Before becoming pregnant, you may already have your perfect family planned in your head including genders, names, and age spacing between children. What you may find after having your first child is that reality differs from your former expectations. Motherhood is a little harder than you imagined it to be and you may feel conflicted between what you’ve always envisioned your family to be and your sanity.
Everyone has an opinion about when is the perfect time to have another baby. I’ve met many moms who wanted baby’s close so that they could be done having babies and others who wanted to have their babies close so that their children would be close in age and ideally close to each other. On the other spectrum, I’ve met moms who wanted more space so that they didn’t have to worry about the cost of childcare for two children or so that they had some room to breathe between pregnancies. As it relates to having additional children, there are a few key things that every mom should take into consideration:
1) Is it what you really want or is it what someone else wants? Not too long after having your first child, you’ll start to get questions about when you’re going to have another. From personal experience, those questions can have a huge impact on the way you think and you start to feel as if you’re supposed to have another child. That feeling of supposed to may take over your feelings of wanting to but always keep in mind that you and your partner are the ones raising the kids and no one else’s opinions really matter. Unless they’re contributing to the personal, financial, mental and emotional care of your children, they don’t get a vote.
2) How do you really feel when you think about having another child? You may be one of those people that has baby fever and can’t wait to get another bun in the oven. You could also be one of those people that gets a little apprehensive…or a lot when you think about the responsibility of adding another child into the mix. Some apprehension is to be expected but if find that you’re overwhelmed already and that thinking about another baby makes you more anxious than excited, there’s no harm in waiting a bit.
3) Is there really is a perfect time to have another child? As much as you hope that your kids will be close to each other, there’s no way to guarantee it. Being close in age might make them closer…but it may also intensify sibling rivalry. Waiting to give yourself some breathing room may give you a break but you may find that by the time you have your second child, you’ve forgotten a lot of what you learned about having a baby from the first child. Having a baby is going to be hard no matter when you do it, so make the decision based on when you want to do it and not on a hypothetical outcome.
4) How will a new baby affect your family dynamic? Every new person you add to your family changes the dynamic, sometimes just a little and sometimes a lot. Sometimes it’s in a good way, but sometimes not. Good, bad, a little or a lot, the one thing that you can bet on is that your life will become more complex. Your only child goes from being the center of your universe to having to share your time with someone else. The relationship you have with your partner changes as well as you get less time to spend with them. The same way you had to figure out how to navigate through the complexities of parenthood without losing hold of your individual relationship, you’ll have to do the same with each child that comes along.
Before having my daughter Sydney, I always thought my husband and I would start planning for our second child when she turned 2. I always said that I would be ready for another child when my first was at a minimum potty training and had the ability to communicate. As we reached that stage, I found myself not as excited about planning as I thought I would be. I enjoy motherhood more than I ever have. I sleep, I feel confident in my abilities as a mother and I’m not constantly second guessing myself and my decisions. My daughter and I are in sync and we just genuinely have a good time together. There are still some moments where she makes my head explode in addition to my heart but for the most part, times are good. I’m also enjoying my husband more. I’m not exhausted all the time and I look forward to our time together instead of going on dates because I know we need to do so to stay connected when I’d rather be sleeping or doing the one million other things that need to be done around the house. Ironically, this is exactly why I’m not ready to have another child. As much as I thought I would be pregnant again, I’ve decided to delay having another child until I’m truly ready. I want some time to continue to enjoy my current family before we change the dynamic of our family again, if at all.
At the end of the day, you are the only person who knows what’s best for you and your family when it comes to expanding…or not and there is no perfect solution. Listening to your heart and doing what feels right is the best way to make sure that the decision you make is one that makes you happy.