If you’ve ever considered adding a second child to your family, chances are you’ve had the inner debate of the “perfect” age gap more than once. But is there really an ideal amount of time to wait? It’s my opinion that the “perfect” age gap between your kids does not actually exist. What really matters is your specific circumstance. What you think is best for your individual family and what you feel you can handle as a parent is the most important thing to keep in mind, instead of what seems normal, expected, or perfect.
This may seem obvious to many of us and yet, we still can’t help ourselves. Most of us are planners and when considering something like having kids, there’s already so much unknown associated with it that we want to get a grip on any part that we can. Planning the age gap between kids is one thing we can kind of control. That’s a big reason why we end up obsessing over it!
My whole life, I assumed kids spaced two years apart would be the perfect age gap for a trillion reasons. Somewhere along the way, I formed that opinion and white-knuckle held to it all the way up until I had my two kids spaced exactly two years and one month apart. Long story short, for my particular circumstance, this turned out to not be ideal. Now I find myself struggling with the question of how much longer I should wait before adding a third child. That age-old question surfaces again!
But as I write this article, I look up and see my two children playing happily together across the room. Two minutes later, I see them fighting over who knows what. For how long I planned their “perfect” age gap and for how much I now worry about planning my next, I’ve only just realized: it doesn’t actually matter at all. It doesn’t matter because each gap in age will have it’s own pros and cons!
We’ve all heard that having siblings born less than a year apart is hard because it’s a lot of work and the demands of young babies/toddlers on a mother’s body takes a toll. And yet, we’ve also heard they become best friends and it’s all worth it!
We’ve all heard that spacing kids 5 or more years apart is hard because you’ve been used to an older, more independent child and forget what having a newborn is like. And we worry the kids might not become as close of friends. And yet, we’ve also heard that it’s awesome because you’ve got the best little helper who might also be in kindergarten, so you get a break from having two at home for a few hours in the day.
And a simple Google search of “best age gap between siblings” will yield a million articles and studies that show conflicting research claiming how each age gap will cause this harm or that affect on our kids.
It’s all so confusing and doesn’t give you an end-all answer. Why? Because you need to mainly look to yourself and your individual family to know what would be “best.” In my case, I thought two years sounded like a great distance since by that point, I would have a handle on this parenting gig and my kids would still be close enough in years that they could potentially be great friends. I had no way of knowing it would actually be too closely spaced, making me feel overwhelmed and anxious. I have to constantly remind myself of the pros of my kids being two years apart, since there are many, instead of focusing on the cons. But now I know better what I feel would be “best” for my family and I’m thinking three years apart would be good.
But that might sound terrible to you. You might want your kids spaced 6 years apart so you can focus on each child’s baby phase and appreciate it. Or you might want to have your kids as quickly as possible so you can raise them closely and get through the baby stage quicker.
If you dare to ask other mothers for their opinion on the “perfect” age gap, be prepared for the onslaught of totally different answers. Those mothers are answering based on their own experience and what they find best for their families. Take their reasons with a grain of salt and eventually, you’ll figure out what you want to do. Just remember: there’s nothing perfect in life, and that most certainly includes age gaps between your kids.