Monday, January 13, 2014

Space Between Siblings

To be honest, I always just assumed that my children (however many of them there were) would be roughly two years apart.  That's the age difference between my sister and I, and also between Jeff and his brother. Aside from a tiny little window of time when Sam was an infant - during which I decided I'd be perfectly content with just one baby forever - I never really considered anything different.

But, as it tends to do these days, that time period came and went in a flash, and I still found myself - although now fully intending to have another baby some time - secure and confident to wait a bit longer...

I remember, around the time Sam turned two, someone telling me that "the ideal age difference between siblings for physical and physiological development is three years," and - although I have absolutely NO idea if there is any fact behind that statement - I clung to that for a while.  Three years it is then.

And now, Sam is 2 1/2 and - like my previous "deadline" for having kids two years apart - the three year age difference window is swiftly passing by as well....



In our society, you know, it's weird what we deem "acceptable" or "normal" when it comes to spacing out our children... At least in my experience, if a woman gets pregnant before her baby is a year old, people automatically assume that the pregnancy was an "accident" (as if she doesn't know how babies are made); but, once the child is a year, it seems everyone and their uncle's brother wants to know "when can we expect number 2?"  Now, what I'm finding more and more is that as your child approaches their third birthday and there is still no baby-bump in the picture, the questions begin to dwindle and people quietly wonder if you are "having trouble" or just "done" having kids altogether.



To be clear: It does not bother me when people ask when we will try for more kids.  I LOVE being a momma, I love this sweet time I've had with just Sam, and I love the person I have grown into over the last two and half years.  At this point, Lord willing, it IS a part of our "plan" to have at least one sibling for Sam; and, I'm still pretty comfortable with the fact that (for a variety of reasons) the time isn't quite right for another baby just yet... BUT, I do have to admit that I've had some insecurities swelling up recently about somehow doing a "disservice" to my kids by spacing them out so much.  I worry that they won't have a relationship, that the "hard years" of parenting will stretch on forever, and that (frankly) I'm not getting any younger.


So, today, I'm looking for a little encouragement out there in the inter-webs... Do your kids have more than three years between them (or do you and your siblings)?  How has this been a good thing for your family?  What are some of the advantages of spacing out siblings?  Do your kids still have a close relationship?  


*Obviously, and I hope this goes without saying, I'm not saying ANYTHING negative about choosing to have kids closer together either... Just looking for some "success stories" for my own personal situation, that's all.

29 comments:

  1. My kids are 3 years and 7 months apart and it has been GREAT. I cannot even begin to describe all the ways that it's easier than having them 2 years apart. I see many friends with closer gaps between kids and the transition to 2, and the first 1-2 years in general, is incredibly difficult. Just yesterday my husband carried my friend's baby to her car from church bc her 2-year-old was pitching a fit and she couldn't carry both of them (and her husband wasn't there). The odds of things like that happening with a 4-year-old are MUCH smaller. Plus, you get one out of diapers before the baby comes. And even a 3.5-year-old is able to understand a lot more about the situation and do things for himself (like get dressed, go potty, put on shoes/jacket, get a snack) or patiently wait while you feed the baby or whatever, and even do little things to help out. But they're still close enough that we didn't get all the way out of that little kid phase (to me that happens around 5 years, which was the gap between my brother and me - my parents got one kid independent and then started over). Our transition to 2 kids was a breeze compared to our transition to one!

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  2. My sister and I are 4 years apart and I love it. We never had to go to middle or high school together so I felt like I could be my own person instead of her little sister. I still remember playing dolls with her all the time when I was little and we are really good friends now, so our relationship definitely hasn't been hurt.
    Our mom liked that she got to know my sister first and didn't force her to grow up too fast or miss anything with her.
    Of course, I know plenty of siblings that are really close in age that love that too- but this is just my experience!

    Madeline
    createbakecelebrate.com

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  3. My second child is due in March and my first turned 4 in December 2013. This is also something I have struggled with! At first, the second was put off due to circumstances (my husband went back to school), and then I had a miscarriage at 14.5 weeks that also pushed the distance between the two further. Interestingly, as I get close to having this baby, I am more calm about the distance between the two. My daughter is ecstatic about having a baby brother, and understands so much about what is going on, so it is nice to have her so involved in the process. I also think it might be easier for me (I know...we'll see!) to not have two babies at the same time--my daughter doesn't WANT to be a baby anymore, and she is going to enjoy helping and doing big girl things.

    I remember one day when I was feeling stressed out about the distance between my children and was wondering if it would impact their ability to be close, I suddenly realized I am 4.5 years older than my husband--and we are definitely able to relate to each other!!! LOL It's all relative, and I think there are benefits to each and every possible family arrangement.

    From, one teacher Elizabeth, to another!

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  4. My step-son has always lived with my husband and I until about a year ago. He and our son are 7.5 years apart. When our son was a baby, this was awesome because he helped SO much. Then, when our son became a toddler, my step-son went through a bit of a jealous stage which I think is normal, regardless of the age difference. Now, my step-son is 17 and my son is 9.5 and they have a very close relationship. So, I think it can work, regardless of the age difference, It's more dependent on the personality of the kids and the family atmosphere they're raised in. Just my opinion.

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  5. I totally didn't think you'd take my suggestion, heheh.

    Our son came about 6 to 9 months sooner than we had planned...but when he came, we didn't know a life any different. We soon got our bearings as to what worked when getting out the door. The messes haven't really changed in greatness between the increase. There are some days where yes, it.is.hard.But I think no matter the age difference, there will be ages and stages that they'll trade off on that will make it no different. "For this too, shall pass" Plus it would be interesting to see a study done on age spaces and the genders.

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  6. I have four children. There is a 4 year age difference between 1&2 and 3&4, There is a 2 year difference between 2&3. My brother and I were 14 years apart (no siblings between). I have not found a drawback to any of these differences. Whatever God and you decide will be just fine :)

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  7. Hi E! My sister and I are 3 years and 7 mos apart and we are best friends. I remember playing together all growing up and are now still best friends. I personally liked having some space between us as we each had our own friends, interests, etc. I don't say that to say that 3 years and 7 mos is the perfect way to go, because obviously you love having you and your sister 2 years apart and I know others even farther a part than me (5 and 6+ years apart) who have beautiful relationships. I agree with most of the above that there is no such thing as a "perfect age difference." And a little encouragement also may be that I am 29, my husband 31, and we are not in the place to have kids yet. Just aren't and are happy as can be with that right now. And there is still time to get to that place :) For you and me both. ... Steph

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  8. Whatever is best for your family in God's timing will be wonderful. :)

    My little brother and I are 3 & 1/2 years apart and we had a blast playing together when we were little. Of course we had our fights, but have always gotten along remarkably well. I was pretty bossy with him though, haha.

    My husband is one of four and they are all about four years apart. (Right now their ages are 30, 25, 22, & 18. Three boys and the youngest a girl.) It wasn't planned that way, and there were a couple miscarriages in-between them, but they have formed beautiful relationships. It's been great seeing them mentor each other as they go through life stages. And I think it's been kinda helpful with college payments. :) It'll be interesting to see how the grandchildren's ages are spaced out, though!

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  9. I am 12 years apart from my youngest sibling, and we get along better than any of my other siblings in the middle! Honestly Elizabeth, don't worry about this, and do what's right for YOUR family!

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  10. I truly think that there is no "perfect" age difference or ideal age gap between children... As with SO many things in parenting it all depends on your unique family and what is best for you, Jeff, Sam and of course Addy. My husband and I "planned" to have kids 2 1/2 years apart... now I think it is funny that we "plan" and try to "control."

    Our girls are 21 months apart ... is challenging... YES...but is also AMAZING! God has the plan, we just need to follow...just follow your heart.

    Sidenote - I am 2 years old than one brother and 8 years older than my youngest brother and that worked out GREAT. All arrangements are their pros and cons.

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  11. This has been the exact subject of many "heated discussions" around the Mims house recently. Obviously my husband and I are on completely different planets when it comes to deciding which spacing would be best. I'd like to get pregnant again rightthissecond.... and Jordan would rather wait... and wait... and wait... unfortunately, it's been ugly. I hope we can come to some sort of compromise soon.

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  12. My brother and I are 3.5 years apart, and we got along well as kids, but not as adolescents. He was the perfect playmate when I was younger. My husband, however, is eight years older than his sister (with no other siblings in between), and they have ALWAYS gotten along and been close. It's really sweet to see them together. Not that I'd recommend an 8 year age difference, but there is something to be said about having kids further apart.

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  13. Me and my sister are 6 years apart, and besides the usual arguments, we get along wonderful. Also, between my mother and her brother are roughly 12 years, and they both have a great relationship :)

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  14. My stepson is almost 16, and our baby is due in June. It isn't ideal, per se, but it is what it is. Life doesn't always let us plan things so meticulously.

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  15. My sister and I are almost four years apart and we are super close. As someone else mentioned, we were not in middle school or high school at the same time so we were able to be our own people. My children are a little less than two years apart. I am a teacher as well and never planned to have my children so close together. My plan was 4-5 years apart. God had a different plan :) They are each other's best friends and are very close, but if I'm totally honest, those years when my youngest was under 2 were very stressful for this teacher mama. I would never trade it, but it was a challenge.

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  16. My little ones are 2 1/2 years apart and I'm not going to lie, it was very hard having a newborn and a two year old. There were days when I just wanted to sit in the middle of the floor and cry. But NOW, they are getting closer by the day (now 2 and 4) and I see how my oldest (boy) is looking out for and tending to his little sister. It's all about what you are willing to go through for an age gap. If it makes sense to wait longer, then I say wait longer if you feel it would be best for your sanity! You are the one carrying, birthing, feeding and tending to almost every single need, so having a child a bit older who is more independent will allow you to really soak up those newborn moments a little easier :)

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  17. One thing I am curious about those who have a wider age gap...did you all get rid of/donate/hand down the clothes and gear....with having two already and different genders.....I hate having all thus stuff taking up space. It sure adds up and then factor in car seats expire.

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  18. My sister and I are almost four years apart, and it has been a great experience. Since we weren't in high school together, I think it helped us to each formulate our own identities. Plus, my parents always loved that they got one of out college before the next one started! We definitely have a close relationship now too.

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  19. One thing that no one has pointed out is just because siblings are close in age does not mean that they will be friends. My husband and his brother are 2 years apart, and they really couldn't be more different. When they were little they played together, but once they hit middle school, they stopped being friends. Even today they really aren't that close. On the other hand I have a coworker who is 5 years older than her sister and they are best friends.

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  20. Me and my sister are 4 years apart! It was no problem when we were younger, we grew apart in our middle and high school years because once I left elementary school we were never in the same school again. When she went to middle school I was in high school and when she when to high school I was graduating. But now that were getting older we've grown a lot closer again! My mom says one of the perks is spacing out the college tuition payments. My parents never have to pay for more than one child's tuition.

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  21. My sister & I are 3 years apart & i think that is a wonderful age difference. Because of infertility & age (almost 36 now), i know that i will want to have mine very close together!! Since 40 is around the corner!

    That being said, i would not worry about this. :) Easier said than done, but i hope you don't let other people's comments make you feel bad about not having #2 yet! That's between you & your husband, and you will know when the time is right. I personally think there is no "right" answer for this. God will see to it that your family is designed the way He wants it to be! And it will be perfect for your family! I personally know some people that are 5 years apart (or more!) from their siblings & they have a great relationship. :)

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  22. Your post is spot on! I don't feel like too many people said things to us about having another, but now that we are pregnant people have said, "I was wondering when the second would come." I can't imagine having had our kids closer together (they will be about 2 years and 9 months apart). Jude is a serious handful. I do think it is better for your body to have the babies spread out. My doctor said that and I have read studies about the same thing, but regardless everyone has to decide what is best for their family. Enjoy your time not being pregnant and have a glass of wine for me!

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  23. I'm an only child and my observation is that some of the most wonderful benefits of having siblings aren't reaped until you are older (high school/college) when you can have a more "adult" relationship with your siblings. I see how close my husband is with his brother and sister (4 years younger and 7 years older respectively) and how that has really come about in the last 8 years (basically when the youngest of the three started college). Maybe they didn't play together every second as young children because they were developmentally in differently places, but they have a fantastic relationship now. Also because of the spacing, we were able to help each other out after college in that really hard "transition to the real world" time. My husband lived with his older sister for awhile and we rented a room to his younger brother. His older sister sold us her "starter home" and we just got all her baby hand me downs because she was done when we were just getting started. So there's some examples of the pluses of bigger spaces between kids.

    I have friends who say having them close together is the best (so fun to have little ones all together, get through the diaper stage in one big chunk, etc.) and others who say bigger spaces are the best (only paying for one daycare because one is in school already, having one in diapers at a time, seeing your older child really understand and love the big sibling role). I think it's all good. I go back and forth. Some days I want to throw another tiny one in the mix immediately and other days, I love that I'm getting to enjoy and focus his babyhood with also having to focus on a pregnancy. Of course, I remember when I was pregnant being sad that next pregnancy, I wouldn't be able to focus on it and really enjoying it because I would likely have a toddler I'd be focusing on and enjoying! But when he was about 4 months old I remember having this thought that I couldn't wait to get pregnant again and be able to "share" (as much as one does with a toddler...) that really special time with my baby boy.

    We very actively tried last time, in the future, I think we're just going to say we're open to anything after X month in X year, and just let the decision making be taken off our hands.

    Either way (more time, less time) I don't think you can go wrong. There will be wonderful things (and trying things) about what ever happens.
    Also

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  24. I am 5 (almost 6 years) older than my sister and then we have little brother that is another 5 years younger (so 11 years between him and I. We get a long great. I loved having a baby sister when I was old enough to help...she was like a living doll.

    We all live in the same town now and are very close.

    My own kids are 22 months apart (and planned that way :-)) They seem to get along, though they have only been siblings for 5 months. We'll see what the future holds.

    I think that you do whatever works for your family. No matter what the age gap is your kids may clash or may get along really well. Also, they won't know any different becuase the age gap is what it is...

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  25. Truthfully, I think there are pros and cons for any spacing. I grew up with siblings 8 and 12 years apart for me, and while I wouldn't replicate that, I am still extremely close with my siblings and we all get along really well. My kids are 22 months apart, but since baby #2 is still less than a month old, jury's still out on how that age difference works:)

    One of the surprising and beautiful aspects of life is that you can't plan it all ahead, and you wouldn't necessarily want to. I would NEVER have thought I'd have my first two kids so close together, but after dealing with infertility for a long time before having my first, my considerations changed. It sounds like you're happy with where you are, and one day that may change. The only spacing "advice" I could add would be that I don't think there's ever a good time to have a child--whenever you do it, it'll shake your life up and cause some chaos!

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  26. i just scrolled through the comments and they're all so great!
    my kids are 20 months apart and i can tell you, for sure, it's rough. i do hear that it pays off in the long run, but there are hard moments (like the first commenter whose husband had to help a friend...been there. that actually happened at our doctor's office. a nurse had to come help me. i felt like i'd hit a unique low...)
    i think there are pros and cons. if you wait, you'll likely be through potty training, communication is easier, etc. and to be honest, if i wasn't worried about my age (i want more babies and the clock is ticking!!) we would have waited.

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  27. I'm so glad you wrote about this! I too have been worries about the spacing of siblings. My son is 16 months old and I feel that window of my original plan closing too! The stories from other mothers have been very encouraging! Thank you!

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  28. Have had this discussion with everyone I know! My brother and I were 22 months apart and were very close as kids eve through high school. College not so much and we went to same school.
    I have two girls and they are 6 weeks shy of being 4 years apart. It was not planned that way. Two early miscarriages. But it is great. My oldest was so understanding of her sister's needs and had such patience! I think now with an almost 2 year old about having an infant too and have no clue how it could be done! I took naps when my youngest did because a four year old can watch a little tv unsupervised!
    My husband did say the other day that our oldest would be away at college the whole time our youngest is in high school. I hated that (never thought about it!) I relied on my brother a lot in hs.
    They really are super close friends at almost 6 and 2. They play together all the time, sometimes even quietly!!

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  29. e, i know i am several days late commenting to this, BUT just wanted to encourage you. jon and i are four years apart. he is my best friend. i was always a little jealous of friends who had siblings closer in age to them growing up, but now i wouldn't change it. at least with both of our competitive personalities, it is much better having a few years between us. now having two girls 19 months apart, there are many a day that i wish there was more time between the girls. charley would be a lot more helpful with kate. there are so many blessings with a few years between siblings. miss you, friend!!

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Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!


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