18 July 2015

Thoughts On a 3-Year Gap

Right before I had Audrey, my mother-in-law kept telling me that Cora would look so old to me after the baby arrived. "She'll look like she's ten!" she kept repeating.

Well . . . that didn't happen. Three year-old Cora still looked like a three-year-old to me. (Both B and I thought she felt incredibly HEAVY after lifting an 8 pound baby for a few days, however.)
Meeting for the first time. Obviously Audrey is LOVING it.
I thought about why my MIL's prediction didn't pan out for us and realized that her first 3 kids were all 2 years apart or slightly less.

Yep, she has the stair-step. Most of my friends have the 2-year stair-step. The one I didn't think I wanted but then envied when it took us longer than we thought it would to conceive another child. After observing Cora and other friends' children, I came to the conclusion that somewhere between 2.25 years and 2.75, our little ones transform from "baby" to "kid." So Cora was already transformed and didn't need a new baby to push her that way.

While I think any age gap between siblings has its blessings and challenges, I think the 3-year one has had some definite benefits for us.
  1. Only one kid in diapers. Less dollars on disposables, less laundry loads of cloth diapers.
  2. The big kid can dress herself. This is just really nice.
  3. She can fetch me things from other rooms and follow multi-step directions
  4. Cora can play unsupervised around baby. I'll admit this took a little work since in the early days she wanted to push Audrey in the swing or get up in her face, but now I can easily step out of the room and take a shower or clean something.
  5. We're not having dinnertime picky-eating battles or bedtime battles any more. Last summer was rife with these, and now we have different battles, but the overall routine of the day seems to go pretty smoothly (although my husband may disagree a bit since he's been the one home with them while I'm at work!)
  6. On a personal level, it was good for me to not be nursing or pregnant for a stretch. I was able to focus on my physical fitness (and mental health) and knock out some goals (like running a 5K in 26 minutes!)
  7. And the best benefit so far: Cora will clean up spit-up!! Audrey has a pretty classic case of infant reflux, so sometimes she just spits up while sitting in her swing or whatever. Cora is very caring and will holler, "She spit up!" so I tell her to get a rag (which we keep everywhere now!) and clean her up. And she does!! Commence lots of lavish praise for my big helper.
I'll obviously take whatever gaps God gives me when it comes to children (I have miscarried before and know the pain that comes from planning one thing and reality being completely different), and I don't think there is a right or wrong number of years, but so far, I am liking this 3-year gap.

I unintentionally wrote a list of 7, so we'll call it 7 Quick Takes for this week! Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum


  1. My mom always told me the 3 year gap was the best choice. I mean, we'll be super lucky if we get a second one (heck, even the first was super lucky) so we're not waiting for two years to try again. But if we even had a semi-reasonable chance of being able to have kids even remotely when we wanted, we'd choose 3 years.

  2. Good post. I totally agree that most kids move from baby to kid sometimes between 2.25 and 2.75. And I do think having the youngest be a "kid" as opposed to a "baby" when the new baby is born makes things a lot easier. Of course, I've never had really closely spaced siblings. My are 2.75, 3.25 and 4.5 years apart. If we have another one, it will be a 3.5+spacing. Of all of those, the 3.25 spacing is by far my favorite. I didn't necessarily plan to have spacings that large, but that is what happened and there are definitely benefits.

    It's really nice having the oldest out of diapers, able to dress themselves, talking well and just generally more independent by the time the next one is born.

    Another big advantage (that you haven't reached yet, because your baby is still small) is that you don't have 2 toddlers. By the time the baby hits the toddler stage at age 1, the older one is 4, so out of the toddler stage and much, much more into big-kid stuff. 3-year olds can still be pretty unreasonable and throw tantrums, but by 4, kids have a better ability to reason, don't make as many messes and just generally easier to deal with. Plus, they can talk really well....so that helps. I love babies and I love big kids, but I find things to be really challenging between ages 1-4 or so.

    I also do think that the added space gives extra time for the mom to recover from the previous pregnancy. Having 2+ years between pregnancies does it make it easier (health-wise) on the mother.

    Also, a lot of people worry that with a 3+ age gap, kids won't be able to play together, but they definitely still do.

  3. My kids are 3.5 years apart. It's worked out well for us. They are now in the stage where they constantly annoy each other though. They can still play good at times, but usually they just get snippy.

  4. My first two are 3 years apart, and it's a great space. By the time they got to about age 1.5 and 4.5 they were playing together, and now they play together all the time. They have a great relationship. . .. We're expecting #3 and there will be an almost 4 year space there. . . . The one downside is that I do think my kids have gotten . . . spoiled, for lack of a better word. They let out a whine and expect me to come running. When your kids a baby, they cry and you come running. Without another baby to care for, it took me a while to realize that I don't need to keep running every time my 3yo whines! Oops! We're working on it. Anyway, long comment here b/c the topic's been on my mind. Congrats on your two wonderful daughters.

  5. Nice post about spacing. Having had my children 11 months and then 16 months apart, I think that's a little too close (read: very, very hard) - although now that they're older (6, 5, 4), it's super awesome. I love hearing the play scenerios they come up with. If I had to do it over, I think I would do 18-24 months apart.

    By the way - Flower has the exact same pink hearts sweater - I wish they could play together! :)