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The 10 Best Ways to Know for Sure If You’re Done Having Kids

You may be completely in love with your children and amazed that you've created such incredible little humans—but at some point you know you won't be having more. These are the signs.

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You feel “complete”

If you’ve found yourself whispering “You complete me” a la Jerry Maguire to your youngest child, then you’re probably not feeling the urge to add any more kids to your family. Why fix what isn’t broken, right? There’s a certain sense of completion that is born along with the final child in a family that just feels right. It’s a gut feeling more than anything else, although it sounds rather corny to say that when you know, you know. It’s true, and it shouldn’t be discounted. If you’re a family of three, and you find yourself gazing longingly at the fourth chair around the dinner table, then you’re probably not experiencing this sense of completion. If you see one kid in a high chair and you’re good with that, it’s perfectly fine to own it.

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Pregnancy feels like it was a lot of work

If you can remember the dirty details of pregnancy vividly—the aches and pains, the skin changes, the waddling, heartburn, and the insomnia—and you don’t gloss over them over to reminisce about the wonderful things that come with it, then you’re probably not looking to get pregnant anytime soon, if ever, again. Pregnancy is the best of times and the worst of times, putting it mildly. When a woman remembers past pregnancies and instantly recalls popping joints, an aching back, and Braxton Hicks contractions, she’s pretty much over it. Sure, pregnancy also means feeling tiny kicks from within, listening to the wonder that is another heartbeat inside of you, and anticipating all the joy that a new baby will bring too. But allowing yourself to remember it realistically isn’t a crime either. If all you can focus on are the negatives, it might be time to pass along those maternity clothes.

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You attend baby showers and offer veteran mom advice

Attending baby showers as a guest when you plan to have more children and when you are finished having children are two very different experiences. If you’re still in “baby mode,” you’ll most likely feel more than just the average excitement for the expectant mother—you’ll feel a sense of joy and anticipation about being in her shoes once again yourself. However, if baby days are firmly in your past, you’ll gladly offer the tips and tricks you’ve picked up through the years while sipping your mimosa and silently rejoicing that you’ll never have a need for nipple cream again. You won’t be taking note of the latest baby gifts and gadgets for your own future use, you’ll be too busy planning to include them in a baby gift for the next shower you attend.

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You see moms of newborns and want to hug them

You can spot them anywhere, and in an instant, you can remember what it felt like to stand in their shoes. You recognize it all: the crying newborn, wailing in short hungry bursts that won’t be quieted by a pacifier; the panicked face she wears as she stands in the store aisle, desperate to be out of the house if only for only a little while. It all comes rushing back to you, and you instantly feel solidarity, empathy, and the need to hug her and tell her it’s going to get better. Now you’re on the other side of things, and your vision isn’t clouded by sleepless nights and off-the-charts hormone levels. This is the gift of surviving the hazing that is the newborn period, and as a been-there done-that mom, it’s time to pass it on. When you feel more wise than wishful about seeing a newborn, that’s a sure sign that you’ve moved on.

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When asked if you’re having more you don’t hesitate

People love to ask mothers of child-bearing age if they’re going to have more children. If you’re not sure how to answer this question, you might hesitate or offer a blank stare—or simply reply “Are you?” For moms who are certain that they won’t be popping out any more babies, their answers are direct, to the point, and confident. That’s your gut speaking, so listen up.

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You’ve resumed old hobbies

Once you’re past the all-consuming baby stage of parenting, the world that you once knew before having kids opens back up, allowing you to enjoy things you’ve had to place on the back-burner temporarily, whether you were an avid book group member, golfer, surfer, vlogger, museum volunteer, or singer in a rock band. Of course, many mothers are able to fit in some of their old hobbies here and there, but it’s not usually as immersive. There’s nap time and nursing times to consider, along with separation anxiety and mom guilt. It’s all a lot to bear for a new mom, and when some of that neediness eases up, it can feel really freeing. If you’ve experienced this newfound freedom and don’t see yourself returning to the days of being tied to an infant round the clock, you’re probably well on your way to accepting your family as is.

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You rejoice and mourn as each milestone passes

Your babies are getting older, and their childhood really is passing in the blink of an eye. Every time one hits a new milestone, whether it’s first steps, first words, potty training, or kindergarten, you feel a sense of pride, happiness, and also a twinge of sadness—because you know it’s the last time you’ll experience it. The very same milestones with your previous babies felt different. Perhaps you were bummed that time was passing so quickly, but you comforted yourself with the knowledge that you could soak up those cherished baby moments again with the next child. This is not the case for the last baby in the family. You know that when it’s over, it’s really over—and that feels like relief and sorrow at the same time. Or it could just be relief, and that’s okay too. So long diaper bag! Good riddance!

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Your baby fever doesn’t stick around

Most mothers will always miss certain aspects of motherhood: the weight of a newborn sleeping on your chest, slobbery, gummy kisses that cover your face, and the soft coos and sweet noises an infant makes when trying to communicate. The colic and all-nighters somehow get tucked into the deep recesses of a mother’s mind, especially when she sees or holds someone else’s new baby. When baby fever hits for a veteran mom, it’s completely normal for all of those fuzzy memories of new motherhood to come rushing back. Who can resist the delicious smell of a brand new baby? For a mom who is completely done having babies, however, it’s equally lovely to hand that baby back to its mother and resume enjoying your cappuccino and funny videos of cats knocking things off counters while planning your ski vacation to Breckenridge.

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Birth feels impossible

Once a mother has a few years between her and the experience of giving birth, however it happened, it becomes increasingly hard to believe that her body went through such an ordeal and actually survived. Birth experiences vary from peaceful to wildly traumatic, and yet most women find themselves reflecting on it with a sense of pride and awe of their body’s ability to bring another human into the world. If you’re decidedly finished having children, birth can seem like something you can’t ever imagine experiencing again. Ever. If you had health conditions or complications during past births, you might even have feelings of fear, dread, or panic. Give yourself the grace to accept your own feelings surrounding your birth experience, and if you’re truly done having children, then breathe a sigh of relief. You’ve done it, and you survived—and you don’t ever have to do it again.

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You can’t imagine having it better than you do now

When you look around your dinner table or gaze at family portraits and feel content, you probably don’t have a burning desire for more children. Maybe you can happily picture yourself several years down the road with the adult versions of the children you now have. You see them graduating, getting married, having their own children—and in none of those images is a hole where that second, third, or fourth child would be, if only you could have it. Now you can kick back and focus on the little pleasures, like building a snowman, laughing at the hilarious things your kids say, and taking ridiculous selfies together. That’s your family—perfect just the way it is.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Jen Babakhan
Jen Babakhan is an author and credentialed educator living in California. She writes regularly about advice and culture for Reader's Digest. She is also the author of Detoured: The Messy, Grace-Filled Journey From Working Professional to Stay-at-Home Mom (Harvest House Publishers, 2019). She earned her BA in Communication Studies from California State University, Stanislaus. You can follow her on Instagram @JenBabakhan , Twitter @JenBabakhan, and Facebook @JenBabakhanauthor.