There are so many things to consider when deciding if a second baby is right for you. Some are emotional: Are you comfortable with your household dynamic changing? Do you have the patience to “start over” with a newborn? And others are logistical, like how your professional and financial situation might be impacted by adding another member of the family.
We can help clarify the latter.
Professional Life After No. 2
Search “second baby” and “career” and brace yourself for the spate of depressing pieces you’ll find. And it isn’t just a few emotional first-person accounts from people who found it all but impossible to balance work and family that are rising to the top. A second baby has a professional impact that is unique from the first.
The cost of child care rises, for one, and time declines. There’s also a strain on the relationship when both parents work, and the logistics of working life with two or more children often push a mother in the direction of stepping away from her career entirely. (Throw in a third and fourth child and research indicates a significant decline in moms who return to the workforce).
And speaking of Mom, data shows that the immediate impact of having another baby is actually a lot harder on her than it is on Dad. So if you are a mom who is returning to work, it’s not just in your head; the adjustment is likely to be tougher than it was the first time.
If leaving a career to care for two small children is all part of the plan, that can be a wonderful option if it’s right for your family. But periodically check in with your professional field. Whether it’s working selectively or part-time, or staying current with any credentials/licenses, many women opt to keep one foot in the door so that if they do want or need to return to the workplace, they’re poised to do so. After all, your babies will one day attend full-day school and you may want to get back in the game.
It costs about $233,610 to raise a child to age 18, according to the USDA. That’s a lot of money, but the good news is that the cost per kid isn’t necessarily the same, and in fact it can drop slightly with more children in the family. This is due to the fact that some things can be shared, like toys and clothes. Big-ticket items such as cribs and car seats can be passed along if the age differences align. And in some cases, more children means you can take advantage of buying food in bulk, which is more economical. Plus, many day-care centers and schools offer discounts for siblings.
All that said, it’s still a significant amount of money. To get a sense of how precisely a second child can impact your budget, you can look at the numbers another way: Two-parent households with one child typically spend about 27% of their income on the child, while two-parent households with two children spend 41% of their income on the kids.
In the end, as anyone with a beloved sibling will tell you, the benefits of having a partner in crime — at least from a child’s perspective — may outweigh the impact on their parents’ bank account.