The decision to have another child can be a difficult one. Every family reaches a stage where things are going pretty darn well – the routines are established and everyone understands their role within the family dynamic. The thought of having another child can be both exciting and wondrous….and just as terrifyingly panic-inducing. For each family, the tipping point is different. For some, it comes after having one child while for others it comes after having five. No matter where we are on the continuum, the questions that run through minds of parents minds remain the same when considering adding another member to their family or not. These questions include:
Can we handle the initial sleep deprivation? It doesn’t last forever but it does last a pretty freaking long time and let’s not forget, there is no “sleeping when the baby sleeps” when there are other children to look after. The initial three months after baby are the hardest – those times where parents are lucky to get a 3 or 4 hour stretch of sleep in a row, but the sleep deprivation doesn’t end there. It took me about a full year after each of mine to have enough energy to stay up after the kids went to bed and watch a show without falling asleep on the couch. Parents needs to be prepared to miss watching those episodes from a favorite series.
Do we have the physical and mental energy? Everyone has their own level of stamina and varying degrees of support. When we were debating whether or not to have another child, I remember thinking things like, How much energy do I have left at the end of the day? Are there things I am willing to let go of in order to spend more time and energy parenting another little one or do I feel like I have the balance I want when it comes to my “mom self” and my other selves? Am I feeling fit and strong and stable or am I nearing my breaking point already? Some days the answers to those questions were yes and sometimes they were most definitely no.
Is our car big enough? Does adding to the family mean we need a new car (or two?). We might be able to have kids share a bedroom but they certainly can’t share a car seat. It’s not just the car, it’s the house, the diapers, the wipes, the infant foods. Finances aren’t the only thing to consider, of course, but they still need to be examined.
Do we have a sustainable plan for who will watch the baby? For much of the household budget, there’s a bit of time to hash out the fiscal details, but determining the daycare/work situation is one that will approach quickly. For working parents who already send kids to daycare, adding another one is no easy feat. Daycare is ridiculously expensive. We send our two to a very modestly priced in-home daycare center and the cost per month exceeds our mortgage bill. It’s one thing to spread out a large cost over the span of years, it’s another to have to pay up front for multiple kids each week. Staying home with babies and living on one paycheck? That’s definitely not any easier.
Do we feel a nagging sense of loss about not having one more? And is it impossible to ignore? This is the biggie. Everyone grapples with the sad feeling that inevitably accompanies their baby no longer using bottles or no longer fitting in their infant pajamas. For us, the biggest test was looking forward in our minds five or ten years down the road and picturing our family. After our first child was born, that image of our family was a beautiful one, but there was still an empty outline where we thought another human should be. We knew we wanted to try for more. If that nagging feeling won’t let go, we’ve found that there’s usually a workaround to address the other questions.