The Practicalities of Family Expansion in 2020


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If there is one thing that life teaches us every day, it’s that there is no good time for anything to happen. The more that you wait around for a right time, the quicker you’ll watch things pass you by and the timing will never be right. This goes for upgrading your car, buying a house and even having another baby. There is no right time in life for a baby, because a baby is going to turn the world upside down even when you don’t want it to. If one baby turns things on their head, imagine what a second addition to the family would do? Deciding to have one baby is unlocking a life achievement that many wish to complete at least once in their lives. Raising a child from new baby to adulthood is a massive privilege and a challenging thing to do. You and your partner will spend weeks, if not months, imagining that child and what they will grow up to be. The thing is, it’s always easy to have one child. One baby crying and two pairs of hands to deal with it is, well, easy. One of the biggest jokes in life is that you don’t quite realise how easy it is to have one baby, until you introduce another one to the mix.

The planning of another baby into the family is one that can go two ways: you’re either going to dive right into trying to conceive or you’re going to plan it to a tee. Most parents feel a pressure to provide their only child with a sibling with a rather close age gap, so there’s not much time between the fog of the early baby days with child #1 to dissipate before another baby arrives. A baby is a blessing, but your house, your career and your social life go on the furthest back-burners when it arrives. Two children in the family at once, especially if both are under 3, is like a white flag for your social life because unless you have help, you won’t be seeing it for a while! There are a lot of practicalities to consider when you want to expand your family, and it’s one of those decisions that cannot be decided with your heart, but with your head. That broodiness and longing for another baby doesn’t go away – especially if you are madly in love with your partner. All you want to do is make more children and have more babies because you love each other so much, it has to spill out somewhere. When it comes to those practicalities we mentioned, here are some of the factors that most parents have to consider when they want to expand their household:

Space.

You may have bought your home with extra bedrooms when you were a younger, new couple, but over time those bedrooms may not be big enough. The living room may be overrun with baby paraphernalia from the child you already have, so the idea that there will be even more baby equipment being added to the fold can have you come out in hives. A lot of families put off having a second child due to the lack of space in their current home. Choosing to go out and buy a new townhouse with more rooms, more storage, a bigger garage and a garden is often the first thing that people do when expanding their families. Space, no matter how you look at it, is a big deal. A baby isn’t particularly big, but it does come with a lot of stuff. Two babies? Double the mess, double the stuff and double the stress. Eliminate some of the stress from your decision by choosing to expand your home before you expand your family, and you can get through a pregnancy plain sailing. Don’t forget, a baby comes with more mess and less time for you to clean it. If you have any worries about keeping up with the housework, don’t. That part will all work out. Plus, there are cleaners!

Finances.

All a baby needs is love, sure, but they only need that to feel wanted. A baby also needs clean and warm clothes, a place to sleep, a place to rest when on the move, diapers, wipes, milk if you’re not getting it from the main source and they need to be comfortable. All of this costs money. Even if you recycle the baby belongings from your eldest child, you will still have to factor in keeping the house warmer with extra gas and electricity. There’s also the question of the cost added to your grocery list with diapers and wipes and formula (should you choose to feed that way). Sitting down with your partner and estimating these costs as correctly as you can is vital for your peace of mind when you decide to try for another baby. You want your children to receive the best quality upbringing that you can offer them, and sometimes this means that you need to wait until your financial situation improves before you go ahead.

Current Dynamic.

Most people try for a second baby thinking that they are old hat when it comes to parenting. They have the basket in the lounge full of wipes, diapers and burp cloths ready. They know the drill when it comes to bedtimes. They know how to handle colic and everything that comes with the night feed being difficult. Except that most people imagine their family unit being enhanced by a new baby that’ll just slot right into the current dynamic. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Second babies are not the same as your first, the one that slept through the night. How would you cope with a baby with colic who wakes every twenty minutes? What about a baby that is so clingy they scream when they are put down? Of course, these things can happen no matter what you do, but you have to consider the impact this new life will have on the child that you have at home already and you need to think about how you will cope with that. Adding in a new personality can trigger jealousy and upset in the eldest child, with confusion and tantrums along for the ride. You need to choose whether current dynamic is worth the disruption of a new little baby in the family and if so, then go from there.

Health.

While you’re counting the pennies and measuring up your house to get it ready for a sale, have you thought about your own health and how a new baby will impact you? Pregnancy is hard on the body and if your first labour experience wasn’t a positive one, you may find that the toll another baby could take on your body may not be worth that all over again. Pregnancy is always a risk; you are at your strongest and yet most vulnerable all at the same time. You can find your symptoms are horrendous when it comes to pregnancy, but that you labour like a champ. You could also find that a c-section could disrupt your first few weeks with a newborn AND a toddler running around, and you have to ascertain whether your health can cope with that. Sometimes just trying for a baby can take a massive toll emotionally, which is something that you’ll know from your first ride on this rodeo. It can take around two years for a mother to feel comfortable in her own skin after a baby is born; even though it only took 9 months to physically change your shape. If you are healthy and you want to go through the miracle of life again, then right now could be your right time.

Society.

If you have one child, you will face questions – well meaning ones, but questions nonetheless – from strangers and friends enquiring when you plan to procreate again. It’s not polite, but it’s also not something that you should bow down to. Your plans for your family are your own and nothing you choose to do will be wrong. Always ask within yourself why you want another child. Sometimes you just want that feeling of completeness because you have another womb raider knocking on your insides. Sometimes you just want to know that your child is going to grow up with a sibling to look after them and be their friend. Society should never play a part in your overall decision about what to do with your family planning ideas. When people ask you about age gaps and get all interested in what you are doing, politely and firmly shut them down.

Family expansion is not always an easy topic to discuss, and there are a lot of factors up for consideration. Once you decide to steam ahead with what you are doing, be at peace with your choices. After all, once your baby is born, there’s no going back.