Well, isn’t that a loaded question?
Honestly, how do you know how many kids you want to have until you have one? My husband and I always wanted three or four of them. Then, we had our first one, and he was such a bundle of all-boy-high-energy that we waited four and a half years to have another one. Yeah, that wasn’t the original plan.
Chances are you won’t know how many kids you want to have until you start having them. Still, before you make a commitment, you and your significant other should be on the same page with regard to the kind of lifestyle you would like to be able to provide for your children, as well the lifestyle you’d like to maintain for yourselves as the parents and providers.
Clearly, the answer isn’t simply a matter of how many kids you want. Here are a couple things to consider before you decide upon that perfect number:
Children and Money: What Expenses Do You Want to Pay?
What do you want for your future children? Do you want to pick up the tab for college, or will your kids be on their own when it comes to financing their education? Do you want to send them to private school, or is a public school education fine?
You might not give much thought to these questions initially, but trust me, they’re important. I know, it feels funny putting a price tag on raising your child, but unless you’re independently wealthy, you need to think about these things.
My husband is Japanese, so we put our son in a Japanese immersion preschool It was wonderful; he attended from ages 3 to 6 and could speak comfortably in Japanese with his grandparents in Japan. Sure, the tuition was hefty, but as we only had one child, we could afford it.
Now, he has two little sisters behind him, and we can’t afford for our younger ones to go. We still feel bad about that, but with three kids now instead of one, it’s just not going to happen. Likewise, if you want to pay for your child’s college education, you might have trouble if you have four or five kids. Though we don’t want to admit it, the kind of lifestyle we want to provide for our kids definitely has an influence on how many kids we should have.
What Is Your Career Path?
If your career is very important to you, that is also a consideration when having kids.
This seems obvious, but for those who don’t have kids or only have one, listen carefully. The more kids you have, the more time they take. When you have one child, it’s easier to drive him around to his various sports and extracurricular activities. When you have two or more, you’re suddenly juggling schedules with your partner. Who will take Susie to her game? Who’s going to pick up Marcus? Add in a third kid, and watch out.
Likewise, daycare, especially in large urban areas, becomes nearly unaffordable with two or more kids. I decided to quit my job after my maternity leave when I discovered that daycare for our two girls, who are only 17 months apart, would cost me almost my entire salary. Seriously. What’s the point? I quit my job and started freelancing from home.
People are fond of saying that kids just need love. That’s true. But, the more kids you have, the higher the grocery bills, daycare costs, and time costs. Children are a gift, but carefully consider what sort of financial commitment to your children is going to be realistic for you and your partner, as well as how much time you have to give before you decide how many kids you’d like to have.