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?
Why Three Kids Is Not the Magic Number
A few years ago, the press went mad for a survey from Today.com 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. Today.com)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
- I always pictured myself with a large family;
- I love being pregnant;
- My perfect holiday involves camping;
- I’m always chill, why is everyone so stressed?
- Cooking is my hobby;
- I am an expert budgeteer;
- I don’t care what strangers think of me;
- I’m a morning person;
- I hate being alone;
- 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…