Q: We have an almost 2-year old who keeps us pretty busy. Recently, though, my wife has been talking about having a second child. I’m honestly not that thrilled about the idea. We barely have enough time to take care of ourselves and our baby. How are we supposed to add a fourth person to our family?
A: For a lot of couples, the question about whether to have another child isn’t really a question; it’s a given. For others, though, the issue is more complicated. And most of the problems have to do with exactly what you’re going through: one spouse wants a second (or third) child while the other isn’t nearly as excited about the idea. Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution to this problem.
The issue of time, as you mention, is a common concern of prospective second-time parents. Chances are, though, that there are a number of things you can do to free up some time. For example, you could hire someone to clean your house and prepare a week’s worth of dinners. That might give you only an extra 15 or 20 minutes per night, but over time, it could make a big difference. But time isn’t usually the only thing couples worry about.
Making a list of other factors can help put things into perspective for you. Here are a few items to address:
Finances. Can you afford to have another baby? If the answer is no, does not having enough money really make a difference for you? Will one of you (or both) have to work more hours to make ends meet? Is it worth it to you? Are there areas where you can reasonably cut back your family’s spending?
Labor and delivery. Are you worried about putting your partner through another painful pregnancy and labor? Chances are, she’s not as concerned about this as you are (if women could remember the pain of labor and delivery, I can’t imagine that anyone would ever have a second child). Also consider that while being a parent is exhausting enough, trying to be a pregnant parent is even tougher. Is that okay for your partner or not?
Your firstborn. Do you have a child with a difficult temperament? Are you worried about having another handful? If so, keep in mind every child is different and your next baby’s temperament may not mirror your firstborn’s.
Having couple time. Are you scrambling to spend five minutes alone with your partner now? Are you worried that another baby will erase the chance of ever “dating” your mate again? Are there ways to spend time with your partner—a regular date night or a weekend away?
Then, when you’ve put your list together and had a chance to think through each of your issues, sit down and talk to your wife about them. You’ll probably find that even though she’s more gung-ho than you are right now, the two of you are share many of the same concerns. An open dialogue may not solve everything on your list, but it can put you and your partner on the same page, or at least the same chapter.