My husband regularly tells me what it was like growing up as one of five children — occasionally six, when his stepbrother came to visit. When he reflects on the experience, it’s typically from the perspective of the second oldest kid of two young parents who made their share of mistakes.
I feel sad hearing some recounts of his early years. But more than anything, I think about what the experience was like for his mother. Having five children, including a set of twins, by the age I am now scares me.
But I also can’t help but look at her through a lens of admiration (and fear). I’m always in awe of my loved ones who have large families. Seeing folks who have to use double strollers in tandem with infant carriers is particularly heroic in my eyes. Anyone with more than two kids deserves a national holiday.
As a mom of two, I’m already struggling to keep my sh*t together. In the back of my mind — as well as from the stories of others — it’s clear that it won’t get any easier from here. Knowing that makes me wonder if I’ll ever be prepared for more kids.
I’m always in awe of my loved ones who have large families.
And there are a few other reasons I’m content with our small family:
1. It’s cheaper.
The cost of a family is likely the biggest variable in deciding family size. Trying to feed children nutritious foods, raise them in healthy environments, and give them access to qualities schools is hard AF.
Along those same lines, it’s a lot easier to afford childcare when you have two or less children. I live in one of the U.S. states that don’t offer a statewide pre-k program and sending just one child to preschool is nearly $700 per month. Several of my sons’ classmates have one, and sometimes even two siblings, who go to his school and I have no idea how folks can afford to pay a mortgage-sized fee for preschool.
It doesn’t get better from there, deciding between public versus private school and eventually college will put a huge dent in our pockets. The fewer kids we have the easier it will be to save.
2. It’s easier to find help.
With two kids, folks don’t respond too negatively when I ask for childcare assistance. It’s worth noting that I think we fail miserably at supporting parents, regardless of family size. But with fewer children, it’s so much easier to find friends who are willing to help out when I need a getaway. And if an emergency happens, it’s not too much of a shift for someone to blend my two children into their routine.
3. We can travel more easily.
In my child-free days, I could be ready to go anywhere in five minutes. When I had my first kid, my prep time tripled. I’d need at least 30 minutes notice to just get out the door. Now that I have two children, I need two hours’ notice for any activities and depending on the weather I might decline after we fight through breakfast and getting dressed. If you really want me to attend, you’ll let me know a day or two in advance. Even then, my attendance is tentative at best.
Assuming I follow the trend that I’ve been on, another kid would be the death of my social life. Car seats, potty breaks, and having enough snacks would be the stuff of nightmares.
4. It’s easier to give one-on-one attention.
Thinking back to my husband’s childhood, he doesn’t have many tales of “one-on-ones” with his parents. Don’t get me wrong, they seem to know each of their children quite well, as many parents of multiples miraculously do. But I think their close spacing made it hard for him to remember those days.
Our children are three years apart and we regularly divide who does what with each child. We know each child has different needs at different times, so rotating just makes sense. If we have a third kid, the split won’t be one kid per parent anymore. That scares me.
I want my kids to know that their relationships matter collectively as well as individually with us. I can’t imagine knowing how to balance that dynamic with more children. It’s cliché, but I can’t imagine spreading my love that many different ways.
I’m surrounded by plenty of parents who make it look easy, but for a “scatterbrained” person like me, I don’t know how feasible it is.
I think about our family size often. Three sometimes sounds like the perfect number of children, and I’d like to consider having that talk with my partner one day, but the small family we have right now seems so much easier to manage. And right now, that’s perfectly fine for us.
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