Mighty Mommy has experienced both the emptiness of having no children and the craziness of growing to her own small team. Today she offers six things to consider before your family grows.
When people find out that I’m the mother of eight kids, many truly look at me as though I have eight heads, not eight kids! I can see the wheels turning in their minds as they try to figure out which question to ask first. Sometimes I hear a quick retort such as “That’s wonderful!” And on a really good day I hear “You sure don’t look like you have eight kids.” (An instant ego boost!) But the most common questions I'm asked are, “How do you manage to survive raising that many kids without losing your mind and going broke?” or “What the heck do you feed that many kids all week long?” Every so often I hear, “Were some of them surprises?” along with “Were they all planned?”
Hey, the size of one’s family, I believe, is a very personal choice. Most are surprised to learn that I struggled with infertility for five years, was blessed with a beautiful adoption, and then went on to deliver seven children making our family complete at our “just the right size” of eight. My kids now range in ages 11 to 23—five boys and three girls. When they were much younger, I admit I could get a bit defensive when people would comment or question the size of our large brood, but as time went along I became much more relaxed with our family’s size and finally didn’t feel the need to justify our decision.
Here are six things to consider before your family grows.
Tip #1: Your Lifestyle
After nearly six years of infertility, we were blessed to start our family through the wonderful gift of adoption. Exactly one year to the day that we returned home with our first daughter, I delivered our first baby—a son. They were exactly 12 months apart so we went from the carefree life of yuppies to the parents of two babies under the age of one! That’s quite a change in lifestyle. But believe me, we weren’t complaining. We waited many long years to experience the joy of sleepless nights and wearing spit up on our shoulders.
We were delighted to find out we would welcome our third child one year later, as we never dreamed we would have a baby without the help of so many complicated infertility treatments. We were now in the deep throes of parenthood and there was no turning back, so we decided this felt right for us and that we would have a large family.
Daily routines and structure are the way we hang on to our sanity. So when we contemplated adding another addition to our growing family, we asked ourselves the following questions.
Are you settled into a nice routine with your other children? Do you have childcare/help with babysitting? Can your home accommodate the space for another baby? Will we have time for one another as a couple (ha ha!) How will a new baby affect the rest of the children? Do we know how to go with the flow or are we a bit rigid in our approach to life? And of course—how will this affect our finances? (more on that later.)
These are all important factors when you're thinking of having another. Remember, a newborn will take over your life. Consider whether you have the time and energy an infant requires, and whether your children are ready to deal with the reality of a baby in the house.
Tip #2: Your Physical Health/Age
We adopted our first baby when I was 29 and I delivered my first baby at age 30. By the time we completed our family, I was 41 years old. Because of my infertility situation, I got a later start than I had hoped to in starting my family. Depending on when you begin having children, that could be a determining factor as to how many more children you have or how much time you space them apart, so age can definitely matter.
If you have any health problems that could make conception difficult, that is another important consideration when you start contemplating adding to your family.
Talk about the age question with your partner: Many people have a vision of how old they want to be when they're finished having children. Right now, I’m one of the youngest moms in my college-aged kids circles but definitely one of the oldest ones amongst my youngest daughter’s group. This is something to consider when you begin thinking about your next trip to the delivery room.
Tip #3: Your Mental Outlook
Do you consider yourself more of a Pooh Bear or an Eeyore when it comes to your outlook in life? As any parent knows, raising kids is not a walk in the park. The daily responsibilities are endless and you really don’t ever get a day off. However, if your mindset is that raising a family is a blessing and probably the toughest job you’ll ever love, then hundreds of dirty diapers and weeks of sleepless nights just go with the territory.
I’ve always been more of a laid back, easygoing personality so when I had four kids crying and whining all at the same time, although my nerve endings would twitch, I was usually able to keep everything in perspective. A good friend of mine, however, has sensory issues and can’t tolerate extra noise and chaos, even for a few short minutes, so she decided one child was the perfect number for her. You know yourself better than anyone, so have an honest heart to heart with yourself about how much extra responsibility, work, and energy you think you can expend by adding a new baby to the mix. This is a great conversation point between you and your partner as you may balance each other out and find that together, you can absolutely handle one more. See Also: 10 Essential Parenting Strategies For When Life's Got You Down