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I never thought much into the whole sibling age gap. My brothers and I are all 15 months apart from one another and that is all I knew as a child. My mom wanted us close in age so we could have built in best friends. While that doesn’t always work out for people, it did in our case. She also wanted to get the baby/toddler stage over with in one swoop – I get that. However, when I became a mom for the first time, the idea of having kids that close in age gave me anxiety. Trying to tackle nap time with two small children, rotating diaper changes, both throwing tantrums at the same time, I just knew it wasn’t for me. So I waited 4 years to have my second child. By then my oldest was out of the toddler stage and it was a fantastic age gap for our family. After some time, their father and I decided to divorce. It was just my two kids and me, doing our thing. We had our set routine and life for the most part was easy going.
Years later I met someone, fell in love and the unexpected happened….. I got pregnant. By now my oldest was 12 years old and the whole baby/toddler stage was long gone. My older two were very much independent. They went to school all day, had chores, went to bed at a set bedtime without any complaints, entertained themselves, if they woke up before me they would quietly make themselves breakfast. I mean, I was living the life with just them two. How in the world was I going to start this process all over again?
To my surprise, pregnancy wasn’t that bad. I’m not talking about morning sickness, back aches, etc., because yes, those were bad. What I am talking about is being pregnant when you have older children in the house. I actually enjoyed the fact I could really communicate with my kids throughout this time and they could comprehend it all. If I wasn’t feeling good and laying in bed, my oldest son would make him and his brother breakfast or lunch, depending on the time of day. They would ask about the stages of growth of the baby. If I needed to close my eyes for a few minutes, I knew they were old enough to be safe and not get into anything. They were excited to welcome another sibling and I think it honestly helped my bond with them as they saw all the struggles that went into carrying a baby and made them realize all I did when I was pregnant with them also, because let’s face it… pregnancy sucks for this mom!
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage
Having a newborn again really brings back the moments with your other children that you totally forget. All the little coos, facial expressions, grunts, tiny diapers, sweet cries, movements they make that you felt while they were still all bundled in your belly. I feel like as children grow and get older, we focus on all those huge milestones and those little, sweet moments become distant memories. My oldest is 5’4″ and about to pass me in height, he is going through puberty and life has been this emotional rollercoaster for him as he sorts out the process of what’s happening to him. It’s hard to remember a time he was this dependent on me, this little dude all swaddled up and smaller than the size of one couch cushion. So having a newborn again, really made all the flashbacks come right back of my older two. It definitely gave me all the feels and puts into perspective how time really does fly by so fast.
Time to get real
There are so many pros and cons to having a huge age gap. I know other mom’s who have had kids out of the house and in college get pregnant again, and no matter how your household looks, starting over again comes with its own struggles and rewards.
The exhaustion is real, folks. I know having kids close in age is exhausting as well, but I really had forgotten what getting little sleep was like. It’s like that moment in parenting where you can finally get a full night’s sleep and you treasure that moment, then all of a sudden that moment gets ripped from you. At least when you have kids close in age, you are pretty much a ‘mombie’ for a few years straight and then finally get that reward of them all sleeping through the night and being independent, never having to go back and do it all over again.
It’s also hard trying to balance certain tasks like helping the older two study for tests when the baby is crying and needing me. Sometimes my mom guilt kicks in and I feel I am not doing enough for my older children since I am so focused on the baby, but I am so thankful they are at the age where they truly understand and don’t take anything personal.
So what are the pros and cons? Here is a list of them from my personal experience:
- Buying diapers again
- Sleep training all over again
- Helping with homework and baby needing me/crying
- Having your set routine being changed
- Built-in babysitters
- Older kids help a lot
- No need for a bunch of car seats in the car
- Older kids can entertain baby in the back seat
- Older kids understand
At the end of the day, what works for some families may not work for others. Parenting comes with its challenges no matter if you have one child or five, whether the kids are a year apart or thirteen. If I had to do it again, I definitely wouldn’t want my kids this far apart in age, but every day we are growing stronger in our family bond and at the end of the day, my little boy has two incredible older siblings who care about him so much and will always help look after him.
Do you have children with a big age gap? I am curious to hear other’s who have gone through similar situations. Was it a struggle or did you prefer it?