In Career, Discussions, Life, Parenting

Making my mind up about having an Only child or a Second Baby

So it has been a long time while on this vacation, dreaming about a possible second baby or not, and then dreading the next 5 years that follow said baby (or longer!!!), plus all the stress thinking about how Little Bun would do, how my partner would react, how I would handle everything, etc etc.

It really all boiled down to a few things:

1. At my table in the future do I want to see one or two adult children?

For me, the answer is always to see more, so my instinct was two.

50% there, right? Not so fast.

2. Am I willing to give up and sacrifice my life and about 5-10 years by having a second?

No.

‘Sacrifice’ sounds very dramatic but for me, it is a sacrifice in many ways.

Sleep

Definitely for the first 3 months, up to the next 5 years if Little Bun is any indication. He STILL wakes up crying.

Trials & Tribulations

Does any parent recall the pain of having to try and potty train a child? I do. I even wrote a guide on my experience of how to do it with as little wine as possible.

Not only that, we are re-starting cloth diapers again, constant washing of baby things, organic baby food preparation for at least 18 months, and alllllll that fun stuff.


Money

Freelancing is such that if you are there, they are happy as a clam to renew you automatically and you can stay there if need be; once you leave, another clam potentially comes in to fill the void for less money (!!), and you could lose that cushy, 15-minute commute, perfect location plus underground covered parking for your shell.

Y’know?

This contract I have is pretty much as perfect as it gets in terms of freelancing.

Freedom

This again sounds dramatic but parents of young children know I am not really kidding. I am only JUST at the cusp of being able to shower and go to the bathroom by myself. Add a second, and now I have at least one, if not both of them fighting to see me pee.

I am at the precipice of even more freedoms – he will begin school next year, which will save us $900/month in daycare fees.

My partner is already volunteering to drop him off, pick him up for lunch & drop him off again to pick him up after school (hello? no after school care coordination required!).

Not only that, he is almost at the age where he is going to be old enough to go out to movies with a friend and a parent, alone without me.

Luxury of Life

I make a lot of $$. I can afford a second and the years off, that was not really the issue, per se.

It is more that now I have to think about paying for a second one and being tied down to having a second not be quite as mature or as mobile as the first.

See, for a couple of years now, we have been batting around the idea of moving and living abroad.

My partner wants to study next year once he takes early retirement, and he thinks he would like to continue that in France once I have had enough of working.

Basically, I could semi-retire, or take a contract in France, and work remotely or at the office abroad and have Little Bun in French schools for a different, traveling ex-pat experience.

We were really into this idea, and he has started thinking about it enough to look into where we could settle down for a year abroad or two.

I would have to give this up if I had a baby. I wouldn’t be able to leave for at least 4 years so that my medical care is covered and the second has gotten all of the proper vaccinations etc, and then it is not only uprooting one, but TWO children, one of whom may not take to the change very kindly.

We can handle one angry bristly child, I am not sure we are cut out for two resisting the change.

My partner would NOT be able to retire next year as he will need to work to make and save more money for a second, and a lot of the decisions of things we want to do to start living differently would basically all be put on hold for another 5 years (pregnancy + age 4).

Selfish Happiness

They have done studies on this:

…and I see it.

I see that I only have ONE kid to focus on, my partner also has the same undivided focus on him as well, and between the two of us, we give him as much attention and care as he needs.


Does this make him less independent? Maybe. But for now, if he needs me, and he has asked me nicely to come and cuddle with him, I am going to put my things away and go cuddle with him rather than turn it into a life lesson and tell him he has to learn how to suck it up and not ask for cuddles.

Only children have to conform to their parents’ life, not the other way around. Two or more kids, divide parents, and you end up doing more child-centric things.

These days, Little Bun is coming with us to adult-centric activities and learning that dinner parties are where he can sit on my lap and be bored, or go and play by himself and learn how to be entertained alone.

Whatever it is, I see that there are major parental benefits to only having one to focus on and put energy, time and money towards.

3. Do I want the second child, FOR MYSELF?

No.

I only wanted a second for Little Bun to have a sibling to lean on, someone to have once we both pass, and really.. all for his benefit.

I would get maybe 25% out of having a second child (double the love, double the fun stuff and a second ‘secured’ position of having a child take care of me, not that I would need it).

I see that missing fourth spot in the bed because I am used to the idea of a family with 2 kids. I do not know if 4 people seem more complete than 3 (round numbers are very enticing), but it is what I am used to seeing…

Elder care was also on my mind in terms of having the job split between two kids to share the burden but in reality, we won’t need money from him and would not burden him with our care so he could be free with his own family wishes.

Women in Denmark for instance, through studies, seem to be on the whole, happier with only one child than more. This makes a bit of sense to me based on my own reasoning above — more money, freedom, luxury of life, and still all the benefits of having had child.  (Source: QZ – Only children are actually totally normal)

4. Does my partner want a second?

No.

My partner even after I parsed out all of the above, is also adamant, ADAMANT he does not want a second child. One is enough for him (he is much older than me), and he wants to NOT deal with the baby stuff any more.

If I got pregnant we wouldn’t say ‘No’, but we wouldn’t choose it deliberately at this point.

It would be so much easier if my parents lived closer. With true, solid family help, we could have maybe had more kids. It is one thing to pay for it, but it is another when it is your parents, and far more of a peace of mind for me to be frank.

Having a second could literally break the harmony we have come to achieve, and the balance we have, and in this quite honest account of a mother who wanted a second, and through it, heard accounts of other families ‘breaking’ after a second. (Source: Ravishly – Should we have a second?)

5. We would not have a favourite child

Let’s face it, we all have favourite children. I was my parents’ favourite (still am to some extent), and my partner was NEITHER of his parents’ favourites.

It is painful to be the one where you know you were not the favourite of either parent, and unfair.

I suspect it is one of the reasons why he felt so strongly about not having more kids — he doesn’t want this favouritism thing to play through. It could very well end up like me — I’m the favourite of both parents– and the other kids feel left out.

You can FEEL when you were the favourite, just as you can feel that you are not for whatever reason — personality clash, etc etc.

With Little Bun, he is both of our favourites, and even if I had a second, I am certain in my heart Little Bun would hold a special place there and be the main favourite, truth be told. He is really Mommy’s Baby, and I know this will not change even as he ages. He will pull away more as a teenager, and have his own life and family (I’ve read all the books about letting him go, don’t worry), but I will always be his favourite parent and he will always be very fiercely and strongly linked to me.

There is always going to be one child, or one person you feel the strongest affinity to for whatever reason. My partner’s reasoning is he doesn’t want that to happen, but it also aligns with him not wanting a second child and the work that comes with it.

6. Would Little Bun suffer not having a sibling?

Debatable, but I think ‘No’, is the answer for now based on what I can see.

From all that I have read about Only children, they are MORE independent, self-sufficient and able to be comfortable with themselves, alone for long periods of time. (Source: NY Times – Only Children: Lonely and Selfish?)

This is not any better or worse than kids who crave to be with others, but I am more than okay if he ends up knowing he only his himself to rely on and he handles himself as such so that he is independent and strong.

I know people have varying opinions based on their own lifestyles growing up — having had great or bad sibling experiences — so this makes me feel like it’s a huge crapshoot. Could be great, could suck.

But what about all those stereotypes about Only children?

They are just that — stereotypes, purported by a psychologist who had other such outdated ideas such as women NEEDING to have children to fulfill their “Destiny” whereas for men, children were just an “Event”, and that women should be deliberately ‘retarded’ from education and not taught more than what they should be allowed to know, so that they can flourish as mothers which is…. their true destiny. (Source: QZ – Only children are actually totally normal)

Excuse me while I vomit.

We have disposed with his gender stereotypes but still hold on to his ‘Only children are spoiled, unsociable, dependent and terrible’ tripe.

Only children grow up to be as sociable, as outgoing and as well-adjusted, and not at all spoiled as multiple-children.

Children grow up to be what you assume they will be.

Tell a child they’re dumb and ugly, and they’ll believe it, even if they turn out to be stunners. It is all perspective and marketing the values of what you want in your child, really.

I was told I was smart and beautiful (even if I felt like I wasn’t) my whole life by my mother who genuinely praised me on and off as I grew through my awkward years, and that is a good chunk of why I am who I am today, with a slightly above-average sense of self and confidence, even if I had NONE of that growing up.

Had my mother encouraged my worst fears and told me I was too ugly so I would need to study hard to make my own money, or that I couldn’t ‘make it’ in my field, I would have believed her and ended up completely different, I suspect.

Instead, she encouraged me and praised me, because she genuinely believed it, which made me assume her belief as part of my sense of self.


Only children with some research, also seem to be slightly more intelligent and mature (obviously, they are only around adults all day), and tend to reach higher levels of education than in multi-children families (obviously again, their parents devote all of their money & time to them!). (Source: Psychology Today: Should I keep my firstborn an Only?)

What I have learned from extensive reading is that it depends partly on the child’s personality as well.

Little Bun is an introvert who likes to be alone and to be with few, cherished people. He is not sociable and immediately friendly or outgoing – you have to work a little to gain his trust and love, but once he loves you, it is permanent.

From what I can surmise, I suspect he wouldn’t really benefit from a sibling – he doesn’t want to be with anyone ANYWAY.

He will develop his own friendships, networks and have his own family to lean on in the future once we pass, and have an inner strength to deal with anything and everything alone if need be. Self-sufficient, I am hoping.

Siblings aren’t even a done deal for support

I would have HOPED that if I had a second, they would become best of friends as I have seen MANY, MANY examples of, but I have also seen equally disturbing examples of siblings being less than what you have hoped for.

Look at that spoiled little cygnet, hogging space on his mother’s back while the other two are forced to swim 😛

You would think a sibling would be a built-in friend, but for some reason, some brothers or sisters only talk when they need to, and are not at all close to each other as you might expect.

You would think a sibling would step up for Elder Care and help out, but that isn’t a done deal — they could be shiftless bums who cause more trouble than they are worth.

You would think a sibling would be there for you forever, but things happen.

Not all siblings get along with each other. 4 kids in a family? They may pair off into twos, or there may be one that just never speaks to anyone again.

My own family is like this, actually.

I am not very close to my siblings but at least we talk once a year.

My mother had a TON of brothers and sisters but they have all cut off ties and contact with the entire family due to resentment of having been brought into a world and not properly taken care of (with 16 brothers and sisters, you can imagine that a dirt poor family would have zero means to even FEED them).

My father is not close to his family either, having had 15, 16 brothers and sisters too? I don’t even remember.

I mean, there are countless examples of how it COULD go wrong, so if I am taking a 50% chance on something that could turn out to be worse than the (right now), perfect harmony of the three of us to support one another, it is a gamble we don’t want to take.

Conclusion?

I think it is clear that I have decided that given this is my ‘last year’ to have a baby with very little health complications, I am sticking with my Only.

I’m choosing harmony in my family and relationship, along with thinking only about myself and what I want, to choose freedom, sleep, luxury of life, and money over giving it up for the next 5-10 years for a second child.

I choose keeping my Perfect Contract going as long as possible (based on anecdotal accounts, I could be here for the next 5 years), and to truly, TRULY enjoy my one and Only child, to cherish each year as he gets bigger and reaches another milestone, then to get ready to embark on our next adventures as a family.

We have so many plans now that can be opened to us, aside from moving abroad to France for a year, my partner and I perhaps retiring or semi-retiring early…

We could and WILL also travel extensively in North America to see everything there is to offer, the three of us, as he gets older and can appreciate such travels and life experiences.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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14 Comments

  1. Living almost large

    I regret not having a third but too many things happened that made it not the right choice or timing. So we’ve got two and I’m happy. I figure as long as you are good with one what does it really matter? You are ALWAYS better off stopping before you regret it. Wish I were. A bit younger so having the third would have been more feasible.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      One for me is enough and I cherish him even more as a result.

      Reply
  2. NZ Muse

    I’m glad you’ve come to reach a decision one way or another 🙂 it’s funny how ingrained it is to have more than one, Mt midwife is already taking about how best time I can hopefully have the birth I wanted this time around.

    I assume we’ll have another but we’ll have to wait and see how this one goes. And we’ll def need more $$ to outsource everything the second time around! It’s lready tough enough juggling everything with one newborn.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      A newborn sucks out your will to live. They are damn cute but … wow. They are rough on your sleep.

      Reply
  3. R
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    I’m glad you’ve come to a decision you’re comfortable with. I used to think JB was the worst sleeper of all our kids but ze has been sleeping through the night without more than minimal nightmares for a while now, and stopped needing us to stay with zir before ze could sleep (probably because of the move but who knows) so I’m super grateful for that. Ze even put zirself to bed tonight because ze was so tired after trick or treating 😂

    Every kid is so different.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I know. I envy you really… mine has to start cutting out his nap I think, but I NEED THAT BREAK… and he has been sick lately, so it isn’t fair but damn.. I miss sleep.

      Reply
  4. Financial Orchid

    Yikes – sounds like you’re really struggling with such an indepth analysis. Hope venting this all out provided some clarity if any.
    Still the adage: 1 better than none

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Yeah I think so. It did help, very cathartic.

      Reply
  5. S
    Sense

    Also, from a global health POV, having 0 or 1 kids is better than 2+. You are only replacing one of you + your partner instead of both of you, so you aren’t contributing as much to overpopulation and all the carbon that the second kid would create.

    I have previously been quite on the fence about having children, but this consideration has come to be a huge reason why I do not want kids. Esp with the recent climate report that came out, I am extremely relieved that I have not and will not create a loved little one whose future is likely to be pretty grim, or at the very least, a much more difficult life than my own.

    Reply
      1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

        LOL.. doing it to be greener then 😉

        Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      That does scare the beejezus out of me.

      Reply
  6. A
    Alice

    I really appreciate how this post made me think about children in general. It puts my general feelings and anxiety into something concrete, and there was a lot I had not even considered. That a second child can break a partnership? I feel like children are such a given, we don’t hear the cons as much.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I am relieved to hear this!

      Yes, so .. I have read articles about how just one more kid breaks the relationship — the strain of providing, the time they need, the attention… — imagine being two full-time working parents managing two kids now instead of just one? you can’t say — hey pick up kid 1 today, I am going out.. they may need to pick up kid 2 and you do kid 1, or do both and get stressed that they have to manage BOTH kids alone… It is easier to just handle one extra person plus yourself.

      I have friends who have more than 1 kid working full-time, and they definitely need a nanny or one has to quit their job and become a stay at home parent. Or they do it but the work and the strain of it gets to them.

      Each kid has their own schedule — a preschooler is not on the same nap time, nor the same school track as a newborn let’s say. Newborns need 24/7 attention.. preschoolers are at school (yay, a break from one), but then when they get home, they need attention too. Their schedules are all off.

      Even if you get them both into school at the same time, a common refrain is the parent has to rush home, make dinner for both, drop one off at an activity but has to bring the other because they can’t leave them at home alone and/or the second one has another activity elsewhere too.

      Reply

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