Sometimes, the decision to have a fourth child comes with a lot of thought and preparation. And sometimes, it’s not so much a decision as it is a “husband didn’t get the vasectomy like he promised” situation. But whatever. Whether they’re a carefully calculated addition or the biggest surprise ever, your fourth child will add something immeasurable to your family, and you won’t be able to imagine your life without them.
That being said, if you’re still in the consideration stage, there’s plenty to think about. Transitioning from three kids to four is a weird paradox, both simplifying your life in some ways and complicating it in others.
No More “Odd Man Out”
When you have three kids, someone is always left to fend for themselves — usually, the youngest. Then you get to deal with a little broken-hearted person who just wants to tag along with the older siblings and can’t understand why they keep getting left out.
But when there are four, they have a tendency to pair up, which is so much easier. However, there is one caveat to keep in mind: This takes a while to happen because you have to wait for your fourth baby to grow up enough for the siblings to deem him “play-worthy.”
By the time you’re on your fourth child, your firstborn (and maybe the second-born too) is usually old enough to be a pretty big help. Even small things like fetching fresh diapers, making a bottle, or keeping an eye on the baby while you poop all by yourself can be a huge help, making the actual baby-rearing process of the fourth baby infinitely easier.
The Business of Bedrooms
Having four kids can either make the allocation of bedrooms really simple or really difficult. I’m lucky to have four of the same gender, so two kids sharing each bedroom was a no-brainer. They’ll be able to share a room indefinitely or until we stumble across a small fortune and buy a huge house, whichever comes first (cough).
If you’ve got an uneven number of boys and girls, though, it could be a little more difficult — at least later on down the road when they’re older.
Rethinking Your Ride
Families with four-plus kids are why station wagons, minivans, and other terminally uncool grocery-getters were invented. Four kids practically guarantees that you’ll require some sort of big vehicle. If you’re over here like, “I can’t wait to drive a minivan!” then awesome — ditch that birth control immediately and go for it.
Strangers With Side-Eye
For whatever reason, three (or fewer) children seems to be a socially acceptable neat little family package. But once you cross that threshold and have four, the judgmental looks and unsolicited comments start flying.
From the moment you announce your fourth pregnancy, you’ll hear things like, “You know how that happens, right?” and “Wow, is this your last?”
People act like you’re reproducing like rabbits, or like you and your partner are some sort of insatiable breeders doing it Duggar-style. They practically toss condoms at you as you maneuver down the grocery aisles with four kids in tow.
Maneuvering Down the Grocery Aisles With Four Kids in Tow
And down. And down. Reusing all that cute stuff you got for your firstborn is awesome. But by the time you get to your fourth kid, all but the most durable of items look like you picked them from a dumpster.
And since people mistakenly assume that you must surely have all the baby gear you’ll need, gifts and showers are few and far between.
But, the things you only use for a short period of time — Halloween costumes, snowsuits, and winter coats — can be handed down multiple times and it’s awesome. I once bought a toddler-sized Cookie Monster costume for $14 and used it for eight Halloweens (and after that, the dress-up box). Talk about getting your money’s worth!
Date Night? Not
When you’ve just got a couple of kids, sometimes the stars align and you get a free night off. They go to Grandma’s or they’re all spending the night with friends. But with four kids, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll all be gone at once.
In my experience, nobody ever wants to take all four at the same time. And while there’s always the option of a sitter, it’s harder to find one who feels comfortable (and is capable of) handling four children, and also doesn’t charge an arm and a leg and a kidney.
Family Fun Gets Complicated…and Expensive
I don’t have to tell you that having four kids is expensive. But what sucks the most is that, while many attractions offer money-saving “family packs” of tickets or park passes or accommodations, they’re almost always for families with three or fewer kids. Hotels frown upon six people in one room, even if several of them are small people. Having four kids makes it harder, both financially and logistically, to do anything vacation-wise.
But in the event that you do go to, say, an amusement park as a family, it’s easier to divide up so no one ends up riding a ride alone or with a stranger!
I’ve been a mom of four for four years now. Like anything else in life, there are pros and cons, but overall it is much easier than the transition from two kids to three.
So if you’re on the fence about it, let me offer up one last little tidbit: The more kids you have, the more available butt-wipers there’ll be when you’re too old to do it yourself.