Is there such thing as an ideal sibling age gap?
Yesterday I was watching my four-year-old playing so wonderfully with her 19-month-old sisters; they were interacting so well and enjoying each other’s company immensely (it isn’t always like that by the way). I thought how great it was that there was just a two-and-a-half year age gap between them.
It got me thinking about the ‘ideal’ age gap, how subjective this concept is and how it would make an interesting blog post. Then, very coincidentally, today, Internet rumours surfaced about the Duchess of Cambridge planning back-to-back babies (there’s 11 months between her and sister Pippa). I’m not sure how the international press has discovered these intimate details, but there you go, it’s out there.
It is a very personal choice and there are all sorts of motivations for making the decision. Then of course, things don’t always go to plan.
I wanted to have a substantial amount of time devoted to my first child, but didn’t want to have a big age gap. This was mainly because I had a self-imposed cut-off age for when I wanted to have children by and because I wanted Sofia to have a sibling (ok it turned out to be siblings) that she would want to play with. If I had, had Sofia in my mid-20s, I may have gone for a slightly bigger gap. She actually arrived eight days before my 30th, so ideally I was thinking of around a three-year age gap so I would almost certainly (if things happened as I wanted them to) have finished with the pregnancy thing well before I hit 35. As I say, a very personal choice.
I’d heard a lot about second-time infertility so did have that in the back of my mind. As it turned out, I got pregnant immediately; so there it was a two year, nine month age gap. I think it would have been absolutely perfect for me had it not been for the curve ball that was twins. With the pram we had bought I couldn’t attach a buggy board so I often had a very weary toddler who, if we weren’t in the car, had no choice but to walk. It was quite hard at the start meeting the needs of a very active toddler who wanted to be constantly entertained with the care of newborns.
I can definitely see the merits of back-to-back babies if you’ve decided you want two children and want to get the baby stuff done and dusted in a very short period. It also means there is a readymade playmate for baby number two. It does sound like very hard work and having a newborn whilst being pregnant would be tough and that’s before the challenges of having a one-year-old and a newborn. It’s also quite a strain on your body as it takes about nine months to a year for it to completely get back to ‘normal’ after giving birth.
At the other end of the spectrum is the big sibling age gap. I can really see the benefit of having one child at school before the next one arrives. As well as making life easier, child number one gets your undivided attention for many years of their life; then baby number two has a lot of one-on-one time whilst their older sibling is at school.
There’s a lot of research/talk about what the ideal sibling age gap is, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no actual ideal, it’s just what works for you. Of course Mother Nature also has quite a say in the matter.