The Truth Behind Why You Can’t Always Plan Your Family

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As moms, we like to have things planned out. We have planners where we schedule out our days, we put alarms and reminders in our phones, and we spend time thinking about and planning our futures. But things rarely turn out as we want them to, and a family is no exception.

I tried hard to plan my family. I got married young, wanted kids right away, and wanted 15 of them. For real. I even planned out how it could be biologically possible. But as it always does, life gets in the way. And as it turns out, motherhood is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Go figure.

You can plan all you want, but a family is a dynamic thing and there are factors that make it so you can’t always plan your family the way you want.

1. You can’t always plan to get pregnant.

Plenty of people long to have children but battle infertility. Some people are able to adopt, some aren’t. Some are able to have a child, but can’t have as many as they’d like. Even if you have been able to get pregnant easily in the past, it may not be easy in the future. I was able to get pregnant pretty quickly with our first two kids, but then we tried and tried some more and nothing happened for a long time. Unfortunately, pregnancy is one of those things you can’t always control.

2. You can’t always plan to stay pregnant.

When we were trying for that baby and finally did get pregnant, I had a miscarriage. It was heartbreaking and painful. All that trying, so much hope, and now we’d lost a baby. Then we had to wait even longer before we could try again. It was incredibly frustrating.

3. You can’t always plan NOT to get pregnant.

Just a few months after we finally had our third child, I found out I was pregnant with our fourth. Seriously? It took us forever to have #3 and suddenly we were blessed with a “pleasant surprise.” Believe me when I say, if you don’t want to get pregnant, absolutely do not forget your birth control.

4. You can’t always plan on how hard motherhood is going to be.

I thought I was prepared for motherhood. I have two younger siblings that are a lot younger than me so I was used to babysitting, changing diapers, being woken up in the middle of the night and hearing constant whining and crying. I knew I’d be up all night with my baby, and I was just fine with that. The problem was, I imagined I’d be up all night rocking a sleeping baby with my makeup on and my hair done and not feeling the least bit angry or exhausted. I was not prepared for having a screaming baby I could do nothing to comfort. I wasn’t ready to be so out of it that I would fall asleep on the floor while the little ones played on and around me. I didn’t anticipate feeling like a zombie all day and all night for decades. A few years after I had my fourth child, I wanted another baby, but was still so maxed out, exhausted and even miserable that I knew I just couldn’t handle it until the kids got older. And if you have a child with health problems or special needs, it can make having additional children even more complicated.

5. You can’t always plan on how your spouse will feel.

You may want more kids when your spouse doesn’t, or vice versa. But with a decision as big as adding another person into the family, you absolutely have to be on the same page. When my husband brought up the idea of having a fifth baby, I realized I was getting to an age where we had to make a decision and either have another baby or call it quits. We decided together that we wanted another baby, but not all couples can agree. If you can’t agree, I think the default should be NOT adding kids to the family until you are both on board. It’s just too much responsibility to handle without both partners being totally OK with it.

6. You can’t always plan for health problems.

Chronic pain and illness, cancer, surgeries, and certain medications can all make family planning more difficult. I didn’t plan on the health problems that would cause my doctor to advise me to put off having more kids for awhile. Nor did I expect that after having #5, another doctor would tell me that my body definitely could not handle having any more children. We had hoped to have an even number of kids (again with the futile planning) and thought we’d have a #6 to give #5 a buddy, but now that was just not possible.

7. You can’t always plan for mental health problems.

After I had my first kid, I no longer wanted 15. After having four, and having the last two very close together, I was struggling. I was depressed (like sleep on the couch all day while the kids watched Netflix depressed) and anxious (like getting up in the middle of the night to check the locks on the doors again anxious). I was constantly battling my feelings of hopelessness and despair and was not being the mom I wanted to be. I just simply couldn’t add any more kids into the mix at the time. I had to focus on the kids I already had and on taking care of myself. I worked with my doctor to get the counselling and medications I needed to get myself healthy before I was ready to have that fifth kid.

I tried planning out my family, but nothing ever happened the way thought it would. Life rarely does. All we can do is try our best to plan, have life derail those plans, and see where we end up. I’m happy with the way my family turned out, even though I never would have planned it this way. It’s definitely for the best, though, because 15 kids is just nuts.

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Hi, I’m Crystal Hill and I’ve been a mom by profession for the past 17 years. My qualifications are: raising 5 kids and having a degree in Marriage, Family and Human Development (yes, that’s a real degree) from BYU. I’m particularly experienced in the areas of carpooling and diaper changing. My hobbies include watching crime dramas and absurd comedies when I have the time, reading when I have the attention span, and running when I’m not too fat. I’m also really good at oversharing and cracking myself up, usually at the same time.You can find me at Simplify MommyhoodFacebookPinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. See all of Crystal’s posts here. 

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I've been a mom by profession for the past 18 years. My qualifications are: raising 5 kids and having a degree in Marriage, Family and Human Development. I'm particularly experienced in the areas of carpooling and diaper changing. My hobbies include watching crime dramas and absurd comedies when I have the time, reading when I have the attention span, and running when I'm not too fat. I'm also really good at oversharing and cracking myself up, usually at the same time.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Very well put and completely true on all accounts. My planned 14 quickly turned into 11 pregnancies with only 7 living. I don’t regret any of it because my husband and I were in complete agreement as you suggested. I enjoy your writing and perspectives on life, but especially your honesty!

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