It’s the question on many parents’ minds when it comes to family planning – how many kids should we have? What’s feasible for us and what important considerations are there for all involved?
I started thinking about it since my 38 week of pregnancy with my first (and only) child. I obsessed about it multiple times per day throughout the first few months of my son’s life. It may sound silly, but I was constantly trying to figure out right then and there whether more should be on the horizon.
He’s not even a year and a half old yet so I have time to figure it out, but I know I’m not alone in wondering what the right answer is. For those of us who don’t already know for sure we want big families, how do you make the decision to have more than one child?
On the list of pros for more than one, there’s the hope that they’ll bond with their sibling and have a friend for life. Maybe they’ll entertain each other as they grow up, and the joy of giving them a family to depend on outweighs the cons.
But how much harder is it? As parents, will we lose ourselves as we have more? There’s no guarantee siblings will get along or be close later in life. For those of us who travel with our babies, how much would we have to give that up by having more?
So what’s the right decision? I asked parents of only children on my Instagram stories to share why they only had one, and their responses were eye-opening. This is what they had to say:
Some responses have been edited for clarity.
“I thought long and hard about all of the reasons why people have more than one kid and none of them were strong contenders for me:
1) they’ll have a built in friend. In my case this is true, my sister is my best friend BUT my husband and his siblings have zero relationship and he and one of his brothers even hate each other. Just because they share blood does NOT give them a built in friend for life.
2) they keep each other busy. That may be true but they also fight. I have to remove myself at times from friends’ houses with more than 1 child because my brain goes into overload with the bickering. I choose peace.
Plus, my daughter thanks me REGULARLY (she’s 14 now) for only having one child. She recognizes that we were able to give her abundantly more by not having to spread ourselves thin financially. Plus we’ve also been able to give her more attention being our only one. There’s just more of us and more money to go around not having to split it between multiple children. It’s easier this way.”
“I grew up as an only child. My parents didn’t have a lot of money so I know I would have missed out on opportunities if they’d had more children. Yes, that’s selfish in some ways, but just being honest! I want to give our daughter a childhood filled with memories and experiences that I’m not sure we could provide if we were managing two or more children due to time and the cost of having kids.”
“Honestly I can’t imagine adding any more difficulty to my life. The transition from none to one kid was huge, and though I’m happy with my choice, I can’t imagine doubling down on it.
I don’t know if this parenthood thing is somehow harder for me than other people, or if maybe they rush into having more without letting the dust settle from the first one, but I’m still figuring out this whole parenting thing, and the noise, chaos, and lack of any time for myself that would come with more than one sounds unbearable to me. I honestly don’t know how other people do it. Maybe they have more of a village than I do, but even so, I just don’t think I could stay sane with multiple children.”
“We have one. My husband has two sisters who aren’t sure if they want kids so I think about the possibility of my daughter not having cousins. I have lots of friends with kids so I’m confident she’ll have plenty of great family-like relationships.
As I get older and my mom ages, I think about managing her aging process without the support of siblings. Again, I’m lucky to have good friends and a supportive spouse to help navigate that.
It’s all complicated and there are so many things to consider.”
“We chose to stick with 1 after a bit of back and forth 1-2 years after delivery. My daughter is almost 5 now and both husband and I are completely content with our choice to stick with 1. Obviously life changed with her but we are still able to travel as much as before (though some different locations we’ve chosen due to her likes and doing different activities than we would if it was still just us).
We both are able to have some alone time ourselves or with friends throughout the week by staggering pickup/drop off at daycare responsibilities. If we had two some of that we’d lose and neither one of us wanted to completely lose ourselves to children. A little selfish? Yes. But we both thought we’d be worse parents to both current daughter and potential future kid by giving up so much of what we value, and that wouldn’t be fair to kids. My daughter has cousins and friends so we don’t feel she’s missing out on that sibling relationship.”
“Just have one girl! You’ll get so many replies about the baby and child stage, which is the only thing most people think about when planning to raise a human. But many siblings aren’t close into adulthood and single children often have fantastic relationships with their parents throughout their lives. If only having one works best for you and your life, then just have one. Don’t give into the pressure of “cookie cutter normal” if it doesn’t work for you.”
“The decision to just have one was made for us due to health reasons and fertility. We just got back from a month in Southeast Asia. That would have been so much harder with 2+”
“I just have one. I can give her more of my time. I can be more present with her. Plus, I have more financial flexibility and time for myself.”
“I just had one. Having no help nearby made this a much easier decision. I have no regrets. I can do sooo much more for him than I could if I had more than one!”
“We are one and done. We wanted to have a child, but we also wanted time to pursue our own interests and have our own lives. That may sound selfish, but it’s just what we were feeling!”
“One and done. I feel like we can maintain our lifestyle and provide the best life for our son this way. Plus I haaaated being pregnant and can’t imagine doing that again! I’m too old for it!”
“Just one for me. I don’t like being pregnant and I can’t imagine going back to the newborn phase!”
“I didn’t know for sure I wanted to be a parent all my life. Once I decided I did want to be a father, I was (and still am) happy with my one child. I never wanted my life to be completely dedicated to parenting like I’ve observed with my friends who have multiple kids. Their home lives look chaotic, and I still want a break sometimes. I still want my life to at least somewhat resemble the freedom I had before kids. It gets way harder with more from what I’ve seen.
Plus this way, I can still retire early and travel the world once he’s in college. That timeline would be pushed back if I had more kids.”
What about you? If you just had one, what were your reasons, and if you have more than one, what inspired you to grow your family?