Today I have another installment of Real Talk, Real Moms for you and this month’s topic is rather apropos. This go round we’re talking about the decision to have more kids. And after a string of strep throat, ear infections, other pre-school induced plagues, schlepping a bazillion bags for “fun” family travel and the general challenge of the three-nager phase, I’ve got all the opinions about this.

Real Talk, Real Moms: Going from One Child to More (or Not) on apartment 34

We actually wrote about this topic when Carter was just over a year old, and now that he’s nearly four I can report that my thoughts on having more kids remains unchanged. In fact, I’m probably more firm, confident and clear in my belief than ever before.

I am not meant to mother more than one child.

I have fully recognized my weaknesses as a mom. A limit to my patience. A touch of selfishness. A desperate desire for a little alone time. A serious need for good sleep.

All of those things would certainly get tested if another baby were added to the mix.

How do you know if you should have a second baby anyway?

Lots of people say, well you don’t want to deny your child a sibling. And while yes, I agree – I never want to “deny” my child of any worthwhile experience, as my pediatrician explained, you do not want to have another baby for your existing child. That’s like getting a puppy in an attempt to save a relationship. Not a good idea. Another child should only be had because you want to love and raise another being. (and ps, who says siblings are actually going be friends anyway? I know many a case where siblings basically hate each other).

And while I look at friends who are having their second kids and in some case their thirds, I continue to have zero urge to go through it all again. Giving up my body to grow a tiny human, birthing said human and then diving right back into the sleepless nights, one million diapers and another year (or two) of breast-feeding?? As I prepare to say so long to my 30’s, I’m feeling very done with that phase. My one pang of nostalgia about my baby growing up resulted in us getting a puppy, further cementing my belief that I could not survive the baby phase a second time around (warning: puppies are a LOT of work people.)

We also continue to be very happy family of three. I have very serious concerns about what adding someone else to the mix would do to our current equilibrium. We can balance work and family life (though I haven’t done that so well these past couple weeks – so sorry about that dear readers). My husband and I can go on date nights. We can travel relatively easily. We’re not outnumbered. I see the struggles plaguing friends with multiple kids over and over again. When you no longer out number the babies it can be really hard to keep the upper hand. I applaud each and every one of you who do it. I just know that I’m not really up to the task.

While I feel very resolute about having my one and only child, the rampant stigma about only children often rears its ugly head. It’s been around for literally hundreds of years after all. According to NPR, in 1907 the American Psychological Association called only children “sickly, selfish, strange and stupid… and that being an only child is a disease in itself.” It often feels like that opinion hasn’t changed much.

But there’s so much research out there now which shows that only children can in fact be well-adjusted, high functioning members of society with strong social skills. I just discovered the book One and Only, The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One – all about the raising of only children and I cannot wait to pick up a copy. For example, the book debunks the myth that only children are lonely. Sure, in some cases I’m sure some only children did feel lonely growing up. But as the author Lauren Sandler explains, “for a lot of only children, being alone is the experience of solitude, which is a very rich thing, instead of loneliness, which is a very painful thing.” Interesting, no? As an only child by birth, I actually think I became more social and outgoing because I didn’t have a built in playmate at home.

An only child herself, Sandler also explains her own mother’s rationale for intentionally have just one child:

“My mother was deeply devoted to raising me. To have a happy kid, she figured she needed to be a happy mother, and to be a happy mother, she needed to be a happy person. To do that, she had to preserve her authentic self, which she could not imagine doing with a second child.

Ding ding ding. That is me, all the way. I 100-percent believe that being a very well-rounded adult will lead to raising a well-rounded kid. So far so good anyway.

So there you have it. I don’t know if this minor diatribe was in any way helpful to anyone else considering whether or not to grow their families. This is just one woman’s take. But I appreciate the opportunity to share it with you. Anyone else out there struggle with these decisions? Any other mamas of onlys out there?? I would love to hear your experiences.

I also can’t wait to see what all our other mamas have to say on this very hot subject. You can read all of their stories by clicking on the links below.

A Daily Something / Natalie Borton / Parker EtcThe Effortless Chic / The Proper Blog / The Life Styled / The Sweetest Occasion / Sugar & Charm / Oh Lovely Day / Studio DIY / Lovely Indeed / Sugar & Cloth / The Fresh Exchange


And if you haven’t checked out the Real Talk, Real Mom series yet, we’ve talked Sleep, Feeding, Travel, Career, Self-Care, Co-Parenting and more. Be sure to check out the archives! #realmomseries

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  1. Currently 33 weeks pregnant with my first child, and I have a lot of thoughts about this. As the oldest of four children, I love my siblings, but think my parents and family would have been much better off if they’d stopped at two. My parents had no family anywhere nearby, and their obvious stress and unhappiness actually made me not want to have kids at all. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that none of my siblings have had children, either. I think you’re 100% right that if you’re not happy, your kids won’t be, either.
    My husband, an only child, helped me realize that my parents’ experience doesn’t have to be anything like mine as a parent, and now I’m actually very much looking forward to raising our daughter together. It never occurred to him that there are any downsides to being an only child. He says he was never lonely, and he is much more social and outgoing than I am. I think it just comes down to being an innate extrovert vs. introvert by nature, but maybe it’s some nurture, too.
    My husband and I did discuss my thoughts that if we were going to have any kids, it would be nice for them to have siblings, but he still leaned towards just one, and we decided not to decide anything yet. Now that I’m 8 months pregnant, I’ve decided that I’m never doing this again, and I’m happy to be on the “one and done,” track. Puppies and kittens won’t torture me with months of heartburn, fatigue, and insomnia, so I’ll stick with those, too. (I know it’ll be worth it, but I had no idea how hard a totally normal and uncomplicated pregnancy could be.)

  2. Interesting topic! I’m a mother of one, not entirely by choice as our child required multiple rounds of IVF and we decided not to pursue that for a second. But we’ve continued to try naturally for a 2nd, knowing the chances are close to none, all the while having that nagging biological urge to not give up. I don’t know why that is, really. I’ve accepted that we will 99% only have one, and without major intervention, it’s just not going to happen. I totally respect people who decide to stop at one, I guess it’s hard for me to accept that this choice has been made for me and to be grateful for what I have.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I have a almost two years old and I am struggling with the social pressure of having a second one. I actually had a miscarriage a couple months ago, and as bad as it was, sometimes I feel as it was a sign of me not being prepared at that moment to have another baby. At this moment, I am so confused, I am not quite sure if I want to nor if the reasons that makes me want to have a baby again are the right ones…so a lot to think about and your text was very helpful. I just hope that one day I will be able to be quite as sure about my decision, whatever it is, as you are! Sending love from Brasil, Isabela.

    1. I was always happy with the decision to have only one child. She is a happy well adjusted adult now.

  4. I agree with everything you’ve described because I also made a very deliberate choice to only have one child for all of the same exact reasons you stated. I’m 41, my daughter is 16. She’s incredible – well adjusted, intelligent, confident, kind but not naively so. I could go on and on about her. I have never once regretted my decision.

  5. I absolutely adored One and Only. Soon after my daughter was born I realized that she would be our only. It surprised me at firsts – shocked me even! – but now I am so confident in our family’s decision to be a threesome. I love hearing from other families who feel the same way.

  6. Was reminded of this post after you “popped in” to the blog today. A great read the 2nd time around too! I always told people after our first was born that I knew I could be an okay mom to one child or a shitty mom to two. Mine only child just turned 10. Still just an okay mom. But not a shitty one!

    Congrats on weathering this pandemic. It’s been a wild, trying, exhausting, upsetting, limits-pushing time.