Before I had kids, I would have had as many kids as possible.
And I would have had them as close together as possible.
Nothing crazy, but you get it. As a teacher and someone who overall loves kids, it was a pretty simple thing to say.
Kids are great and I knew I definitely wanted my own.
Then I actually had my first, and I realized kids took time and energy and love and, and…
One kid is a lot to handle…but two? At the same time?!
That sounded chaotic, especially after having a colicky first baby. We are all such knowledgeable parents before we actually become parents, aren’t we?
My kids are three years and three months apart and, for our family, it has been perfect.
The age gap we have holds just the perfect amount of space and sanity, and I will sing its praises forever.
While I know the age range and the number of children one has can be such a sensitive subject, I only speak from my personal experience.
Because of this, I say with confidence that the three-plus-year age gap is exceptional, and often heartily recommend it to any of my friends in question.
1. Independence of My Oldest
When my son was born my daughter was already potty trained.
One kid worth of diapers seems a bit more manageable to me, especially while taking care of or nursing a newborn.
Even if it’s not more manageable, it is certainly cheaper financially. Her independence transferred well, not just for going to the bathroom mostly on her own, but also for helping me grab things.
I knew if I was struggling to change a diaper or needed cream or wipes when I was trying to wrangle a crying newborn, she could get it for me from the other room.
2. The Snack Drawer
Before my second was born, we set up a toddler-acceptable snack drawer in the kitchen.
It had safe things for her to grab that I would restock as needed: things like applesauce, cereal bars, etc.
So when she asked me for a snack approximately 93721 times a day and I was nursing or nap-trapped under a newborn, I could just say “go check the snack cabinet.”
And I didn’t even have to move.
Glowing five-star recommendation for a snack drawer in promoting independence for siblings and convenience for mama when welcoming additional children (one that also comes with rules, of course).
3. Confidence in My Motherhood
I was a completely different mom the second time around because of both time and experience.
I believe the few years of wait-time between my kids helped, and I was much more sure of myself in a lot of ways. Bottom line, I trusted my gut more.
While I value each of my motherhood experiences, I know my confidence was exponentially greater the second time around.
I was more relaxed and at ease when my baby cried and had at least a few ideas on how to help him when he needed me. I was overall more prepared – emotionally and physically.
4. Communication of Oldest
While three-year-olds aren’t necessarily expert communicators, they can more or less tell you what they want. Or at least they can show you what they need.
This makes it a lot easier when you have a baby screaming at you and you don’t know what they want.
It seemed to be less frustrating for me as well as my oldest, amid learning how to mother two kids at the same time
Let’s not forget simultaneously dealing with the slew of other emotions postpartum brings.
I prefer one screaming child at a time, thank you.
5. Meaningful Solo Time for Older Siblings
When my son was first born, my husband took my daughter out on a handful of solo dates.
This helped in two ways; to make sure she still felt special and to give me one-on-one time with my newest babe to bond and heal.
We could also flip and give my daughter solo-mama-time, while dad stayed home with the newborn.
Yes, this could happen if she were younger, but with her being older, we felt we could make this time a bit more special. At her age, she could appreciate solo trips to the playground or to get ice cream.
And when my parents came to stay with us for a few weeks before and during the time we were in the hospital, she remembers waiting with them for us to come home.
6. Able to Understand More About the Baby
While I was pregnant, we talked a lot about what having and being a sibling means.
We talked about specific circumstances that would soon happen – the baby would cry, what it meant, that mommy and daddy had to leave for a day or two when he was born.
We could prepare my oldest, and I truly felt she could understand.
While she may not really understand the concept of babies or the radical change which was about to rock her world, we could communicate with her clearly. I believe this helped prepare her for the major transition from an only child to a big sister.
We talked over lots of scenarios the few months leading up to the birth of our son, such as “Mommy and Daddy need to go to the hospital to have a baby brother” or “When we come home we’ll need your help!”
We also read a lot of “Big Sister” books which helped her understand specific examples.
She may not have fully understood, but we repeated things such as “when the baby cries, it needs something and it’s okay,” so when they actually happened and he was here, she felt more prepared and secure.
Of Course, We Can’t Plan for Everything
Life happens, circumstances change.
Timelines aren’t always what we think or thought they will be.
We don’t always have a baby right when we want to, and that’s okay.
In an ideal world, we’d be able to make our own life plan, but that doesn’t mean we do in this one. There are pros and cons to everything when it comes to family planning.
One way is not always better, or easier or more difficult, than another.
We can relinquish control over something very much not totally in our control… while still having a preference or opinion on how we want it to (or how it may) work out.
If you’re on the fence between waiting a little longer to have a baby after your first, I am here to give you my experience and my support!