Making the decision to have a kid? Huge. Making the decision to have ANOTHER kid? Well, I don’t know that a bigger, more weighted decision exists. You’d think that deciding to have another kid after having been through it once before would be cake, right? But you’ve BEEN THROUGH IT. Upping the ante to 2 kids is a whole new ball game. You are eyes-wide-open, weathered and wiser. It should be an easier decision, but your months or years of experience make it much more nuanced. Now that you know what having a child and being a parent is like, how do you decide whether to have a second child? How do you know if you and your partner and your family are ready? Lots to unpack here, folks, so let’s dive in.
Can you afford it?
Listen, I’m going to just rip the bandaid off here and really go there right out the gate. Having a baby is expensive. Like, insanely expensive. For a lot of folks, prohibitively expensive. It’s not just the upfront costs, like the medical bills and all the stuff you need to buy, diapers, formula, etc. There are long term costs that need to be considered. Can you afford to have two kids in daycare (and eventually…college)? Can you afford to live without you or your partner’s wages if childcare is too costly and one of you stays home? It costs an average of just over $14,800 per year, per child to raise them until adulthood—that’s $266,400 PER KID, according to the latest financial data. So affordability is absolutely something to consider when deciding whether or not to grow your family.
Are you mentally/emotionally/physically ready?
You’re a parent, so you already know: having a child takes a lot out of you. Maybe all of it? If you were pregnant and went through labor and delivery, the physical recovery from that alone can take months, sometimes longer. Factor in the lack of sleep, the weight of caring for and keeping alive and thriving this new little human, the sometimes irreversible changes to your life and lifestyle, and trying to find yourself in this new world as a parent. It’s a lot! It’s so much. If any of that makes you want to curl into a fetal position and hum to yourself in the dark, maybe take some more time to decide.
Do you have room for another kid?
This one seems so simple! And yet. Babies are small, right? They don’t take up hardly any space, they just encroach on yours. But with baby comes all of baby’s STUFF. And before you know it you have a toddler who needs their own bed and side of the closet and then you have a kid who is suddenly diehard invested in LEGO which you don’t already have a dedicated space for because your first liked books. As your family grows, your space needs to grow. And if you and your partner are making due in your one-room house with your first kid and already pulling your hair out over the lack of space, adding another space eater into the mix will be … challenging.
Is your first ready to share their parents? Are you ready to split your focus?
When you have one child, that child gets all of your time and attention and focus. When you have a second child, that time and attention and focus has to come from somewhere. One of the biggest struggles so many parents of two have expressed to me is figuring out how to balance their time and attention and energy so they feel like both kids are getting equal amounts. And sometimes, that’s just not possible. When you’ve got a colicky newborn at home, you can’t just plop them down and read a story or play with your older kiddo, even though they want you to (and probably asked very nicely!). This is one of the hardest parts of transitioning from one to two (in my opinion), and this should be considered very thoughtfully.
Are you ready for your lifestyle to do a complete 180 (again)?
Once you settle into your groove after you have your first child, life can be pretty sweet. You figure out how to get them to sleep, you develop a system that helps you keep your house in order (more or less). As they get older, you’re able to reclaim parts of your pre-baby life that you missed, like trips and dining out and hanging out with friends, or whatever it is that floats your boat. While you will eventually settle into the groove with your second kid, you will take a step back from the progress you’ve made over the last however long. It may be too soon for you, and that’s completely fine.
Adding to your family is a really big decision, and one that most of us didn’t take lightly! There’s no right or wrong answer – only what is right or wrong for your family. On top of this not-at-all exhaustive list of things to consider, I’m sure you will have another personal list with 17153648 pros and cons on it. Whatever you decide, just make sure it’s a decision you and your partner can live with for the rest of your lives. No takesies-backsies on this one.