Two Kids Is The Right Number Because I Refuse To Be Outnumbered By Crazy Hooligans

familyMy husband and I both came from three kid families—religious families in the 80s, go figure. When we started talking about having kids of our own a few years ago, we were always stuck on the number three. We really didn’t give it a second thought. We also said that we wanted to have all of our kids close in age to get it over with and so that they could potentially be close growing up.

After we had our first son and realized what a baby was really like, we quickly shaved one number off our list. Two kids was fine, thanks! It’s not like my oldest son was a total monster or anything, but he definitely pushed the limits and gave us a crash course on how to be parents. Maybe that’s what you call “spirited” these days.

Our decision to only have two kids was about more than just crazy baby behavior. We started realizing that three or more kids would quickly outnumber two parents. We also talked about how it would be cheaper to go on family vacations and pay for college with just a family of four.

I know several large families via Facebook. A few of my friends have four or five children as they are approaching their early 30s. A large family has always mystified me, just because it’s never been something I wanted. Hell, my midwife had nine kids and was absolutely obsessed with babies. I always stared at her in awe and just wondered what she was thinking. I enjoyed my babies, but I don’t know if I could sign up for four or five of them, let alone nine.

After hashing out how many kids we wanted to bring into the world, I’m still intrigued by why parents decide to have a certain number of children. I know some pregnancies are unplanned, so there’s that. But I also really like hearing other people’s family planning stories.

It’s too late to sell me on the virtues of having a third child because my husband already had his vasectomy. (Yippee!) Still, I’d love to hear some reasoning behind this baby fever. I can’t see the appeal of more than two.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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    • LadyClodia

      For the longest time I had thought that 3 kids would be a good number, and my husband and I knew we wanted 2 definitely, and he comes from a family of 3 kids, so I was surprised that he wasn’t into the idea of 3. It’s OK because 2 is probably all that we can handle. I can’t imagine being outnumbered by kids while having to travel internationally; it’s rough with one or two. Our boys are 3 years apart, but we had been trying to have them closer to 2 years apart. But due to a serious medical problem with my husband things didn’t work out that way. For some time we weren’t sure that we would be able to have a second at all.

    • Fondue

      My husband and I have always said only two kids because we prefer the idea of man-to-man defense rather than zone defense. ;)

      • Allyson_et_al

        That’s what we always said! 2 works for us.

    • NotPregnant-I Hope

      My husband and I have decided that we are going to have one pregnancy. Because twins and multiples run in both our families. We might get away with having one the first time, but triplets the second pregnancy oh my.
      Also, I am getting ‘older’ now and I just don’t want to do the diaper stage forever. I have an established career. I’m starting my masters. And I’m not overly fond of babies. I like kids that can talk.
      Finally, does anyone know the likelyhood of getting pregnant with multiples after being on depo and mirena for 10 years? I have a feeling like it would be more likely.
      I’m off birth control now… but I still don’t think I am ready for this parent ride.

      • Bethany Ramos

        I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m interested to hear it. ALSO, multiples do not run in my family, but I was so scared my second pregnancy would be twins as a cruel twist of fate!!

      • Alexandra

        My first pregnancy is twins (currently in month 6) and everyone seems to enjoy the joke of “what if the second one is twins too?” oh hyuck hyuck hyuck that’s a good one!!! :)

      • Bethany Ramos

        Congrats! AND – I was eavesdropping on some lady at a party, and she had two little twin girls that look to be about 18 months-two years. She was huge pregnant with MORE twins that were conceived naturally (boys!). I’d never heard of anything like it, and I’m so glad I was eavesdropping…

      • Lori

        My dentist’s 4th child was triplets. A friend’s 3rd was twins. :-)

      • Bethany Ramos

        NOOOOOO

      • Mel

        I only ever wanted two at most, and for a long time I told my husband one with the option of a second child. Well, we decided to have that second child and it’s twins. I also really wanted a girl and I’m having all boys. We are NOT trying this again. I had a difficult first pregnancy and I was hoping the second one would be “easy” relatively speaking – no such luck. I am going to be an older mom this second time around – got pregnant just before I turned 35 so that’s part of how this happened but it NEVER occurred to me that I would have twins.

      • Mel

        Also quick unrelated question – I created a Disqus account somewhere else that seems to now be active here – anyone know how to change my name? I normally post as AnotherMel….

      • Bethany Ramos

        I asked Eve, and it looks like Disqus has been acting up today. Not sure why…

      • Blooming_Babies

        My high school boyfriend had 7 sisters, his parents were trying for another boy.

      • AnotherMel

        I’ve heard so many stories like that which is part of the reason my husband will get the snip once these children are born. No desire to try again and then have 4 boys.

    • pixie

      My boyfriend and I have occasionally talked about one day having kids and getting married. We’re both only children, though he comes from a larger, tighter knit family than I do. For us we’ve decided if we do have children together we’ll have one of our own (assuming there’s no problems conceiving) and if we decide we want another we’ll adopt. I have no problem when people have many of their own children (ok, the Duggar’s might be pushing it…), but I’m a huge supporter of adopting children who are either unwanted or their parents knew they wouldn’t be able to care for them. The race doesn’t matter to me and I know I would love that child as much as my own biological one. Twins run in my boyfriend’s family, though, so if we end up with twins, unfortunately I (most likely) wouldn’t adopt.

      I can’t imagine being outnumbered. I like kids, but when I’m outnumbered and I’m only looking after the kids for someone else, at least I get to give them back

      • Bethany Ramos

        I really think adoption is so wonderful. Good for you. :)

    • Marie

      We are also a two kid family, but unlike the author, we’ve pretty much always known that’s what we wanted. I came from a family of two, but my husband came from a family of three and always said, “anything but three”. I also have a lot of twins in the family and that was my biggest fear, that the second pregnancy would be twins and we’d end up with three anyway. I’ve always been slightly amazed at people who have three or four and handle everything like it’s no big deal. I’m never sure if they have some parenting trick figured out that I don’t know or if they just like chaos, but I know I’m happy to have my two.

      • Natasha B

        Eh, by the time number 4 comes around you just kinda roll with the punches ;) I think spacing is a big help in ours-oldest is 9 (she is ‘mine’ but hubs adopted her) then 4, 18mos, and bebe due in June. So they aren’t all right on top of each other. The littlest two will be closest in age, which will be interesting, but I’m glad to be done while still youngish. We both come from families of four, so that helped sway us a little. A lot of people think we’re crazy though :)

    • Andrea

      For me, money is a limited resource. There was always so much we can afford to do and two was already pushing the limits of our resources. We want to be able to help with college, to take decent vacations once in a while, and pay for them to do sports or music or art or whatever extra curricular and those things costs money.
      I honestly cannot figure out how people have more than 1 or 2 without making outrageous money.

      • Bethany Ramos

        I hope this doesn’t come across as rude, but I do wonder about those large religious families – 6-10 kids. How much is that guy making? How do they do it???

      • Andrea

        THAT’s what I wanna know!!! I cannot imagine how they do it.
        Although probably they do things that I don’t like doing: spending an enormous amount of time couponing and hunting for bargains, cooking in bulk and freezing, gardening, sewing their own clothes, etc. Too pioneer for my taste.

      • Andrea

        I also suspect that they do without things like vacations and extra curriculars and eating out, etc. Little “luxuries” that I never wanted to be without. Call me shallow.

      • Bethany Ramos

        I am lazy and shallow!!!!

      • Natasha B

        I’m cooking number 4 right now :) I’m SAHM, and hubs doesn’t make a crapton o money (he’s a Toyota MTD) but we do manage to do one ‘big’ vaca a year plus a few weekender types, and we do eat out-but a big part of that is we skip the fast food (you ever tried to feed 5 people at Mcdonalds? It’s like $35! and instead spring for once a week at a nice place. We dress the kids (and us) well, but I’m a serious bargain hunter. We’re pretty good at deciding a budget, and sticking to it-and that leaves us freedom for fun & extracurriculars. We’re lucky enough to live near a large metro, so we budget for memberships to zoo, museums, etc. yeah, I’d love to have more cash flow and house space, but I think we’re ok :)
        Some days I do wonder what the hell I was thinking though, honestly.

      • Mystik Spiral

        I have a very Catholic cousin; he and his wife have 6 kids. They are ultra-conservative (annoyingly so), but get this… I just discovered recently from my mom that the kids are all on Medicaid. So I guess it’s OK to leech off the government if you’re supporting kids that God willed you to have. Or some such shit.

      • Bethany Ramos

        WTF. My FIL is Mexican and had 17 kids in the family; my husband has 60 cousins and none are close. The father of that family worked like 3 jobs and hated his life. Cool story…

      • Mystik Spiral

        Yeah when your kids cause you to hate your life it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities…

      • Brittany Anne

        I’m the oldest of six (my family is very Catholic). I don’t really know how much money my dad makes, but it was always enough for us to live in a nice house, go out to eat occasionally, and participate in whatever extracurriculars we wanted.

      • thefluter

        I’m one of 5, and I have no idea how my parents did it. My dad is a blue-collar worker, my mom a legal secretary. We’re fairly spread out over nearly 20 years, but we all went to Catholic grade schools and high schools. We went on road-trip vacations every couple years, too. Granted, I never had name-brand clothes and we didn’t get a home computer or cable till I was in high school, but still — my parents were apparently financial geniuses to afford so many kids!

      • Bethany Ramos

        Well, my parents’ finances were the same with 3 kids, come to think of it – tight budgets!

    • Sarahstired

      I’m from a family with two kids, my husband is one of six. He stated off wanting six as well. I wasn’t even sure I wanted any. We are at two now which I feel is a good number. They are close in age, seem to like each other (right now anyway) and I don’t feel outnumbered. We have yet to make it official, but here’s hoping he will have the cut soon!

    • G.E. Phillips

      When my ex and I were together, the plan was to try for another one when Face was around a year old, and then he’d get the cut. So, two-and-done. I loved the idea of having two kids close in age, as me and my sisters are, for various reasons, pretty far apart in age. Now I’m trying to get used to the idea of possibly having an only child. My other thought is if I do meet-someone-and-have-more-kids, I might want two more instead of one, so at least those two would be close in age. I think three kids within a certain number of years would feel very different than having one child who was, say, 8, and then a two year old and a baby.

      • Natasha B

        I was kinda in a similar spot. Our oldest is ‘mine’ but hubs has since adopted her. She’s 9 now, then we have a 4yo, 18mos, and one due in June. And that’s it :) I actually like our spacing, it helps keep a level of sanity, and it’s also fun to have an older one who can conversate/act like a human.

    • Jessica

      See, I want one of my kids to become famous and hand me the good life, a la Justin Beiber’s mom. The more kids I have, the greater the chance of this happening.

      • Bethany Ramos

        Well, that just makes sense.

      • LiteBrite

        This is exactly why I sort of regret only having one kid. I mean, if he didn’t live up to all my hopes and dreams (and make enough to send me on cruises later), I’d at least have another, right? :)

    • JLH1986

      My boss and his wife had 3 boys, after trying ONE more time for a girl, decided to get a vasectomy. Guess who got pregnant before the procedure? Guess who got pregnant with TRIPLETS? So now they have 6 kids, 3 of each. Go figure!

      • Kay_Sue

        Well, they do say to be careful what you ask for, lol…

      • Allyson_et_al

        My dad had a co-worker whose last-ditch, third try for a girl resulted in triplets. All boys. Yeah, they stopped trying after that.

    • Rochelle

      I always wanted two kids. I have two and my second was an extremely challenging baby. Lately I keep thinking about having a third, but I think it’s just because I’m sad to think my baby days are numbered. If we had another baby as difficult as my son was, I don’t know if we could cope.

    • Kay_Sue

      We didn’t really have a choice. He already had two kids when we started out, lol. There is a marked difference in how our home has to be managed with all four though, compared to when we only have two. It worked out well for me, though–I always wanted a big family with four or five kids. After I gave birth to my eldest, though, that was a hearty “fuck that, I am not ready to push out that many heads/shoulders”. That was doubly underscored, italicized and bolded when my 10-1/2 lb second boy came into the world.

      I honestly don’t know why I stuck on the number four or five. I came from a family of three, myself, lol, so it’s not like it was my childhood really influencing it…

    • WhatHappened?

      We only wanted 2 children also. Those two children turned out to be twins who were in such a hurry to greet their adoring public, they arrived at 25 weeks and 2 days gestation. After a truly traumatic birth and extended NICU stay, we were done. There was no way I was risking something like that again. The girls are now 7.5 years old and have been agitating for a little brother or sister for about 3 years. Somehow, they’ve managed to will a fetus into existence and I am currently 15 weeks along with our third. Not entirely sure what the crap we’re going to do with a pair of 8 year olds and a baby but ready or not, I guess?

      • Kay_Sue

        Psssh, they wanted it. Now they get to learn how to change diapers, right? ;)

      • Natasha B

        Dude, you have built in babysitters! Go for it! Lol

    • Andy

      We have two, and even that took some convincing for me-my husband has a sister, but I’m an only child and wasn’t sure if I could handle two. So far so good, but then again the youngest is only four months old and not mobile yet!

    • Mystik Spiral

      My dad was one of 10 and I’m one of 8 because Catholicism. No kids for me, thanks.

    • lizinthelibrary

      My husband and I are both from families with three children by accident. (My younger siblings were twins; his parents had a surprise baby.) I want 2; he wants 4. We’ve agreed to stop and discuss between each child, but I think life is just easier as a family of four. That’s the way the world is built: restaurant tables, amusement park rides, cars, everything. Even in the 80s/90s life in a family of five always seemed to be about squeezing in an extra person where there wasn’t always room. Of course I’m terrified that my next pregnancy will be twins! (Halfway through my first pregnancy.)

    • Tara

      My husband and I always said 3 to 5 kids sounded good to us. I’m from a family of five kids, he’s the younger of two. Our third is 4 months old, so we’re still in that stage of not even being able to think about having more right now. I could maybe, possibly see us eventually having a fourth.

    • Kate

      We have two and our third is on the way. Hubby would happily keep going but i am DONE after this one (morning sickness for 4 months, terrible back pain already and only 6 months along). We knew we wanted at least 2 and we currently have a boy and a girl. Everyone thought we would be “done” since we had one of each. I watched my friends give away their baby things after baby #2 and happily assert their “done-ness” but I always felt like I wasn’t sure. I would stare at the dining room table wondering if someone was missing. We thought and thought for like a year about it. I finally decided that I didn’t want to have any regrets, so let’s see what nature has in store for us! Well, ONE time later, nature was pretty clear about her plans for us! :) Baby boy is on the way in April. So I will have a 4 year old, 2 year old and newborn. I think up front I am pretty sure I will lose my mind, but after that, we are hoping for a nice medium-sized family of kids who are maybe friends? We’ll see how that goes!

      • Bethany Ramos

        Congrats!!

    • havronsm

      I’m from a family w/ four sisters and a half-brother. Besides for my brother, we were all about a year apart. I growing up with my sisters (and at some times step-siblings) made me realize I didn’t want a large brood and I wanted my kids spaced apart.

      My husband was raised as an only child. (He has a half-sister who is almost 15 years older than him and she was not a close part of his dad’s family.) He was all for only having one but I thought that would be lonely.

      We’re still debating whether we want two or three. He says two, I say three (I was a middle child and guess I want a kid to sympathize with.) The plan is to discuss it again after the second, which should come for at least three years after the first.

      • di/trilemma

        I’m curious…what about your experience wanted you to have your kids spaced apart?

      • havronsm

        Oh so many reasons. I think number one was in school, since we were back-to-back, we were all pretty much at the same school at the same time. We had the same teachers year after year. And I know for my sisters who followed behind me, it was a pain to always have a teacher thinking “why can’t you be like your sister.” They even lumped us all together in the office. When my mom would come to pick us up for appointments, they would just call “Will the French girls please come to the office.” It was like we weren’t individuals. I’m hoping leaving some space between the kids will help alleviate that.

        Then there was the whole seeing my mom stressed thing. I can’t imagine being able to handle more than one in diapers at a time. I’m hoping that waiting will allow my first child to gain some independence, which could give me a little more time to stay calm and provide the new baby with some attention.

        Just my experience and I may have not clue what I’m talking about because I’m just now expecting my first. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how my little “experiment” works. :)

      • pixie

        Not all us only children get lonely. ;)

        Really what you should do is, since you know you want more than one (which is totally fine, by the way), have the two, and since you’re planning on spacing out your kids, give it thought during the in-between period of children two and three. If you decided two is enough, that’s cool, but if you’re really wanting number three, by all means go for it. Actually, spacing it out would give you a chance to think between one and two, as well. :)

      • havronsm

        Of course not. My husband said he wasn’t lonely. I guess I think of it like cats, I can’t entertain them all the time, they need a little playmate to keep them occupied while mom is busy. :)

        The spacing and the discussion between is the plan. Baby #1 isn’t due until April so there’s plenty of time for discussion about #2 down the road. :)

      • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

        I have two (7 and 5), they do not entertain each other. If I leave them alone for 5 minutes they start to fight. There is the odd time where they will disappear and start magically playing nicely together. Usually when they are supposed to be doing something else like brushing their teeth, but if I run off to use the bathroom, there will be screaming and crying and chasing before I am finished.

        Plus the older one likes board games the younger one likes imagination play so even trying to entertain them both at the same time can be a challenge. The younger one is really put out that I need to help the older one with homework every day after school. She has no homework yet since she starts school in September.

        I don’t regret having the second. She is the sweetest little angel, but it does not really always work out with the second being a playmate for the first. I certainly would not want another. I don’t think my kids would want another sibling anyway. They already fight and compete for my attention as it is. How many hugs did sister have this morning, I had one less, it’s not fair, you need to give me another hug and she is not allowed another.

      • thefluter

        How interesting! I have four siblings, and I loved being from a big family, which is why I thing I’d like to have a fairly large family. That said, my sibs are spaced as few as 3 and as many as 7 years apart from one another, so maybe that had something to do with it.

    • di/trilemma

      oh dear, this one is really hitting home. We have two kids. One two years, the other a few months and wouldn’t you know it…We got pregnant by mistake. Yep…I feel like a stupid teenager instead of someone approaching 40. We’re not sure what to do. We are trying to figure out what’s best for our family. My pregnancies were not easy and I have a great fear I am putting my kids future happiness on the line somehow. Shall we just go ahead with it and know that we will be off the earth for at least another year and a half? Feel free to chime in but keep the snarky remarks to yourself…very capable of doing the negative commenting myself.

      • Lian

        Oh wow, that must be so difficult. Whatever you decide will be right for you, and either decision is also sad/a loss in a way and it’s good to acknowledge that. I wish you a peaceful heart!

      • Bethany Ramos

        Awww thank you for sharing!! That must be so hard – I’ve been scared of an accidental third myself, around the time of my husband’s vasectomy. Don’t beat yourself up! Most people say how a surprise baby enriches their lives after the fact, if you go that route. :)

      • thefluter

        Good luck making your decision — I’ll just say that as one of 5, I was very happy coming from a large family, so your kids’ future happiness doesn’t all rest on this one choice.

      • Gretta

        I have three and I honestly couldn’t imagine life with only two. I think its wonderful. Hard to express in the comments of a blog, but the magnitude of love I feel for all three is overwhelming. They are each so unique yet so similar. Love. Love. Love. Mother of three is a wonderful club to be a member of. ;-)

      • Allyson_et_al

        Whatever you decide, I wish you good luck and the occasional night’s sleep! Your kids’ future happiness (unless you really can’t afford to care for more kids) probably doesn’t rest on a number. Either way, your happiness matters, too!

    • Natasha B

      We’re one of those crazy couples who have (almost-due in June) 4 kiddos. Hubs &’I both come from 4, so bigger families don’t overwhelm us too much. It’s busy, and I’m sure I will be relying heavily on icy alcoholic drinks to get me through this summer, but we like it. We are def done though-I’m getting tubal done day of delivery, and his vasectomy is scheduled. Taking no chances haha!

    • SA

      I am with you. I don’t judge, but I simply don’t understand! My husband and I are one and done and actually I don’t even remember as a child fantasizing about having more than one child. We are both onlies (well, I have a much older half-sibling who stopped making an effort to be my family about seven years ago) and I don’t think either of us ever longed for more than a brief moment for a sibling close in age.

      We couldn’t have the financial freedom we do now with one more (actually I don’t think we could even begin to afford childcare for a second and neither of us could afford to quit a job) and that maybe selfish, but there are things that I don’t want to give up.

      Plus I think we are better parents to just one. I like the idea of always outnumbering her.

    • Brittany Anne

      Ooooh y’all I love reading about this stuff.

      My husband and I both come from families of six kids (my parents are Catholic, his parents…just really love babies I guess?), and neither of us had great experiences. I’m the oldest child, and I feel like I spent my entire middle and high school years babysitting younger siblings. I think my parents thought they were keeping me out of trouble, but they really just kept me from having any sort of social life at all. My husband was in the middle and felt like he was just completely forgotten. (Though he’s a twin, too, which didn’t help things. He and his brother spent their entire childhoods lumped together as Alex&Joe, and his parents still kind of do that, though they mean well.) And we both felt like our parents were stretched so thin with so many children that they didn’t really have time to spend with each child as an individual.

      Growing up Catholic, I knew *a lot* of big families, and some people I know really loved growing up with so many siblings. And despite the fact that my husband and I love all our siblings to death, there’s no way in heeeeelllllll we’re having six kids. No more than three, and maybe just two.

    • Jordana

      It is so true that less kids allows for a lot more freedom. I don’t want to rag on anyone in particular, but I have known a lot of people willing/desirous of having many children without any plans to save for them to go to college or to even care for them without government assistance. But, hey, if you can actually afford to give them a decent life and you’re one of those people that loves being around a lot of kids, go for it. Great article :-)

    • MamaLlama

      Completely agree… Right down to the ‘both came from three kid families’. Only thing I’d add is, ‘I planned to be a more patient, laid back mom, but I’m not. So I’m a bit afraid of what a third would do to my mood’. Love the kids, but didnt realize after all babysitting, nannying, giving therapy to kids (as a teen, 20-something) how exhausted I am after a day of work having my own kids. How could manage another!? My newest theory is maybe all the childcare in my youth burned me out!

    • Janok Place

      Well, come March we have two. One of each, the first was a girl and we’ve seen the proof the second will be a boy. DD was one hell of a super star baby. My best friend had a son 3 months older… Colic, teething early, the kid still wakes up at night. She also is expecting. I think she is insane, had I had her baby I’d have thrown in the towel for a few years to say the least (I love him to pieces, but I acknowledge the fact that he is way more high maintenance). However, she herself has said if they were all like DD everyone would have 10. I guess my point is, we are playing it by ear. We live on a farm, large families make sense out here. There are always things to do and see and kids can play out doors a large chunk of the year. That, and there arent exactly neighborhood kids. If DD continues to be her jolly self, new DS sleeps through the night at 3 weeks, DH is equally elated with DS as was with DD, and Yours Truly can get a decent number of beers at the camp fire this summer we may just keep the crazy train running. That said we’ve always been interested in becoming involved with foster care when our batch is older. Also, we are in a financial position where a large family is feesible.

    • Naomi

      Hubby always wanted 2, I was thinking 2 or 3. After we had our daughter I decided 2 was the way to go. Second time around though we got twins so 3 it is! No more though that’s for sure!

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