I received an email asking to do an article on family life in regards to number of kids within that family. Kind of like a 0,1,2,3 thing. I thought it could be kind of interesting to dig into.
For some, the idea of having babies is something that they have dreamed about since they were still in diapers. They lugged their dolls around the house, carrying them by their feet, from one room to the next; getting them dressed, feeding them, putting them to bed, the whole nine yards.
For others, not so much. Not everyone wants kids. An article in The Guardian claimed that “Once pregnancy is over, you’ve got a small human that you’re responsible for 24/7, for nearly 2 decades. Many are overjoyed by this prospect, which is great, but that doesn’t mean everyone is.” This was a follow up to the argument that women who do not want children are somewhat shunned because we’re inherently supposed to want to procreate. I agree with the author Dean Burnett on that point. Then of course there are those who simply cannot have children. Because of this, please do not question young women about why they don’t have children. It makes me cringe when I hear it, and yes I hear it.
One, is the loneliest number…
People with one kid get the best of both worlds and the worst, all at the same time. I think there is still a stigma that once you have one you’re supposed to want more.
Speaking as an only child, there are perks and there are downsides. I had my own room, but I was scared of the dark. I had my own clothes and toys, but I did have to play alone a lot. Luckily, I had a lot of cousins nearby to play with and lived in a community where friends were in walking distance, so that helped some.
No need to get a new car, even your sexy two door can probably hold at least one car seat. No need to worry about bath time, with only one kid, only one bath, no shared water/toys/wash clothes.
Traveling with 1 kid is a whole different ball game than having multiples. Traveling with any amount of kids can be stressful but when you only have the one to pack for, look for, prepare for, and pay for, it’s much easier.
Nap time is actually quiet time. There’s no other noise going on once your one little angel goes down for a nap. Same thing when they are old enough for school, or sleepovers, or summer camps, whatever; when that one child is quiet, the whole house is quiet.
Make sure you have a strong marriage/partnership before having this baby. 1 may lead to others, but not if you can’t make it past 1. That sounds a bit harsh probably but the stress of an added person (not to mention an extremely needy, cranky, always loud person) is something that even good marriages will suffer from.
“Only children are supposed to be spoiled, selfish and lonely. In fact they’re just fine — and on the rise, as more parents choose against having multiple children”
The quote above is from a TIME Magazine article published back in 2010. After the big recession in 2008, people had to stop and think more economically about having kids. It wasn’t just that kids costs more per say, people were making less, and many still are.
Two children, two parents= seems like an easy way to live. Eh…easy isn’t the word I would choose in that scenario but we’ll go with it. 2.5 is the average amount of children that American families are having now. Going from 1 to 2 is much easier than going from 0 to 1. So there’s that at least.
Time is divided now. It’s not just you and your spouse time, then you and your one and only child time. It’s you, your spouse, child #1, and child #2. They will both have separate needs, wants, and ways of communicating with you. Depending on how far apart in age they are, your first might just be talking when you realize the second is on their way. You may just be getting the glorious feeling of more than 4 hours of sleep when you’re suddenly up again every hour peeing in the night. And pregnant while chasing around a toddler? Not the same as the first time, by any means.
What about twins? Yes there’s two of them, but does that count? It’s one pregnancy, one birth. No age gap. Yes they count as 2, I’m just adding to the arguments I’ve already seen and I think it’s a silly one.
There are general concerns for a lot of mothers though that go from 1 to 2. Will I love them the same? How can I ever love anyone as much as my first? How can I even begin to explain to my first that there’s another baby? What if he/she isn’t happy about it?
I will say, I had some of these pretty common concerns myself. They are not founded in any real life. You won’t love them the same, that’s impossible. You will love them equally but in different ways. It’s hard describe but once you have a second child, everything is different. You also get a newfound love for your first watching them grow into a big brother/sister. It is something magical to watch.
If you Google, number of children you should have, two of the first options that arise are “Why three is the magic number of children for happiness” followed by “why three makes for the most unhappy families”. So, I think there’s some debate on this one?
To quote another article “Why three really is the magic number”:
“A third child feels like an indulgence; ‘more than the world needs’.”
Irregardless if it’s indulgent or not, the idea that going from 2 to 3 is a hard one to make. Harder, I think than going from 1 to 2. Once you get past 2 kids the car situation gets harder, going to the store becomes even more challenging, and dividing up your time among each kid takes on whole new struggles.
One mom commented to me that going from 2 to 3 took much more time managment than she had expected. “I didn’t think it was going to be so time consuming getting out the door.” For those with 2 thinking, ugh I already struggle with that now, might be something to consider.
This isn’t uncommon either, a survey of over 7,000 moms (which has been quoted in a few different articles) claimed that mothers of 3 children were the most stressed. More than 1, 2, 4, or even 5. Why? Something about the unevenness of 3 children? The going from a kid in each hand to one kid having to be the third wheel? Maybe…
One plus to the third is allowing the baby of the family now to become a big brother/sister (yes I understand this can’t just keep going until there’s an endless chain of babies). Let’s be honest, when you have 2 kids the younger one is babied. By you, and your older child. This will happen to the third one as well but at least it might help toughen up that 2 one a little. Then there’s the dreaded “middle child” syndrome. My own mother will attest that this a real life phenomenon but is it enough to detour you?
A family of 5 is something to be desired however, for those who don’t want a “big” family, but want larger than average family. The chaos that is life as a family of 5 is appealing for many reasons. The holidays, family dinners, the siblings have more options for playmates. Hopefully they’ll like at least one of them.
3 is also the stepping stone to 4, which it seems some women think that is the best number.
Wait, who’s crying? Is it the baby? No not that baby, the baby-baby. The littlest one? No, she’s sleeping, somehow. Is it the toddler? The older two fighting? What is all the noise and where is it coming from!
A quote that stuck out to me from an article in The Express “Three is the “storm” before the “calm” of four. These kind of statistics made me wary of having a third child, resulting in an age gap of seven and nine years between my third and her older brothers.”
After 3, I mean hell, what’s one more right? You have all the stuff you need, you SHOULD have at least both genders at this point (if not, I do know some, I pray for you). Having 4 children also makes you lighten up some. “Every busy home will have many moments of stress when plans for apart, homework gets lost (or stolen… yes, would you believe there are “strangers” who love to steal math homework?!) and everything descends into chaos. Adding a big dollop of humor to such occasions can diffuse tension like a magic wand and make all the difference in the world, particularly on those days when the kids want to strangle each other, or you want to strangle them.”
I like this quote from a blog called Mom.me “Four is easier because the kids can pair off. Especially when you have two of each. With three there is one left out. Also when it was three the baby got treated more like a baby for some reason.”
More than 4!!
So you want more than 4 children…Do you not like things? Do you not enjoy sleep? Do you never want to be alone, ever in your entire life?
No? Oh, well then by all means have more than 4 kids. I’m being extreme obviously, but people on the outside look at families with 5, 6, 7 plus kids and think, “why?”
Well there’s a lot of good reasons. For one, your children always have someone to talk to, even if you aren’t available. Siblings in large families tend to be closer. You would think it would be the opposite but having to share everything with each other does tend to make you closer whether you like it or not. “It also keeps you from spoiling your children. Certainly there are children from small families who are not spoiled, but spoiling children in large families is nearly impossible. I simply can’t (and won’t) buy identical high-end expensive toys and gadgets for my kids.”
The idea of boredom in a house with 5 or more kids is probably not one that comes around often. It’s easy to see why an only child may struggle with trying to entertain themselves, but 1 of 5 can probably find something to get into with one of their siblings. Not to mention there’s always chores to do! And let’s be honest, with 5 kids all pitching in, even though they make a mess, they should be able to clean it up. There is also little helpers when it comes to taking care of the younger siblings. Most large families require the older siblings to step up and help their parents out. Good life building skills.
How do you get anywhere? Well, I guess that depends on who is coming. RV? Two mini vans? Another downside that was brought to my attention is the complete lack of privacy. Yes you have the safety of numbers but you also have a hard time finding a quiet place to be alone.
I’ve also seen mentioned in quite a few different articles about having a large family is that the parents are less prone to end up in a nursing home. At least they hope so.
But how can you afford it? Um hand-me-downs. Your kids may end up wearing things a little too big or a little small but that’s the way it goes with large families.