Why I Love the Bigger Age Gap Between My Kids
This morning as I was pouring my cup of coffee (that first one of the day, when you still have hope that you might get to drink that same cup while it’s still hot), I could hear my 5-month-old son screeching in the living room.
He hasn’t mastered the typical giggle yet. Maybe the screech is his giggle. It sounds like how I imagine a baby velociraptor would when screaming for food. I love it. It’s loud and unbridled and filled with joy. I hope he always laughs just like this.
9 times out of 10, when we hear his happy screech, it’s because his sister–the absolute light of his world–is giving him attention. And in turn, after his happy scream, we always hear some variation of, “Awww, you love me! I love you too, honey!” coming from our 5-year-old daughter.
She had been asking for a baby for about a year before we actually got pregnant, and from the second we told her that we were expecting, he has been her baby. For the entire 9 months leading up to his arrival, she would hug my belly and tell me “I’m hugging baby brother, mom.”
She is the perfect age to understand who her brother is to her. She understood why I couldn’t get up and run around as I recovered for the few weeks after having him. She understands what it means to be gentle with baby. She sings “You Are My Sunshine” to him when I can’t get to him fast enough and he cries out.
The relationship these two have is precious to watch unfold. And seeing my oldest step into the role of big sister with so much pride and love has been a new level of motherhood joy.
And yet, for the years that my daughter was an only child, we felt consistent pressure to have our second sooner.
Not only did we get the typical question: “When will you have your second?,” we also faced comments that I felt were even more upsetting: “You need to have your second child soon, or you won’t have the energy for them later.” Or even: “Siblings with a larger age gap won’t be close.”
While there are so many positives to having children close in age, it simply isn’t for everyone.
Whether it’s due to infertility, or the cost of childcare (which has surpassed the cost of college tuition and also often monthly mortgages),or the lack of paid maternity leave, or simply that parents might want a second but don’t feel ready yet–not everyone wants the classic 2 year age gap. And that’s okay.
In fact, not only is that okay, I’m here to say that for some families, the larger age gap is pretty amazing.
My oldest is more independent, and enjoys her independence. This means that there are times each day when she is perfectly content playing by herself while I’m able to focus on the baby, or the kitchen, or my work. I’m not spread entirely thin.
I don’t have to deal with toddler tantrums while changing a diaper or feeding my baby. She understands what it means to have to wait, and we can sing or talk or read together while I feed him.
It makes me feel even more grateful for each stage of childhood. I can relish in our “girl dates” which might include getting our nails done or playing Barbies. And I can relish in snuggles with my baby boy and enjoy watching him discover his feet for the first time. I was out of the deepest trenches of reliant toddlerhood when I had my second child, and it has made it really easy to appreciate the two very different stages that my children are in.
At the end of the day, it’s about what works for your family. There is no perfect age gap. And motherhood is tough no matter what. What works for one family (or most families), may not be best for you, and that’s okay.
I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing and sharing this. I have a 2 year old daughter and I have been feeling so much pressure from friends and family and even strangers on when I *should* have another one and how I need to do it soon. I know I am not quite ready for many reasons and I appreciate how validating this is to the feeling I have on this.
Love, love, love this. What works best or one person, or even one pregnancy with the same person, does not mean it is best for all or all times! You are blessed.
Thank you! My son is 7 and we have our daughter (4 months) and he adores her. He is the best big brother and I am so grateful for his help!
This was so timely..! We are expecting our second.. my older one will be 5 when the baby is born.. it was so bothering to me for all the said reasons.. but she’s been so much excited and counting days until the baby arrive.. I know she’d be an amazing big sister 🥰
I have two close in age 2 years apart and I want another one but I want a gap for sure this time.
Love this. I so agree. I’m one of 4 children, and we are spread out. I’ve always loved it that way. My older brother and I are the closest in age with three years, but for the next two there are two five year gaps. I’m soooo close with my sister who is 11 years younger than me, and was old enough to help my mom with her when she was a baby. It’s made our bond priceless. We never competed, and I never got mad at her being into my stuff. Mom says this way kept her young, and she kind of felt like she had two families. When my brother and I left the house, she still had my younger brother and sister at home for awhile. I myself have 2 kids – a 3 1/2 year old daughter and a 6 month old son. I would’ve loved to have waited 4-5 years even….but I’m 38, so for my age purposes I decided even just 3 was helpful to me. They already have the sweetest bond. He gushes about his big sister, and she knows he’s little and she needs to be gentle. It makes my heart melt.
Like you said, what’s right for one family looks different for another. I understand and respect why people choose close together. I have a ton of friends that do the 13-24 month spacing, and I get it – but for me, it felt too stressful. I wanted to enjoy/really focus on each child in this way.
I have a an almost 6 year old girl and a 4 month old baby girl. My older daughter is the best big sister and loves her baby sister so much! My baby gets so happy to see her big sister and will instantly stop crying if she sees her. They have a bond that’s different than a close in age playmates bond. The sweetest moment was when my baby rolled over to her big sister. The pride in my older daughter’s eyes made me cry! She marvels in all of her sister’s firsts and it’s wonderful to be able to share that with someone else other than my husband.
I have three Children and they are all 5 years apart and it is a blessing. My children never were jealous, and I never felt I had left one out. I too heard all the same stuff and trust me it is all not true. My oldest daughter truly thinks her brother the youngest is her child and his other sister the middle child was so in love with him too, they have such a bond I can’t explain it is amazing. The best thing is the relationship my children have now at 23, 28, 33 is the most amazing and they have all said how they want to have their children the same way it was perfect in every way and as they got older it gotten even better.
Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve had so much anxiety about the birth spacing between my almost 3 year old and his future sibling. This article has brought me so much peace with waiting a little longer to try for another baby❤️
So nice to read something about “big” age gap between siblings. It seems that the rule out there is a gap range of 1 to 2 years. I felt guilty multiple times for not being ready before, hack I’d cringe of thought of being pregnant before my oldest turned 3!! The gap between my kids are 3y and 10months! Isn’t always cute. But one thing a learned is to give time! And I don’t mean weeks. Months! Baby is 7 months old and now my oldest is enjoying playing with him more n more each day. They’re building their relationship little by little, is beautiful to see. And yes is pretty nice when you explain something and your oldest is capable of understanding the situation bit better than a toddler would.
Anyways. There isn’t a perfect gap, what exist is parents that feels READY and not *pressured* to add another member to the family. It’s a big deal no matter what number you’re in.
I have a half sister who is 16 years older than me. I have a brother who is almost 4 years older than me. I’m closer with my sister than I am with my brother. The age gaps mean nothing!