Report after report predicts fewer babies as a result of the pandemic. Most base their findings on the large number of women saying that they plan to put off having babies or have fewer of them. If you have one child and are on the fence about having more children, you may want to consider if or why one child may be just right for you.
Planning family size is complicated. Asking yourself these seven questions may help you begin to clarify what is best for you and your family.
How important is my job to me?
Roughly four times more women than men lost their jobs or dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic. One of the primary reasons was added childcare and/or online schooling supervision.
The desire or necessity to be employed is another factor in the declining birthrate. The Institute for Family Studies found that “almost a third of respondents identify both work and family as very important .” Their report notes, “The desire for meaningful or important work, not simply well-compensated work, is powerful, and has significant and negative implications for childbearing.”
If you love your job and want to grow in it, fewer children than you hope for could be the solution. Those who stayed in the workforce during the pandemic worried about how they would be perceived at work: particularly if using any time-off benefits an employer provided and if taking extra time might affect career advancement or jeopardize their jobs.
Can I afford one child or more?
No one likes to put a price tag on children. Nonetheless, they are expensive. On average, a middle-income family will spend $233,610 to raise a child from birth to college age (not including college costs). The amount fluctuates higher or lower depending on where you live and your income. That said, seriously consider how the expense of a baby or another baby might change your lifestyle and why one child may be just right for you.
Do you have FOMO?
Your decision may come down to how many children can you afford without having to give up the things you love: meeting friends or colleagues after work, spontaneous
get-togethers, trips you want to take, parties you might not be able to attend because your child is ill or you cannot find a sitter. It’s fact: If you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out), be prepared to give up some of the freedoms you cherish and think about how that may affect you.
How long can I wait to have a baby?
Whether you are wanting your first child or second or third, age is a factor to weigh in the equation. The options and advances within the fertility industry are extensive allowing older women to become pregnant, however, the cost can be prohibitive.
If you are hesitant to become pregnant now, you may want to look into freezing your eggs or embryos for a future date. Fertility treatments can be emotionally difficult and stressful. It is one of the reasons why some women with one child abandon the idea of giving their child a brother or sister.
Do you and your partner agree?
If you are in agreement on the number of children you want, discuss each partner’s contributions at home. In general mothers carry the heavier load of domestic duties whether or not they hold a job. Work out the nitty gritty of child and household responsibilities in advance.
Avoid the mistake of believing a baby will resolve issues in your relationship. Parenthood tends to acerbate any problems and babies rarely, if ever, improve or cement a marriage or partnership for the long run.
Are only children happy?
What happened to the only child stereotypes? Those old views baked into our culture of only children being spoiled or lonely or bossy don’t hold up any longer.
As I end a research project that investigated, in large part, attitudes about only children and their parents, I can say with a high degree of certainty that only children, especially most of those under the age of 50, don’t and didn’t feel they were ever targeted or labelled because they had no sibling.
If you’re leaning toward “just one,” know that the nasty labels and stigmas that once surrounded only children have disappeared—due to huge numbers of parents deciding one child is just right for them and to parents of one today being savvy and wise about how they raise their child. For different perspectives, read: Only Child Benefits, According to Those Who Lived It.
Still not sure?
In 2018 way before the pandemic, The New York Times asked almost 2,000 men and women why they were having fewer children than they hoped to have. Their top reasons were akin to what women say in other developed countries around the world: 64% said childcare was too expensive; 54% wanted more time with the children they had; 49% were worried about the economy.
Those concerns remain the same but are amplified by fallout from the pandemic. Given our changed world, realistically one child may be just right for you.