My friends and I are constantly asking ourselves if/when we want more children. This is a huge decision. I’ve found it really interesting when mommy threads on social media advocate for one stance over another, when the truth is that this is a very personal decision. Each child is different, and each family is different. Some moms say you’ll never regret the children you have, only the ones you didn’t have, but I believe that timing is everything. Although I feel like we are never really ready to add a child to the mix, there are definitely some better times than others. I’ve created 6 assessment questions for you to ask yourself that may illuminate your own inner answer because only you (and your spouse) can make this decision for your family.
- What kind of pregnant person are you? It’s important to know if you experience persistent symptoms and what your game plan would be for your other child(ren) when you’re not feeling great. Some people think pregnancy is a breeze, but I’m a terrible pregnant lady. I have pounding headaches, debilitating nausea, and crippling sciatic and back pain. So for me, having a kid begins the day I become pregnant. I need to factor in the year of pregnancy when deciding if I want another kid because I need to be mentally ready, and I’ll probably need a lot of help.
- How are my current children sleeping, and can I handle losing sleep during the pregnancy and newborn stage? This is a super important question! I always struggle with sleep during pregnancy because of nausea, pain, and a peanut sized bladder. And we all lose sleep during the newborn stage (side note: do we ever get it back??? If we do, I haven’t hit that motherhood stage yet). Some kids are great sleepers, and some kids have more needs in this area. Some parents have co-sleeping toddlers, and it’s important to think about whether or not you can handle adding another kid to the bed. King beds still only fit a finite number of people 😂.
- Would adding another child put too much financial stress on the family? Kids are always expensive, but sometimes adding another child can be the difference between clearing a little extra and actually not having enough to cover childcare. After my third child, I realized my babysitter would be making more money than I was, and it just didn’t seem feasible anymore to try to work outside of the home.
- Is now the best time for another child, or would waiting a few months (or years) change anything? The first thing that comes to mind is potty training. I think I would feel a lot less stressed out if my toddler twins were potty trained. This will definitely be a factor to consider when discussing more children. Also, waiting a couple of months might mean you can put your older children in school, which may help get them out of the house, but it also means you’ll have to pack everyone up and move around a lot more. Does this seem helpful or stressful? Maybe you have a personal or work event coming up soon (like a friend’s wedding or a product launch event), and it would be great to be pregnant after. Another thing to consider is whether or not you will be traveling out of the country soon. Being pregnant could make a great trip uncomfortable or even dangerous (i.e. vomiting and Zika virus). It’s also important to analyze the ramifications of waiting too long. I’ve heard moms talk about how family vacations were difficult because some of their kids were developmentally very far apart. It’s important to know how you prioritize your needs and wants.
- How would adding another child impact my marriage? Adding each child brings its own set of joys and sorrows, and it is important to make sure your marriage is stable enough to withstand the pressure. As parents, we are completely responsible for another human being (or maybe even a couple of them). Do you get time with spouse as it is, or would another child completely strip away every last minute of free time? Our marriages are the foundation of parenthood, and if we are not cohesive, stress will create cracks in our relationship; these cracks will eventually permeate the entire structure if left untreated.
- Will I be able to carve out any time for self-care after adding another child? And after considering all of the above, will you be able to still take care of yourself? A hot mess mama is no good to anyone. I think I engage in more self-care than most moms, a remnant of my therapeutic past, but with three kids under three, it still never seems like enough.
My answers to these questions change day-to-day, but having toddler twins and a baby can be very difficult, even when I have a lot of help. I find juggling the different schedules the most challenging because it leaves me with very little time for myself. I definitely want more children, but I know I am totally maxed out right now. I’m waiting until I feel like I can breathe before adding to my clan.
Take time to process these questions, talk to your spouse, and then use your instincts. You have the best answer inside of you ❤.