In a recent post by SimplyJesMe, Jes discussed the reasons for having/not having a second kid based on surveying the people around her. And the top four reasons are:
- Not enough love
- Not enough attention
- Scared of pain
- Not enough money
I would think that the first two can be grouped together. According to the article, the love and attention to the firstborn will diminish (maybe half?) upon the birth of the second child.
As for point 3, the pain refers to not just the pregnancy and labor experience. This also includes the care giving during the first few months of a newborn’s life, where you wake up to the incessant cryings in the middle of the night, soothing a cranky baby, etc.
Based on the above, I think it can be consolidated to the following:
1. Diminishing love and attention to the firstborn
2. Vexatious cycle of pregnancy and delivery cum caring for a newborn
But I would add 2 more to the list.
Let’s talk about them.
Diminishing love and attention to the firstborn
In all honesty, I didn’t think that this would yield a reasoning. I have never quite hear of that quoted as a factor (at least from the people around me) so it was quite surprising to see it been listed. Personally, both Dave and I grew up with siblings but we never quite felt that the love from our parents were divided (perhaps sometimes when my mum asked me to save some strawberries for my sister when I was enjoying them). At the same time, it is indeed true to a certain extent that attention could be divided with more offspring, as you can’t have your attention solely focused on one individual all the time (imagine the other kid is spilling milo all over the place when you are story reading to the pre schooler). But I guess this is still sufficient to warrant a reasoning as different families would have different considerations.
Repeating the vexatious cycle of pregnancy and caring for a newborn
For someone with two kids, it actually gets easier each time. When I was first pregnant with Ally and subsequently after I gave birth to her, I was in a loss quite often. Partly because I didn’t know what to expect. And even for issues that I had expected, dealing with them in reality is very different. With Ally, I was flustered quite often in the early stages, so much so that I wanted to head back to work so as to “escape”.
But with Ashton, it was entirely different. We were both more chill during the pregnancy and labour (yes it was still painful, tiring, plenty of discomfort nonetheless but we kind of know what would be coming next and yes you know when you start having contractions) and there was also the incessant cryings and wakings of the baby. But because of our experience with Ally, Dave and I were more loosened up, coupled with the fact that we had hired a confinement nanny this time round, it was much easier to handle. Even when the nanny left after a month, things were still very much more manageable for me compared to when I had Ally. As such, I didn’t think that it was such a nightmare to go through the process again – from pregnancy to care giving.
Yes, this is definitely one of the more legitimate reasons, the top reason in fact for many. According to a report, it can cost anything between SG$200,000 to SG$1 million in Singapore. If you want a breakdown, here’s a pretty interesting infographic that lays out the cost. So yes, raising a child is not cheap. Especially so if you start sending them for enrichment classes and the what not. I actually know someone who spends almost SG$3,000 a month for enrichment classes for two kids. And it’s probably undeniable that the more kids you have, you’ll probably need to compromise your lifestyle to a certain extent. Exotic holidays to Maldives and South Africa would probably have to be replaced with nearby holidays within Southeast Asia.
And let’s not forget the the mortgage and the car loan. And what happens if one party loses the job? Oh my, all the endless stress just imagining this situation.
For Dave and I, this was probably one of the key reasons.
We always like kids and it was a natural progression for us to have them after we got married. After we had Ally, we knew that we wanted another. But then with Ally, sometimes we feel bad that we were not able to spend much time with her.
You see, both Dave and I worked in pretty busy jobs, partially due to the nature of the industry that we are in. It’s not uncommon that we have to work late hours, sometimes an entire week or two in a stretch. Overseas business trips are occasional, though less often, and even though we are at home, there are also overseas conference calls with colleagues from the U.S. which will take place in the late evening.
We tried our best to be there with Ally as far as possible.
Our situation is not unique, as there are many working couples out there, and overtime is not uncommon.
During days of overtime work, there are days where we don’t even get to interact with Ally, mainly because we are back after she’s asleep, and leave before she’s up.
As much as we did not want to outsource the care giving to others, in view of our busy schedules, we are grateful that we have family support to assist us with the care giving.
We could also choose a less demanding job (which unfortunately didn’t quite work out).
And that is the primary reason why we are seeking FI, so that we can free up our time at work, and spending time with family.
Perhaps in some situations, insufficient “time” might seem like an excuse. After all, you can give up on your sleep and other things that you were previously pre-occupied with in exchange with quality time with your kids. But how do you then allocate the time to your kids, yourself, your spouse, your parents or others? That is for you to decide. And total dedication to just one party would sometimes jeopardise relationships with the others. This is definitely a tricky one but everyone’s situation is different.
Also, with two kids, as their needs are very different, the activities focused around them is very different as well.
Personally, age was never quite a huge factor (in terms of biological clock ticking). Yes, I do understand that there are still risks involved at an older age. My mother gave birth to me and my sister in her late 30s and both of us turned out fine. With technology advancement nowadays, it is not common to see many women in their 30s and 40s getting pregnant and delivering kids. As such, this was not such a big factor for our consideration.
Until I had Ally.
Not the pregnancy nor delivery part. Yes those were tiring times, and of course the pain was very true.
But you see, the care giving thereafter, that’s an endless marathon.
When the infant grows into a toddler, then a young child and subsequently an older child, you will need to pump in a lot of energy to raise the kids. That includes all the activities that you engage with them, chasing them around, carrying them, etc.
Those are really energy sucking activities, both mentally and physically. Compared to a younger mum in her 20s, I definitely lacked the stamina (although we probably overcome it with our fortitude).
And that, made me realise that yes, age does play a very important role.
The older you are, your stamina tends to be lower. And when you are tired after a long day at work, even that colouring activity with your kid feels like mere exhaustion.
Let’s face it, gone were the days where we could stay up late, burnt the midnight oil for that exam paper the next day and the KTV session after that. Nowadays, even a slightly later than usual dinner session might leave you with little energy thereafter.
Imagining raising a kid or two.
Family planning is a rather recent phenomenal in the last century or so but this was a powerful tool that enabled many to empower our lives. Considerations for having kids differ for everyone. For most, each successful pregnancy would lead to a successful delivery thereafter but for some, miscarriages are pretty real.
Having a kid is a blessing. Dave and I feel blessed that we have these two beautiful kids with us. And although they were planned pregnancies, and considerations did play a part, we are grateful to be blessed with them and together with our extended families, they definitely have brightened up our lives.
But all things considered, have people become too scientific and logical in our pursuit to have kids?
After all, for most married couples, it is a natural progression to have kids (although some might choose not to have for various reasons).
There will always be considerations.
But as we all known, sometimes reality takes a different turn.
What are the considerations for you and your partner? Please feel free to share and we will love to hear some different thoughts and views.