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2 vs 3 Kids – How Many Children Should You Have and Hows it Different?

As an established parent of two kids, you might start to find yourself wondering about the addition of one more kid.

In my own experience, my mother always told me that the transition from three kids to four kids was a breeze… “It’s all downhill after having the fourth,” she would say. Then she’d be sure to add that the hardest number to have is three young kids.

What’s always made me curious is why people always think that three kids are harder than two, but four is easier than three?

You might have heard people say this before. Yet according to Lovely Lucky Life, the transition from 2 kids to 3 was the easiest for her family dynamic.

So what does it boil down to? Perspective? Financial means? Routine? For my family, welcoming our third and first daughter into our lives was one of the most beautiful times looking back on it now.

Why Do Most Parents Feel More Intimidated To Have 3 kids vs 2?

Parents who have two children say they’re undoubtedly happy, but have this idea that three kids will be a lot more demanding than just two.

They don’t yet feel any overwhelming stress due to having too many tasks to tend to at one time that children of different age groups bring, or the inevitable occurrence of having the 3rd child left out.

But, parents who are thinking of growing their family speaks of feeling intimidated in regards to the addition of a third little one. They, as parents, will be officially outnumbered by their children. It makes sense why they would feel intimidated!

It does sound like quite the leap, growing your family to three children. Such a big jump that it may rightfully worry most people.

The truth behind how it feels dwindles to how you or your partner were raised, and what kind of family you envisioned having as a child. Use your partner for support based on how big of a family you each grew up in.

If you were raised in a smaller family, then it might make sense for you to feel comfortable keeping your family the way it is with 2 kids.

If your spouse was from a big family and you weren’t or vice versa, you can take away valid points from each side of the spectrum. I feel this kind of support is necessary when deciding to grow or keep your family the size it is.

parent with four kids

I was raised in a family with 4 kids, while my husband, on the other hand, grew up as an only child. We have had conversations supporting each other’s perspectives.

My husband gets overwhelmed more easily than I do when it comes to handling all of the kids we have, and I understand it based on his childhood.

It makes more sense once you explore and support how your partner feels towards the number of kids ideal for the dynamic of your family.

How is Having 3 Children Different Than 2?

Growing your family is a significant time that comes with significant questions. Here are the biggest differences in having 2 vs 3 kids.

Store runs

Getting places with two children is a breeze. If you’re going into the grocery store, simply tie the baby up on mom’s chest and put one in the cart. Or, one in the cart and the other holds onto the cart at the parent’s legs.

Once you have 3 kids, this changes a bit though. You will find that managing store trips with 3 kids start to revolve around the other parent being available to help watch a few of the children to make it a bit easier on the parent going shopping.

Asking 2 kids to grab the cart while you have a baby in a car seat up top simply becomes too much stress for anyone to want to go to the store by themselves and three kids.


There’s optimal space in a 5-seat car, but then once you reach having three kids around, especially close in age, you’ll find that three car seats are unbearable.

I had a Honda CRV that fit our twins perfectly, then came along baby sister, changing how comfortable we were in our vehicle.

The moment we outgrew our vehicle was the moment we put our new baby’s car seat in the backseat with her two older brothers booster seats.

We had to slam the doors shut, and be careful not to pinch any fingers in the process. Most vehicles with 3 back seats are not wide enough for 3 car seats.

Gaining a third child means investing in a bigger vehicle. You’ll want to consider this, as it isn’t easy to replace your vehicle at the snap of a finger.

And looking back at going through squeezing everyone in our Honda, I would’ve rather just waited to have a new car before our 3rd baby came along.

Fun Fare and Traveling

Those tickets to the water park or the movies are more manageable with two kids. It’s no doubt that purchasing all those extra adult plus children’s fares during an outing can dent your pocket.

Those who are used to going out for dinner on a whim with their families should reconsider how it will be with another child.

When your family grows from two to three kids, things get considerably more expensive. Even smaller outings can put a dent in your pocket.

parents with many children standing outdoors

It seems that the more your family grows, the more you refocus the family outings to the things with free entry. And you invest in things like picnic foods, or fun thing’s that everyone can share while out together.

The Partner to Partner Relief System

When you have 2 kids, you can ask your partner to take out one of them for a bit of relief or alone time with one of the children.

When three kids make up the bigger picture, it seems it would be easier for there to be a bit of resentment if one parent goes out with one child. And the other is stuck at home with 2 kids themselves.

When there’s a newborn involved, then the parent stuck at home with an older child and an infant would feel the unfairness of the situation.

Ultimately, it becomes a situation-situation basis of who can go out, based on everyone’s energy levels, including how the kids are feeling at that time.

So the ease of leaving diminishes partially or better planning has to be involved the more kids you have. Whichever way you’d like to view it. It might just be easier in the long run to include everyone or not go out at all.

Real-world experience with three kids

The truth is that when you have three kids, you’ll just have to change each situation to suit children of all ages.

For instance, if you’re doing projects with one of the older kids, you will have to explain each situation on a level that everyone understands.

If your older kids are helping you make brownies, then you’ll have to actively work to entertain the younger ones too. It doesn’t work well to do a project with just one or two of your kids.

It becomes a swarm of kids asking to help, or being upset they didn’t get to do one part of the project that their brother or sister did.

If you have plans to homeschool or do science projects with your older kids, figure out how you can include the younger kids in these activities ahead of time to avoid a lot of unnecessary stress.

Walks to the park and strollers

When I had two children the walk to our park down the street was simple. I had a double stroller that they could both sit in easily.

So when our third child came along, things changed a little bit. I would put the baby in the stroller with her infant car seat, and then have to sort out with my twins why they didn’t get to sit in the stroller anymore.

And whoever didn’t get the leftover seat would remain upset sometimes for the entire walk. I had to take a break from the breezy walks to the park until my older twins could manage to walk on their own next to the stroller.

It just became too much of a hassle to go through the process every time we wanted to go to the park even with a doubles stroller. And triple strollers are bulky and harder to come by. It’s a good thing to consider when growing your family.

What If I feel Like My family Is Incomplete With Just Two Kids?

Whether you feel like your family is complete with two or three kids, it will ultimately be up to your personalities as parents.

It depends on how you envision your life would be best off and a series of unpredictable things to happen while your other children are growing up.

two siblings

Sometimes parents will have a solid plan to have two kids from the start. They’ll do everything in their logical control to have two kids, and be done.

Yet, down the road, some unbeknownst desire in one or both of them starts to flourish about having another child.

Maybe it’s a combination of baby fever as friends have another baby or a more complex urge that just cannot be beaten, you have to have another kid at all costs.

Many parents go through these urges, and it’s perfectly okay to change your mind down the road. We’re human and how big or little our families will be in the end evolves.

As well as our characters, maturity levels, and overall life goals. You might not have foreseen how you feel today about growing your family. That’s okay!

Roll with it. If you and your partner are on the same page, obviously that’s preferable. If not, be honest and upfront about how you feel.

The Positives and Negatives to Each Dynamic

There are certainly some pros and cons that come along with having 3 vs 2 children. And each of the family dynamics come with its set of highlights, or otherwise.

As a curious parent who might grow their family in the near future, consider the most evident pros and cons for each family to consider when you’re in the decision making phase.

Surely, real parents have discovered these purely by going through it themselves. Let’s learn from those ones who have undergone growing their families, to three children. The one’s who have taken one for the team.

Pros For Having 3 kids

The more love the merrier

One thing we value in my family more than anything else is the love we all share. You can’t go wrong adding another child who is really just another big heart, filled with love for their siblings and parents!

In the end, this is what counts more than anything else. The love your next child will give you, and the endless love you get the opportunity of expressing back.

This positive extends well into adulthood, making it one of the best reasons to have a third child.

You really get to enjoy all the prized parenthood moments

During the first few children, there is often unnecessary stress involved with trying to ‘do-it-all-right.’ This is also coupled with not being able to keep up with the rapidly growing demands you’ll have with adjusting to parenthood.

three siblings

By the time you’ve experienced the early stages of childhood that involve a ton of adjustments, you’ll be a professional at picking out the moments of parenthood that are important to you personally!

Number 3 brings along experience – the greatest learning tool for everything. With it, you’ll be able to customize all the stages like the theme of welcoming your new baby into the world, newborn pictures, and first drawings.

You realize the importance of important things and drop the unimportant with this child.

Once the kids are older

Teens who are raised with plenty of siblings have many people to rely on for their crucial moments. They absolutely won’t be as lonely growing into adulthood and beyond – oftentimes bonds between brothers and sisters last for life.

All relationships go through strong and weak moments. This is especially true for siblings when one sibling is having a rough or distanced time with another.

It’s likely that all three siblings can somehow find support in their network of siblings regardless if they’re feeling the distance between one sibling or another.

Having siblings to count on in adulthood means more than people think, especially when their parents nourish the foundation of love, respect, and closeness.

The kids learn to adjust to new thing’s more easily

Adjusting to a new baby is something that everyone in the household has to do. There isn’t an option for those involved.

Including big brothers or sisters, it turns out your toddlers will continue arguing with one another even with your new baby in the house.

Having a new baby doesn’t mean that everything will be smooth sailing, just because the baby is super adorable! Your children and spouse will all be challenged by the intense changes that new additions to the family will bring.

The good news is that everyone does adjust, it’s just a matter of time. And like all great things, they don’t come easily. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to train your family to adjust to the natural changes that life brings to your front door.

Get through having a new baby in the home together, stay together!

parent with three kids

You’ll get the most out of family clothing

At some point in parenthood, we’ve all went out and bought brand new clothing for our little ones, which truly adds up overtime!

Those closets with 10 dresses hanging in them, or an overabundance of nearly new jeans. With your kids growing so fast you start to wonder if brand new clothing is even worth it.

Well, with a third child in the house – they’re worth it. Depending on what genders your older children are, you’re likely to be able to reuse a lot their clothing that’s in great condition.

It’s better for the environment as well as your peace-of-mind to re-use kid’s clothing to get the most out of it.

Tax incentives are helpful

Apparently, three children’s families come out on top during tax season. In 2016, tax incentives changed after the election to include laws that support families with 3 kids. These families benefit more than smaller or bigger families.

During tax season be sure to see a professional in order to maximize your benefits if you decide to grow your family.

Cons for having 3 kids

You have to go through the diaper phase again

We hate to say it, but you’ll have to revisit the diaper phase of having a newborn. This is something that the rose-colored glasses can sugarcoat a bit. Most families feel ready to have more children as their older toddlers are just about to get out of diapers.

As your already existing little one recently masters the potty training games, you’ll have to have extra patience diving into the full-blown diaper phase for the third time around. It helps to keep in mind that it’s temporary again.

As an experienced mother of four kids, I can tell you it’s never worth stressing over your older children hurrying to fully potty train. It’s a matter of choice for them, when they want to %100 go on the toilet they will.

So step back and enjoy being pregnant while helping your older children in the restroom(if they still need it) with patience. Try not to set expectations for your child to “be fully potty trained by the time your new baby is born.”

I have found this causes unnecessary stress, potty training will happen for all of your children at their own rates. You can’t make it go any faster because a new baby is on the way.

Sometimes us super parents have to wipe butts on the toilet and change the baby’s diapers right outside the bathroom door. This too shall pass…

Dealing With The critics

Let’s face it, there are a lot of people in our communities that see a big family and can’t help but see a herd of elephants in the room. These are the critics you’re likely to encounter when you keep growing your family.

While you’ll certainly receive positive feedback in public about how many children you have, you’re likely to encounter plenty of people who make jokes regarding how unnecessarily big your family is.

The other day someone asked my husband and me if we would be giving our next child up for adoption, laughed, and left. We have 5 kids, but this goes to show some of the crude “humor” people you just met will inflict on you while out and about.

Try and keep a good attitude when people do this, oftentimes they aren’t trying to hurt you intentionally. Yet, you never know how they feel so it’s best to shrug it off, moving on with your day as quickly as possible.

Financial obligations and daycare relief

Once you reach a certain amount of children, it becomes wise to have one parent stay at home. This cuts back on daycare costs and otherwise.

With two children in the picture, it’s likely that you and your spouse can commit to having full-time jobs without any issues. Yet, once you begin to consider having three kids you also need to seriously reconsider the work-life balance your family has.

You might have to decide to 1.) Keep a parent at home. 2.) Live off of one parent’s income. 3.) Dramatically adjust what you are spending your money on.

When you have a bigger family, you learn to adjust your eating habits to your funds spent on unnecessary fun things. While it’s totally adjustable, you might not be as ready as you think you are to make these changes.

Be sure to have your back, and plan well ahead of time what areas you are going to shift before you have another child.

kids in daycare

According to the Federal Poverty Guidelines, a 5-person family is still in 100% ‘poverty’ if they are not making more than $28,440 a year.

On top of this, the cost of childcare is enormous. If you feel adamant about continuing to work and don’t want to be a stay at home parent. you should set aside $25,000 a year for basic childcare costs when you are raising three kids.

Relationship duties and demands will shift with your partner

With so many kids actively taking your attention, it’ll take a lot more planning for the thing’s to feel fair between both partners.

With two kids, it’s not as easy to get overwhelmed to manage household duties and childcare activities. The routine is still demanding yet, with 3 little ones there is a drastic difference in this area of life.

It’s a good idea to sit down with your partner and discuss how this might look for you both. Resentments are quick to build between spouses when one is slacking with their portion of duties.

In addition, date night becomes increasingly difficult to plan. Many parents with 3 or more kids have to get creative with alone time.

Sometimes that means saving money for a babysitter while other times it means closing off your bedroom to the kids for intimate space.

rowdy children

Say bye to having downtime ever again

Say hello to sleepless times, with so many people in the family there will always be chores or tasks to do. You and your spouse won’t be able to sit in a quiet home for long, even though you aim to have quiet time for everyone in the house.

Simply put, there is always something to do. The messy living room, the laundry, the supportive time each child requires by their parents. It’s all-consuming once you have three kids under your care.

Many parents find a nice balance in all the chaos. These parents can give advice to the newbies, and inspire the ones who are feeling lost.

The great part about online resources is the endless support systems you can find from other parents who have already gone through what you will be if you decide to have a third child.

In Conclusion

You can read every article on the internet to reason with your itch to have another child. There won’t be anyone to decide what is best for your family outside of you and your partner.

Each of you has many choices to make that will significantly impact your life if you decide to have another baby. And while there are highlights to having 2 children, as much as there are to having 3 kids.

It might be distinctively obvious what makes more sense for your situation currently.

Go over these pros and cons with your spouse, and ask them to do a bit of research too. Parents who plan ahead, certainly have the upper hand when it comes to good parenting.

From daycare, to where your future attention will be going, set yourselves up for success! You could always wait until your spouse is done with receiving their degree, or you have saved a little money for a new car to make the final leap.

Sometimes life just happens, surprising you with a 3rd child – regardless of any prior planning. That’s perfectly okay too!

In these situations, we will adapt accordingly. It’s what parents are built for! No matter how many kids you have, they’ll deserve endless love in their life.


22 Ways Having Three Kids Is Different Than Having Two – Psychology Today

The Pros and Cons of Having a Third Baby – Healthline Parenthood

Should we have another baby? The pros and cons of having a third child – Motherly

The 2-To-3 Child Transition Was A Pleasant Surprise – Scary Mommy