On Having 4 Kids in 5 Years

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:

Friendship
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!

My Sanity
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:

Energy Drain
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?

8 thoughts on “On Having 4 Kids in 5 Years

  1. Laura

    I don’t have kids yet but this is something I think about! My brother and I were 13 months apart, and my mom said she loved having two so close together! And then our sister was born nine years later, and it is the dream of any 9 year old girl to have her very own baby to play with! I loved to help my mom with her! I think there are definitely pros to close kids and big spaces!

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  2. Anna

    I love this! While my two pales in comparison to your four, I agree with you about everything. Fortunately for us, we don’t have to change diapers for as many years. (Hopefully…)

    I really like the idea of getting through the younger stages all at once, but I have to say I was really enjoying the toddler stage until we added a newborn. I didn’t think I’d like a toddler as much as I did. I mean, I still do, it’s just not as easy with two kids.

    You’re a superstar mom and will totally have earned that week long, hormone-free vacation.

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  3. Anneliese Friesen

    I like how you handle things in stride, Larissa and I smile at your honesty as I can relate to not being good at “playing” with toddlers. I love it when they can talk and you can have interesting and funny conversations which may be funnier to a Grandma than a mom. =)
    I know that as my kids grew I kept thinking every stage was the best…. until they left home one by one… that part was hard and I wished I had one more to keep at home. I realized the having them close makes that part go fast. For a time I felt lost as to who I was. But after they were actually all married I was totally content and I love being back to two! Yay!!!

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  4. Karissa

    I think you’re right when you say that you’re used to what you’re used to and that becomes the norm. I definitely would have liked to have kids closer in age and I would have considered having more but now I will be really happy to have two healthy kids, if that’s what the Lord gives us. We were married for a few years before we had Pearl and I don’t regret it at all. I think (for us, at least) it gave us a strong foundation and made the transition to parenthood easier. Hope the last few weeks of pregnancy are treating you well!

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  5. Elaine

    Just the other day I was thinking about my daughter (46) and her four children, and counted up the years from start to finish. I thought “did she really have four in five years!?” I had to calculate and recalculate and kept coming up with the same results. :) She thoroughly enjoyed those years (of course there were many frustrations) and probably would have had more!, but the doctor advised against it as her uterus was quite thin. (She had four c-sections) She is now dealing with her 17 year old (oldest) preparing to leave for college in the fall. It is especially hard to come to this point in her life, as she enjoys motherhood so much…well, maybe the teen years have been more challenging. Having three boys first, you most likely won’t have to deal as much with the fluctuating hormones of puberty. :) Blessings on your family as you welcome this little girl in to your lives.

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  6. Chrissy Ens

    We had 4 kids in 5 years and I’m really happy with our choice too. I would have had another but was told I shouldn’t after a uterine rupture, which was very difficult to get over mentally and sometimes results in me thinking “why didn’t I saver it?! Why did I have baby upon baby instead of enjoying every single cute cuddly moment before it was lost in pregnancy sickness and another babe to care for?” But at the time I was so anxious to have the whole family “here” and living life together that I kept on track with babies just shy of two years apart. Of course like you said there are so many pros but there are cons too (like feeling panicked at the idea of homeschooling two or three needy learners at once!) but I am so pleased to have my family “here” and seeing how they shape and mold each other.

    Reply
    1. Larissa Sevenhuysen Post author

      So sorry your dreams were cut short! I don’t think I could ever homeschool, so I haven’t felt that part, but more the big eagerness to ship the first one off to full-time school! It’s awesome that you are up for that!
      (and sorry for my late reply…don’t check in here very often and didn’t see I had comments to approve!)

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