There are all sorts of arguments for and against having kids close in age, but the same arguments can be made in regard to spacing your kids far apart. In our family, my youngest is 14 years younger than her eldest sibling, and though it has its challenges, it’s also pretty amazing. Here’s why:
1. Your older kids will remember those baby years
When your children are born only a year or two apart, they’re not going to remember their little sister as a baby. Two-year-olds are basically babies themselves. If you have a 10-year-old kid, though, she’s going to always remember the day she met her new little sister and what it was like to see her grow up. Plus, the older kid will definitely remember the “good old days” when Emily was just cute and didn’t get into her stuff.
2. Only one baby in diapers
Something I’m grateful for is that I’ve also never really had to deal with two kids in diapers at the same time. My oldest three children are all three years apart and were all close to being potty trained by the time their baby sibling came around. But with a huge age gap, you don’t really have to worry about it at all. When your older child(ren) can go to the bathroom by themselves, that means you only have one butt to worry about.
3. Less worry — for now
New babies need lots of holding, feeding and round-the-clock care. When you have an older sibling who is a toddler, you’re kind of screwed if he scampers off to “play” quietly in the next room while you’re nursing your new babe. Older kids, however, are less apt to play in the toilet water or scale the kitchen cabinets in search of a treat.
4. A built-in babysitter
I know this is controversial — there are many people who resent the hell out of their parents for assuming they’d watch their younger sibling… regularly… for free! — but if you do it right, it’s often a win-win for everyone involved. For starters, pay your older child. Also, don’t expect her to give up after-school activities (such as sports or band practice), and don’t infringe on her social life. But having a teenager home to watch your first-grader while you run to the store or out to a pub with your partner for an hour? Or a driving teen who can pick up Josie from dance class? Priceless. Bonus: This can lead to more experience as a caregiver and can even lead to better-paying babysitting opps.
5. Less financial hemorrhaging
With only one small child in day care or preschool, you’re going to save a ton of money during the school year (as opposed to families with two or three small kids). Day care is not cheap, and adding a sibling or two to your monthly bill can make your wallet scream bloody murder. You’re also going to spend less on daily necessities (like diapers, see above) and other big ticket items, like sleepaway camp or a set of braces, won’t impact your family all at once.
6. Less sibling rivalry (maybe)
In general, kids who are close in age tend to have more conflict with one another than kids who are spaced further apart. Close-set sibs have more access to each other and have more opportunity to annoy the hell out of their sisters and brothers, whereas bigger gaps tend to afford fewer chances for competition. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but if you grew up fighting your sibling(s) to near death, your widely spaced apart kids may not.
7. Older kids are full of sage advice for the younger ones
Of course, this is a double-edged sword — older kids know how to get away with stuff and will gleefully impart that precious knowledge to your grade-schooler, but often younger kids will go to an older sibling with questions they’re not hyped up to ask of Mom or Dad.
So, if it doesn’t look like having your kids close together is in the cards, don’t stress. While there are concerns that older kids and their tiny siblings won’t have a strong friendship when they’re older, it still happens, especially now when staying connected is easier than ever.