put with what we’ve got – but I’m sure that’s the lack of sleep and finances talking…. 😉

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please do leave a comment! How many kids do you have? How did you know when to stop? What did you base your decision on? Are you happy with your decision?

Here are a few thoughts other bloggers have had on the subject of family size:

Having another child @ Design Mom

When one is enough @ All4women

Why women resent other women having a fourth child @ Femail

What does happy look like @ Rookie Moms

How Tina Fey agonised over having baby no 2 @ Femail

and for fun….

Are there bad reasons to have a baby? @ Rookie Moms

10 reasons to not have another baby @ The Stir

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

16 Comments
  1. Hey Kath
    I really enjoyed your article and we seem to be grappling with the same issues. In a way, I get jealous of people who fall pregnant with their 3rd by mistake as at least they don’t have to have these endless debates!
    After reading your article, I’d say – go for it!
    If its in God’s plan, He will enable it to happen.

    love
    Kate

    1. Hi Kate – as I said earlier I’m so glad I’m not alone in this….. it totally helps to know there are moms like me with similar issues 🙂 Let me know once you have made a decision either way!

  2. Hi Kath
    This sounds exactly like me last year, just slightly different pros and cons! Probably one of the biggest life-changing decisions ever! Good luck, and keep praying for God’s wisdom and timing.
    Love Jo

    1. Hey Jo – glad to hear I’m not the only one who grapples with these decisions! Did you decide to quite while you’re ahead? I’m heading in that direction this week but it might have something to do with a teething toddler! Anyway thanks for the comment 🙂

  3. We just came to this decision recently and we are ending with number 5 due in Dec.! We had the first two (boy and girl) as well and everyone advocated for us to be done. But we both came from families of 3 so we had another (boy), and we were then surprised by our #4 (another boy) 4 years later and decided to give him a closer sibling (they will be 20 mo apart, and o yeah, another boy!). At this point we did talk about having more! But I feel like my body can’t handle the stress of pregnancy and parenting (at least not well.) And that one issue is why we are stopping because God really does take care of everything else. my advice, if you feel healthy enough (and have your hubby’s support) just take your “hands off the wheel” and let God decide when and if the next baby comes! Good luck!

  4. Hello, this is Asma visiting from Gypsy mama’s blog of the topic (The post you wish more people had read).

    I read you post and I’ll tell you my experience with my siblings since I’m not married yet and don’t know what it is like to be a mother. I have 2 sisters, one older (23 years old) and the other is younger (20 years old) I’m 22 by the way =)
    We get along very well, we have a special bond since we were kids and we always think like a one mind. No matter how much we fight we get back as if nothing ever happened between us. Even now that we grew up that bond is still the same and never changed in fact in got stronger. I reason behind that as I believe is the condition we lived in. It was a tough one and we didn’t find anyone to go back to but ourselves. We’re best friends more than sisters.

    As for the opposite sex, I got only one brother (16 years old) I’m the only one who had a good relation with him when he was a kid once he got older he got distance and wasn’t the same at all. My younger sister use to be jealous of him and the older one didn’t care much and that’s one of the reasons why I think he turned out that way.

    As for having kids, I don’t know anything about family life yet cause most of the time I’m on my own. But I did give it a thought of having only two for three (for a big family) kids. I don’t like kids that much and the most important reason for me for that number is the money. I’m not married yet as I mentioned so you can my comment just as an opinion ^^

  5. Hi Kathryn,

    Your post feels all so familiar to me as my husband and I also struggled to make the decision to have a 3rd child. It felt like 2 was a good number for us. I come from a family of 4 and it’s nice to be able to have a parent child ratio of 1:1 and be able to give them individual attention. Another big factor was that I’m from Canada and we live in Australia so buying another plane ticket means less trips home! We also have a girl and a boy who adore each other and weren’t sure about how another child would affect the bond they have created. Probably the biggest factors for me, was that I really didn’t think I could handle having another child. I too would not describe myself as a patient person and I spent the first year of my sons life (my second child) beating myself up for the monster of a mother I felt I had become, feeling that my children deserved a better mother.

    Still…with all the reasons not to have another child, I still felt like 2 was not enough. I had this lingering fear of “what if something happens to one of them?”. Finally I realized during a retreat that it wouldn’t matter how many kids I had, I would love them all the same and the pain of loosing one of them would be no different no matter how many children I had. So…I reconciled that 2 was enough.

    Then, about 2 weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. Ha! God had a good sense of humor. I am now almost 34 weeks pregnant and cannot wait to meet this precious gift that God has given us. The kids are so excited, and so am I. It has been quite a journey getting to that stage. I had to grieve the loss of what I thought my life and family would look like, and get over the fear of becoming that monster again. I still have fears about how I will cope, but I know and trust that this is God’s plan for me and that this child will be a blessing. It’s Gods way of changing and growing me in faith.

    I hope that God will give you peace in your decision and pray that he will reveal his plan for you and your family 🙂

  6. 4 of my 8 babies were surprises…I know, I know…. but they were really big surprises! I am so glad these children are in my life….I would never have know what joy I was missing.
    and now, I have my cake and can eat it too….good kids, happy responsible….and I have a life, breakfast with friends, gym everyday, book club..etc…way worth the time and effort to get so much love and happiness back. Do it!!

  7. Great post!

    I have 3 and I want to go for numner 4! Took a while to decide. Here it goes:)

  8. We’re expecting our first child in September of this year, and already my husband is talking about having more kids. I’ve thought that 2 children would be great – but I haven’t even gotten through this pregnancy yet – so who knows how my feelings may change once baby arrives… Maybe just one more..or two? LOL. I hope when the time comes to make that decision I’ll be willing and able 🙂

    Dropping by via @momandbabybeautiful ‘s Best Of Link Up – looking forward to your posts!

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