How Many Kids Can You Really Have Before Adultitis Takes Over?

Does having more kids increase your chances of Adultitis?

If so, how many kids can you have before it takes over your life completely?

This sums up a question I recently received through our website. Here it is in its entirety:

“Hi guys, if it’s not too personal of a topic, I was wondering if you had plans to try for more kids at some point. My husband and I go back and forth on whether our daughter (now one) should be an only child. On the one hand, the families I see with lots of kids seem to be extremely caught up in Adultitis, stress, and the daily grind. It seems like having more kids often creates an intense division of Us vs. Them between the parents and kids. I sometimes think we’d have more fun with just our daughter since right now we play all day and travel and do all kinds of things we all want to do.

On the other hand, we adore our daughter and think she’s a blast so maybe more would be a blast too. Do you have any thoughts on the number of kids in regards to Adultitis and having a fun life? Thanks!”

I’m sure a ton of people can relate to this. I know I can.

The answer, fortunately, is very simple.


That’s exactly how many kids you can have and still expect a relatively Adultitis-free life.

I’m kidding, of course. The reality is that you can find Adultitis-ridden people who have 12 kids, 3 kids, 1 kid, or no kids at all. It reminds me of the people who warned us before welcoming our first child into the world that kids are actually the cause of Adultitis. That worried me until other people started to assure me that kids are in fact the cure to Adultitis. That’s when I realized it had nothing to do with kids (or even the number of kids) at all.

Yes, more kids equals more mouths to feed, more bodies to clothe, more schedules to juggle and more cell phones to buy. But it also offers more variety, more liveliness, more laughter, and more hands to help with the household chores. When it comes to Adultitis, there is no panacea — it’s coming hard after every one of us, whether we are young, old, married or single, childless, or that old lady who lived in a shoe.

The grass always looks greener on the other side, but it still needs to be cut.

Kim and I kept a journal during our first year of parenthood, and we learned something very valuable through the process. Our Adultitis levels had more to do with our attitudes and the choices we made than with the fact that we had a new little being under our care. Being parents has presented us with trials that were harder than we’d ever faced before. But we’ve also experienced joys we could have only dreamed of before we had kids. Adultitis tends to dissipate when you spend the bulk of your time focusing on (and appreciating) the joys more than the trials.

All that being said, there are some keys that I think are worth remembering:

  • You don’t have to say yes to everything. Your schedule doesn’t have to match the Jones’. They’re nuts, after all.
  • Set aside one day a week reserved for family — no exceptions. It’s so much easier to navigate the craziness of a busy week when you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel in which you can all just “be.”
  • Your kids don’t have to be involved in every extra curricular activity under the sun. Try sticking to one at a time. (Don’t worry, they’ll still get into college.)
  • You can do a lot of things with kids that most people claim you can’t. Travel is just one of them.
  • Make it a priority to have dinner together every night. It has been proven to help kids get better grades and minimizes their risk of getting involved in drugs and premarital sex.
  • Model playfulness and an attitude of not taking yourself too seriously, at least as much as you try to foster honesty, discipline, and a good work ethic.
  • No one ever said on their deathbed that they wish they’d spent more time at the office.
  • Kids don’t need a lot of STUFF. What they need most is TIME.
  • Parenting is a hard gig. No one passes with flying colors. Let this reality sink in, let the pressure to be perfect disappear, and have fun!

In the end, when it comes to Adultitis, the number of kids you have is irrelevant.

What really matters are the choices you make and the attitude you adopt.

[ This post originally appeared on Dad-O-Matic, a great site for dads, by dads. ]

Check out Just You Wait, a collection of raw, insightful, and humorous journal entries detailing our adventures in fighting Adultitis as first-time parents. Parents of all sorts – and especially first-timers – will enjoy the honest look at the roller coaster ride that is parenting.

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  1. Growing up, my parents had to manage me and my two younger brothers (yes, 3 boys). One thing I noticed was that my mom (I love her to death) would stress out about little things that really were not that important such as planning every little detail out. Then she would get upset at us when we did not follow the plan to the “T” even though none of the plans were hurt. So I agree that a lot of it has to do with the choices we make.

    • I’m afraid your mom is not the only one with those tendencies, but it’s certainly something we all can learn from. I have been known to get bummed out when things don’t go as I planned them in my head, but I’ve gotten much better at rolling with it over the years :)

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