Today I have the very lovely Robyna May guest posting on Mrs D plus 3. I’m so excited to have her here taking all about sibling ages gaps and if they actually really matter?
Robyna writes her own blog at The Mummy and the Minx, a blog dedicated to empowering mothers and inspiring minxes. She writes about getting the mojo back into your life after kids, and expanding possibilities when they contract after having babies. Her passions are writing and creating beautiful things. She lives in a house full of boys (including the dog). She spends her days balancing running a freelance business, blogging, and taking care of her young children.
Sibling age gaps? Do they matter?
There have been a spate of articles recently about the “best” age gap to have between kids, how your birth order shapes you as a person and what combinations of gender and number of children lead to the happiest families. Which would be all well and good if it was something we had any real control over. The fact is, there are great things and not so great things about all families.
My sister and I are twenty months apart. We grew up the best of frenemies. As children we played together, teased each other and defended each other when anyone else tried. As teenagers we drove each other mad, wore each others clothes (sometimes we even asked first), confided in each other and shared a bedroom. As young adults we shared the same friendship group, the same taste in music and began to appreciate just how special the closeness between sisters can be. As adults, she is one of my closest friends, my rock and the person I turn to in a crisis. She supports me and loves me unconditionally. It’s pretty amazing – having a sibling.
And it’s something I wanted for my own son.
I had always imagined myself with two children, fairly close in age. My ideal was just shy of a three year age gap. I thought that would allow closeness whilst maintaining some level of order in the house. One out of nappies before the new one arrived. A nice period of time for the eldest to have mum and dad all to himself before having to share. I read articles that said three years was the ideal period of time for a body to heal between child births. It was all very neat, planned and precise. It all made sense.
Life isn’t so neat. Life can be spectacularly messy and senseless. Due to a tragedy that I could not fathom, let alone control, the age distance between my youngest and eldest son is close to five years.
Five years is not a small gap. I go thorough the ages in my mind when it seems so very large: When the youngest is six and the eldest is eleven. Nine and fourteen. Thirteen and Eighteen. I worry that they won’t be close growing up. I worry that some of the joy of having a sibling is lessened by this wider gap. My heart hurts a little when I watch my youngest struggle to play games too old for him with my impatient eldest. But it comes with plenty of upsides.
- I have so much one on one time with my youngest boy. Whilst my eldest is at school, we get to play together, go out together and do all the lovely things I was able to do with my eldest.
- My eldest can do so much for himself. Make himself something to eat, dress himself, bathe himself, grab a drink of water, set the table and the so the list goes on. Of course they sometimes make demands on me at exactly the same time, but it’s much less than it would be with a closer age gap.
- I remember the intense competition between my sister and I and I know that it will be much less between my boys.
- I don’t have the stress of dealing with more than one very dependant little person. The baby can take priority without my feeling guilty about leaving the eldest. He is old enough to understand.
- Whilst he is not exactly the worlds greatest baby sitter, my eldest son takes care of his little brother. He can entertain him or get him something to eat when he is hungry.
I watch my friends who have two or three little ones close in age. I can see the familiar sibling dynamics at play. I know that these are kids who will grow up and grow close. But I can also see how draining it is having so many little people so dependent on you at the same time. I can see the toll of having to to deal with the night waking of two or more infants. I can see the confusion in the eldest child – suddenly having to share and dealing with new expectations. I can see the sibling jealousy. I can see the battle for mummy’s attention. I admire my friends SO much. I think they are doing a beyond amazing job. But I am realistic about how hard it is to have children close together in age when they are very young.
My husband’s sisters are both considerably older than him. But now that they are adults, it does not matter. They adore him and protect him as no doubt they did when they were kids, but their friendship is on an even playing field. They help us with our children and we help them with theirs. We enjoy each others company. We plan camping trips, family evenings and holidays together. The familial support is strong. And when that tragedy I alluded to earlier occurred, it was our siblings that rallied around us. Age gaps didn’t matter one little bit. What mattered is that we had each others’ back. And in the end, that’s what having a sibling is all about.
What age gaps do you have between your children?
Thanks so much for popping over and guesting posting for me Robyna, it’s been a pleasure having you.
I do love your positive attitude to age gaps. Like you said, we have so little control over it, that there really is no point over analysing. I have 2.5 year gap between my first two and then just over 3 years between the second two. The dynamics between the three of them changes all the time, that it’s almost impossible to say how the gaps affect them xx
Thank you so much for having me – and sorry it’s taking me so long to pop back over. Life is what happens when we are busy making plans, so the song goes. I think we all just need to make the best of whatever life gives us.
I have about a 2.5 year gap between my two boys and I love it. They are almost in the same size clothes already (WOO HOO!) and after a bit of a rocky start they are great mates now. My first took four years to conceive so we never thought about gaps at all. We just wanted to be able to give him a younger sibling at all, and then it took waaaaay less time than we expected. 3 months as opposed to 48. The universe has a wicked sense of humour.
It sure does. We decided to go for our third and after trying for several months, we got cold feet!! I went to get the coil again and guess what?? I was pregnant – of course!! :))
I’ve been reading all the comments here, and on facebook related to this post, hoping to read and be reassured that I made the right decision having my boys so close in age. I had four boys in 3.5 years (now aged between 5 and 8.5yrs old) and there are days that I struggle under the weight of all the chaos. I wanted them close but our fourth was a beautiful surprise and with twins in the middle we had four kids before we even had time to blink! I guess with every parenting journey there are moments that give us glimmers of beauty….and then there is the grind!! Enjoyed the read.
I don’t think we can ever ‘get it wrong’ so be reassured :))) Four boys will certainly be chaos but so are my three!! Hopefully one day they’ll all be looking after us, lol xxx
Dave and I had planned to have about a 2-2.5 year age gap between kids, but life had other plans, and two weeks after the conversation about when we should start trying for number two I found out I was already pregnant with number 2. A month shy of number 1’s birthday! So barely a 20 month gap we have. It is definitely hard, and there were some days when I didn’t think I was going to survive until Dave walked in the door after work, but we got through it. Even now there are tough days, but seeing the relationship between the girls growing makes it totally worth it.
I would love to have one more but Dave is pretty adamant that the shop is closed. It would definitely be interesting though to see what it would be like with the larger gap, as even if I fell pregnant now there would be more than 2.5 years between 2 and 3 and it would make an interesting case study!
What an interesting discussion. From a psychological perspective there is very little evidence of benefit or detriment either way as far as I’m aware. New babies need some time to establish strong parental bonds before parents attention is drawn away by another baby but there are so many variables involved and we have so little control of what happens in life. We have three years between our boys and I love how that has turned out. They’re good mates and don’t tend to compete much and it has been relatively easy to manage the baby phase with each. The three year gap wasn’t planned though. We had two miscarriages in between. My advice to new parents is consider your own needs and what you think will suit your situation and personalities best and then run with whatever happens. The stress of trying to control what you can’t control is likely to do more damage to everyone’s wellbeing than anything negative that might stem from an age gap of any size. Great post Robyna!
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