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?