Ask Design Mom: Spacing Kids

Question:
Hi Gabrielle! Could you please give me some advice? My baby is turning 3 this year and I’m thinking about getting pregnant again. How did you decide to space your kids? How do you know it’s time to have another one or if you’re done? I appreciate your thoughts. — Thanks, Jeannie.

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Answer:
Wow. That’s a big question, Jeannie! But I’m game. As far as spacing goes, in my head, I always thought I’d have babies about two years apart until I was done. But that never happened. Here’s what did happen:

Ralph and Maude are 18 months apart.
Maude and Olive are 2 1/2 years apart.
Olive and Oscar are 3 1/2 years apart.
Oscar and Betty are 16 months apart.
Betty and June are 4 years apart.

It turns out, not everyone has control of when and if they’ll conceive (or adopt). Me included. So first off, even if you make a plan, know that you may or may not be able to stick with it. And that it will all work out either way.

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Here are my thoughts on what I experienced. Sixteen months apart was definitely the trickiest. It’s not twins, but it’s still two babies. I won’t lie, it can be rough. But the nice thing is, if you have a hard time enjoying a certain stage — say the diaper years, or the preschool phase —  you move on to the next part of life really fast. Having kids close in age is efficient! Another nice thing is a built in playmate. Oscar and Betty have been inseparable for years. I’m sure that will change at some point, but it’s been wonderful as we’ve moved from New York to Colorado to France.

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In contrast, 4 years apart was by far the easiest on me as a mother. By the time June was born, Betty could get herself dressed, get herself a snack and entertain herself pretty well. She was old enough to be comfortable at preschool and was good company when I was hanging out nursing Baby June — Betty was even old enough to be able to get me a drink of water. : ) But four years is a lot. Two years in and Betty and June definitely don’t have a buddy relationship. It’s much more of a big sister/baby sister thing. Who knows if they’ll ever be close friends. I hope so. But who knows?

And really, some of this is just luck of the draw. I’m sure we all know plenty of siblings who are close in age, but not close emotionally. Or the opposite. In our family, Ralph and Olive are 4 years apart but they’ve turned out to be great friends. They really enjoy hanging out together! So it seems like sibling spacing is really one of those no one-can-predict sort of things.

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My advice: listen to those instincts of yours. If you feel like you would be completely overwhelmed to find yourself morning sick or caring for a newborn, perhaps it’s still time to wait. On the other hand, if you’re obsessed with babies and find yourself staring dreamily at maternity clothes, maybe it’s time for the next baby. And for those of you who pray (I’m one of you), this is the perfect sort of thing to pray about.

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I’ll end with the “how do you know when you’re done” part. I’ve probably had this exact conversation with at least 100 women — and some men too! People approach the decision so differently. We knew we were done at 6. Earlier in our marriage, I might have guessed that we’d have 7 or 8 or even 9. But by the time we actually got to 6 we knew it was enough. Six just felt like our max.

But again, everyone approaches it differently. In Nie Nie’s book, she mentioned that she purchased a kitchen table that would seat 8 people — and she intended to fill it. Others assume they’ll have a certain number of children but then find they can’t conceive again after the first baby. Or they can’t conceive at all. Some people have a plan from the beginning, others kind of wing it and see what happens. And still others find themselves on the adoption trail and are bound by budgets and other people’s decisions. It’s tricky stuff!

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Dear Readers, I know you have lots of great experience in this area. Please share! How did you decide to space your kids? When/how did you know you were done growing your family? How close in age are you to your own brothers and sisters?

P.S. — Want more? Here’s an earlier related post called Having Another Child.

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133 thoughts on “Ask Design Mom: Spacing Kids”

  1. In my family, we joke that my mother had her four daughters in pairs: The girls in each pair are two years apart, but there are six years separating the two pairs. Growing up, we definitely played more and were closest to the other half of our “pair”; the ten-year difference between the oldest and youngest meant that they had more of that “big sister/little sister” relationship you mentioned.

    But now that we’re all grown, and the oldest and youngest both have families of their own, the age difference seems to have vanished completely, and we’re all much closer than we’ve ever been. It is so wonderful to have three best friends built into your family, and I’m grateful every day for my siblings. I know your kids must feel the same!

    1. It’s almost exactly the same in our family! But with two girls, two boys, then two girls. We all had our pair when we were younger, now we all are grown and it’s like there is no difference between us!

  2. We joke that “birth control” planned ours….. We have three. first two are 5 years apart…last two are 12 years apart.. First was conceived on BC pills, second on over the counter BC and third showed up AFTER a tubal ligation when I was 40…

  3. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    It is funny how it all works out in the end. We tried for a dozen ish years total. In there we adopted two kiddos. They are exactly 4 years apart. Girl then boy. There are ups and downs to the age difference. Our daughter was able to communicate with us beautifully when her brother came because she was 4. We were able to do things with just her that made her feel special because she knew what was going on. She had some perspective on her brother being a baby. Our son looks up to his sister now. She kind of views him as a little mascot. They fight, they cuddle, they play. They are normal sibs. I couldn’t have predicted any of it.

  4. This is a topic that’s frequently on my mind. I am looking forward to reading what others have experienced. I have a hard time having the faith that we can afford more children. We only have two and I am always amazed at people who have more!

  5. our 2 kids are 20 months apart. It was really challenging with 2 babies, a traveling husband, ect. But now that they are older (almost 3 and 4 1/2) they play SO well together and will only be a year apart in school. But I do agree its easier on the parents to space them out, if we had another there would be a gap.

  6. I have 5 boys. They are all between 20- 26 months apart. My oldest was 7 when my youngest was born. I loved having them so close and love it even more now that they are getting older. Their brotherly bond is very strong and they are very protective of each other. It was a lot of work when they were all young but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  7. My first child, Eden and second child, August, are 2 years and 8 months apart. August and our third child, Titus, are 15 months apart. Do we want more? Absolutely. But it took a long time in prayer to come to that decision. And 15 months apart was like one big loooong pregnancy ;) But, I think they will be best buds. Well, ask me again tomorrow…:)

  8. After having my son, I really wanted another child close to him in age. Well, it took five years (totally unexpected) but we ended up with twins! I would never have chosen to have a five year age gap but I am so glad it worked out this way. He has been a big help and I often wonder how I would have coped with a toddler and then twins. I think, in the end, there are some things you cannot plan with certainty and this is probably a good thing as we don’t always know what we want!

  9. My son and daughter are 18 months apart. It’s been difficult at times to have two children that close together, simply because they both demand so much of our attention. The other side of it, is that they are the best of friends, they will both be in school within a year of each other, and they enjoy a lot of the same things because they’re close in age. We plan on waiting at least 5 years before we have another child, adopted or otherwise, but who knows, our plans might change!

  10. My boys are 19 months apart. It was always a little hectic when they were smaller, but now that they are 10 1/2 and 12 it feels perfect. They are extremely close, despite having very different personalities, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way now.

  11. my little boy is 2 years old, and i’m pregnant with our 2nd–so they’ll be 2 1/2 years apart when he’s born. we planned spacing based on our own sibling experiences. my sister and i are 16 mo apart, and had a horrible relationship growing up (although we’re super close now), so i thought that was a bit too close. my husband’s next oldest brother to him is 4 years older, and he wished they had been closer, so 4 years was a bit too far. also, i really wanted to nurse for at least a year, so we figured that we’d wait until that year had gone by, give myself a month or so off, and then try again. things didn’t work out that way, as i ended up nursing longer and then we wanted to wait until after a planned vacation to try again. then once we started trying it didn’t exactly happen right away. but in the end we’re really happy, and i think the spacing will be just right. whether we’ll be done at 2, though, will remain to be seen…

  12. I have 4 kids under 4. My life is pretty crazy at times but honestly lots of fun as well! Spacing is as follows:
    First boy is 14 months older than twin girls that follow. Twin girls are 2 1/2 years older than their baby brother.
    The 3 older ones are really close and play so well together. I can’t wait for their baby brother to get older and all 4 of them can run around together.
    We are done since we think 2 boys and 2 girls are a nice balance.

    1. My family matched yours almost….boy then 16 months later twin girls….2 1/2 years later a surprise little girl. It was a bit like raising a four PAC, but all are grown and have presented us with four grands in four years including twins…….More fun to be the grandparent than the parent!

  13. I love this blog. :-) You are just such a sweet and sincere person. I come here for the pretty pictures, but then I end up reading posts like this, about life in general, and I’m always unexpectedly touched.

    Anyway, I’ve just got the one but we’re planning to hold of on trying for our next until he’s around 3. I’ve had plenty of people tell me that’s too far apart, but I think they’re crazy! I’m an only child so I can’t look at my childhood, but my husband is a little brother… his sister is 4 years older and they’re very close.

  14. Both my husband and I were born more than five years apart from our siblings and do not feel the closeness we would like to see in our own children. So, we planned to space our children more closely. Our two are nearly 2.5 years apart and still young, but they are already showing signs of friendship.

  15. I was married at 29 and had a surprise bundle at 30. My husband and I, when we first married, had agreed that we wanted 4, maybe 5 children- and I wanted those children before I turned 40. For us that meant we needed to get things going and rush a little. We have been fortunate that most of the plans have agreed with us. We decided that we wanted to pair our children. Our first two are 15 months apart, then 32, then 19, then 26. That’s five in 8 years -ages 7 and under. We love how it works. Is our life crazy? Yep. Is church a nightmare sometimes? Most definitely. I wouldn’t say I’m the “nurturing” type either. I often joke with my husband that he is more nurturing and should be the mother. But the more I have, the better person, and the better mother, I become. I kind of like that.

    As far as wrapping things up: I would like to have one more. Again, I feel like I’ve become a better mother and more capable with each child. HOWEVER, my husband is pretty stretched. I have left the decision up to him. He is, after all, the patriarch of the family- and how he feels as a father will influence my relationship with him and his relationship with the children. I won’t sacrifice that. I value our relationship far too greatly. So the issue isn’t pushed on my part. But I wouldn’t mind one more before I turn 40 in two years.

    I think there are definitely pros and cons to all of it and the different factors play a big role in those decisions- when I was pregnant with #3 my husband said if it was another boy we were done. A factor that was important to him. Our two boy are rambunctious. He wasn’t sure we could handle another boy. In the end I think you just do what you feel is right for you and by the guidance you feel.

  16. In my family, there are three girls. One of my sisters is 5 years younger than me, and the youngest is 7 years younger than me. Growing up, I can’t say that we were ever “friends.” We had big sister/little relationships (my sisters were friends, but I was much older), and that wasn’t a bad relationship either.

    When I went away to univeristy, my middle sister was starting high school. By the time she was 16 and I was 21, our relationship really started to change into a friendship. We started talking on the phone with each other as friends and realizing we had a lot in common now.

    The same thing happened with my youngest sister, but a little later. Now, she’s in university and I live in another city working full-time and being a grown-up. We talk on the phone at least once a week and when I go home to visit, all three of us try to get together and do fun things like watch movies, go for dinner and just enjoy each other’s company.

    So, even if Betty and June aren’t really friends, they’re still sisters and that’s ok. It may take a while, but one day, I’m sure they will be friends too!

      1. My brother and I are 5 years apart. It was a big gap as kids, and we were never close. It was hard to like the little bugger when he was running around stating out loud that his goal in life was to annoy me! Heh. My going off to college was the best thing that has happened in our relationship. He was getting older, and suddenly having a house devoid of a sibling made him realize how much he’d kinda liked that company. So the happy ending is that now we actually get along great, and have a lot in common. Much of that just came from him getting older and going to college himself, but the ‘don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ factor certainly played a role I think.
        So now that I’m married and have a 10 month old daughter I’ve actually been doing a lot of thinking about spacing. My husband is the oldest of 6 boys (!!! I have no idea how his mother is still sane!) and they are all between 1.5 and 2.5 years apart. We’re thinking we might aim at that gap as well… Thanks for all the food for thought here!

    1. This is very simliar to my sisters and me. I am the middle of 3 girls; my older sister is 4 years older than I and my younger sister 2 years younger. Growing up I was closer to my younger sister (we played together more, but we also fought more), but now, as adults, it’s very equal. The age gaps have disappeared, and I am just as close to my older sister (who now has 3 little girls of her own!) as my young. I love them so much!

  17. When we got married we planned on having four and then evaluating if there would be more. Getting pregnant wasn’t an issue and our kids are all two years apart, give or take a month. Turns out my body doesn’t do birth well, like at all. I have a bunch of the problems from the scary section of What to Expect. The birth of our second was especially bad, but she and I both managed to make it home. Before she was born my husband and I both felt there was a little blond boy waiting for us. We both knew there was another kid for us. So with a lot of faith and not a little trepidation we got pregnant again. And this pregnancy didn’t go well. It seemed I was always back with the ultrasound tech, or being refered to another specialist. Part of me really didn’t expect that my little blond boy would make it. When it came time for his birth we (doctors included) were all pretty nervous, but miraculously it went perfectly. There was no drama. It was amazing. That said, we knew we were done. We got three kids, which wasn’t the original plan we made, but it was enough. Occasionally I think of our plan and wish I could fulfil it, but I can’t risk having more and I’m not required to. Children is a decision between husband and wife, the ladies at the grocery store who tell my daughter she needs a sister aren’t involved. When they but in they make me want to cry, but that’s just it, they are butting in! It’s not anyone’s business and it’s not anyone’s place. Those ladies sure don’t want my medical history, but for some reason people don’t seem to realize that how many children you have and when is your decision, and it’s private.

  18. Nature intends for us to nurse at least 2-3 years, which means spacing them accordingly, if that matters to anyone. My two girls are 6 years apart (and were nursed for a long time). The older one reads bedtime stories to the little one, teaches her to jump rope. They fight, they play, they ignore each other—just like any siblings. My brother and I are 16 months apart, and not as close as my sister and I, who are 10 years apart. I really think it’s more to do with personality than spacing. And the undivided attention parents can give kids is more important than the attention they get from sibs.

    1. Hah! I’m not sure nature intends the same thing for all of us. For example, I 100% exclusively nursed June and my period still showed up when she was 2 months old. (And has been 28 days regular ever since.) I actually nursed all my babies but it never worked as birth control for me.

        1. Yes, it’s different for everyone, BUT your period is less likely to return if:
          you’re feeding your baby often during the day, without giving her extra fluids or solids, your baby uses your breast for comfort sucking as well as feeding, you sleep with your baby, you carry your baby close to you in a sling or by holding her during the day—as nature intends!

          1. I wish this had been true for me, but my experience was more like Gabi’s. My period came back and was regular less than 4 months after my first baby, and less than two months after my second baby, despite 100% nursing with no supplementation. Nursing is great, but it does not work as birth control for a lot of people, no matter how you do it.

  19. Thank you for always being so sensitive to those of us who are having trouble conceiving. Especially as a Mother of six, it warms my heart that you still consider those of us trying to have one!

    1. I totally agree. You have such a lovely, kind heart and I appreciate that so much!

      PS I wanted 4 kids and then we got older and I thought 3, then 2, then when we were diagnosed with infertility, I thought ONE. PLease just one.

      And God blessed us with twins from our second IVF. And I couldn’t be happier :)

      1. i was thinking the same thing. your thoughtfulness and consideration for those for whom this is a struggle touch me. i have not been lucky enough to have had biological children and am currently slogging through the adoption jungle praying that it will result in a child (children!) in our home but this is far from a given. in the meantime i will enjoy following yours here and continue to love your blog for your great ideas, endless creativity and kind heart. <3

  20. We have six as well (age 9 years to 7 months) and a lot of factors went into the decisions. I married at 25, knew I wanted a a “big” family but also I wanted to be done by the time I was 35 in order to have lots of energy and life to be a mom and grandma. So we started out with a bigish number in mind but really thought and prayed each time we felt like adding to our family. We thought about my health (mental and physical) and each child’s needs and took each pregnancy one at a time. My husband, who is a spreadsheet guy, had kids mapped out on our grand spreadsheet of life anticipating missions, weddings, college, cars, home etc. Having our children close is a blessing especially in a small home since they like the same toys, movies and activities and are good friends.

    I think the advice to listen to those instincts and feelings is so important, but trying hard to trust those and not over analyze is also super important.

    BEST OF LUCK!

  21. This really spoke to me. I just had my youngest child, which makes three children in four years. Most people assume we are done, but I just don’t know. I won’t lie, three under 4 is a ton of WORK, especially since we live overseas – far away from family. At the same time, I’m not ready to say that I’m “done”. So when people ask, I just tell them, “Three is plenty for now, but we’ll reevaluate later on.”

  22. First of all, the photos in this post are fantastic!! I always thought I would have 3 -I came from a family of 3 and my husband came from a family of 3. After my 7 month pregnancy and a month in the NICU I then changed my tune to thinking 2 would be enough (and that I was only crazy enough to go through all that 1 more time). Well, you never really know what lies in store, and after numerous moves, unique job situations, etc. we haven’t had the right insurance to cover a pregnancy of mine again (no insurance company wants to touch me with a 10 foot pole after my first pregnancy!) . So, we’ve decided we are thrilled with 1, and honestly at this point, I wouldn’t even choose to have it any other way!

  23. As always your photos are wonderful.
    We always talked about three kids – three years apart. When our first was just over 2 we started talking about #2. It took 14 months for us to get pregnant with baby #2. We wondered if we’d be able to have a third. I’m now due with baby #3 in October and thrilled about it. My oldest will be 6 1/3 and my little guy will be 2 1/3. The four year difference between my son and daughter was really easy on me as a mom. My daughter has independence that helped me immeasurably when my son was born.
    Whatever you choose or whatever is handed to you – it’s always quite an exciting ride. I’m really looking forward to seeing how baby #3 makes it’s mark on our family dynamic.

  24. I’m still on my first (maybe only?), so I can’t weigh in. However, I can assure you that the big sister/little sister relationship can transition when they are older. My sister and I are 10 years apart and while there some lingering big sister/2nd mother feelings, we are also very close friends now.

  25. My children are 3 and 3 and half years apart..We didn’t really plan it exactly that way…but since we both worked full time..I knew I didn’t want them close…was too tired between working and taking care of them as babies to have another one too close. I also loved each one of my girls as they went through their stages of infancy and toddlerhood. My older ones were old enough to help – but young enough that they are close. I like the 3 year gap…I suppose 2 years could have worked well too..but for me not much less than that. 3 years just felt right for us.

    All three of my girls are close with each other in different ways…depending on what they are doing. I think it is often reflective of personality too as to how close they are.

    I knew we were done after 3. We originally planned to have 2 – but a higher force had other plans…and it was mean’t to be…like our family was completed. To tell you the truth…it’s wonderful…3 girls – wouldn’t want it any other way.

    I love reading all the stories and comments here – such great topics and comments from everyone. Thanks for the great forum.

  26. My boys are 3 1/2 years apart. We seriously debated over having a second one and we weren’t ready until our older son was almost 2 1/2. Thankfully I am able to get pregnant very easily (1 and 2 months respectively of trying). I liked that my older son was out of the baby stage and was able to be a helper. The boys are now 6 & 3 and play together well most of the time.

    People asked us if we wanted to try for a girl, but I’m convinced I would have another boy. Plus my husband wanted to be done by 40 and he was 39 when our younger son was born.

  27. Growing up, I would hear friends say they were “a mistake” or they weren’t planned and I had no idea what they were talking about :-) My siblings and I were all close in age — less than 2 years, and we were the best of playmates and still very close. As the eldest, I was off to university when some of the younger ones were still very little so I missed time with them but now as adults, we have great relationships and age doesn’t really matter.

    I really like your point about how one can plan, but when it comes to fertility and kids, there’s only so much control a person has. Lots of kids have been conceived while their mother was on the Pill, and lots of people have tried to get pregnant for years and it doesn’t happen. Even with adoption — here I am 2.5 years into a wait that was supposed to be about one year. You can make a plan, but then you pretty much have to surrender to the mysterious divine plan. I always appreciated that saying: “We make plans, and God laughs.”

  28. We’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and discussing with friends. Our daughter is 18 months old and from the second she was born we were ready for another – I just suddenly wanted a small age gap. We agreed to try and aim for a two year age gap for financial reasons and I have gazed longingly at babies and maternity clothes counting down until we could have another. The funny thing is, that now she’s 18 months we’ve completely changed out minds and decided to go for a three year gap. She’s so fun right now that I want to give her all my attention, and the thought of having two in nappies/diapers at the same time filled me with dread!

  29. I really appreciate your sensitive approach and open mindedness about this subject. Growing up, I just assumed that everyone was “supposed” to have a bunch of kids all 2 years apart because that’s what it seemed everyone at church did. Then you grow up and start that journey yourself and you realize it doesn’t always happen that way. Or maybe you DONT want it to happen that way because motherhood is ALOT harder than you thought and it is an emotional rollercoaster for you that is no one else’s business! Or your body doesnt do it all “as planned.” I loved reading your story and to know that I am not alone. I’m just grateful to have the ones I have and know that by praying about it, God will help me and send children to me according to what’s best in the end. Thank you ~

  30. when i was much younger, i thought i was going to have lots of kids but after 2 we said we were done. my kids are 4 years apart. we had planned on having them two years apart but it just didn’t work out that way. at the end i love this age gap. my son loves her little sister and i can tell she adores him as well.

  31. I have a 4 children — there is a 14 month gap, a 3 1/2 year gap, and a 24 month gap. That’s just the way it worked – our control over our fertility was limited. It took 6 years of actively trying before our first child was born and then I had two back to back! It’s all quite strange the way it worked out.

    Knowing we were done was tricky. Prayer played a huge factor in the decision, and so did the sense that there was no longer anyone missing. After the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd children were born, I had a strong sense that we weren’t done. I felt compelled to have another. After our 4th, that feeling waa no longer there.

  32. I’m 9 years older than my only sibling. In many ways, we experienced very different childhoods– I am at heart an “only child,” and sometimes, when I was in high school, my sister saw me as another maternal figure bossing her around. But now, we are friends. Not close friends — I know there are some things she doesn’t confide in me (again, the “mom” factor), but good, tight sisters. And we have sons only 5 months apart in age, and the cousins get along fabulously!

    Also: I liked what you said in your comments about “Olive Us,” about showing siblings getting along and not being snarky to each other. My daughter (10) and son (7 1/2) get along so well & have such a bond, and I hope it carries into their adult lives.

  33. I have two little ones right now that are 16 months apart. My second child just arrived in January. So I am in the middle of what I believe is the hardest part and I feel like we are doing okay (although at one point this morning they were both crying at the same time!). I am glad we had them close together and I feel so blessed that I got pregnant a second time. It was closer than we wanted (we were aiming for 18 months, but we aren’t complaining). Everyone we know that has had kids this close tell us that they will get along really well. I look forward to that.

    And for your last two, which are four years apart, I thought you should know that my sister and I are four years apart. Growing up we fought like crazy girls. Usually she wanted to be like me or do what I was doing and I didn’t want the little sister hanging around. However, once we went to college we really started to bond. She is one of my closest friends now and I love when she comes to me for advice. I like knowing that she looks to me for support and I can do the same for her. So even if they do fight growing up, I am almost certain they will move out of that phase!

  34. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. We have two kids a girl who’s five and a half and a boy who’s one and a half, so they are about four years apart… I love this age difference because our eldest has quite a lovely, but strong character and she needs lots of attention, so having them any closer would have been too difficult for us. Our son is so happy go lucky and he just adores his sister. But, here’s the deal, I feel so strongly that there is one more for us, not just yet, but in a few years, and my husband really does NOT share my feelings. He is completely done having babies. I think he is ready to move onto the kid phase. Anyway, that is where we find ourselves, I guess we’ll just see what happens in the future.

  35. Many commenters here seem to have quite a few children, at least from my perspective! I have two girls, ages 3.5 and 1, and it is a lot of work! I don’t know how you guys do it! Gabby, you especially, with 6, just blow my mind! Your children all seem so grounded, caring and kind. I’m sure having excellent parents helps. I’d be interested to hear more about how you nurture relationships between the siblings. You don’t mention much sibling rivalry here on the blog… please don’t tell me your children NEVER fight, I will feel so bad. I talk to my girls a lot about how lucky they are to have each other, and tell my older one how her little sister is her best friend, but she doesn’t seem to believe me. :) They are great most of the time, but there is plenty of bickering over toys, grabbing things from each other… typical sibling stuff (especially as they are still young and in the toddler stage), but when you see this kind of thing, how do you deal with it? Thank you, I love to read your blog!

  36. We never had a plan in mind which I think still confuses me on when we will stop (I’m 33). But as for spacing I’ve had a miscarriage every other pregnancy; 3 kids plus three miscarriages. It’s kind of made me give up on planning anything. Even with that I still think about what I’ll do differently “next time” the day I deliver a baby! And I think about my girl having a sister and worry about having a boy far in age from the others since the first 2 have a great connection. So many things to worry about that I have no control over. But I like these little problem solving riddles of life and how others perceive it.

  37. My third is 3 months old and my oldest is 5. I’m having a hard time feeling like we are done, but my husband feels certain that we are. Ah, but a fourth! We live in Connecticut, which is expensive and has smaller families, and we do feel stretched since my husband is in the middle of his residency. I’m grateful for my three and telling myself that we are done having kids until after residency….if we stay here, perhaps we’ll be done, but if we end up in a more affordable location, one more might not make a difference. It’s hard to know how to proceed when I feel so differently than my husband.

  38. My husband and I have a rather laid back approach to birth control….which has blessed us with three children in three years! Our oldest two are 14 months apart, and the youngest born when her siblings were 3.5 and 2.5. We have had some overwhelming moments but I have been surprised and grateful to discover that my fears about having children close together (jealousy between them, not enough of me to go around, energy to keep up, ect) were mostly unfounded. They are 5, 4, and 2 now and are best buds.

  39. I love your blog and I`m coming here really often..
    we`ve got 6 children, too…the oldest is 15 and the youngest two years old, 5 girls and one boy… the gab between the first three of them is about 22 months than a gab of 2,5 year and the 4th and the 5th are 3 years apart, the 5th and the 6th 3,5 years apart… we are longing eagerly for one more, but life not always gives you what you wish..
    I really like the less gap between my older children, I found it easier to handle than having a gab of 3 years and more,this means to have children with very different wishes, so have always have to deal with different sort of problems and day schedules…
    but all in one I enjoy so much having this big family and I really hope we`ll have the chance to get one more.

  40. This is always a topic of discussion amongst my women friends and there just doesn’t seem to be one right answer. I love seeing my children (who are 18 mos apart) as best friends. I love seeing my oldest, at 7, so involved with his toddler sister in a way he never could have been with his other two younger siblings, simply because he was too young when they were born. It is so awesome that all my children play together; it was so hard when there were 4 of them, five and under. Close or far in age–it’s all terribly challenging and super awesome!

  41. we are getting ready to have our second one in november and they will be 2 1/2 years apart. i was happy with just one child (didn’t love birthing) but husband really wanted a playmate for little guy. so we are having one more to do that. but we know it is our last.

  42. First, what beautiful family pictures! Photogenic. And, what a great post that I can see is hugely popular. Yes, you seem to do it all so well, of course, you are someone we’d all love to hear from on this subject!
    We have “3 in 3” — 3 children born within 3 years (19 m spacing, then 16). I am humble in terms of planning and did not expect to get pregnant so quickly — this was a surprise! As you said, there are advantages with all spacings and having them so close in age does require massive amounts of energy, creativity and patience (Fact: I was either pregnant or nursing for 5 years — with such little sleep I didn’t dream for… 7?… how many hours of straight sleep are required before one goes into REM sleep?) Both of my husband and I are high energy and low sleep people; I always knew that I wanted a minimum of three children so I’ve always had the “can do” attitude and approach (I willed this onto my husband who I do believe was stunned for the first few years!.. but cheers about their closeness every day now and how much fun it is for us all to basically be able to do the same thing together at the same time — like skiing, swimming, for example.)
    From the children’s point of view, there is not one day that goes by that I don’t think what a gift they are to one another. Because they simply can’t remember a day without one another they have such a deep bond and are such close friends. We could easily drop out of the whirlwind and never see a soul and they’d be content with one another — AND — on the flip side, I think they are social and enjoy their friends because of their relationship with one another — they have been fine tuning social skills since the day they were born. A school/pre-school perk that I never imagined — not only do they look out for one another but ALL of their friends look out for them, as well; due to this they have such an incredible array of friends (all ages) and “supervisors” watching their backs.
    In order to manage kids, one another, international families, work, etc, we have had to be honest with ourselves, in terms of how we manage kids so close in age and have put a lot of thought into how our life flow.
    … oh, so much more that could be said on this subject. All in all: no regrets! I consider the spacing a gift.

  43. I have a sister that is 5 years younger than me, and growing up, we had little in common and were not close. Now, I wish we lived closer because we love to spend time together. Because of that, I thought 2-3 years apart would be ideal, but my girls ended up being 15 months apart. I was pretty overwhelmed at first because my husband is away a lot for work. Then, it was really nice to have them so close! They are now 15 and 14 and are pretty good friends. They help each other with school work, boy advice :) and share clothing. They don’t have the same interests, one is into soccer & basketball, the other does horseback riding and student government but they support each other in whatever they do. They do argue at times like any siblings, but close spacing has worked well for us.

  44. We planned for one. She is 9 now and I am 45 so looks like we are keeping to that plan. For us it was practical. We live in an expensive city (Boston) so our house is small and we didn’t want to live in the suburbs. That choice means we have expensive private school tuition and we could never afford 2 of those. Also we love to travel. Our little family is perfect size for us!

    Amy

    1. My story is almost identical to yours, Amy! I’m 43 with a 10-yr-old daughter. We, too, planned for one. We both work f/t and living in a one-bedroom apt in NYC makes an only a super choice for us. We also love to travel and that’s easier with one kid.

      I’m totally impressed by moms of many kids. Organizationally, I think I’ve optimized my abilities with a singleton! :)

  45. My boys are 2 1/2 years apart, which is perfect for our little family. My sister and I were 2 1/2 years apart, and we were really close growing up. My older sister is 5 years older, and we didn’t have much of a relationship until college – now we are all best friends. Especially since we’re done at 2, I’m happy my boys are close. We have a small and tight-knit family.

  46. A great question and really great answers. I would add: sometimes it depends on the personality of the kids as to how far apart they need to be spaced. :) But I do love the idea of pairs. We have four boys, and I do love feeling that everyone has a sibling partner.

  47. This is definitely an addicting topic among mothers. I commend you for bringing us all to the table regarding age spacing and knowing when we are done. My husband and I currently have 5 boys from age 8 to 8 months. The older four average about 18 months apart and the youngest is almost 3 years younger than his closet older brother. It wasn’t planned that way and I wonder if my youngest will be as close to his brothers as they are to each other. They are the best of friends, they fight, play and create together all day, every day.
    As far as being done, we are done. Over the past years while doing a parental head count it has always seemed as those someone was missing. When my second son was born, my first observation was that he acted like a middle child! Once our youngest was born it didn’t feel that way anymore. I don’t know how to explain it, but we are at peace knowing that we are done and our family is complete.

  48. We were convinced that we would only have one child and we were quite happy with our perfect little Madeline (named after Madeline Kahn, and she somehow ended up with her personality). When she was 5, we suddenly found ourselves going to several funerals that summer and that’s when it hit us – if something happens to us, she would be all alone. I was pregnant 3 months later! Madeline and Jack are 6 years apart and at first she loved it. He was just a cute little doll to her but now the doll is almost 5 and gets into her stuff on a daily basis. They fight as siblings are prone to do but they also have the sweetest moments that just bring tears to my eyes. Yesterday, she was in some preteen hormonal rage and Jack sat down beside her, put his arm around her and said “It’s going to be alright, Madeline.” 20 minutes later he was screaming at her for taking his Legos.

    1. Oh how I love that you named your daughter after Madeline Kahn! And I agree–siblings comforting each other is the sweeting thing to witness.

  49. What a timely post! I just had my third child two weeks ago, and am beginning to wonder what we were thinking :) We have a 32 month old girl, a 19 month old boy, and now our little girl. After trying for a few years, we’ve had a sudden rush of babies, each a surprise, but such a blessing! It’s chaotic, but such a joy, and I can’t wait to see how they grow together. One perk I’ve noticed already is how good they are at sharing…it’s just natural to share, because they don’t really know otherwise. We make sure they have their own space, toys, and time with parents, but in general they seem to understand the need to share all three. And boy were they excited when we brought the little one home! A new playmate built right in at home!

  50. My son will be 22 months old when our second baby is due this July. However, he was a 33 week preemie. The biggest indicator of preemies is whether the mother has had one before, so maybe he’ll be younger by the time his little brother or sister arrives. Who knows.

    We waited a year before trying for our second on the advice of our doctors. In order to give us the best chance of not having another preemie we were told to wait a year before trying again.

    If not for that we probably would have started trying for our second sooner. Pretty much once our first son was sleeping through the night (bad sleep regression between four and nine months old) the amnesia set in and we were ready for another. http://www.thebookofjimmy.com/the-loren-log-an-introduction-to-hindsight/

    It’s really such a personal decision, I don’t think much advice can help one way or the other. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. I think it boils down to whether you and your partner (and it should be both of you) are ready for and want another kid, or you aren’t or don’t.

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