Thoughts and Concerns on Sibling Spacing: What's the Right Age Difference?

5 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

The more we've ventured out during our days, the more I've realized that Ada not only isn't so little anymore, but also is in the growing minority of children her age sans sibling(s). Obviously this isn't a worldwide minority, and -- quite frankly -- I'm a bit shocked that there are SO many people going for number two so soon.

Yeah. In our little circle, it seems most mamas with kids over a year are either toting around a newborn, announcing pregnancy, or bursting with third trimester goodness. Talk about overwhelming at times. I still feel like I'm getting over pregnancy and birth. Like it was yesterday.

"Oh, how old is your little guy?" I ask the pregnant woman to my right.
"15 months," she says with a smile.
"When are you due, if you don't mind me asking?" I hope not to offend.
"Any day now... " she says, smiling again.

Gulp. That's what I thought. OK. Let's get this out of the way first: I don't have baby fever. I get bouts of it from time to time because they are so darned cute, but genuinely, we do not plan and have not planned to even think about having more children until Ada is at least 2-years-old. In November. 2013.

Even then, it will just be the beginning of the number two process.

I hope I'm not giving the impression that I think there's something wrong with having kids back to back to back. That's not at all my intention. There are plenty of good reasons to have children so close in age.

  • It can be great for the sibling relationship.
  • It can mean more kids in the long run -- and a full house is a happy house.
  • It can be necessitated by maternal age or other fertility reasons.
  • It can allow couples to be done with the sleepless nights + diapers stages relatively quickly.
  • It can make good financial sense, too, when you consider reusing items and even think ahead to the college years with tuition reduction incentive when more than once child is in school at a time.

That's just to name a few.

That's not a world I know. My only sibling -- brother -- and I are a good four years apart. I'm the oldest. So, I was a lonely only my entire baby and toddler career. Stephen and his brother are a bit closer, I think more like 2-1/2 years (correct me if I'm wrong, Kathy!).

I suppose my own experience has played a role in our child spacing strategy (if you can call it that -- but we're planners, so there's not much chance of surprise with us). Indeed, my own pregnancy experience + delivery + method of parenting have moved us in a certain direction.

// Honestly, I'm scared to be pregnant again.

It feels good to write that and tell you all. I have only recently admitted this to myself. I think a lot of people find it difficult to understand the "contractions" I had from week 17 onward. They never did anything bad and didn't result in any sort of complication with birth.

But having an irritable uterus was scary, all-consuming, and -- depending on the caregiver -- could mean a whole host of things if it happens again, which I'm told is extremely possible. I can write more about having an irritable uterus another time. I started to, but it turned into an epic-length novel.

In short: Getting dozens of closely spaced contractions every hour for months on end wore me down emotionally and physically, and I'm not eager to do it all over again.

// I want Ada to have her time to shine.

This isn't to say that younger kids with siblings aren't given the same attention. For me, I just feel like I need Ada to have the spotlight on her until she can better understand what a sibling means. Until I can explain it to her in somewhat intelligible terms. I'm sure she could understand sooner than I'm giving her credit for, so I suppose this is where my own 4-year sibling gap is dictating some of my feelings.

// I want to be financially ready.

Which, surprisingly, we are at this moment. But working from home is different compared to last time when we could save our pennies with my full-time desk job. Being mostly self-employed, my income fluctuates from month to month, so I want to make sure we're stable continuing forward (and that I possibly have some more irons in the fire to fall back on). All is looking really good, but I'm the kind of person who is always waiting for that bad thing to happen.

// I want Ada to be onto the next thing.

Potty training, big girl beds, half day preschool, the whole bit. If Ada's moved onto the next stage in her little life... it means that number 2 will, in turn, be able to get more of my attention as well. I guess this is a big worry of mine: That our next child just won't -- out of necessity -- get the same level of attentiveness.

I have no delusions that I can devote the same fixation to the pregnancy and newborn stage that I did with Ada. She was the first and, as part of the deal, was a bit of an obsession of mine. I am hoping that by waiting just a tic, though, I'll have a bit more space to slow down for our next child and my own sanity. Even an inch of more space will be helpful, I think.

// I have a few personal things to iron out first.

These are purely selfish, but if I can't do a few things for myself with just one child? Forget about it with more. I want to run another marathon, which is scheduled for October. I want to be breastfeeding-free, and -- therefore -- have my body all to me for once in the last two years! -- for at least a year (we're still doing a night feeding). You know, simple stuff like that.

Those are just some of the main reasons we're waiting. And we're still not certain how many children we'd like to bring into the world either. Often I think realistically two, but there are days when I see families of five (3 kids), and I think about how fantastic that might be. A "large" family, and I know three kids doesn't necessarily qualify as such, is so foreign to us since we both came from families of four.

Who knows what will happen. It's not all up to us, that much I've learned is true.

What is your own child-spacing strategy? Or do you not have one? I just love hearing what other people have to say about families. And those of you with experiences either way -- or with choosing one child -- that would be awesome to hear, too.


Ashley M. is a work-at-home mom to daughter Ada and creator of lifestyle blogs {never}homemaker and Writing Chapter Three. When she's not writing or wrangling deals, she's running, baking, snapping photos, or chasing the elusive $50 grocery budget.

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