It’s a common debate: What is the ideal spacing between kids, and what is the ideal number of kids?
I have never heard anybody say they regret waiting so long to have another child, or wish they would have spaced out their kids a little more. The fact is that you are used to what you have and see all the benefits of your own situation. Sometimes the spacing is unavoidable, but usually couples have a plan for how their family will be built.
Come March, we will be adding our fourth child to our family. She will be here a couple weeks before Calvin turns 5. That means 4 kids 4 and under for a tiny bit! It sounds crazy when you say it like that. It sounds crazy when I think that my oldest will still be in preschool when I have three more back at home. But in practice, it feels natural and not at all weird. Overwhelming at times, yes, but not necessarily crazy, as some people like to tell me.
Here are some benefits we see in having our kids so close together:
Our boys play fairly well together. When they’re in the right mood. And it gets better and better as time goes on. When kids are around the same age, their play levels are more equal and they understand each other. Perhaps even as they grow up, they will share friend groups at school or youth group.
Less to Purchase/Store
There isn’t enough time between kids to have plastic baby things crack, or paint peel off the furniture, or for car seats to expire. Our original bucket seat is still usable through this year. It’s done us well! We don’t have to store things for as long. Once this baby is done with the swing or the Bumbo or the jolly jumper, out it goes! It’s only been around for 5 years, and then no more soon after!
I don’t necessarily enjoy toddlers and preschoolers. I don’t know how to play with them. I didn’t even enjoy playing when I was little! They don’t have common sense yet, and they don’t know how to keep their faces clean when they eat. They require me to talk too much because they don’t listen.
So I’m glad that our years going through these stages are condensed. We may have to deal with more at once, but it’s for less time on the timeline.
Other Things That Will Be Condensed
My hormonal ups and downs – I can say that my hormones have not been normal since being married. First the pill, then pregnancy and breastfeeding ever since. Does Tim even remember who he married?!
My physical ups and downs – pregnancy and breastfeeding change the body a lot. I’m glad I’ve not had the in between moments when everything is the size and shape they will be from here on out, only to have it change once again. My body is just always changing! And once it’s done, then maybe I’ll have the time and energy to put some focus on my physical health. I know I could have been doing that all along, but I’m a one-thing-at-a-time person. Get one thing done then move on to the next! Right now I’m working on being done child-bearing.
Time spent in diapers, car seats, bath tubs and bibs – I certainly wouldn’t want to be done with a stage only to have to start it all over again a couple years later. Car seats are probably the most annoying. At least Calvin is now in a booster and can buckle himself. Victor needs to grow faster! He’ll probably be in a regular car seat until he’s 6.
On the flip side, there are some things that are not ideal about having our kids so close in age:
Many aspects of raising young children requires a lot of physical strength and energy. Multiply that by 2 or 3 or 4, to the power of pregnancy, it’s hard. At the end of the day, I am the happiest if I can just sit on the couch and watch some TV, preferably with a bowl of ice cream. It requires no mental or physical input, and that is just fine by me. Sometimes I wish I had the drive to do some sort of hobby type thing, but there’s just no energy for that right now.
Less Couple Time
Tim and I barely gave ourselves time in our marriage to be just us. We will be celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary in April, and aside from our honeymoon, we’ve had two weekends away together. And a 5-month-old Patrick tagged along on one. Breastfeeding babies certainly limits the time you can spend away from them (yes, okay, you can pump and leave baby with somebody, but I’m not going to be pumping enough milk for a week-long vacation, and I’m not going to pump while on that vacation). But I will tell you that we have big dreams for when our last baby is weaned. Dreams of sitting in one spot somewhere warm for 7 days. And how glorious those 7 days will be.
Kids Aren’t Much Help
If you have older children when you have a baby, they can likely help you out with baby duties. I wouldn’t quite trust my oldest yet with even holding a little baby unassisted. It would be quite amazing to have another person around who could help change bums or retrieve toys or even clean the bathroom that has little boys learning to pee in it.
I’ve heard it said like this: It’s better to run through the fire than to walk through it. And at least this particular fire has lots of pockets of cool, fresh air.
One last pro: it’s easier to fit all the kids into a selfie frame when they’re still all little!
What do you like or not like about the spacing of your kids?