When it came to children, my wife and I agreed right off the bat that we wanted to have two kids. Mission accomplished. Our boys are happy, healthy, and fight like regular siblings. It’s a joy to parent them, the vast majority of the time.
Now that our boys are approaching school age, a question has arisen in our home – should we have a third child? And I must be honest, it is one of the most intense debates I’ve ever engaged in and I’m talking about my own internal debate on the matter.
For myself and many others that I’ve spoken to, the question is not about whether we can love and nurture a child. The answer to that is an emphatic yes. There is more than enough love in our hearts. The question seems to be: is there enough room in our wallet and time in our days to welcome another child into our home?
It also concerns how an additional child would impact our ability to provide for and support our older kids. Would our time be so divided that we wouldn’t be able to give them the attention they deserve and have come to expect? Or would the joy and excitement of a new sibling simply bond them closer together as a trio?
My wife and I have had innumerable discussions about this topic and here are all the ways we have tried to come to a consensus, maybe it will help you, too:
1. Make a Weighted Pro/Con List
Whenever we face a dilemma, my wife and I try to solve it with a typical pro/con list. However, this case needs some unique attention. The decision to have a third child is a largely emotional one – not one that can easily be dissected in list form. This isn’t a decision on whether to buy a minivan or an SUV. It’s a decision of the heart, in many ways, so it requires a different approach. For instance, truly ask yourself and your spouse if you have the emotional strength to give the time and attention to another child. If not, you might have a challenging decision to make.
2. Manage as Much You Can
There’s no way to prepare for every situation and trouble that could arise, and sometimes, the only way to solve a problem is by going through it, no matter how painful the ordeal is. But there are questions that you can resolve ahead of time and consider – how much will each of you work? How will you juggle a third child and still make it to activities for your other children? If housework is impossible now, how will you tag team to keep a clean home when there’s another child in your midst who needs care? These are not deal-breaker questions, but they are things that you might consider before making such a big decision.
3. Consider Your Lack of Time
If you think the time for yourself and with your spouse is limited now, imagine if you add another child to your busy home. You and your spouse need to be honest with each other about how you will juggle the household and child-rearing responsibilities when there are more of you to juggle.
4. Ask for Help
If you do have a third child, you will need to rely on others – family and friends – more than ever to assist with emergency babysitting, errands, or picking up older children from school. You would have to identify those people ahead of time and try to work out a schedule, should anything arise.
5. Save Money
One of my biggest concerns about adding another being to our brood is how it would affect our already thin family budget. Many of you probably face similar concerns. Hospital bills, diapers, more food, another college fund, more doctor visits, and new clothes are just some of the items we’d have to build into our budget. The goal would be to save as much money as we can for a period of time before baby to cushion some of those costs. It would also be critical to set up an expected monthly budget prior to pregnancy to make sure you can handle it.
6. Prepare the Older Kids
Your existing children have grown accustomed to a certain way of living. They enjoy their comforts, whether it be their own room or their own time with mom and dad. A third child will change that to some degree in terms of time, resources, and responsibilities, and they need to know and understand what’s in store. It certainly isn’t their choice whether you will or won’t add another member to your family, but they should be aware of what’s about to happen and how it will affect them.
7. Switch From Man to Zone
For the last few years, my wife and I have been playing man-to-man defense. When one of our children acted up, one of us could deal with that problem while the other parent handled our other child. It works out well. If we bring a third child into our home, we will officially change our defense to zone, which means that one of us would be responsible for two children at once. I can only imagine how challenging that would be!
How did you decide how many children to have?