It’s been more than six months since I wrote this post about having a bigger gap between our kids, and I now have a four year old and a four month old. I have to be honest and say that it isn’t the way I envisioned things in my “perfect plan” for our little life pre-kids, but I have been surprisingly REALLY happy with the way it has all turned out. Clearly, I’m not an expert on the subject of age gaps, and things will likely change many times over the next 18 years, but I thought I’d share a little update today about why having almost four years between our kids has been great for our family.
Four Reasons I Love the (Almost) Four Year Age Gap:
1. We are able to fully enjoy each stage for each baby.
In my limited experience, I think the ages of 2 – 4 are the most fun in terms of enjoying your kids. For me, those years have been the “sweet spots” of parenting after a hard start. I’m SO grateful that I got to spend that time with just Sam. He got all of my attention, and we got to do so much together. I also love that, by the time Nora is in that age range, Sam will be in school, summer camps, etc., and I will get to spend more quality time with just her. (Of course, we will love being all together as a family too, but there is something special about that one-on-one time when it is possible.)
Likewise, I’ve found that I can enjoy the baby stage more this time around because I fully recognize how fast it goes. I haven’t spent these weeks wishing the time away or worrying about things that – Sam taught me – really don’t matter, like starting a “bad habit” of the baby needing to be held while sleeping, stressing over milestones, or killing myself to stick to a schedule.
2. The oldest “gets it,” is more independent, and even helpful at times.
I worried that Sam would act out a lot after Nora was born because he was used to having all my attention, but – while that certainly happens at times – I’ve been surprised at how READY he was for this role. When we read books and talked about the new baby coming, I honestly felt like he understood and was as prepared as he possibly could have been. From the very first minute he met Nora, she has been “his baby,” and I truly don’t think he remembers a time without her.
I’m not going to lie, it’s also really nice that he can do things like use the bathroom, get a drink (a new and favorite development), get dressed, put shoes on, get in and out of the car, etc. for himself. He also is a PRO at retrieving diapers, finding lost pacifiers, telling me when Nora is crying ;), and entertaining his little sis. It all makes my life A LOT easier. I must think five times a day “I don’t know how people with two under two do it,” and I don’t. Seriously, if that is you, you are my hero!!
3. They are close enough to still be “friends” but don’t have to share everything.
Another thing that has surprised me is what good friends these two kids of mine have become despite the age gap. Even just four months in, they are each other’s FAVORITES. Sam is a little performer, and Nora is his perfect audience. He recently got a puppet show theater, and he loves to put on little shows while Nora sits in the Bumbo seat and smiles and giggles up a storm. (Yes, it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.) I also let them take a bath together the other night (also thanks to the Bumbo seat #notsponsored), and they splashed and played together just the way I always imagined my kids would do. He LOVES making her laugh, and she is constantly entertained by him. (I actually wonder some times if Sam wasn’t such a hard baby in part because he was, frankly, bored to tears by Jeff and me.)
I can’t fully attest to this yet, but I also think that the four year age gap will be nice because they don’t have to share everything. Of course the fact that they are boy/girl also makes a difference, but I’m mainly talking about milestones etc. For example, they likely won’t ever be in the same school together (a negative on the convenience scale perhaps), their friends will be different, etc. etc.
4. We’ve learned a lot about parenting and, frankly, are a lot better now.
You learn A LOT in four years. Jeff and I both are totally different than we were when Sam was Nora’s age. (Sometimes I really do feel bad for Sam.) I am so much more relaxed and confident in my parenting skills – which goes a LONG way. I know everyone is different, but I needed these four years.
How far apart are your kids and what are the best parts about that particular age gap? I’d love if you shared!
*Sam and Nora are technically only three years and eight months apart. Really, this isn’t that big of age difference, but it does seem like most of our friends have their kids closer to 2 – 3 years apart, and it felt big during the season when other friends were getting pregnant with #2, and we were still happily adjusting/enjoying our first.
**Photos were taken by our friend Howard when Nora was two-weeks old. Sam wasn’t having the best hair day of his life. 😉
***Lest you think it’s all roses over here… As I type this, Sam is in timeout for pulling Nora’s arm so hard it made her cry. #reallife