One of the questions I've been asked a lot, as a mom to four.....what is the best spacing for having kids? Seeing that I've been through lots of different combos, I don't know if I can offer the best opinion, but I do have some thoughts.
My kids are 2 years 9 months, 3 years 10 months and then just 18 months. I'd like to call the last one a bit crazy! ;-)
Let's start with the first. Probably my favorite spacing. Jake was exactly two when I got pregnant with Brett. I felt like I really got to enjoy him as a baby. I had a (mostly) potty trained toddler by the time Brett was born, and I didn't feel like I had two babies at once. Pros: Jake was independent. He could get himself in and out of bed, he could get himself (mostly) dressed, he could play alone if I was nursing, he could communicate his needs because he was talking well, he was old enough to spend time away from me if we needed to ship him off to gramma's house to give mommy a break! He was young enough that he'll never know life without his brother, and they are just close enough, that when they were young, they played everything together. Now, it's not so much their age that separates them, it's their interests! ;-) I also love that they are 2 grades apart in school. I love that they will go to junior high and high school together, but still have some autonomy with a grade in between them. Cons: I started over on the baby stage, instead of just staying in it! They are far enough apart in age that it took them quite awhile to have similar interests. I had a 2-year old with a newborn. Cra-zy!
The next spacing was 3 years and 10 months apart. This was not by choice, but the result of two miscarriages in a row. We had planned for spacing that was similar to the spacing between our boys. Looking back, I am really thankful for this time, though! God always knows what's best for each family. Pros: For starters, my boys were 6 and almost 4 when Molly was born. I feel like I had two HUGE helpers! Jake could keep his eye on her while I took a shower, and mostly, could entertain his brother. I had two "kids" with a baby, instead of two toddlers, so I feel like I really got to soak up every moment of her babyhood without tending to other babies. I think I appreciated and enjoyed my pregnancy and newborn stages with Molly, more than any other baby because I didn't have another baby or toddler hanging around AND because I didn't feel like a brand new mom, worried about everything. The other pros that we thought of after her birth, were things in the future. There was no way we'd be able to afford back-to-back-to-back-to-back cell phones, cars, colleges, etc. With the (almost) four year gap, we will get our boys through these stages, before starting on them with the girls. And, we'll get both boys through college, before we have to start paying for the girls (Lord help us all!). Furthermore, putting a little space between our kids means that we will have children living in our house for a longer time. I'm not ready to be an empty nester and I've really enjoyed getting to go through the stages again, especially knowing that we have 17 more years until all of our kids are gone. I know some who have all of their babies in a short time span, and while I'm sure there are benefits, it just goes so quickly. Pretty soon, they are all out of the house at once! Cons: It's hard to have similar interests and activities with that much space. You are definitely starting over with life and it's hard to even remember what baby raising is like when it's been 4 years. Maybe as they become teens, we'll be ready to get them out! ;-) Hehe.
Our final spacing was 18 months. Our reasoning behind this, was that we weren't getting any younger, and we felt like Molly needed a buddy. I don't think we would have done this, had our first 3 been boys, but based on the fact that she was a girl, with a four and six year age gap between her brothers, I felt like she needed someone close in age. And hey, we were feeling a bit crazy! ;-) Instead of waiting another year, which would have landed us at the 2.5 year gap that was similar to my boys, we just went for it and threw caution to the wind. I'm not going to lie, the first 4-6 months, I thought I might lose my mind. I didn't know what I was thinking with the 18 month age gap between child #3 & #4. We had lots and lots of sleepless nights and really, it felt like a blur. It's funny, but I got pregnant when Molly was just 9 months old and still nursing, so by the time Brylie was born and finished nursing, I had been pregnant or nursing for just over 3 years straight, with no break. To say I was happy to have my body back, was an understatement! Pros: we never left the baby stage. While we had all of our baby stuff out, we never had to put it away. Our girls are super duper close! Sometimes I forget that 18 months is between them, especially now that Brylie is getting older. I can tell they are going to be best buddies and I love that they have similar interests at the same time. I'm not sure if this would be the same with opposite gender babies, but in our experience, it worked out really well. I figure we'll sleep someday! Cons: I really feel like I missed out on enjoying my time with Molly as a baby/toddler. I was pregnant for most of that time (and really sick!), and then she was still practically a baby when her baby sis was born! There were hardly any times where I could just lay on the couch and snuggle Brylie without having a toddler needing equal attention. Another con is that it's difficult to have 2 babies at the same time! I almost think twins would be easier because they go through the exact same things at the same time (or close, anyway!). I was potty training with a baby on the Ergo. Try taking a potty training, 2 year old into a public restroom with a baby in the front pack. I feel that I deserve a medal...or five. ;-) Bottom line....we survived! Just barely!
It's funny how it all works out and it all seems so perfect for each family. Just when we think we've got life planned out, and the spacing of kids all planned out, we are thrown a curveball. Or most of us, anyway. Lost babies, miscarriages, infertility, and life, all seem to get in the way of the perfect plan. So just because you hope for specific spacing, doesn't exactly mean it will happen. But, one can hope, right?!
Curious to know your thoughts about spacing? Was yours planned? Pros/cons? Please share!