In our series The Debate, our community of real moms tackle the pros and cons around common parenting choices. The truth is, like so many decisions around child rearing, there is no right or wrong answer. At HATCH, our job is to give voice to both sides of any debate, peppering real mom wisdom with the necessary facts so that you can make the best decision for you and your family.
The question of how to space kids is a biggie. We all have visions of our kids being BFF’s and built-in playmates. Meanwhile, how nice would it be if our older child was potty trained by the time our second came along – or, better yet – could even help change a diaper or two? Alas, mamas. We can’t have it all, and of course when biology comes into play it’s anyone’s guess how your dream spacing schedule will go. Some moms choose to knock them kids out, while others need a minute to breathe and collect in-between. Of course, it’s totally personal to each and every family and depends on so many factors (after all, kids ain’t cheap). Here, two moms share their stories – one who had three girls in two-and-a-half years, and another who waited eight years before trying for her second. Read on…..
Bust ‘Em Out.
“My husband is the youngest of 12 so we knew we wanted kids and we wanted to start sooner than later. I got married at 35 so we figured we’d try and whatever happened happened. I was pregnant within four months. I gained tons of weight, lost it all, and when my first was three months old, I got pregnant again. My reason was because I was older, I figured maybe it would take longer or maybe it wouldn’t happen as easily. I also thought that if I waited too long, I wouldn’t want more kids after getting my freedom back. Who wants to start all over? For me it made sense to go through it all at once.
My third daughter was born 22 months after my second, and I found that the 15 month age gap between one and two was so much easier of a transition than the 22 month gap between two and three. My first two grew up together. They didn’t know life without each other. When I had my third, they were almost two and almost three, and they knew how to have all of my attention. It was more difficult to transition because there was more jealousy.
Now, all three of them don’t know life without the other one. It’s great. For me it was definitely the right decision. I had family members and friends who suggested I wait until preschool, but none of them ended up having more kids because they got their life back. Their kid goes to school and it’s like, wait a minute! I forgot what it’s like to be free! For me, I got it all out in one shot. They’re now all in school. Hopefully they’ll grow up close. And when I’m old and gray, they can take care of me and divvy up the responsibility!
Don’t get me wrong. There are days I want to cry. It’s exhausting. Three little kids need help with everything. Sometimes you can’t give everyone what they need at the same time, but it’s good for them too. They have to learn to wait, that you’re not always first and that’s life. It’s easier for them, too. They understand socially what it is, like waiting and taking turns and not getting instant gratification. There are a lot of positives. Now they’re each other playmates. They’re each other’s friends. They don’t fight a lot but when they do, it’s bad. They’re either loving or killing each other. I try to pin them all against me. I say, “You can be BFF’s and be mad at me. I’m the bad guy. You guys get along.” I’m big on having them work things out themselves. They have to figure it out on their own.”
Why our Community Had Kids Back-to-Back
“They have a built-in playmate.”
“Same activities. Same social schedule. Same friends.”
“I only had to lose my pregnancy weight once.”
“We don’t have to split up our time to cater to each one’s developmental needs.”
Let’s Give it a Sec.
“I don’t know if I have this nice, neat reasoning why we chose to wait. I can’t say it was always planned that way from the beginning. It was kind of like this swirl of so many different reasons. My husband and I met in college and grew up in Maine, but we were ski bums so we moved to Lake Tahoe in our 20’s. I had my now 9-year-old at age 29. I found other mom friends out there through breastfeeding classes and baby classes. We had a great little group out there. I had found myself. I’ve always heard horror stories about colicky babies who don’t sleep, but Quinn was a good baby. Still, I felt that she took all my attention. I gave her everything I had to give all the time. I could not imagine having “two under two” or multiples at that point. There’s a pressure there, like if you’re going to have kids, do it.
I knew I wanted another child at some point. I have a sister and she’s my best friend. But I was not ready. We decided to see what happened. So what happened is that Lake Tahoe is financially a hard place to make a solid living. It’s really expensive. So five years ago we came back to Maine. We’re near both of our families, so we figured that maybe now’s a good time. But every age with Quinn was more fun. I kept wanting to give it more time and then all the sudden it was, “Whoah I’m 37.” Then it became a conscious spreading out of the experience, where we decided to be in the moment and enjoy every age. But I did want a sibling experience. So it was a confluence of the financial, societal, biological coming together. I wanted to get settled in Maine and then we started. Now Birdie is 1.5 and Quinn is 9.
The split is going awesome, which is so funny. I remember the newborn baby thing terrified me with my first. Looking back with Quinn, I felt really young. I was 29 and I was a completely different person. I had a lot of postpartum anxiety. I was overwhelmed all the time. This time, it was a breeze. I was so emotional about how she’s growing up and she’s my last baby. She’s also an angel. I can appreciate it so much more. I don’t freak out about everything. I have so many more tools now than I did then. Right now it’s dreamy, because the silver lining in quarantine is that they totally bonded right when Birdie started walking and talking. She’s obsessed with Quinn and Quinn is so protective of her. I’m so glad they had each other during quarantine.
I’m sensitive though because Birdie needs our eyes on her every moment and Quinn doesn’t. She gets on her bike and disappears. They are in different worlds. I have to be conscious of jealousy, but the spread is so different that Quinn is understanding and really helpful, but I also anticipate that we’ll be catering our family adventure outings to Birdie and that will be frustrating. It will also be hard for Birdie when Quinn leaves the house when she gets older. I see these things down the road and it feels bittersweet already. But there are pros and cons no matter what age your kids are. I just knew I wasn’t the kind of person who could thrive with a two-year-old and baby.
Why our Community Chose to Wait
“We have a babysitter we don’t have to pay.”
“I was able to give each child everything I had in those early years.”
“I only had to change one set of diapers at a time.”
“I basically got to have two only children at a time, but with the benefit of siblings.”