Ask Design Mom: Spacing Kids

May 14, 2012

Question:
Hi Gabrielle! Could you please give me some advice? My baby is turning 3 this year and I’m thinking about getting pregnant again. How did you decide to space your kids? How do you know it’s time to have another one or if you’re done? I appreciate your thoughts. — Thanks, Jeannie.

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Answer:
Wow. That’s a big question, Jeannie! But I’m game. As far as spacing goes, in my head, I always thought I’d have babies about two years apart until I was done. But that never happened. Here’s what did happen:

Ralph and Maude are 18 months apart.
Maude and Olive are 2 1/2 years apart.
Olive and Oscar are 3 1/2 years apart.
Oscar and Betty are 16 months apart.
Betty and June are 4 years apart.

It turns out, not everyone has control of when and if they’ll conceive (or adopt). Me included. So first off, even if you make a plan, know that you may or may not be able to stick with it. And that it will all work out either way.

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Here are my thoughts on what I experienced. Sixteen months apart was definitely the trickiest. It’s not twins, but it’s still two babies. I won’t lie, it can be rough. But the nice thing is, if you have a hard time enjoying a certain stage — say the diaper years, or the preschool phase —  you move on to the next part of life really fast. Having kids close in age is efficient! Another nice thing is a built in playmate. Oscar and Betty have been inseparable for years. I’m sure that will change at some point, but it’s been wonderful as we’ve moved from New York to Colorado to France.

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In contrast, 4 years apart was by far the easiest on me as a mother. By the time June was born, Betty could get herself dressed, get herself a snack and entertain herself pretty well. She was old enough to be comfortable at preschool and was good company when I was hanging out nursing Baby June — Betty was even old enough to be able to get me a drink of water. : ) But four years is a lot. Two years in and Betty and June definitely don’t have a buddy relationship. It’s much more of a big sister/baby sister thing. Who knows if they’ll ever be close friends. I hope so. But who knows?

And really, some of this is just luck of the draw. I’m sure we all know plenty of siblings who are close in age, but not close emotionally. Or the opposite. In our family, Ralph and Olive are 4 years apart but they’ve turned out to be great friends. They really enjoy hanging out together! So it seems like sibling spacing is really one of those no one-can-predict sort of things.

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My advice: listen to those instincts of yours. If you feel like you would be completely overwhelmed to find yourself morning sick or caring for a newborn, perhaps it’s still time to wait. On the other hand, if you’re obsessed with babies and find yourself staring dreamily at maternity clothes, maybe it’s time for the next baby. And for those of you who pray (I’m one of you), this is the perfect sort of thing to pray about.

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I’ll end with the “how do you know when you’re done” part. I’ve probably had this exact conversation with at least 100 women — and some men too! People approach the decision so differently. We knew we were done at 6. Earlier in our marriage, I might have guessed that we’d have 7 or 8 or even 9. But by the time we actually got to 6 we knew it was enough. Six just felt like our max.

But again, everyone approaches it differently. In Nie Nie’s book, she mentioned that she purchased a kitchen table that would seat 8 people — and she intended to fill it. Others assume they’ll have a certain number of children but then find they can’t conceive again after the first baby. Or they can’t conceive at all. Some people have a plan from the beginning, others kind of wing it and see what happens. And still others find themselves on the adoption trail and are bound by budgets and other people’s decisions. It’s tricky stuff!

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Dear Readers, I know you have lots of great experience in this area. Please share! How did you decide to space your kids? When/how did you know you were done growing your family? How close in age are you to your own brothers and sisters?

P.S. — Want more? Here’s an earlier related post called Having Another Child.

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{ 132 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mags May 14, 2012 at 6:40 am

In my family, we joke that my mother had her four daughters in pairs: The girls in each pair are two years apart, but there are six years separating the two pairs. Growing up, we definitely played more and were closest to the other half of our “pair”; the ten-year difference between the oldest and youngest meant that they had more of that “big sister/little sister” relationship you mentioned.

But now that we’re all grown, and the oldest and youngest both have families of their own, the age difference seems to have vanished completely, and we’re all much closer than we’ve ever been. It is so wonderful to have three best friends built into your family, and I’m grateful every day for my siblings. I know your kids must feel the same!

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2 Design Mom May 14, 2012 at 9:54 am

“the age difference seems to have vanished completely”

I love reading that, Mags!

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3 Alisha May 14, 2012 at 7:17 pm

It’s almost exactly the same in our family! But with two girls, two boys, then two girls. We all had our pair when we were younger, now we all are grown and it’s like there is no difference between us!

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4 Nancy May 14, 2012 at 6:44 am

We joke that “birth control” planned ours….. We have three. first two are 5 years apart…last two are 12 years apart.. First was conceived on BC pills, second on over the counter BC and third showed up AFTER a tubal ligation when I was 40…

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5 Design Mom May 14, 2012 at 9:55 am

You must have been so surprised! Too funny. : )

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6 Pamela Balabuszko-Reay May 14, 2012 at 6:49 am

It is funny how it all works out in the end. We tried for a dozen ish years total. In there we adopted two kiddos. They are exactly 4 years apart. Girl then boy. There are ups and downs to the age difference. Our daughter was able to communicate with us beautifully when her brother came because she was 4. We were able to do things with just her that made her feel special because she knew what was going on. She had some perspective on her brother being a baby. Our son looks up to his sister now. She kind of views him as a little mascot. They fight, they cuddle, they play. They are normal sibs. I couldn’t have predicted any of it.

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7 Hatsuho May 14, 2012 at 6:55 am

This is a topic that’s frequently on my mind. I am looking forward to reading what others have experienced. I have a hard time having the faith that we can afford more children. We only have two and I am always amazed at people who have more!

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8 julia @ life on churchill May 14, 2012 at 7:00 am

our 2 kids are 20 months apart. It was really challenging with 2 babies, a traveling husband, ect. But now that they are older (almost 3 and 4 1/2) they play SO well together and will only be a year apart in school. But I do agree its easier on the parents to space them out, if we had another there would be a gap.

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9 elle May 14, 2012 at 7:00 am

I have 5 boys. They are all between 20- 26 months apart. My oldest was 7 when my youngest was born. I loved having them so close and love it even more now that they are getting older. Their brotherly bond is very strong and they are very protective of each other. It was a lot of work when they were all young but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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10 Mariar May 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm

This is such a beautiful comment! 5 brothers! Amazing….thanx for sharing this…

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11 Christie May 14, 2012 at 7:10 am

My first child, Eden and second child, August, are 2 years and 8 months apart. August and our third child, Titus, are 15 months apart. Do we want more? Absolutely. But it took a long time in prayer to come to that decision. And 15 months apart was like one big loooong pregnancy ;) But, I think they will be best buds. Well, ask me again tomorrow…:)

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12 Cath May 14, 2012 at 7:13 am

After having my son, I really wanted another child close to him in age. Well, it took five years (totally unexpected) but we ended up with twins! I would never have chosen to have a five year age gap but I am so glad it worked out this way. He has been a big help and I often wonder how I would have coped with a toddler and then twins. I think, in the end, there are some things you cannot plan with certainty and this is probably a good thing as we don’t always know what we want!

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13 Design Mom May 14, 2012 at 9:56 am

I’m always so impressed with parents of multiples!

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14 Amy @Picture It May 14, 2012 at 7:17 am

My son and daughter are 18 months apart. It’s been difficult at times to have two children that close together, simply because they both demand so much of our attention. The other side of it, is that they are the best of friends, they will both be in school within a year of each other, and they enjoy a lot of the same things because they’re close in age. We plan on waiting at least 5 years before we have another child, adopted or otherwise, but who knows, our plans might change!

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15 Jan @ Family Bites May 14, 2012 at 7:27 am

My boys are 19 months apart. It was always a little hectic when they were smaller, but now that they are 10 1/2 and 12 it feels perfect. They are extremely close, despite having very different personalities, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way now.

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16 sarah May 14, 2012 at 7:32 am

my little boy is 2 years old, and i’m pregnant with our 2nd–so they’ll be 2 1/2 years apart when he’s born. we planned spacing based on our own sibling experiences. my sister and i are 16 mo apart, and had a horrible relationship growing up (although we’re super close now), so i thought that was a bit too close. my husband’s next oldest brother to him is 4 years older, and he wished they had been closer, so 4 years was a bit too far. also, i really wanted to nurse for at least a year, so we figured that we’d wait until that year had gone by, give myself a month or so off, and then try again. things didn’t work out that way, as i ended up nursing longer and then we wanted to wait until after a planned vacation to try again. then once we started trying it didn’t exactly happen right away. but in the end we’re really happy, and i think the spacing will be just right. whether we’ll be done at 2, though, will remain to be seen…

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17 Zi May 14, 2012 at 7:48 am

I have 4 kids under 4. My life is pretty crazy at times but honestly lots of fun as well! Spacing is as follows:
First boy is 14 months older than twin girls that follow. Twin girls are 2 1/2 years older than their baby brother.
The 3 older ones are really close and play so well together. I can’t wait for their baby brother to get older and all 4 of them can run around together.
We are done since we think 2 boys and 2 girls are a nice balance.

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18 Linda May 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm

My family matched yours almost….boy then 16 months later twin girls….2 1/2 years later a surprise little girl. It was a bit like raising a four PAC, but all are grown and have presented us with four grands in four years including twins…….More fun to be the grandparent than the parent!

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19 Meagan May 14, 2012 at 7:52 am

I love this blog. :-) You are just such a sweet and sincere person. I come here for the pretty pictures, but then I end up reading posts like this, about life in general, and I’m always unexpectedly touched.

Anyway, I’ve just got the one but we’re planning to hold of on trying for our next until he’s around 3. I’ve had plenty of people tell me that’s too far apart, but I think they’re crazy! I’m an only child so I can’t look at my childhood, but my husband is a little brother… his sister is 4 years older and they’re very close.

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20 Design Mom May 14, 2012 at 9:57 am

Thank you for the kind words, Meagan!

And I agree, I think they’re crazy too. : )

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21 Erin S May 14, 2012 at 8:09 am

Both my husband and I were born more than five years apart from our siblings and do not feel the closeness we would like to see in our own children. So, we planned to space our children more closely. Our two are nearly 2.5 years apart and still young, but they are already showing signs of friendship.

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22 Tiffany May 14, 2012 at 8:30 am

I was married at 29 and had a surprise bundle at 30. My husband and I, when we first married, had agreed that we wanted 4, maybe 5 children- and I wanted those children before I turned 40. For us that meant we needed to get things going and rush a little. We have been fortunate that most of the plans have agreed with us. We decided that we wanted to pair our children. Our first two are 15 months apart, then 32, then 19, then 26. That’s five in 8 years -ages 7 and under. We love how it works. Is our life crazy? Yep. Is church a nightmare sometimes? Most definitely. I wouldn’t say I’m the “nurturing” type either. I often joke with my husband that he is more nurturing and should be the mother. But the more I have, the better person, and the better mother, I become. I kind of like that.

As far as wrapping things up: I would like to have one more. Again, I feel like I’ve become a better mother and more capable with each child. HOWEVER, my husband is pretty stretched. I have left the decision up to him. He is, after all, the patriarch of the family- and how he feels as a father will influence my relationship with him and his relationship with the children. I won’t sacrifice that. I value our relationship far too greatly. So the issue isn’t pushed on my part. But I wouldn’t mind one more before I turn 40 in two years.

I think there are definitely pros and cons to all of it and the different factors play a big role in those decisions- when I was pregnant with #3 my husband said if it was another boy we were done. A factor that was important to him. Our two boy are rambunctious. He wasn’t sure we could handle another boy. In the end I think you just do what you feel is right for you and by the guidance you feel.

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23 Carly S May 14, 2012 at 8:33 am

In my family, there are three girls. One of my sisters is 5 years younger than me, and the youngest is 7 years younger than me. Growing up, I can’t say that we were ever “friends.” We had big sister/little relationships (my sisters were friends, but I was much older), and that wasn’t a bad relationship either.

When I went away to univeristy, my middle sister was starting high school. By the time she was 16 and I was 21, our relationship really started to change into a friendship. We started talking on the phone with each other as friends and realizing we had a lot in common now.

The same thing happened with my youngest sister, but a little later. Now, she’s in university and I live in another city working full-time and being a grown-up. We talk on the phone at least once a week and when I go home to visit, all three of us try to get together and do fun things like watch movies, go for dinner and just enjoy each other’s company.

So, even if Betty and June aren’t really friends, they’re still sisters and that’s ok. It may take a while, but one day, I’m sure they will be friends too!

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24 Design Mom May 14, 2012 at 9:58 am

I love your comment, Carly! I love hearing about happy adult sibling relationships.

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25 Sarah May 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm

My brother and I are 5 years apart. It was a big gap as kids, and we were never close. It was hard to like the little bugger when he was running around stating out loud that his goal in life was to annoy me! Heh. My going off to college was the best thing that has happened in our relationship. He was getting older, and suddenly having a house devoid of a sibling made him realize how much he’d kinda liked that company. So the happy ending is that now we actually get along great, and have a lot in common. Much of that just came from him getting older and going to college himself, but the ‘don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ factor certainly played a role I think.
So now that I’m married and have a 10 month old daughter I’ve actually been doing a lot of thinking about spacing. My husband is the oldest of 6 boys (!!! I have no idea how his mother is still sane!) and they are all between 1.5 and 2.5 years apart. We’re thinking we might aim at that gap as well… Thanks for all the food for thought here!

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26 Catherine May 26, 2012 at 6:54 pm

This is very simliar to my sisters and me. I am the middle of 3 girls; my older sister is 4 years older than I and my younger sister 2 years younger. Growing up I was closer to my younger sister (we played together more, but we also fought more), but now, as adults, it’s very equal. The age gaps have disappeared, and I am just as close to my older sister (who now has 3 little girls of her own!) as my young. I love them so much!

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27 Amanda May 14, 2012 at 8:34 am

When we got married we planned on having four and then evaluating if there would be more. Getting pregnant wasn’t an issue and our kids are all two years apart, give or take a month. Turns out my body doesn’t do birth well, like at all. I have a bunch of the problems from the scary section of What to Expect. The birth of our second was especially bad, but she and I both managed to make it home. Before she was born my husband and I both felt there was a little blond boy waiting for us. We both knew there was another kid for us. So with a lot of faith and not a little trepidation we got pregnant again. And this pregnancy didn’t go well. It seemed I was always back with the ultrasound tech, or being refered to another specialist. Part of me really didn’t expect that my little blond boy would make it. When it came time for his birth we (doctors included) were all pretty nervous, but miraculously it went perfectly. There was no drama. It was amazing. That said, we knew we were done. We got three kids, which wasn’t the original plan we made, but it was enough. Occasionally I think of our plan and wish I could fulfil it, but I can’t risk having more and I’m not required to. Children is a decision between husband and wife, the ladies at the grocery store who tell my daughter she needs a sister aren’t involved. When they but in they make me want to cry, but that’s just it, they are butting in! It’s not anyone’s business and it’s not anyone’s place. Those ladies sure don’t want my medical history, but for some reason people don’t seem to realize that how many children you have and when is your decision, and it’s private.

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28 Laura May 14, 2012 at 9:04 am

Nature intends for us to nurse at least 2-3 years, which means spacing them accordingly, if that matters to anyone. My two girls are 6 years apart (and were nursed for a long time). The older one reads bedtime stories to the little one, teaches her to jump rope. They fight, they play, they ignore each other—just like any siblings. My brother and I are 16 months apart, and not as close as my sister and I, who are 10 years apart. I really think it’s more to do with personality than spacing. And the undivided attention parents can give kids is more important than the attention they get from sibs.

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29 Design Mom May 14, 2012 at 9:49 am

Hah! I’m not sure nature intends the same thing for all of us. For example, I 100% exclusively nursed June and my period still showed up when she was 2 months old. (And has been 28 days regular ever since.) I actually nursed all my babies but it never worked as birth control for me.

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30 Bri (like the cheese) May 14, 2012 at 6:54 pm

And I nursed, but needed to supplement from about 3 months with both of mine & still didn’t get my period until they were 9-11 months old!

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31 Laura May 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Yes, it’s different for everyone, BUT your period is less likely to return if:
you’re feeding your baby often during the day, without giving her extra fluids or solids, your baby uses your breast for comfort sucking as well as feeding, you sleep with your baby, you carry your baby close to you in a sling or by holding her during the day—as nature intends!

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32 Rosamond May 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I wish this had been true for me, but my experience was more like Gabi’s. My period came back and was regular less than 4 months after my first baby, and less than two months after my second baby, despite 100% nursing with no supplementation. Nursing is great, but it does not work as birth control for a lot of people, no matter how you do it.

33 Tina May 14, 2012 at 9:04 am

Thank you for always being so sensitive to those of us who are having trouble conceiving. Especially as a Mother of six, it warms my heart that you still consider those of us trying to have one!

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34 Marcia (123 blog) May 15, 2012 at 5:55 am

I totally agree. You have such a lovely, kind heart and I appreciate that so much!

PS I wanted 4 kids and then we got older and I thought 3, then 2, then when we were diagnosed with infertility, I thought ONE. PLease just one.

And God blessed us with twins from our second IVF. And I couldn’t be happier :)

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35 susan May 18, 2012 at 4:02 am

i was thinking the same thing. your thoughtfulness and consideration for those for whom this is a struggle touch me. i have not been lucky enough to have had biological children and am currently slogging through the adoption jungle praying that it will result in a child (children!) in our home but this is far from a given. in the meantime i will enjoy following yours here and continue to love your blog for your great ideas, endless creativity and kind heart. <3

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36 marian May 14, 2012 at 9:25 am

We have six as well (age 9 years to 7 months) and a lot of factors went into the decisions. I married at 25, knew I wanted a a “big” family but also I wanted to be done by the time I was 35 in order to have lots of energy and life to be a mom and grandma. So we started out with a bigish number in mind but really thought and prayed each time we felt like adding to our family. We thought about my health (mental and physical) and each child’s needs and took each pregnancy one at a time. My husband, who is a spreadsheet guy, had kids mapped out on our grand spreadsheet of life anticipating missions, weddings, college, cars, home etc. Having our children close is a blessing especially in a small home since they like the same toys, movies and activities and are good friends.

I think the advice to listen to those instincts and feelings is so important, but trying hard to trust those and not over analyze is also super important.

BEST OF LUCK!

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37 Rheagan May 14, 2012 at 9:36 am

This really spoke to me. I just had my youngest child, which makes three children in four years. Most people assume we are done, but I just don’t know. I won’t lie, three under 4 is a ton of WORK, especially since we live overseas – far away from family. At the same time, I’m not ready to say that I’m “done”. So when people ask, I just tell them, “Three is plenty for now, but we’ll reevaluate later on.”

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38 Design Mom May 14, 2012 at 9:52 am

Sounds like a good response, Rheagan!

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39 Molly W. May 14, 2012 at 9:39 am

First of all, the photos in this post are fantastic!! I always thought I would have 3 -I came from a family of 3 and my husband came from a family of 3. After my 7 month pregnancy and a month in the NICU I then changed my tune to thinking 2 would be enough (and that I was only crazy enough to go through all that 1 more time). Well, you never really know what lies in store, and after numerous moves, unique job situations, etc. we haven’t had the right insurance to cover a pregnancy of mine again (no insurance company wants to touch me with a 10 foot pole after my first pregnancy!) . So, we’ve decided we are thrilled with 1, and honestly at this point, I wouldn’t even choose to have it any other way!

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40 Design Mom May 14, 2012 at 9:54 am

Thanks for the sweet words about the photos, Molly! They were taken last year by Modern Kids Photography. Here’s a link to the full set:

http://www.designmom.com/2011/06/family-photos/

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41 Gillian May 14, 2012 at 10:05 am

As always your photos are wonderful.
We always talked about three kids – three years apart. When our first was just over 2 we started talking about #2. It took 14 months for us to get pregnant with baby #2. We wondered if we’d be able to have a third. I’m now due with baby #3 in October and thrilled about it. My oldest will be 6 1/3 and my little guy will be 2 1/3. The four year difference between my son and daughter was really easy on me as a mom. My daughter has independence that helped me immeasurably when my son was born.
Whatever you choose or whatever is handed to you – it’s always quite an exciting ride. I’m really looking forward to seeing how baby #3 makes it’s mark on our family dynamic.

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42 EAI May 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

I’m still on my first (maybe only?), so I can’t weigh in. However, I can assure you that the big sister/little sister relationship can transition when they are older. My sister and I are 10 years apart and while there some lingering big sister/2nd mother feelings, we are also very close friends now.

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43 Jennifer F. - American Mom in Bordeaux May 14, 2012 at 10:11 am

My children are 3 and 3 and half years apart..We didn’t really plan it exactly that way…but since we both worked full time..I knew I didn’t want them close…was too tired between working and taking care of them as babies to have another one too close. I also loved each one of my girls as they went through their stages of infancy and toddlerhood. My older ones were old enough to help – but young enough that they are close. I like the 3 year gap…I suppose 2 years could have worked well too..but for me not much less than that. 3 years just felt right for us.

All three of my girls are close with each other in different ways…depending on what they are doing. I think it is often reflective of personality too as to how close they are.

I knew we were done after 3. We originally planned to have 2 – but a higher force had other plans…and it was mean’t to be…like our family was completed. To tell you the truth…it’s wonderful…3 girls – wouldn’t want it any other way.

I love reading all the stories and comments here – such great topics and comments from everyone. Thanks for the great forum.

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44 Ellen W May 14, 2012 at 10:18 am

My boys are 3 1/2 years apart. We seriously debated over having a second one and we weren’t ready until our older son was almost 2 1/2. Thankfully I am able to get pregnant very easily (1 and 2 months respectively of trying). I liked that my older son was out of the baby stage and was able to be a helper. The boys are now 6 & 3 and play together well most of the time.

People asked us if we wanted to try for a girl, but I’m convinced I would have another boy. Plus my husband wanted to be done by 40 and he was 39 when our younger son was born.

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45 Zoe - SlowMama May 14, 2012 at 10:31 am

Growing up, I would hear friends say they were “a mistake” or they weren’t planned and I had no idea what they were talking about :-) My siblings and I were all close in age — less than 2 years, and we were the best of playmates and still very close. As the eldest, I was off to university when some of the younger ones were still very little so I missed time with them but now as adults, we have great relationships and age doesn’t really matter.

I really like your point about how one can plan, but when it comes to fertility and kids, there’s only so much control a person has. Lots of kids have been conceived while their mother was on the Pill, and lots of people have tried to get pregnant for years and it doesn’t happen. Even with adoption — here I am 2.5 years into a wait that was supposed to be about one year. You can make a plan, but then you pretty much have to surrender to the mysterious divine plan. I always appreciated that saying: “We make plans, and God laughs.”

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46 Sarah May 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

We’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and discussing with friends. Our daughter is 18 months old and from the second she was born we were ready for another – I just suddenly wanted a small age gap. We agreed to try and aim for a two year age gap for financial reasons and I have gazed longingly at babies and maternity clothes counting down until we could have another. The funny thing is, that now she’s 18 months we’ve completely changed out minds and decided to go for a three year gap. She’s so fun right now that I want to give her all my attention, and the thought of having two in nappies/diapers at the same time filled me with dread!

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47 Rebecca May 14, 2012 at 10:40 am

I really appreciate your sensitive approach and open mindedness about this subject. Growing up, I just assumed that everyone was “supposed” to have a bunch of kids all 2 years apart because that’s what it seemed everyone at church did. Then you grow up and start that journey yourself and you realize it doesn’t always happen that way. Or maybe you DONT want it to happen that way because motherhood is ALOT harder than you thought and it is an emotional rollercoaster for you that is no one else’s business! Or your body doesnt do it all “as planned.” I loved reading your story and to know that I am not alone. I’m just grateful to have the ones I have and know that by praying about it, God will help me and send children to me according to what’s best in the end. Thank you ~

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48 Jennifer May 14, 2012 at 10:43 am

when i was much younger, i thought i was going to have lots of kids but after 2 we said we were done. my kids are 4 years apart. we had planned on having them two years apart but it just didn’t work out that way. at the end i love this age gap. my son loves her little sister and i can tell she adores him as well.

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49 Robyn May 14, 2012 at 10:46 am

I have a 4 children — there is a 14 month gap, a 3 1/2 year gap, and a 24 month gap. That’s just the way it worked – our control over our fertility was limited. It took 6 years of actively trying before our first child was born and then I had two back to back! It’s all quite strange the way it worked out.

Knowing we were done was tricky. Prayer played a huge factor in the decision, and so did the sense that there was no longer anyone missing. After the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd children were born, I had a strong sense that we weren’t done. I felt compelled to have another. After our 4th, that feeling waa no longer there.

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50 Kelly May 14, 2012 at 10:58 am

I’m 9 years older than my only sibling. In many ways, we experienced very different childhoods– I am at heart an “only child,” and sometimes, when I was in high school, my sister saw me as another maternal figure bossing her around. But now, we are friends. Not close friends — I know there are some things she doesn’t confide in me (again, the “mom” factor), but good, tight sisters. And we have sons only 5 months apart in age, and the cousins get along fabulously!

Also: I liked what you said in your comments about “Olive Us,” about showing siblings getting along and not being snarky to each other. My daughter (10) and son (7 1/2) get along so well & have such a bond, and I hope it carries into their adult lives.

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51 Tracy May 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

I have two little ones right now that are 16 months apart. My second child just arrived in January. So I am in the middle of what I believe is the hardest part and I feel like we are doing okay (although at one point this morning they were both crying at the same time!). I am glad we had them close together and I feel so blessed that I got pregnant a second time. It was closer than we wanted (we were aiming for 18 months, but we aren’t complaining). Everyone we know that has had kids this close tell us that they will get along really well. I look forward to that.

And for your last two, which are four years apart, I thought you should know that my sister and I are four years apart. Growing up we fought like crazy girls. Usually she wanted to be like me or do what I was doing and I didn’t want the little sister hanging around. However, once we went to college we really started to bond. She is one of my closest friends now and I love when she comes to me for advice. I like knowing that she looks to me for support and I can do the same for her. So even if they do fight growing up, I am almost certain they will move out of that phase!

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52 Laura May 14, 2012 at 11:33 am

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We have two kids a girl who’s five and a half and a boy who’s one and a half, so they are about four years apart… I love this age difference because our eldest has quite a lovely, but strong character and she needs lots of attention, so having them any closer would have been too difficult for us. Our son is so happy go lucky and he just adores his sister. But, here’s the deal, I feel so strongly that there is one more for us, not just yet, but in a few years, and my husband really does NOT share my feelings. He is completely done having babies. I think he is ready to move onto the kid phase. Anyway, that is where we find ourselves, I guess we’ll just see what happens in the future.

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53 M May 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

Many commenters here seem to have quite a few children, at least from my perspective! I have two girls, ages 3.5 and 1, and it is a lot of work! I don’t know how you guys do it! Gabby, you especially, with 6, just blow my mind! Your children all seem so grounded, caring and kind. I’m sure having excellent parents helps. I’d be interested to hear more about how you nurture relationships between the siblings. You don’t mention much sibling rivalry here on the blog… please don’t tell me your children NEVER fight, I will feel so bad. I talk to my girls a lot about how lucky they are to have each other, and tell my older one how her little sister is her best friend, but she doesn’t seem to believe me. :) They are great most of the time, but there is plenty of bickering over toys, grabbing things from each other… typical sibling stuff (especially as they are still young and in the toddler stage), but when you see this kind of thing, how do you deal with it? Thank you, I love to read your blog!

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54 Ali May 14, 2012 at 11:45 am

We never had a plan in mind which I think still confuses me on when we will stop (I’m 33). But as for spacing I’ve had a miscarriage every other pregnancy; 3 kids plus three miscarriages. It’s kind of made me give up on planning anything. Even with that I still think about what I’ll do differently “next time” the day I deliver a baby! And I think about my girl having a sister and worry about having a boy far in age from the others since the first 2 have a great connection. So many things to worry about that I have no control over. But I like these little problem solving riddles of life and how others perceive it.

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55 Becca F May 14, 2012 at 11:49 am

My third is 3 months old and my oldest is 5. I’m having a hard time feeling like we are done, but my husband feels certain that we are. Ah, but a fourth! We live in Connecticut, which is expensive and has smaller families, and we do feel stretched since my husband is in the middle of his residency. I’m grateful for my three and telling myself that we are done having kids until after residency….if we stay here, perhaps we’ll be done, but if we end up in a more affordable location, one more might not make a difference. It’s hard to know how to proceed when I feel so differently than my husband.

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56 Ange May 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm

My husband and I have a rather laid back approach to birth control….which has blessed us with three children in three years! Our oldest two are 14 months apart, and the youngest born when her siblings were 3.5 and 2.5. We have had some overwhelming moments but I have been surprised and grateful to discover that my fears about having children close together (jealousy between them, not enough of me to go around, energy to keep up, ect) were mostly unfounded. They are 5, 4, and 2 now and are best buds.

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57 Elisabeth May 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I love your blog and I`m coming here really often..
we`ve got 6 children, too…the oldest is 15 and the youngest two years old, 5 girls and one boy… the gab between the first three of them is about 22 months than a gab of 2,5 year and the 4th and the 5th are 3 years apart, the 5th and the 6th 3,5 years apart… we are longing eagerly for one more, but life not always gives you what you wish..
I really like the less gap between my older children, I found it easier to handle than having a gab of 3 years and more,this means to have children with very different wishes, so have always have to deal with different sort of problems and day schedules…
but all in one I enjoy so much having this big family and I really hope we`ll have the chance to get one more.

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58 sylvia May 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

This is always a topic of discussion amongst my women friends and there just doesn’t seem to be one right answer. I love seeing my children (who are 18 mos apart) as best friends. I love seeing my oldest, at 7, so involved with his toddler sister in a way he never could have been with his other two younger siblings, simply because he was too young when they were born. It is so awesome that all my children play together; it was so hard when there were 4 of them, five and under. Close or far in age–it’s all terribly challenging and super awesome!

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59 sarah May 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm

we are getting ready to have our second one in november and they will be 2 1/2 years apart. i was happy with just one child (didn’t love birthing) but husband really wanted a playmate for little guy. so we are having one more to do that. but we know it is our last.

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60 Gina May 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

First, what beautiful family pictures! Photogenic. And, what a great post that I can see is hugely popular. Yes, you seem to do it all so well, of course, you are someone we’d all love to hear from on this subject!
We have “3 in 3″ — 3 children born within 3 years (19 m spacing, then 16). I am humble in terms of planning and did not expect to get pregnant so quickly — this was a surprise! As you said, there are advantages with all spacings and having them so close in age does require massive amounts of energy, creativity and patience (Fact: I was either pregnant or nursing for 5 years — with such little sleep I didn’t dream for… 7?… how many hours of straight sleep are required before one goes into REM sleep?) Both of my husband and I are high energy and low sleep people; I always knew that I wanted a minimum of three children so I’ve always had the “can do” attitude and approach (I willed this onto my husband who I do believe was stunned for the first few years!.. but cheers about their closeness every day now and how much fun it is for us all to basically be able to do the same thing together at the same time — like skiing, swimming, for example.)
From the children’s point of view, there is not one day that goes by that I don’t think what a gift they are to one another. Because they simply can’t remember a day without one another they have such a deep bond and are such close friends. We could easily drop out of the whirlwind and never see a soul and they’d be content with one another — AND — on the flip side, I think they are social and enjoy their friends because of their relationship with one another — they have been fine tuning social skills since the day they were born. A school/pre-school perk that I never imagined — not only do they look out for one another but ALL of their friends look out for them, as well; due to this they have such an incredible array of friends (all ages) and “supervisors” watching their backs.
In order to manage kids, one another, international families, work, etc, we have had to be honest with ourselves, in terms of how we manage kids so close in age and have put a lot of thought into how our life flow.
… oh, so much more that could be said on this subject. All in all: no regrets! I consider the spacing a gift.

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61 Josephine May 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I have a sister that is 5 years younger than me, and growing up, we had little in common and were not close. Now, I wish we lived closer because we love to spend time together. Because of that, I thought 2-3 years apart would be ideal, but my girls ended up being 15 months apart. I was pretty overwhelmed at first because my husband is away a lot for work. Then, it was really nice to have them so close! They are now 15 and 14 and are pretty good friends. They help each other with school work, boy advice :) and share clothing. They don’t have the same interests, one is into soccer & basketball, the other does horseback riding and student government but they support each other in whatever they do. They do argue at times like any siblings, but close spacing has worked well for us.

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62 amy May 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm

We planned for one. She is 9 now and I am 45 so looks like we are keeping to that plan. For us it was practical. We live in an expensive city (Boston) so our house is small and we didn’t want to live in the suburbs. That choice means we have expensive private school tuition and we could never afford 2 of those. Also we love to travel. Our little family is perfect size for us!

Amy

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63 Amy3 May 15, 2012 at 7:41 am

My story is almost identical to yours, Amy! I’m 43 with a 10-yr-old daughter. We, too, planned for one. We both work f/t and living in a one-bedroom apt in NYC makes an only a super choice for us. We also love to travel and that’s easier with one kid.

I’m totally impressed by moms of many kids. Organizationally, I think I’ve optimized my abilities with a singleton! :)

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64 Mary May 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

My boys are 2 1/2 years apart, which is perfect for our little family. My sister and I were 2 1/2 years apart, and we were really close growing up. My older sister is 5 years older, and we didn’t have much of a relationship until college – now we are all best friends. Especially since we’re done at 2, I’m happy my boys are close. We have a small and tight-knit family.

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65 Tiffany Lewis May 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

A great question and really great answers. I would add: sometimes it depends on the personality of the kids as to how far apart they need to be spaced. :) But I do love the idea of pairs. We have four boys, and I do love feeling that everyone has a sibling partner.

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66 Lori May 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

This is definitely an addicting topic among mothers. I commend you for bringing us all to the table regarding age spacing and knowing when we are done. My husband and I currently have 5 boys from age 8 to 8 months. The older four average about 18 months apart and the youngest is almost 3 years younger than his closet older brother. It wasn’t planned that way and I wonder if my youngest will be as close to his brothers as they are to each other. They are the best of friends, they fight, play and create together all day, every day.
As far as being done, we are done. Over the past years while doing a parental head count it has always seemed as those someone was missing. When my second son was born, my first observation was that he acted like a middle child! Once our youngest was born it didn’t feel that way anymore. I don’t know how to explain it, but we are at peace knowing that we are done and our family is complete.

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67 Shawna Greenway May 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

We were convinced that we would only have one child and we were quite happy with our perfect little Madeline (named after Madeline Kahn, and she somehow ended up with her personality). When she was 5, we suddenly found ourselves going to several funerals that summer and that’s when it hit us – if something happens to us, she would be all alone. I was pregnant 3 months later! Madeline and Jack are 6 years apart and at first she loved it. He was just a cute little doll to her but now the doll is almost 5 and gets into her stuff on a daily basis. They fight as siblings are prone to do but they also have the sweetest moments that just bring tears to my eyes. Yesterday, she was in some preteen hormonal rage and Jack sat down beside her, put his arm around her and said “It’s going to be alright, Madeline.” 20 minutes later he was screaming at her for taking his Legos.

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68 Sarah May 15, 2012 at 4:38 am

Oh how I love that you named your daughter after Madeline Kahn! And I agree–siblings comforting each other is the sweeting thing to witness.

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69 Moi May 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

What a timely post! I just had my third child two weeks ago, and am beginning to wonder what we were thinking :) We have a 32 month old girl, a 19 month old boy, and now our little girl. After trying for a few years, we’ve had a sudden rush of babies, each a surprise, but such a blessing! It’s chaotic, but such a joy, and I can’t wait to see how they grow together. One perk I’ve noticed already is how good they are at sharing…it’s just natural to share, because they don’t really know otherwise. We make sure they have their own space, toys, and time with parents, but in general they seem to understand the need to share all three. And boy were they excited when we brought the little one home! A new playmate built right in at home!

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70 Jimmy May 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

My son will be 22 months old when our second baby is due this July. However, he was a 33 week preemie. The biggest indicator of preemies is whether the mother has had one before, so maybe he’ll be younger by the time his little brother or sister arrives. Who knows.

We waited a year before trying for our second on the advice of our doctors. In order to give us the best chance of not having another preemie we were told to wait a year before trying again.

If not for that we probably would have started trying for our second sooner. Pretty much once our first son was sleeping through the night (bad sleep regression between four and nine months old) the amnesia set in and we were ready for another. http://www.thebookofjimmy.com/the-loren-log-an-introduction-to-hindsight/

It’s really such a personal decision, I don’t think much advice can help one way or the other. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I think it boils down to whether you and your partner (and it should be both of you) are ready for and want another kid, or you aren’t or don’t.

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71 Sharon @ Discovering blog May 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm

I wonder if it’s a sign that this post is up? I thought we were done with our 2 – a boy 6 (almost 7) and a girl 4. We even just sold our minivan! But we keep tossing the idea around about having another, and I am surprised to find myself actually thinking about having another!
I was hesitant, because my daughter will be 5 if we go ahead, and that will be a big gap between the first 2 and the last one. But maybe it won’t be so overwhelming, this time, since I won’t be chasing around a toddler.
Thanks for this post!!

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72 Jennifer May 14, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I’ve found that the best thing we, as parents, can do for our kids (both current and *future*) is find peace with what we have and make peace with whatever comes our way.

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73 Courtney Nielson May 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I love that you shared your thoughts on this. Thank you!

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74 Chelly May 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm

There are three girls in my family: the oldest (who has a different mother but same father as myself and other sister) is 15 years older than I am, and I am the youngest. The middle sister is 21 months older than me. Growing up, I really did not have a relationship with my eldest sister as she was off to university by the time I was 5. My middle sister and I played together when we were younger, but into our teenage years we grew apart; she really did not enjoy have her little sister so close in age, and did not appreciate me tagging along.

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75 Chelly May 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm

(I hit submit to soon)

I wanted to add than now, my eldest sister and I are really good friends. We talk all the time, and I have a close relationship with her son (my first nephew). While my middle sister and I have regained our friendship, some. Though she admits that her children will NOT be less than 3 years apart – her first child is now 18 months old.

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76 joe May 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm

we’re expecting our first in a couple months and we both agree that two is definitely not enough for us. three or four would be ideal. we have also had a conversation about what if we ever have trouble conceiving and agreed to sign up for adoption if that happens, rather than undergo years of fertility treatment. after talking about adoption a bit, we now want to adopt regardless of how many biological children we have.

as for age difference, that issue has been on my mind a lot lately. my brother and i are 4,5 years apart, and while it was great in terms of me getting used to the new baby, growing up we were always developmentally out of synch. when i started school he was a baby, when i was in puberty he was a kid, when he was in puberty i was all grown up… we had very few shared friends and interests, but once he left puberty we suddenly just clicked. now we’re both in our twenties and we’re super close. just like that everything worked itself out. i hope my kids will be closer in age, but seeing how well it worked out for me and my brother i’m not too worried. i think the spacing shouldn’t only depend on us as parents but also on the older kid/kids. they need to be ready too (or too young to really notice :)

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77 Kayt May 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I love this topic! I’m pregnant with our second right now, due in October. Little Man will be four in December. When we first had him, we thought we wanted our kids two, two and a half years apart. Then the time came to start trying to achieve that spacing, and I was terrified! We started trying last spring, got pregnant in September, and were thrilled with a June due date. That would have been exactly three and a half years apart. Then I miscarried, spent two months with complications, and became unexpectedly pregnant in January. We were supposed to wait a month before trying again, but no one apparently told my uterus that!

As for being done, we’re just not sure. We think we don’t want a herd (yours is precious, but I don’t think I have the patience for it!), but I’m waiting for after Pookie’s born to decide. I was so overwhelmed when my son was born, as I was 22 and he was very very unplanned, but I also felt very strongly that we weren’t complete. Someone was missing from our family. I’m feeling so excited about this pregnancy, but I just don’t know yet. We figure we’ll play it by ear. I thiiink maybe that if we have a third, I’d like the third to be closer in age than Jamey and Pookie will be. I’m not sure how close, but I want to take the time to savor Pookie’s babyhood.

My sister and I are four and a half years apart, and that feels too far. We hated each other as kids, especially because I was super used to being an only child when she was born. Now that we’re older, we’re friends, but I’m not sure we would have ever been super close; we’re just incredibly different people. My husband has two older sisters. They’re 15 months apart and still hate each other. He’s ten and a half years younger than his oldest sister, and both of his sisters adored him from the start.

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78 Shelley May 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I’m always in awe of the wonderful comments and positive vibes which radiate from your blog and it’s readers.

We started out with a blank canvas and were blessed with a beautiful boy who turns ten next month, a big hearted girl who is eight, a cheeky four year old chap and an adorable bundle of love who is nine months old. We would have loved to have had our kids closer together in age but the first two came along easy and when we found we could not get pregnant again we had to become more scientific about the whole process. This time was extremely challenging and my heart goes out to anyone going through this today. Sometimes our plans are taken, put on a spin cycle and handed back to us all jumbled up, but they are still our plans and our dreams. Four years later we were blessed with a third child and a following three and a half years later our wee fourth child came into our lives.

I am thrilled each day just watching how my kids all interact and grow together. Obviously some days are rough and they have their differences but my heart is fit to burst when I look at the gifts we are blessed with. Neither my husband or I could have been prepared for the adventure we started thirteen years ago and who knows where it will take us. Parenthood is a wonderful journey and Motherhood totally rocks!!

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79 unfounddoor May 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm

This is fascinating – both your thoughts and the comments. I’m thinking about this quite a lot at the moment. We have one 6 month old and definitely want more if we are lucky enough to have them — and that’s something that plays on my mind; a lot of people I know have / are struggling with infertility or taking years to conceive. I know that just because we were lucky enough to conceive basically the first time we “weren’t not trying”, it might not be the same another time…

Plus, my big sis is just 15 months older than me and – after a fairly rough birth with my son – my Mum has strongly urged me to leave more of a gap than she did. Hmm.

In relationship terms though, throughout later childhood I actually had a closer and easier relationship with my 3yrs younger sister than the 15mth older one. Temperament may be more of a factor than age? But as adults we are, happily, all 3 very close!

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80 Leah May 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm

My first two are almost 3 years apart and we loved that spacing–my older one was sleeping through the night, off to preschool, potty trained, and in a big-boy bed by the time his little brother arrived. Fast forward several years though, and they are still close enough in age where they are the best of friends. For many years, we thought we were probably done, but could never completely close the door on it. A year ago we gave ourselves the summer to get pregnant and it happened the first time! So the difference between him and big brother is 4.5 years and 7 years between oldest and youngest but I also love that spacing. My two older boys play while I’m tending to the baby, but each older boy is also just totally smitten with the baby brother and very helpful too. But now, I definitely think I’m done.

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81 This girl loves to talk May 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm

so hard! before we had kids we felt 5 was our number but didnt want to focus on it because you never know what will happen… now i have 4 and we are done but boy do I sometimes wonder about that 5th one! I just tell my husband he is my 5th child ;)

alot of my friends have had the four kids close in age by the time they are 30. A bunch of them have had a 4-5 year gap and gone back for that fifth child!! gah! sometimes I think should I just do it now at 33 instead of waiting till 35 like they all have ;)

my spacings are 22 months, 3 years and 3 years between four girls. I found two close were enough (and those two arent close! they are so different and like to fight and be impatient with eachother!) before I had kids I saw my sister in law have 3 under 3 and i just did not want that.. her life seemed so crazy, yet it did seem that they all grew up suddenly bam! all together

As my older girls are heading towards tweens I have really felt that it is time to stop having babies and time to focus on the older ones. I sometimes feel sad that I should have more kids cause 4 doesnt seem that big, I wanna be a good example of a big family, we are pretty happy relax, why not have more etc, I seem to have alright pregnancies (have had one emergency caesar though) but then I wonder if that is just LDS guilt and that perhaps it will never go away no matter how many kids I have (not in a bad way, but big families are kinda a thing for us) because I have also really felt its time to put the baby stuff away and time to focus on being a great family that can just get up and leave, camp, ride bikes, focus on teenage persuits etc.

needless to say very tough subject!

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82 Jennifer D. May 14, 2012 at 6:15 pm

My two kids are exactly 6 years and 6 days apart. We were married 11 years before we decided to have kids. In that time, I was able to figure out what I wanted to do as a profession and get my masters degree. After my daughter was born, I always said I wanted her to be old enough to help me out with any subsequent kids. I didn’t want the stress of two babies in diapers at the same time. I had planned for them to be closer in age but we had trouble getting pregnant after her. Hence the 6 year separation. Now that she is 8 and he is 2, I don’t think I would change their spacing. She is so sweet with him, plays with him and they are very close. We decided ahead of time that we only wanted two kids. We lucked out in having one of each though if we hadn’t, we would have probably had a third. We have talked on and off about having a third, but my son is very challenging (in a good way) and I think we are done. :)

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83 Julie May 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm

In my 20s I wanted a dozen babies! I had my first at 24, but then found myself single. In my 30s I was still single and thought that half a dozen would be good. Then I met and fell in love at 38, after years of trying we had our first baby in December 2011. I feel so lucky to have two amazing children, do I dream of more? Every day even though bub is only 5months old.

So my two are 19 years apart. Are they close? More than I thought, my eldest moved back home to be with her brother. Will they ever be playmates? No. But bub lights up around his big sister and she with him. It is true love between them.

My dream would have been to have lots of babies about two years apart, instead I have two babies 19 years apart…. But I truly feel lucky with my amazing children.

For anyone else… I say go with what your heart…and sometimes your womb tells you

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84 heather at wordplayhouse® May 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Like Design Mom’s, our children were spaced willy nilly by nature. We are expecting our 4th. Un-expectantly, our oldest and youngest often play wonderfully together (7 years apart), so planning the differences in age is not a predictor of of choosing to space best for play reasons. The two spaced 3/12 years apart were ideal for me. I had a time of catching up on rest, a little time of independence while the children played well on their own, and all were able to shoulder much of their own primary care (brushing teeth, dressing) themselves. Also know that the second is easier than the first. It just is. That first time around, there was EVERYTHING to learn. This next time around you only have to do differently what you got wrong the first time. -heather

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85 Jill W May 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm

We have five kiddos, one lone boy and 4 girls. The longest stretch between is 3 years and the shortest is 14 months (for numbers 3 and 4). 14 months would have been really hard if not for the personality of 3. She was a calm, sweet blessing and crazily old beyond her years.
We were done. We were so done– four years done. And then apparently we are not. This has been a matter of faith– faith that my broken down old body can do this one more time; faith that everything will be alright; and the faith that my husband has in my ramblings about this little blond boy who keeps following me around in my head.

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86 se7en May 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Totally off topic… Just loved all the darling photographs in this post!!!
On topic… For me it wasn’t so much the spacing that mattered our closest are 13 months apart and furthest are about 23 months… Closest was the easiest and the hardest – like twins but one is mobile… What counted for me was that I never wanted to get back into sleeping through the night and out of diapers and then have to get back into it… We wanted a heap of kids all at once… Blessed we were!!!

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87 Siouxzy May 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm

My siblings are all two years apart, except for me. My closest brother is years older than I am, and the rest are even older. I felt like an only child most of the time. Most of my siblings were out of the house before I even left elementary school. I’ve been really cautious to not let too much time go by in between my kids. I think two years apart is a good length. It makes for a slightly crazier mama, but the kids have fun playing with each other.

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88 Linda May 14, 2012 at 6:48 pm

My kids were a little less than 16 months apart. We lived overseas at the time and my husband traveled a lot. Baby Bunching was a challenge and it wasn’t until my youngest was 3 that I felt I could think about another one. For almost 3 years we’ve talked about having another and after a few failed attempts have decided this might be what we were meant to have. We have two amazing kids and a very full life and I feel like we have just the right number . . . for us.

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89 Susan May 14, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Great advice about the best laid plans…we thought we’d have three, maybe four, but definitely three but things didn’t work out that way…many miscarriages and many attempts (with the help of science and some good luck) and five years later we are proud parents of two….and I can’t imagine our family being anything different.

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90 Jennifer May 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm

I love this post! I have two boys who are exactly 2.5 years apart (5 and 2.5). We are expecting a third child (apparently a girl) in late August, which will make her almost 3 years younger than my younger son and almost 5.5 years younger than my older son. Our first was a complete surprise conceived while I was on the pill during some international travel. Because of that we had no idea how long it might take to conceive a second, so we started at the 2.5 spacing thinking that they would end up 3 years apart. I believe that my husband was slightly disappointed that conception happened so quickly. For the third I had to convince my husband that we could handle it. I knew that I wanted a third almost immediately after our second was born, which is Not the feeling that I had after our first was born and felt completely overwhelmed. But I still had a long way to go on my dissertation &c&c. By the time we were both on board, the timing was what it is. I just finished my dissertation last week and I am now relieved that we waited. I am not sure that I could have finished with a small baby in the house as well as a toddler and a bigger kid.

Someone raised the issue of how to finance more children in the comments. Gabby is that something that you feel comfortable addressing? Because we did not have a master plan (I am not sure that we ever actually discussed how many kids we’d like to have before we were already parents) we definitely did not plan the finance side of parenting. I am trying to be more conscious about those kinds of choices now that we will have three kids because I want to be fair to each of them in terms of opportunities and experiences. I would appreciate your thoughts!

Great post!

All best,

Jennifer

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91 annie May 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm

My husband and I have four kids spaced: 15 mos; 2 years (exactly!); and 23 months. I love this spacing and the kids are so close already. I kind of knew what to hope for; in my own family there are four of us in five years. Throughout different stages of life our relationships have changed (at 15 I couldn’t be bothered with my 10 year old sister!), but by the time we were all out of/in college we have gotten and remained close.

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92 Sheree May 14, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I am the eldest of 6 children. The sibling that I am closest to is 16 years younger then I am. Next to my husband, she is my best friend(she is 14, I am 30) and growing up she was my little buddy.

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93 Kate The Great May 14, 2012 at 8:06 pm

For me, spacing is all about practicality. I can’t drive, so a minivan with permanently installed carseats is out, and I have to consider how to take all kids on a city bus, how to get to bus stops, and how to get off them and to wherever we’re going. This is for doctor’s appointments, outings that my husband’s not going on, errands, shopping trips that don’t involve groceries…

How does this fact have to do with the spacing of my kids? Well, consider my second, which doesn’t exist here yet, as a newborn in a sling. With both, Toby, my first, has to be able to walk for a block or so without begging me to carry him and climb on buses without me carrying him. Similarly, I have to be able to fold up and carry my stroller onto and off the bus, so a double-seater is out of the question if I have to wrangle kids, too.

He’s two now, and if we conceived right now, he’d be a few months over three by the time the second is born. Right now, he can walk a block slowly but unassisted, he needs a little help on and off buses but is confident to walk in them by just holding my hand, and he can be prompted to keep going or hurry up while walking around the block.

I agree with Gabby on instinct; we as women can feel whether the next one is anxious to come or not. Sometimes these sorts of feelings can be very spiritual and very specific; my mom had a deep spiritual experience that gave her two more kids when she thought she was finished. It’s very intensely personal.

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94 Avimom May 14, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Our two are five years apart. We wanted them to be at least four years apart b/c we did not want two in day care or college at the same time. They fight, but mostly get along well. I loved having my son all to myself for five years and I feel my daughter got the short end of the stick, being the younger one. For example, I took mom/baby swim classes with my son starting at 6 months, but my daughter still hasn’t had swim lessons and she just turned 6 years! One thing to watch out for with a longer gap…all your equipment from the first will be hopelessly outdated. We didn’t reuse the infant seat b/c it wasn’t LATCH compatible, for example. But all in all, I am very happy to have the larger gap…I’m the “young” mom when around those with kids of my son’s age and the “wise” mom when I’m with those with kids of my daughter’s age. Best of both worlds!

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95 Elizabeth W. May 14, 2012 at 10:41 pm

We have 5: 7 y/o b/g twins, 5, 4, 9 mos. 5 kids with the oldest two being 7 is busy. I remember thinking quite a few times since we’ve had our fifth: I have never been this busy. The closest in age, besides the twins who were 8 minutes apart:), would be my third and fourth: 19 months. They are best friends and best enemies. They fight the most but also love the most.
I come from a family of 7 kids, all roughly 2 years apart, give or take a year. We are all very close now and spend a lot of time together. My sisters, who are unmarried as of yet, all live together and my brothers and I are very close. I love big family fun. And in terms of how many? I always think about my youngest sibling and know that she’s probably glad my parents didn’t stop at 6:-)

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96 mom in mendon May 15, 2012 at 12:09 am

Can we AFFORD another baby? Will we cheat our existing child? A difficult question.

I teach in a country that permits and even encourages abortion as a form of birth control. One of my students, a lovely young woman, recently learned her mother had an abortion. It happened when the student was a toddler. Although her mother explained that they wanted to be sure they could give her everything, the girl’s reaction was a tender sorrow. “Oh, I wouldn’t have been all alone!”

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97 Kelsey May 15, 2012 at 12:23 am

Oh my, these photos are amazing!!

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98 Eve @ Inchworm Chronicles May 15, 2012 at 12:58 am

When we married, my husband and I joked we’d have 24 kids! We both are second oldest children in families of 8 kids each. I knew what life in a “big” family could be like (I changed a LOT of diapers as the oldest daughter). Truth be told, I was not too sure I wanted to invite that chaos and mess and loudness by having lots of kids myself!

BUT…after our first son was born, and I fell so completely in love with him and found that I actually found a lot of fulfillment and purpose in being a Mom….well, we decided to have another. And another. And another. And another! I’m incredibly happy being a Mom to 5 kids…it’s so wonderful, and unexpected!

Our way of explaining how we plan our family is “One at a Time.” We’ve never had a serious plan, and our decision is to be open to expanding our family, one child at a time. Because anything can change at any time, right? Prayer plays a big role in our decision making, as well. I would love to have another child, another little person, join our family. Time will tell :-)

As far as child-spacing goes, for us, I am one of those women for whom breastfeeding does naturally time my ability to conceive. I do not ovulate prior to 18 months after my babies are born. Our kids are all about 2.5 years apart, and it feels like just the right timing for us.

Not many people understand how breastfeeding can work effectively to suppress ovulation. The LAM method requires more than just breastfeeding exclusively, and when followed, a woman has about 2% chance of becoming pregnant. It works for me, and I enjoy feeling like a part of the cycle of life rather than limiting it or worrying over it. It’s freeing.

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99 Gandhali May 15, 2012 at 5:09 am

Oh, man. Reading about all this makes me want to have a sibling! I’m 22, and I’ve always missed the “built-in best friend” that most of my friends had.

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100 Amy3 May 15, 2012 at 7:50 am

Gandhali, I agree that it’s wonderful how many people enjoy close relationships with their siblings (when they were kids, now that they’re adults, or at both times). However, having siblings doesn’t equal “built-in best friends.” My brother is 3 years older and my sister a year younger than I am.

While I got along fine with both of them when we were kids, we were never “best friends” and aren’t especially close now. There’s no rift, anger, bitterness, or animosity … we’re just not much like each other and that, combined with geographic distance, create a current relationship that, while cordial, isn’t particularly close.

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101 Heather May 15, 2012 at 6:26 am

I am the baby of 10. All my siblings were a year – 18 months apart (I don’t know how my mom/parents managed).
I always wanted a big family of five. But I married late. Luckily, I had no issues getting pregnant. My two children (boy and girl) are 18 months apart. I am now blessed withanother pregnancy. It will be our last, bc I am 41 years old. And, my husband is worried about finances & putting our children through college!
I love this topic, Gabrielle. And I adore your beautiful family…you all are such an inspiration!
xo

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102 Katie R May 15, 2012 at 6:28 am

The timing is right for me on this one. The pregnancy test this morning had an extra line. I am absolutely terrified with this reality even though I have been wanting to add to our family for a long time. Here is the thing. I will be the big 4-0 in July. My last child was born 5 1/2 years ago. My first child has Down syndrome and still has a lot of needs. I have weight that I should have lost a long time ago. A lot to be nervous about. Here’s the thing: it’s kind of funny at the same time because this is also the day we get the key to our bigger house. In fact, I should be packing, not reading blogs, but I really love yours…thanks for your insight.

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103 Cathy May 15, 2012 at 8:39 am

When we first married, we decided to wait one year until getting pregnant. Then after four months, we were curious as to what our combined genes would create! Through the years, we didn’t really plan when to get pregnant. We just let it happen. We ended up having 3 sets of siblings (each set has a child 18 months to 3 years older than the earlier born child). It turned out that we had a 6 year gap between the first two and a 4 year gap (due to two miscarriages) between the third “pair.” Those gaps were a big help because the older set(s) could help with the younger ones. As adults, each pair is close, but each adult child is also close to another because of similar interests, or careers, or life circumstances, etc. Parenting is a combination of great challenges and great blessings.

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104 julie Dumas May 15, 2012 at 8:50 am

Our journey through building our family has been incredible. I always knew I wanted a large family. We had 5 boys, all grown now; the first two were 2 years apart, the middle son was 3 years later, and then a 5 year span, with a wind up of 2 years between the last two again. The first two always had a best friend, and the last two likewise. The middle son has commented that I should have had another closer to his age for that kind of relationship. The boys are all grown now, and following their own paths, but the younger 2 are bonded forever. We lost our oldest son at 17 in a car accident and it devastated his younger brother, who felt the loss deeply. That son is now a father and plans to have his kids close together, remembering that special bond he and his brother had.

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105 courtney May 15, 2012 at 9:52 am

I grew up with a brother one year older and a brother seven years younger. My mom needed seven years to get over that first only-12 month age gap!
Now that I have my own children, I see why she waited so long. My kids are three years apart, which for my family is perfect. My older daughter is potty trained and she loves to help out with the baby. She loves being a big sister and actually understands that she has a big role, and that is helping Mommy! She brings me bottles out of the fridge, bibs out of the closet. It’s just a nice gap.

As far as knowing if you are done having kids or not…I thought I was done at 2, and I still could be, who knows, it’s not really up to me. But I would be open to having one more. I just love little babies! The sleep exhaustion and hard times really do fall away, when you are thinking bigger picture. I just always think about being an older woman, and having my “brood” come back to visit me, with their kids and spouses, etc. How lonely it would be to have no one do that. I can’t imagine having no children! I have some friends who are remaning childless, and that is their choice, but I personally can’t imagine it.

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106 Gretchen SB May 15, 2012 at 10:15 am

What a beautiful, beautiful post about the growth of your family! We have one daughter who will be two at the end of July, and we hope to have another sometime soon(ish). The thing that I have been surprised by with the birth of my daughter is that I never expected to want a big family — two, maybe three tops — but I have been so blown away with how amazing she is and how much I love her and love being a mother … I could see myself going for three or four now in a heartbeat! It’s not going to happen (barring multiples!) because we married and started our family a little later (I’m 39), but it’s just been such a revelation to me! And if we are only able to have our one amazing daughter in the end, that is OK too. I feel so blessed with her!

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107 Rachael May 15, 2012 at 10:51 am

We have four children, and they’ve gotten successively closer: 28 months between the first two, then 23, then 22. My baby is a year old now, and normally I would be saying, “hmm, it’s almost time for another one!” but while I want to have (ideally 2) more children, I feel like I need a bit more of a break this time. I’d like to be done before I’m 35, so that gives me 6 years. :-)

For me, it really comes down to praying about it. After my third baby was born I felt very distinctly that there was another baby waiting and ready to join our family on a quicker timetable than we’d had previously, and sure enough, there was! And right now, I feel like there are other things that are pressing in our lives (my husband is just finishing his Ph.D.) and that I need to allocate my attention there, since I have quite difficult pregnancies. Again, this is something where I really feel personally guided by prayer.

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108 .ivy May 15, 2012 at 10:53 am

Before baby #1 was born, we knew we’d have more than one, and that we wanted them close in age so they’d grow up pretty much side-by-side. I nursed, so our plan was as soon as my body gave the cue I could conceive again, we’d try for baby #2. That ended up being when our first was 13 months old (so our first and second are 23 months apart). We were on the fence about having a third, but 13 months after baby #2, Mother Nature stepped in and decided for us; babies #2 and #3 are 23 months apart as well.

Our kids are 1, 3, and 5 now. The oldest two are really close, and I look forward to watching the baby develop a similar bond as she becomes more “kid” and less “baby,” but having this many small children is HARD right now. We have two in diapers, two in daycare, two who are totally dependent on us for dressing, bathing, food, etc. I know it will get easier as they grow more independent. I’m doing my very best to slow down and enjoy the baby and toddler stages, but there are many days where we are in survival mode. I want to know the secret for caring for everyone, giving them quality attention, and still running a household and working a 9-to-5 job!

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109 Bre May 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Thank you so much for this beautiful post! I read it yesterday after getting a positive pregnancy test the night before. I was feeling so nervous and overwhelmed about how life with two under two would work (My daughter is nearly 15 months; if all works out they’d be able 23 months apart). Your post felt like a sign that all would be well. I immediately felt more peaceful and excited, and emailed it to my husband. Thanks for helping me see beyond the here and now and giving me a glimpse into the great fun and love that awaits us!

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110 Anna Kitchens-Culp May 15, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I have been thinking about this a lot. I always thought I’d have 3-4 kids 2 years apart. I still want 3 kids, but my daughter is 2 now. My husband is quitting his job for an unpaid internship for the fall (necessary for his graduation), and I am under-employed as a freelance writer…so, if I get pregnant now, the baby will be born right after a move to a different state, with unemployed parents, without medical insurance. But if I wait until a “financially feasible” time, the age gap between siblings will be more like 6 years, and I am uncomfortable with that. Also, I dread pregnancy and recovery from pregnancy. I laughed when you wrote, “If you feel like you would be completely overwhelmed to find yourself morning sick or caring for a newborn, perhaps it’s still time to wait.” [YES] “On the other hand, if you’re obsessed with babies and find yourself staring dreamily at maternity clothes, maybe it’s time for the next baby.” [YES] Both. That’s why I don’t trust my instincts: I’m getting a signal to stop and to go at the same time! I am reading articles (and comments) like this, seeking spiritual guidance, discussing it with my husband, venting to my mom and friends…perhaps I just need to be still and see which Yes is louder in my own head. Thanks for letting me unload in your comments. ;)

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111 Anita Knapp May 15, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Oh, baby spacing – what a challenging series of thoughts! I wanted to have a pile of kids – close together in age – so they could be buddies and so that I would be done while I was till young!

My first two boys are 27 months apart. The next boy came along 21 months later. They are all good friends who fight at times. Boy #4 waited for a three-year gap due to health issues his dad was having (wanted him to be healthy before we tried again). Boy #5 was 23 months later, and is best buddies with #4.

I thought we were done, but a surprise came along 5 years later – a girl! 20 months later we had twin boys. I love seeing how the close-in-age children play together, and I love to see how tender the older children are as they learn to care for the little ones. I love having a big family, but I’m done now. I might start killing children if I have to go through pregnancy and newborn-sleep-deprivation again. :-)

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112 Alicia May 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I love how you included adoptive families and couples dealing with infertility in your post. Thank you. I have a 19 month old son through the miracle of adoption and we are hoping to adopt again. We have no idea as to when another child will come to our family but hope that it will be before our son is 3. And them when that baby is around a year old we will start the process all over again.

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113 kristin May 15, 2012 at 6:12 pm

i have four boys, all about 17 months apart. people are always asking if we’ll have another, i say maybe, although i’ve had a tubal ligation. you never know what God has in store for you! and we might be blessed again- which would be rough to have yet another c-section, but i’d do it in a heartbeat! i love my sweet, sweet kids. it IS hard, but i’m so surprised that my oldest will be starting kindergarten next year. seriously- it has gone by so fast.

i love the parents who have come up to me with the ‘it’s hard, but so wonderful’ instead of the ‘whoa… four boys, hunh?’ … seriously- why would anyone say that? each of my children have been a gift to me, and can’t imagine life without em! (i seriously can’t believe i have FOUR kids. 10 years ago i wanted none. i married my hubs 8 years ago, and thought… i could see two. and bam! we have a sweet family of 6. love it)

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114 Krista May 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm

We always hoped to adopt and thought maybe we would have biological children as well. Turns out that we were meant to adopt all our kids. 3 summers ago we spent the summer in Ukraine adopting our 4 kids, biological siblings, all almost exactly a year apart in age (including the middle two – who share a birthdate – one year apart)! Now I did not birth 4 kids a year apart from eachother, but their biological mom did! Wow. We adopted them at ages 5, 6, 7, and 8. They are all the best of friends. Get along beautifully most all of the time. I would recommend having kids close together because of this, but mine all came potty trained (so what do I know)? ;) Also, I can not say I recommend going from 0 to 4 all at once. That took some getting used to, but in the best possible way!

On the other hand, my sister is 8 years older than I am and my brother is 5 years older than I am and we are all very close and have been. So there is no magic formula. Opinions, blessings, luck, and patience.

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115 Mau May 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I had my first as a single parent, but desperately wanted to have more. Only, I didn’t feel ready for a relationship, so that wasn’t possible for some time. Then I met my now husband when my daughter was 3. We had our second daughter almost a year ago, when her big sister was 6. Six years is quite a gap and I found it hard to start all over again, but now that we’re more settled, I LOVE the bond between the sisters. I don’t know if they’ll ever be close friends but they sure adore each other.

In my family, there’s 2 boys (4 years gap between them), then after 8 years I arrived and after another 4 my sister did. My brothers aren’t close at all but my sister and I are very close. She’s one of my best friends. Our older brothers also look out for us a lot. I think it all depends on the children’s personality too.

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116 Leigh Ann May 15, 2012 at 10:59 pm

I got pregnant with my third when my twins were only 15 months, so I was terrified. But at 23 months apart they don’t know life without each other. Things are crazy now that they are 4 and 2, but they really are 3 peas on a pod. We always said we would likely want a third, but if it hadn’t happened unexpectedly, I’m not sure we would’ve had the guts to go through with it.

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117 Fiona May 15, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Unfortunately my husband and I didn’t seem to have a clear plan for having children. It felt like the right thing to do when we had the first. And I planned for a two year gap – so now I have two boys 26 months apart. The youngest is now 3.5 Problem is I feel strongly that I am done, being a mother is a huge challenge for me.
But my husband can’t except this – he is desperate for a third. I don’t know how we will overcome this.

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118 Colleen May 16, 2012 at 10:32 am

Wow! This is so interesting. I have never thought about having more than 2. The idea never occurred to be about not knowing when to stop. I was thinking no children or one would be alright, two max. My brother and I are 6 years apart and we have always been extremely close. My husband and his sister are 10 years apart. I am not really worried about when to stop or how far apart (originally hoping for 5-6 years). I am nearing 32, married for 3 years, and (my big dilemma) still I am not sure when to start. But I read this blog just to hear about you “big” family adventures. I think it is all so wonderful no matter the size of your family as long as you have love!

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119 Liz May 16, 2012 at 11:30 am

Geez! You get a lot of comments on these posts, don’t you?

We have two children, 2.5 years apart. I am turning 30 this year and I would like to be finished having children when our oldest is around 12, which gives us about 8-9 more years.

When people ask how many kids we will have, I always say, “I would like to be able to all ride in the same vehicle.” Assuming (or perhaps presuming) that conceiving is not an issue (as it has not been), we will probably have 2-3 more kids. But, we’d be open to having more.

I like having babies a lot more than I thought I would. (Though I could pass on the whole pregnancy and child birth stage.)

We live in an urban area where there are not many playmates around during the day. And, we are going to homeschool. So, I will be happy to have a whole mess of kids around the house.

I like the whole “tribe” mentality of a large family.

2.5 years seemed to be a nice space between our kids, but I might consider less time this next time around. I can see that my son (the older of the two) would really love his sister to be able to play with him more than she can now.

The best thing about a 2.5 year difference? My son was potty-trained when his sister was born.

That was awesome.

And, on the subject of breastfeeding,
I am an on-demand, 2-yr breastfeeding, co-sleeping mom who got her period less than 6m after each baby. So, that would have put my kids at 15m apart if I used it as birth control.
A better way to use breastfeeding as an indication of the natural cycle of fertility, is to time your second pregnancy during the weaning stage of your first child. Then, continue that cycle for all children after that. It will give your body a few months’ break from breastfeeding, give you a few months’ emotional break from the neediness of breastfeeding child, and give your child a few months to adapt to not being the baby of the house.

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120 Erin May 16, 2012 at 2:17 pm

This is a great post with lots of thought and maturity and I wish I could have read it before having children…not that I would do things differently but you make some really good points.

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121 christy May 16, 2012 at 11:34 pm

I have five kids age 9 to 3 weeks, spaced 19 months apart for the first three, then two years, then almost 4. The hardest was 2 years apart (a lot of jealousy) and the easiest so far has been the spacing of my last two at 3 years 8 months.

I have a question for design mom. Could you PLEASE give us sources for the adorable clothes your children are wearing in these photos?

Thanks!

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122 Barchbo May 17, 2012 at 8:24 am

I never thought I would get married or get pregnant: my plan was to be single and adopt a teenage girl when I turned 40 so we could do all the fun years together (hey, some people love babies – I love teenagers! What can I say?)

Instead, I got married at 38, had my first baby at 40 and am now 6 months pregnant at 42. We didn’t plan for kids (we expected not to have any) but feel so overwhelmed with the blessing of two. I’ve had two miscarriages before each pregnancy, which makes us so much more appreciative than we may have been otherwise, I think.

So our kids will be 23 months apart. Ideal? Not ideal? Too late now! :) Seriously, we think 2 years is perfect. Close enough, but not too close.

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