I often get asked about why we decided to have such a large age gap between our children.
All up, there’s four years and three months between Miss 10 and Miss 6 and five years and seven months between Miss 6 and Miss 1.
Truthfully, having a large age gap between children was the right fit me and my family. I don’t think I could have coped any other way.
My eldest daughter wasn’t a great sleeper. Scratch that. She was a shocking sleeper. So when we celebrated her first birthday and friends and family started to ask when we were planning to have another I laughed and usually said ‘never’ … at the time, I wasn’t entirely joking either.
By the age of 2, I could count on one hand the number of times she had slept through the night. I felt like I needed some time to find ‘me’ again … and get some sleep. I was buried inside there somewhere, I just had to search through the ever thickening fog of sleep deprivation, which at the time I often wondered would ever go away, to find me. We turned to a paediatrician to help work out some sleep issues and after a lot of hard work and commitment, we finally started having some success and it was only then that I felt ready to have another baby.
Having a large gap between your children means you need to be ready to handle both extremes of the age gap. I think the trickiest part is dealing with so many varying issues, often all at the same time – some days it’s a nappy explosion, lost toy and a schoolyard drama.
Getting Miss 1 into a routine has also been a lot harder as the morning and afternoon school run means her naps are often interrupted. This snowballed into many night time wakings so I took advantage of the recent school holidays to really work on baby’s routine. It has made all the difference in the world and so far it has stuck, even through the flurry of the new school term and extracurricular activities recommencing.
I would love to be able to say that Miss 1 being the third child is a ‘go with the flow’ kind of baby, but she’s not. She has no other option than to be taken along to school pick up, ferried to Miss 6’s martial arts class, head back home again then out to one of Miss 10’s dance lessons later in the evening, but that doesn’t mean she’s happy about it … and it can be super exhausting. I find the older my girls get, the later their classes start as they hit the older age groups, which can make things rather tricky when you’re dealing with a young baby who needs to go to bed.
It means A LOT of preparation to make sure everyone is kept fed , happy and entertained while another child completes their lesson. There’s also a lot of meal planning going to fit into this schedule.
On the up side, the best thing has been spending so much one-on-one time with Miss 1 while the older girls are at school. As your family grows in size, it’s often easy to forget what that was like as the craziness of family life takes over.
When the girls do arrive home from school, there’s always plenty of kisses, cuddles and attention for Miss 1. There’s nothing better than watching one of my girls read a book to their baby sister or play peek-a-boo or chasey around the dining room table as they all laugh and giggle. Not to mention them being a great help in fetching things from around the house for me, especially when Miss 1 was a newborn and I may have left her dummy, nappies or wipes in another room.
Don’t get me wrong though, the larger age gap has meant plenty of fighting too, particularly between my older girls. It may just be their temperaments or because I only have girls, but we’re going through a tween versus early primary schooler stage and often it’s not pretty.
There was still a long period of adjustment as the older girls settled into being one of three children, but luckily they both love playing with their baby sister and it often brings them back together again .. although the older girls are not a fan of Miss 1 wreaking havoc in their rooms, plus they need to be extra careful to make sure toys like Lego and Barbies are put away so small items don’t find their way into the mouth of Miss 1 who loves to shove everything in there.
Overall, I love the larger age gap between my children. Sure, there are times when it is tough, but I think every age gap will have its ups and downs plus good and bad points. Parenting can be a tough gig sometimes. Nothing is ever going to be perfect.
I truly don’t believe there is a right or wrong age gap to have between siblings. Sometimes you get to choose your age gap and sometimes life chooses for you. I think the important thing is to enjoy what you have right in front of you.
What age gap do you have between your children? Share the positives and negatives you have found along the way.