I am a horrible pregnant person. And my second son barely slept his whole first year. My first went from totally agreeable to extremely challenging at two and a half years old and never looked back. I'm not getting any younger and some days two feels like more than I can handle. And yet none of these things have deterred me from wanting another child.
The only thing that truly gives me pause when it comes to family planning is money. I wish it weren't true, but the all mighty dollar is a real consideration for this middle class family. It feels as though the cost of raising children has gotten completely out of control. And something needs to change, because parents shouldn't feel as though growing their family is impossible.
I often joke that I'd love more kids but I need to win the lottery first. The truth is, even if you simplify, having kids is super expensive. And I'm not talking about the latest fancy baby gear. I'm talking about basics, like health care. My husband and I have health insurance and it still cost almost $8000 to have a healthy baby in the hospital. And that's just to bring them into the world. We have seen some improvement with the new preventative care coverage but going to the doctor, even just for a cold or small injury, adds up quick.
As a cloth diapering, clothes sewing, budget conscious mama I'm here to say that raising kids in America is expensive, any way you slice it.
Another expense that seems to have gotten completely out of whack is childcare. Many families opt for a single income because childcare would basically eat up that entire second income, but that is still costing that family a major reduction in funds. And raising a family on a single income has become ever more difficult. For those of us who work, even just part-time, finding affordable, high-quality childcare is nearly impossible. We were fortunate to find a great preschool that was not nearly as expensive as most and it still cost $400 a month for three half days a week. And if you have more than one child that cost increases dramatically, yet your earnings don't magically double and triple with each new addition. And if you think preschool is pricey, don't even calculate the cost of college by the time your children are ready to attend.
Many family activities have become so expensive that they are cost prohibitive. Our family already doesn't take summer vacations because they are so expensive, adding another child would make it impossible to even consider. Even a simple trip to the movies has become a serious budget concern. Summer camps, piano lessons, soccer, almost all extracurriculars put a serious dent in a family's budget. And with each additional child those funds get stretched ever thinner.
Add to all of this the bare necessities and it's no wonder people are choosing to have fewer children. The cost of food, especially healthy food, has risen in recent years and the prices won't likely drop anytime soon. Clothes, shoes, you get the idea. Plus, there is shelter to consider. If you live in a place with pricey real estate adding a child can add a significant amount to your housing costs. Even if another kid just means a bigger car, the larger price tags seem to be everywhere.
I get frustrated when I read articles that imply that kids aren't expensive and that parents are just materialistic. As a cloth diapering, clothes sewing, budget conscious mama I'm here to say that raising kids in America is expensive, any way you slice it. My hope is that we can find ways as a society to mitigate these costs, because the joy a baby brings to a family can't be measured in dollars and cents.