As a mum of three, I’ve pondered this very question many times.

I am the eldest child of five. There are 10 years between myself and my youngest sister. My parents had four girls and one boy. As a child, I remember our house being full of laughter, food and children. There was never a dull moment and there was always someone to play (or fight) with. My mum’s philosophy was ‘the more the merrier’ – so, in addition to her own five children, there were always more kids in the house. It was a constant hive of activity. We also had a people mover, in the form of a Mitsubishi Starwagon, so we had the ability to take extra kids anywhere we were going. I loved my childhood and I vowed to have lots of children too. The magic number in my mind was four. I would tell anyone who asked that I was going to have four children.

My hubby and I had our first baby in 2012 and the reality of motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks. Our beautiful daughter was born via emergency ceasearan section at 38.5 weeks. This was the first of many parts of motherhood that didn’t go to the plan in my head. Our little girl suffered from reflux, she would scream anytime she was laid on her back – nappy changes, pram rides, being laid down to sleep. By six weeks, I was a bit of a mess. Mother’s Group was a bit a saving grace for me, particularly after the Child Health Nurse identified that our daughter had ‘reflux’ and encouraged me to see my paediatrician for treatment.

My desire for four children shriveled pretty quickly once I became a mum. I would jokingly tell people that one was plenty, although I was never totally serious about this. Sure enough, after we had moved through the reflux newborn days and into more of a pattern, we decided to try for another little person. Two and half years after our daughter, we welcomed a son into our family.

No reflux this time, but this one didn’t like sleep! From the very beginning, he craved touch and wanted to be held as much as possible. His best sleeps were in the baby carrier on me or when the pram was moving (anyone else relate?!). He woke frequently at night and didn’t sleep through until he was close to two and a half years old.

Needless to say, it took a while for us to decide if we wanted a third. Despite the sleep deprivation, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we weren’t ‘done’ yet. Hubby was more on the fence, but wasn’t a hard no on the third, so we eventually decided to go for it and try for a third. This pregnancy was not meant to be. I experienced what is known as a missed miscarriage – my body didn’t realise that I was no longer pregnant, so I continued to have pregnancy symptoms. A couple of scans around 10 weeks revealed there was no heartbeat and after a further few weeks waiting for my body to recognise this, I was admitted to hospital for a D&C. This was a pretty traumatic period for me, but we were still keen to try for another baby, so about four months after our miscarriage, we found out we were pregnant again. In July 2019, we welcomed another boy into our family, and our family of five was set.

Our youngest is now two years old. Although I am content with our three beautiful children and don’t plan on having any more, I keep waiting for the feeling of being ‘finished’ – something I have heard other friends talk about. When snuggling someone else’s new baby or watching a couple with their newborn, I feel the familiar tug of longing – maybe we could have a fourth?

Then I realise that I am pretty well at capacity with three. I ponder what bringing another baby into our family would look like. I feel like with two, we managed pretty well, with three I am just hanging in there! It is certainly true that my hubby and I are outnumbered – attending to the children’s needs now becomes more of a triaging system – who really needs us and who just has to wait or cry until we get to them?

I’ve read lots of articles that suggest that three children is the most stressed you will get. The theory goes that with one or two children, you can manage and you’re not outnumbered, but with three, you’re still hanging onto control but, being outnumbered, it becomes a much more difficult task. I read that from four children and beyond, you start to bring the eldest in much more as a helper, plus you have to let go of the control of having it all together all the time – in essence, you are forced to just relax and let go a bit more. But I can’t truly comment as I can only come from my base of three.

I often ask my mum (a proud mumma of five) – ‘how did you do it Mum?!’. I have friends ask me the same question all the time. What I’ve deduced is that she is definitely a superwoman. I also think that based on your individual circumstances, everyone will find the perfect number and it’s not something Google can tell you!

With all this in mind, I’d love to know, what do you think is the ultimate number of kids?

If you enjoyed reading this blog, please check out my other blogs about motherhood, life and everything in between at Tash Diaries.

Tash Hanham
Author: Tash Hanham

Tash Hanham is a local mum of three young children. Tash is a blogger at Tash Diaries, small business owner, home cook, juggler of life admin, lover of food, adventure and travel. Tash has a vision of empowering other women to live their best life through shared stories and experiences.