Monday, April 15, 2019

Kid Spacing

The spacing between kids is something I think about a lot and I wanted my thoughts recorded here.

In a lot of ways the spacing between kids is a trivial conversation because God is in charge, but how and why people decide (or try to decide) on the spacing between their kids is something that really interests me.

If you can plan the space between your children, what is your favorite way to space them out?

I really like the 18 months spacing for several reasons.

-You are fully immersed in the baby stage. You don't have to get 'used to' getting up in the middle of the night again, because you've never really left the baby stage

-Built-in playmates. This is a huge one for me. Because your kids are so close in age, they can very easily play with each other as young children. This actually means less work for you when they are young. You don't need to entertain them or set up playdates or find things for them to do while you are trying to clean the kitchen or whatever, they play with each other. This even works if they are different genders or have opposing personalities or whatever. When you don't have anyone to play with, you'll play with whoever is readily available.

-There is the potential for a really intimate sibling bond. Depending on the personalities and genders, if kids are close in age they can more easily share friends, have more in common, share interests, etc. They can really be a boon for each other, a friend in the storms of life. So much of it depends on personalities and genders. But then the second most determining factor I think is parents who are willing to facilitate good sibling relationships. Siblings who see each other as their best friends lends itself to a family that is close and enjoys each other's company.

Things you can't control that impact kid spacing

-Personalities. I didn't really understand this until I had Ephraim and Frank. Yes, I have two boys right next to each other, but one is more introverted and other is more extroverted. The boys don't hate each other, but their personalities and interests are sometimes at odds. There is no way of knowing what their relationship will look like as they grow, but no matter the age gap, you can't plan on personalities. So even if you have two boys together or have two kids close in age, their personalities could just make it so that there is not a close sibling bond there.

-Genders. You can't plan genders, but this is another one that I think really played in my favor for my kids in particular. I have two girls right next to each other and two boys right next to each other. I know people who have a mix of genders say it doesn't make a difference, but from my own personal experience I think it does. I have such fond memories of playing for hours with my two sisters closest to my age. My two younger brothers, 18 months apart, also spent hours playing together and are still very close to this day.  I had confidants and girl talk. No matter how much I love my brothers, it's a different level of closeness with my sisters. I loved having sisters right next to me in age. You can always have friends, but sisters are forever.

Other factors

-Of course having kids close together is hard. And having a lot of kids close together is even harder. While having them close together is my preference, the Lord may not intend for you have them all close together.

-Sibling fighting. People say having kids close together means there's more fighting. They're almost like twins in a way, and feel competition. I feel like fighting has less to do with how close kids are in age and more to do with what you allow. Don't encourage competition in your kids. Show your kids how to support each other. Point out to them behavior they are doing that is undermining their relationship with their sibling. Don't allow name calling or meanness. The parents have to be the prime example of this. Don't let your kids watch media that depicts or normalizes people who "hate" their younger sibling. Correct kids when they pick up language from school about "annoying" younger siblings. Always remind them that friends can change, but a sibling who is your friend will be with you your whole life. Maybe you can't completely get rid of sibling rivalry, but you can help your kids to see it is getting in the way of a really great relationship and friend they could have under their very own roof. We have too much fighting to my liking going on in our house right now, but I've been meaner than normal. When the parent is mean, kids are mean.

What to do now?

I am entering new territory with my two youngest who are "so" (for me!) far apart in age. I'm not sure how to approach it, and I feel unsure of myself. Frank will be interested in different things than Gretchen by the time they are able to play. And then once Frank goes to school, I will have three whole years with Gretchen all by herself! Will I go crazy? Will she go crazy? The Lord gave us this baby in this spacing, so I trust Him, but at least from my perspective right now I'm curious to how it will turn out, because the spacing is so different from what I am used to. How do you take care of a kid when they don't have someone to play with all day?!

I'm curious your thoughts on kid spacing!

More thoughts on kids, big families, and parenting:
Children are a Blessing
We are a Best Friends Family
The Secret about Big Families
Baby #4
Baby #5

1 comment:

  1. I went off reading blogs for a few months so I missed your post a while ago where you mentioned baby #5 would likely be your last baby. That's so wonderful that you feel complete! I wonder what that number will be for me. I loved your thoughts on sibling spacing. I love reading other people's thoughts on this because I haven't felt ready for the next baby until my babies turn about 18 months old. Haha. I agree with you about the benefit of staying in "baby mode" and how fun it is to see your children with siblings close in age. It helps mom out a lot when they get to that playing-age too. So happy for your family and Gretchen's arrival, Ashley!