How Many Kids is Too Many? (And Don’t Say One)

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My daughter has always meant The World to me, and I was more than content with one baby for some time. Of course, when I did finally come round to the idea of ‘just one more’, we were surprised by twins, so Mother Nature had her own plans. I went from mom-of-one to mom-of-three overnight, which has been more of an adjustment than expected. My mother and mother-in-law have both since requested a set of girl/girl twins… er, no. We all have a soft spot for the big round belly and those newborn snuggles, but when is the right time to stop? How many kids is too many?

how many kids is too many fb

Why Three Kids Is Not the Magic Number

A few years ago, the press went mad for a survey from that claimed ‘three is the magic number… for stress’. According to the survey of 7,000 US moms, once you get to three you should just keep going to pass ‘the critical mass of kids’. The trouble with three, it seems, is that as moms we are still striving to do it all, and we can’t. We still want our kids to attend multiple play dates and activities; we still want to supervise homework, tell bedtime stories, and spend one-on-one time with each child. That’s a lot of time and pressure when there’s three of them.

‘“There’s just not enough space in your head” for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids.’ (Dr. Janet Taylor.

It’s reported, when you get to four, you can just relax. Your previous level of momming just isn’t sustainable, so you can just breathe and let things slide a little… in a good way. I think it’s a sound theory but it’s quite the leap of faith – are you willing to put it to the test?

Going from One to Three

I can’t tell you much about having two kids, because we skipped that part. I can tell you the difference between having one and having three… there are two more of them, and only one of you. There’s a conceptual difficulty in being outnumbered, and when you have more kids than you do hands, mild panic is expected. As a twin mom, I have the advantage of two of my children doing (almost) the same thing at the same time, but with three young children of different ages, I can imagine you could do with a few extra limbs.

Before kids, I imagined once the baby seal was broken, the number of kids you have is a financial decision; because your career and social life are already over, so why not just pop a few more? In reality, life with three is considerably different to life with one – here are just a few reasons why:

  • When we walk into a restaurant the staff look at us in horror… so do the other diners;
  • When you need to fit three car seats you have to drive a bus;
  • You become aware of your monthly milk budget;
  • Your selection of vacation hotels becomes dramatically reduced;
  • The dog gets ostracized;

Despite the above, you love every one of those little nuggets like you did your first, so who care’s if you never see the inside of a luxury hotel again?

If Three Is Critical Mass, How Big Do Some Families Get?

The Duggar family of the hit show ’19 and Counting’ have shown the world that bigger is better, to the extreme. You may wonder how one affords to feed that many kids, but they did make $45,000 an episode. So I suppose you just have to make enough babies to get yourself on TV, and live off cabbage soup in the meantime.

duggar family

The Duggar family are a drop in the ocean compared to the biggest families recorded in history. The most babies birthed by a single mother is reported to be a staggering 69, including 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. The Vassilyev family records are questionable to say the least, and there are a number of conflicting reports that there was more than one mother involved. Let’s hope so, for her sake.

Vassilyev family
The Vassilyev family, C18th Russia. Source: Pinterest

The largest family in the World is that of Indian polygamist Ziona Chana. He has 30 wives, 94 children, and lives in a four storey, 100 room house. You might wonder how he found 30 wives? Is he the most desirable man alive? Well, he runs a polygamist sect, which helps… top tip if you’re struggling to find love. For more on him and his family, including a photo of his ‘house’, check out the Daily Mail.

Ziona Family
The Ziona family, 2011 in Baktawang, Mizoram, India.
Photograph by Richard Grange. Source:

That fourth child isn’t looking so ridiculous now, is it? 


How Many Families Break into Minivan Territory?

When I lived in the UK, the idea of anyone having four children was frankly absurd… you’ve got to be joking… or extremely rich with staff to do the hard work for you. However, when we moved to Texas in 2014, I was alarmed to discover a Land filled with enormous SUVs and minivans. More than that, they were filled with tribes of children, and twins… so many twins. You very rarely see twins in England; what are they putting in the water over here? I remember eaves dropping on a conversation at dance class between two moms, who were both adamant that despite their husbands protests, they were going have the four babies they’ve always wanted. As time went on I soon realized, in Texas you really aren’t a real mom until you’ve had four children pass through your vagina. And if you have a C-Section you must have a fifth to make up for it too… VBACs are all the rage now, don’t you know?

trends in number of children

Despite the Texan’s passion for everything big, it seems the rest of the country has shied away from the minivan scale family. Pre 1970, the 4+ kid family was the fashion, however since then two has become the magic number for most. Two was my magic number, but would I change a thing? Of course not… I never was much of a conformist after all.

Is Having a Large Family Irresponsible?

There is a certain Taboo about going XL on family. People might presume:

  • You’re part of a polygamist sect;
  • You’re doing it for the State benefits;
  • You don’t understand the concept of contraception;
  • You’re taking advantage of child labour;
  • You’re striving for celebrity status;

Aside from the public judgement of our personal choices, there is an army of people that feel very concerned about the World population crisis. Do we have the resources to sustain us all? How are our children’s children going do deal with over population? It’s true, the World is bursting at the seams, and those of you in your fifties have seen a doubling in the World’s population. However, population growth has decreased considerably, with a peak in the 1960’s. There are a lot of us, but we are slowly becoming naturally squeezed, as the trend for smaller families and contraception education in developing countries continues.

world population growth

So, How Many Kids is Too Many?

It is impossible to give a quantitive answer to this question. In reality, if you have the support, finances and general health to birth a tribe, go for it. Just be aware that if you have a fourth and life becomes easier than when you had three, what’s going to stop you from another and another? Be prepared to go XL.

Because I like to offer a little advice, I’ve come up with a check list quiz, see how you do:

The Twin Pickle ‘How Many Kids Is Too Many?’ Extremely Scientific Quiz:

How many of these statements would you agree with?

  1. I always pictured myself with a large family;
  2. I love being pregnant;
  3. My perfect holiday involves camping;
  4. I’m always chill, why is everyone so stressed?
  5. Cooking is my hobby;
  6. I am an expert budgeteer;
  7. I don’t care what strangers think of me;
  8. I’m a morning person;
  9. I hate being alone;
  10. I don’t understand the Tiny House movement;

If you agree with 7-10 statements you have not yet finished having babies, come back and read again once you’ve popped at least three more. If you agree with 3-6 statements you’re at your happy place, stop making babies and enjoy what you have. Unfortunately, those agreeing with 0-3 statements have reached ‘critical mass’… maybe you have three children? You either neither to learn to relax, or take the plunge and make just one more.

I myself and going to remain at critical mass. Three is plenty, so don’t go getting all excited when you read this Mom…


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About the author

Katherine is an electrochemist, hiking enthusiast, and family lifestyle blogger. As a mom of three, including twins, she enjoys DIY, travel, and eating good food. British born, Katherine moved to the US in 2014, and now called Las Vegas home.

54 thoughts on “How Many Kids is Too Many? (And Don’t Say One)”

  1. I LOVE this! I felt like I was talking to you about all this stuff! We have two and are DONE! But I GUESSSSS I could have 94 if the need ever arose.

  2. So funny! We also planned for baby number 2 and had surprise twins, and I am absolutely sure that a fourth one would NOT make it easier, haha! I’ve already relaxed my perfectionism to the max.

    I did not have good pregnancies, and the doctor told us we were highly likely to have twins (or more) the next time. So, I will stay stressed with three kids too. How do people with 40 or so kids survive flu season anyhow??

  3. Ha Ha There is still doubt in your mind. So why didn’t you let them sterilize you when you had your cecarean (can’t spell it!) when you had the twins!!!!!!!

    • Hahaha… because it’s weird chopping bits of your body out! Not because there’s any more grandkids coming your way!! Not from me anyway ??

  4. I have to admit that I’m guilty of being surprised any time a girlfriend announces the pending arrival of the 3rd (or more) children. But just because it is a little less common than it was many years ago doesn’t mean that it’s not the right thing for families! In our blended family, 3 children is the perfect number. 🙂

  5. It’s such a personal decision isn’t it? And one I think so many people struggle with. For me, it was a real struggle deciding to have a second – I absolutely hate being pregnant, and I find my first extremely hard work still. But that desire for a sibling for my son won out and we decided it was the right thing for us. I can’t see us ever going to three, but I guess never say never! I know enough people who said that and did end up having a 3rd. It’s definitely not that common in the UK to have a large family – especially lately, I find lots of my friends are ‘one and done’, but the people I know who do have 3 or 4 love it. Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  6. I always thought that you would ‘know’ when you had enough children but I actually dont know if that is true. we have two and are not having anymore but I don’t think that is necessarily the right number, but it does help that i have one per hand I guess! #sharingthebloglove

  7. I’ve heard it said a lot about when you get to 4, it does magically appear easier. Like you say you relax more and don’t have the same expectations on yourself. We always wanted 2 children and are lucky that this happened. I was adamant that I was done and whilst we won’t have another, I can feel that pull to have a third. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  8. Ha ha excellent post, so unusual and so funny! We have 4 kids, and we’re definitely done (although we do get teased about having a spare seat in the 7-seater!). Both coming from families of four, we always aimed for four as well and were lucky this is what happened. I found having a third and then a fourth easier than the first two, and always put it down to the fact that my husband worked from home at the time. When no 4 arrived after a lovely home birth, it felt like he was joining the party. 😉

  9. Oh my God, I have ONE! And that feels like plenty most days! I don’t know how people with loads do it. I don’t know how you do it!! 🙂 Hats off to you! #FamilyFunLinky

  10. Love this! I’m one of 5, so I’ve always had a big family around me, and I can’t imagine having just one or two kids…I’d happily have a minivan full! – It’s just getting the OH to agree with me haha! I don’t know how you manage with twins though, I always commend those! One is hard enough on their own aha! #SharingTheBlogLove
    Becky x

    • Ah yes, Dad kind of needs to be on board with the idea… although men are easily persuadable when it comes to bedroom activities, so who knows… you may get that minivan full yet! 😉

  11. I love this. I have five children and am often told that I must be crazy (having three children in two years was deemed irresponsible!) and yet I think it’s a personal choice. I always say as long as you are financially responsible for your children, have as many as you like! #sharingthebloglove

    • Absolutely… five is lovely, but remember, you are unable to have any more because you would have to change the title of your blog 😉 Haha

  12. I love your quiz. I think 3 is too many for me personally. As much as I get broody when I see small babies I am soon reminded of how much a handful a toddler can be. I did enjoy pregnancy to certain point but not enough to want it again.
    I think each to their own, if they can support (in all aspects) a larger family then so be it x

  13. Haha this post is great. I know for sure I am done having babies! I hate camping, love alone time, am not a morning person and hated being pregnant! hahaha brilliant little quiz xx #sharingthebloglove

  14. Ha this was great! Oh my goodness each to their own I say but I have two and I am sticking at two. I had two in 11 months admittedly and I have a step daughter so there actually thee children. Either way though being or numbered is frightening and kids running in different directions even more so. There is a similar programme in the U.K. With a brisitsh family with 19 kids and counting and I remember they said it was harder going from 2-3 then it was 3-4 6-7 18-19 etc etc. I think there is something in the once you get past theee it gets easier ethos. I actually have two friends with two year olds who are both expecting twins in the next few months – I thought twins were rare too but not where we are apparently! Anywho thanks for joining us at #familyfun. It’s lovely to see you back xx

  15. This was really interesting!! I definitely want a 2nd child but that’s it! I’d secretly be happy with twins though but I don’t tell my partner that!! You say not so many twins in the UK? I’ve seen 4 sets in the last few weeks all new born. I think there is something in our water!! ‪Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky‬

  16. in accordance to your quiz, im at critical mass with just a 9 month old hahahaaha I knew I couldnt bare more!! I am considering the idea of it and im not too sure still. I always wanted four kids but we agreed on two and now i dont even think i could do that! those that do 19 kids and counting get me admiration though, especially as they dont even claim benefits for support!! #familyfun

  17. Haha great post. I do know someone with 4 actually! She had the first two close together so wanted two more close together. I have friends who were one of 3 growing up and I say I want 3 but really we will have to see how I cope if we have another. After today with one, it’s not looking hopeful!! #SharingtheBlogLove

  18. Whenever people ask me how many children do I want I always say I will know when I am done.. I don’t know how many I want I just know that I am not finished yet! Although I definitely wouldn’t consider 94 children! haha Great post I really enjoyed reading it. #sharingthebloglove

  19. Great post and I think it’s a really hard question to give a fits all answer, for me it comes down to;

    1). What part of the world you live in (i.e. living costs). This is pretty broad but I am talking about house prices, food/shopping costs, nursery costs (here in the UK you can easily pay £700+ per month for full time nursery).

    2). How much disposable income you have. Kids cost a lot of money, not just in terms of nappies and food. It’s likely one of you will need to give up full time work to look after the little one and you also need a bigger house (additional bedrooms) depending on how many you have + more.

    3). Family and close friends support, I think if you have 2-3 kids (or twins/triplets) you definitely need more hands and support. It’s also needed some you can spend the occasional day or even night today.

    The list probably goes on but I think the above are probably the biggest 3 that apply to everyone.

  20. This post seems pretty rude to people with bigger families. I’ve been compared to the Duggars multiple times already, and I only have three children, same as you. Raising families is hard work, I know. But it’s good work, and we should never shame or belittle people sacrificing fancy vacations for a few more beautiful people in their family. Please consider this.

    • Oh gosh Margaret, this post was never meant to offend. I enjoy research and statistics, and the debate is meant as a bit of fun. I totally admire large families, I couldn’t handle it myself, but some people revel in it and good for them 🙂

  21. I have 7 kids and before anybody says anything I think it’s important to address the fact that I am lucky enough to be financially comfortable and emotionally happy. I think there is no such thing as too many kids, it is simply down to the parents and what they can manage. If I didn’t have my amazing husband or my lovely 5-bedroom house I wouldn’t have as many because I wouldn’t be able to manage. We always wanted to have a large, loving household and you never know there could be more on the way in the future as I am only 28.


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