The Perfect Age Gap
You have tossed the idea of having another child back and forth and asked yourself "is this the right time?" or "will this be the best age gap between my kids". To get the inside scoop we interviewed a group of moms with a variety of age gaps between their children to discuss the struggles and benefits of each one and to answer the real question.... is there really the "perfect" age gap?
Melanie - Age Gap Between Kids - 13 Months
Cutting my first mat leave early in order to get enough hours for unemployment and getting over the anxiety and guilt of leaving my 9 month old. (it was hard) coming to terms with the idea of being pregnant so quickly. I’m a huge planner so this was a massive unplanned event. Dealing with the finances of a second so quickly. We felt we needed a larger home and larger car and double daycare costs. Melanie's husband says “double the diapers and the weight of the garbage bag” Physically I think it was harder on my body. I had high blood pressure and a lot of bleeding after.
Benefits: Everyone at the hospital remembered me. The kids are best friends and they play well together (till the don’t). They both still napped for a few years giving my some peace and quiet through the day. We never got out of the diaper routine. It was continuous for 4 years vs if we had them 3 years apart like I planned we would be changing diapers for 6-7 years straight. My son was never jealous of the attention I gave my daughter. He was so little he didn’t get jealous.
Brittney - Age Gap Between Kids - 5 Years
"The hardest part was reverting back to that newborn stage, and losing that little bit of “freedom” we had. (at a point where we had) no naps, feeding schedules; etc. But I found it easier to balance everything because they were five years apart, my older child could be given a task to stay occupied if I was tending to the baby. I’m glad we have the five year gap, it helps a lot to have an older kid in school during the day. Makes things a little less overwhelming.
Lindsay - Age Gap Between Kids - 2 Years
"Challenges were: 1. Communication with the 2 year old. Time helped overcome that challenge. 2. Sleep. There’s a sleep regression around age 2. Luckily I have an involved husband who helped during that insanely rough period. 3. Nursing was hard as the 2 year old didn’t understand why she had to be quiet etc. We introduced TV etc. to help with this.
The benefits now are that they are close in age and love to play together. Also, I was already used to being sleep deprived so I didn’t have to prepare for it again all that much"
Kyla - Age Gap Between Kids - 10 Years
Challenges: - the older one was an only child for 10 years and had a harder time sharing the spotlight than I think she would’ve if she was much younger. She had never shared me before. For that, I had to consciously make sure I was setting aside time for just her and I. Another challenge is finding family activities suitable for both ages. It’s near impossible! So we take turns. Sometimes it’s something more suitable for just the older one and sometimes it’s more suited to just the younger one. Letting her have “special” privileges, like a late night movie night with us helps.
Benefits: - built-in babysitter! They don’t really fight and she finds him hilarious/adorable, not annoying. Only one kid in diapers, Older one is in school so the younger one gets undivided attention at home.
Diana - Age Gap Between Kids - 2.5 years
I’m sure you would find this with any age gap but it was difficult splitting my time and trying to have enough attention and energy for both of them. In the beginning, the younger one still needed constant supervision so that was tough. You learn to adapt more and become a pro at doing things on the go or wherever you may be. I was also dealing with potty training. It was also more difficult to have set nap times with my second. He was much more used to having naps on the go. We always went out in the morning so he slept on the go - otherwise we would never leave the house. And that’s not good for anyone’s mental health. (they were also both at home with me - other than my oldest going to a home daycare once a week). With your first, your schedule revolves around their nap and eAting habits but with your second your schedule revolves around your oldest’s schedule. At least that’s what I found.
One benefit was definitely that it taught my oldest to become more independent. He had to learn how to do things on his own - even play on his own. I also could begin to trust him by himself downstairs if I was running upstairs quickly or putting M down for a nap. I think it’s also nice because they aren’t too far apart in age. They can still play together and I was fortunate that they both adore each other. My oldest has also been a great helper since day 1. He likes helping out so things like grabbing diapers or wipes or even entertaining his little brother are super helpful. With there being 2.5 year difference it also allowed us to have more communication about his baby brother coming and then after he was born perhaps helping with any frustrations. I could still use a double stroller or my single as my oldest could either walk or go in the stroller. Sue - Age Gap Between Kids 18 months and 12 years
I found with two so close in age, I sometimes never enjoyed them individually, it was two babies at once, almost like raising twins...( which people often thought they were ) it was draining, and often a blur, but I was older, so we had them close together, I was blessed to have two more, and I wouldn't change it for the world. My oldest son was 12 when I started having babies again....he hated it....hitting his teens and independent years, then having wee ones in the house, he was not impressed. Although he did enjoy them when they were a bit older, and would help watch them or even periodically babysit, he did not enjoy the infant, baby times very much......now they are all the best of friends. Having children 12 years apart gave me ease as I was a more relaxed and calm Mom as I was experienced and knew what I was doing ( even if I was busy with 2 at once )Knowing what to do and what to expect as an already experienced mom did help me enjoy the overall experience that much more
What I have gathered from everyone's comments is that motherhood is hard. Its full of challenges, ups and downs but at the end of the day it is a beautiful thing! There is no "perfect" time to have a second child, no magical age gap that makes everything work and makes everything easy. Know that whenever (if ever) you decide to add a second child in the mix it will be the right time for you!