Should You Have a Third Child?
Why did we have a third child? I get asked that all the time, and I don't really have a good answer. It wasn't an accident and it wasn't because we were trying for a girl after having two boys [though it was a nice bonus]. It was because it felt like we weren't quite done, that there was still room for more -- in our hearts and our home.
I was the one who pushed for a third. I had an intense relationship with my sister growing up; there was a lot of pressure on us to be friends. I wanted something different than my family experience. I thought having three would take the focus off of one sibling relationship and mix it up. My husband comes from a family of three and he wasn't too sure that was good reasoning.
It wasn't. Because there is nothing rational in the decision to have more kids. If you are thinking of having three kids, here are some things you should know:
Workload multiplication: Having a second child is not double the amount of work it is 10 times the amount of work. And having a third child is not 10 times the amount of work it is, well, infinite.
Being outnumbered: The common sports analogy is that having three is going from man-on-man (or person-on-person) to zone defense. Being outnumbered means there is always one child spinning off in the atmosphere somewhere looking for that little toy with the red cape while the rest of you are standing at the door. Or one kid wants to leave the park while the other two are playing.
Lack of sleep: Odds are there is one child in our bed each night. When someone has the stomach flu odds are there are two kids with stomach flu... and so on.
More love: More logs on a fire equals a bigger fire, says a friend of mine with four kids. More to love is more love in your life, BUT more kids does not equal more time; the more kids you have the less time you have to spend with each of them.
Shifting relationships: Nothing is static, often it is the first born and third that get along, but it can change. Shifting dynamics mean the kids try on different roles all the time which I hope makes them flexible.
Homebound: I found it very difficult to manage all three kids outside of the house when my daughter was under the age of one. Although I was forced to do things with all three of them at once, I didn't really enjoy the three on my own until my daughter was approximately three. And speaking of homebound, you don't get invited out to people's homes as much with a big brood.
The world is made for families of four: Cars, restaurants, hotel rooms, airplanes. The world is made for familes made up of two parents and two kids, once you add in a fifth person logistics and costs go up exponentially.
There is a middle child: No question, the middle child gets less. But they can play with older and younger kids and tend to be very easy-going. My doula said that the world needs more middle children because their flexibility and obsession with fairness can make the world a better place.
Do any of these sound like reasons not to have three children? Maybe they are, but I can't imagine my life any other way. I like to think of having three children is kind of like the Peter principle which states that people are always promoted one beyond their capacity. I feel that way -- like I am just slightly off kilter, trying to manage the chaos and not often succeeding. But that is family life -- chaotic, unpredictable, loud and messy.
Having one child made us parents, having two made us a family but having three it made us complete. Four, however, is out of the question.
Still thinking about it? Check out this article from Today's Parent that says three is the new two.
How did you decide how many kids to have? Do you think there is a perfect number?
Want more? Last year I was writing about the debates of Shiloh and Suri's wardrobe choices