How Do You Decide When You Are Done Having Kids?

Posted by Madison on November 11, 2010

I have many readers that really don’t care about the finance part of personal finance. They just care about the personal part.

So I promised my aunt, who was visiting last weekend, that I’d try to focus on some more personal updates, for those of you that find finance to be truly boring. Or maybe you love finance, but you just want a break from finance topics since it’s the holiday season!

Will We Have More Kids?

So let’s dig into the one question that seems to be on everyone’s mind. Friends and family have been asking us if we will have another child, since it seems like right around the time that we announce another pregnancy.

And to be honest, for the first time, I’m not sure what to tell them. After each of the boys, I knew for certain, we’d have another baby. I can be totally honest, we wanted a girl, too. But now, I just don’t know.

We are in a rhythm right now; our kids are 1, 3, and 4 (almost 5). The oldest is in his last year of preschool and will head off to kindergarten next year, which will free up a lot of our time during the day.

Factors to Consider

So here are all the factors that I think about when it comes to family planning. (Ugh, that’s such a weird term and sounds so outdated.)

We’re getting a glimpse of non baby stage. When I took the boys on vacation a few months ago, we got a glimpse at how easy it is to travel without a baby. You don’t have to worry about naps, lugging around 5,000 pounds of baby gear, and it was very enjoyable. The boys and I went to the slugger museum, and did all kinds of things that you just don’t do with a baby. It really made me look forward to all the fun things we can do as a family.

We sleep. For almost 5 years on and off, we’ve been short on sleep. And now, all three kids sleep. All. Night. Long.

I wanted a big family. Not huge, like the Duggars, but more like 4 or 5 kids. I came from a family with two kids and Scott is from a family of four kids; I’ve always thought that getting together with his family is so much fun since it’s so big.

My body. I’ve headed back the gym and finally am just finishing up losing all of the baby weight. It feels awesome. And after having my body be a warehouse for growing babies and nursing them for the last six years, it really is nice to feel some ownership of my body again!

Being pregnant is really scary. Six years ago, we lost our first baby girl when I was 5 months pregnant and it was devastating. That makes every subsequent pregnancy high risk and also makes me completely neurotic worrying for 9 months. Since then, we’ve been blessed with 3 healthy, happy kids. In a way, I feel like I’m gambling with science, and we should walk away with our 3 kids instead of facing another pregnancy with uncertainty.

Middle child. Everyone keeps reminding me that our 3 year old will suffer from the middle child syndrome. Really? Since I’m a first child, I am not familiar with the emotional uphill battle the middle children face. If you are a middle child, I’d love to hear what you think!

My husband is done. Minor technicality here, but Scott claims that he’s done having kids. Although, our daughter has him wrapped around her little finger, so once she passes the toddler stage, I have a feeling he might miss being her little super-hero dad and change his mind! Or maybe he’s just more realistic about the chaos in our house.

A sister. My entire life, I wanted a sister. So, I would love nothing more than for our daughter to have a sister to grow up with. But since you don’t get to pick the sex of the child, it just isn’t that easy.

Parenting. In general, I find the baby stage to be easy. (Although, I didn’t think that when we were new parents!) But I think I have the hang of it. What we’re focusing on now is teaching and coaching our kids, which I find takes a lot more work. I’m taking a love and logic course right now, which I love! But I do feel like it’s going to get harder, especially since our oldest is one who likes to test the limits…. every single one. So we may need to save our energy to work on parenting instead of having more children.

Money. Obviously, I think about money. It’s expensive to raise kids and send them to college. It isn’t a huge factor, but I do think about it.

Parting With Baby Stuff. I can’t get rid of the baby stuff. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m just not ready to accept that they are growing up so fast, or because some day we might have another baby. And I hear too many stories of moms who send all their kids off to school, and then decide they want another baby. But they’ve gotten rid of all of their stuff.

So there you have it, all of random things I think about when it comes to deciding whether or not to have more kids. I find it to be a strange place to be in; not only because I’m a planner, but because I usually feel more definitive about most things.

For those of you who have been through it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Did you automatically know when you were done having kids? Or was it a gradual process you eventually just accepted?

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Comments to How Do You Decide When You Are Done Having Kids?

  1. In July of 2008 we decided we wanted to try for a child. We both already had two children each from previous relationships, but wanted to have one together. I was 42 at the time and the thought never crossed my mind that I might not even get pregnant after waiting for so long to have another. I just figured stop birth control and pregnancy will happen…just like it did for the first two back in my late 20’s. Well it’s been over 2 years and nothing. So in answer to your question…maybe your body will just decide for you that you are done having kids.


    • Pamela, thanks for sharing your story. It must be difficult to be in a position where you want another child, but you body thinks otherwise.


  2. Right now, my wife and I are trying to decide when it’s a good time to start having kids. We know that we want them in the near future, but we’re not too sure if now is the right time.

    Chris Gagner @ SmartPF

    • Chris, I remember being in that same situation not too long ago! Good luck when you decide to start a family.


  3. My bff is from a family of 4, and both of her middle siblings have “middle child syndrome”. Sadly, she thinks the two of them together make one person b/c the two of them have bonded. So, I’m not sure that having another child will help prevent that 😉

    Funny you always wanted a sister as a kid. I came from a 2 child household, and growing up, I knew I would not be able to have a sister. When I had my mom’s full attention when shopping for girly clothes (despite not being a girly girl, prom and school dances happen), playing with makeup, etc, I always thought I was lucky to get all of her attention and praise. I know I would’ve considered a sister my competition.

    Talking to my brother as an adult now, I found out that he considered me competition, despite our gender differences. I was the “good kid” and he wasn’t.. so it ended up that he felt resentment towards me while growing up, just as I thought I would if I had a sister.

    R S

    • Interesting thought. It never occurred to me that I would have to compete with a sister!

      But I guess you are right, I always, and still have my mom’s full attention. Definitely an interesting way to look at it!

      Funny about your bff’s siblings both being middle children… I guess we can’t win!


  4. I’m the middle child. Nothing untoward has happened because of it. In fact, if you read up on birth order, I think you’ll find that there are distinct advantages (and disadvantages) to each position. I haven’t read up on birth order lately, so there could be new information, but as I say, I’ve not been permanently damaged because of my placement. At least that’s what I tell myself:)


    • DBW, glad to hear you haven’t suffered as the middle child…. even if it is just what you tell yourself:)


  5. My husband and I both came from large families, so we wanted to have five kids. When I was carrying my 2nd, I had some difficulties, so she was our “youngest”. I had a boy first, and a girl 22 months after.

    They are now 24 & 26 and I have lots of pictures of their baby stuff, plus a couple of huge memory boxes of stuff that I couldn’t part with.

    I’m 54 and just about an empty-nester. The relief is unbelievable! I still worry, but it’s not as all-consuming as it was when they were first driving, or first going to college.


    • What a great idea! Taking pictures of their baby stuff is a great way to keep the memories without holding onto all the stuff!

      Congrats on making it to the empty nest (almost) stage! Enjoy all of your new-found time.

      I worried when our oldest headed off to preschool…. I can’t imagine how tough it is when they drive or go to college!


  6. My girls are 5 years apart and I wish they could be close sisters like my sister and I are (we are 22 mos. apart). But all they seem to do is fight over my attention and it is getting old. Nothing is perfect in terms of family planning.

    My son is a middle child but he enjoys being the only son which gets him some special attention, I think.


    • I think you’re right Holly, nothing is perfect.

      No matter what order they end up, or how far or close they are in age there will still be pluses and minuses!


  7. I’m 27 and still trying to figure out if I ever want kids. My husband and I haven’t had that pull yet. I’d think your mind will be made up one way or another by your husband, lol. Since you aren’t sure, if he really rather not have another, it makes the decision easy for you. If he does start mentioning the awesomeness of babies again, you can be easily swayed that way too. 🙂

    Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

    • Yeah, after he saw the post, he sent me a nice little message on instant messenger: “I’m DONE.”

      I had to laugh!


  8. How funny I find this post. I am personally struggling with this decision right now. I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter. A couple of weeks ago my husband and I cleaned out our storage unit. I had bins and bins of my daughters baby clothes in there. All labeled, washed and folded perfect. In some ways I “think” I am done having kids. I like the fact that 1 is easy. You can have a kid in one hand and a cellular phone in the other. I can spoil her. For some reason I cannot get rid of her clothes. I am not sure if I hold on to them because I hold on to the idea of her being a baby and I feel it went so fast or if I think I might have another one someday. I called my friend (who has 2 boys) and asked her and she told me trust me when you KNOW you are done having kids you can’t get rid of their clothes fast enough.


    • I love your friend, Michelle! Obviously, she knows exactly what is best for her family.

      I guess you and I, until we know for sure, like your friend, will just hold onto these clothes…


  9. As I was reading this I had to remind myself that I didn’t write it! We have so much in common it is scary! My husband is also named Scott, I have 2 boys and a girl all around the same ages. He says he is done and I will think I am done too until I see a tiny baby or think to much about it all, then I get sad and confused.
    I am 28, my baby is 18 mo. I had 3 scary, high risk pregnancies, I’m back down to my pre-fertility drug and prego weight and happy. I have lots of things in life I want to pursue that moving on out of baby mode would allow…but I’m so afraid I will regret it. I feel like there’s a hole for 1 more kid! I would LOVE to adopt especially cuz of the bad pregnancies…but that is expensive and heart wrenching if it doesn’t work out (we’ve been down that road).
    So I was hoping as I read your posts that something you or someone would say would make it click either way but looks like you are in the same boat as me!!
    I just keep trusting that eventually God will give me a peace…I’m just waiting for it!


  10. This is a tough one. I have five kids and I still do not feel entirely at peace. My oldest is 16! The time just goes so quickly. I had a miscarriage after an unplanned pregnancy when my fifth was only a year old. This was back in early 2007. I still think of that loss all the time and I get mad at myself for not trying again after that loss. I was trying to be *practical* and move on from the baby making. Five is a lof ot kids to provide for. Now that my baby is five, it is seeming less and less likely that we will go back and do it all over again. Actually thinking about it makes me feel really tired.:) The kids are 16, 14, 11, 9, and 5 and all five do activities, so from 2:30 pm on we are running every afternoon and night. Then there is homework, projects, the list goes on and on. I am hoping to get peace. I just keep thinking that we left one behind. 🙁 But to have another now–when my son is a year or so away from college seems really unrealistic and illogical. And yet the pang has not truly gone away for me. I’m 39.


    • Mine are 12, 10, 10 and 1. I am almost 39. The first ones were easy pregnancies and healthy births. The little guy was really rough on me. Scared the H— out of my husband. He doesn’t want any more now because he’s afraid I won’t survive another one. I don’t think the danger is that extreme but there was sure a big difference between having a baby at 28 and having one at 37. And its not going to get any easier. I also don’t want to just discount my husband’s fears. On the other hand, they are so precious and part of me wants another chance to “prove” that I can do it right, not mess up the delivery so badly. But the big kids get little enough Mama and Daddy time as it is and they’ll be grown and gone before we know it. Logistically speaking its hard enough to fit 6 of us in one vehicle, and where we live we have to have a 4×4. It makes sense not to have any more, but since when are babies ever the logical thing to do?


      • This response helps me come closer to my decision. I am 36 and I have a 13 and an 11-yr-old, both boys. I always felt that I/we would have more. My pregnancies and deliveries were not easy at all. And my husband says he’s done as well. I appreciate all the honesty you all have expressed. I love babies! I guess I’m going to focus on getting my kids raised, being a great aunt, and probably being a foster parent when my kids are in college.


  11. I and my husband are both middle children of 3. Yes we both suffer from middle child syndrome and people who are not the middle just can’t understand. I am determined to have an even number of children – 2,4, or 6. Right now I am pregnant with the second. That way no one is habitually odd man out. The comment above about the 2 middle children sticking together – although the poster seems misguided about this it is a great observation – they had someone to stick with versus always being the one left out.

    I do look forward to being out of the baby stage, but for now, I’m going to enjoy every second!


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