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As mid-life parents, how can we know if we’ll be able to manage a second child?
Q: I’m 38 years old, my husband is 42, and we have a 1-year-old daughter. We would like to try and have more children, but how do we know if we can manage another baby, especially since we are mid-life parents? We don’t want our daughter to be an only child, and financially we can afford more children.
A: Dear Lauri,

From my own experience, the jump in going from one to two children was as big as the experience going from zero to one. I naively assumed my life was as busy as it could get, and that adding a second child would be only slightly more burdensome. I failed to take into account the added dynamics of sibling rivalry, coordinating schedules of two children, and the lack of any personal free time once my second one was born. The demands and the stresses certainly increase, which must be balanced against the potential benefit of giving your daughter a sibling. (My oldest daughter is 14 and has yet to show appreciation for having a 12-year-old sibling.)

While having a second child is undoubtedly fatiguing, you may very much enjoy having a family of four. Your daughter will have a peer in the family; this will change the family dynamics somewhat, perhaps for the better. However, I think the main reason to have a second child is to satisfy a deep desire within yourselves. Do you both want to have a larger family? Have you enjoyed times when more than one child was in your care? Are you willing to take on the additional sacrifices that go with having two children, including: less sleep, more chaos, less time for your relationship as a couple, and more financial demands? If your financial resources enable you to hire others to help with household chores and childcare, you may find early childhood to be quite manageable. Try to project even further ahead— imagine being in your 50’s with two teenagers! You and your husband should consider discussing your desires and your concerns with a professional counselor. Your decision is an important one, and one you will both be living with for the rest of your lives.