Yes, My Kids are 5 Years Apart – ON PURPOSE!

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kids
Photo Credit: Annaleise Mitchell Photography

One of those questions moms seem to get asked as soon as their first child is born (literally like before your body has healed from giving birth) is “Soooo, when are you having another one?” No joke. I was unaware of this nuance in 2009 when my first daughter was born.

I kept thinking to myself….“I can see discussing family planning with your spouse or your close friends, but random people asking this question: strangers in the grocery store, people in a waiting room, church members really feel the need to know when I want to try to procreate again?” It kind of floored me.

I had a pretty traumatic birth experience so when I first heard this question with my newborn in my arms, my emotions were still raw and I wanted to cry and say, “Oh I dunno, NEVER!!” I became used to it after a few months and would rattle off “sometime in the future” with a smile on my face and awkward laugh. After a year or two I could joke more easily about it and say, “If I could pop one out at about 18 months without having to go through pregnancy and newborn days, that’d be great” and we’d share in a chuckle, this stranger and me.

By the time my daughter was about 4, I could tell when people asked this question they thought I might be having trouble conceiving or something, yet they still asked…you know – because they’re concerned.

Soon after that, people pretty much quit asking. So when we announced to family and friends that we were expecting another baby right after our daughter’s 5th birthday, I’m sure you can guess everyone’s reaction right after the dumbfounded and joyful expressions…“Wait, was this on accident?!” 

The truth is during those 5 years, my husband and I weren’t ready for another child yet. I needed time to heal from my birth: physically and emotionally, and honestly we really enjoyed having just one! We never had a set number of offspring in mind, we always said we would see how we like one baby and go from there.

I had NO desire to breastfeed back to back, be pregnant back to back, or have two in diapers. I had many friends who did want this and it was great for them! Just not for me!

Now more than anything I get asked if I like having them spaced so far apart. My answer is a resounding YES! But once again, this is what we wanted and planned for and if you want three under three then good for you! Or if you are one and done, congrats! To those mamas thinking you would like to space your kids a few years apart, here are some perks that I love about it!

Built in Helper.

I didn’t purposefully wait 5 years to make the older sibling be a helper but guess what….it is a nice perk! And she is usually very eager to help! From rocking to reading to soothing to burping to entertaining to spoon feeding, big sis has been in the thick of it!

In the beginning she wanted to learn all about the breast pump and was ready with the parts necessary. And now she loves to push the stroller when we go places or hold her sister’s hand walking into buildings. There are many ways siblings can help each other in a family and I’m so thankful I get to witness my daughter help me AND her little sister!

One on One Time with Each.

I am a stay at home mom who doesn’t like to stay home. When my oldest was 2 or 3 we were on daily adventures out and about in our city. Museums, playgrounds, music venues, art walks, you name it I took her there. We were down for whatever and I could not imagine having to share that precious time with another child. Yes I gladly share it now, but I still get that one on one bond with my youngest when big sister is at school.

And since some things aren’t possible for the little one to do yet, I still get one on one time with big sis too. This summer we went to Frontier City, White Water Bay, and lots of movies while little sis napped at home or had one on one time with her daddy. We still do plenty of things all together but it’s nice to get that uninterrupted time with just the two of us in those early formative years!

Emotionally Ready & Part of the Pregnancy.

I loved the fact that we could have a conversation with our oldest daughter about our growing family and she was old enough to understand it for the most part. I’m not saying there weren’t any changes that my 5 year old had to learn to deal with once her baby sis arrived, but we had many months to prepare her and explain things to her.

We had the opportunity to read books together about how babies grow. We got to attend a sibling class at the hospital. She even attended an ultrasound with me and got to share in many moments of feeling the baby move inside my belly. I know if she’d been younger she would’ve experienced these things too, but I loved that she was able to comprehend them more and be a part of it all!

A Close Bond Despite the Gap.

Many people worry that their children can’t play together or have as close of a bond if they are spaced apart. I know the relationship might look differently than other siblings, but my girls adore each other. They share a room, they play together, my oldest can read to my youngest, they laugh in the back seat of the car and when sister is at school all of those tiny legos and lalaloopsies are her favorite things to get into, because she wants to be just like her big sis!

At the gym one day in the childcare little sis was having some separation anxiety, but big sis was there and she sat in her lap the whole time and eventually fell asleep in her arms when I picked them up! They may not be the same size or the same development level, but they find ways to connect and play that melt my heart on the daily.

I’m not saying spacing kids out is for everyone, and I understand sometimes we don’t get to have much say in the spacing out of our children! I just wanted to give a glimpse into some of the reasons I’m so glad we waited. Especially to the other mamas out there who are going through those fun stranger questions in the check out line at the grocery store! What do you like most about the gap in your children’s ages?

 

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Katie left her home state of Tennessee to come pursue an interior design degree in Oklahoma fourteen years ago. She met a handsome young fella from Oregon while in school, and they decided to marry and settle down in OKC. A dog and two daughters soon followed. She has been a textile designer, showroom merchandiser, custom furniture draftsman and children’s minister, but her most challenging and favorite role has definitely been that of a mother. You can read about the adventures she shares with her family at Strawberry Ruckus. Katie enjoys reading, being creative, exploring old houses, eating peanut butter, zumba and watching complete television series all at once on Netflix.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Love this! My brother and I were nearly 7 years apart and experienced many of the benefits you talked about. It was a little tough when I had to leave him behind to go to college, I missed out on a lot but now it’s fun because he’s up here for college and so we get to see each other more. 🙂 It’s really fun looking back and remembering the night he was born or when he was crawling or the time he rolled over with ball. Love that I was old enough to remember those times!

  2. I have 3 kids – first two are almost 7 years apart and the last 5 years apart. It’s been wonderful. It’s almost like 3 “only” children. They each get their time to be “babies/toddlers” without sharing that time. The oldest now almost 17 is a huge help – the 10-year-old gets to do cool fun things were her older brother and play and be a role model for her younger sister. I do worry about my oldest going off to college while my youngest is just starting first grade, will they remain close like they are? Will she remember the years at home with her brother? I don’t know, but even kids who are only 2 years apart aren’t guaranteed closeness, so it works for us.

  3. My boys are 5 years apart too – completely planned just like yours! They are 12 and 7 now and best of friends. My youngest thinks he’s 12! But it’s awesome I had the time w my oldest and the time with the youngest! Wouldn’t do it any other way!!

  4. Awesome! I too had a traumatic birth with my now 3 year old and my husband and I frequently joke we’d have another right now if we could magically have a18 month old (no pregnancy or newborn stage!). I am not pregnant and we are not trying for another at this moment but it’s so nice to hear that we are not alone in this spacing. Maybe one day we’ll have another and maybe not, who knows! Glad I am not the only one with these feelings!

  5. Loved reading this as I have a 2.5 year old and get asked ALL the time about the next pregnancy! I always figured they’d be 3 years apart but once I got to age 2 and realized that meant NOW I’d have to get pregnant, I decided “nope, I want to put myself first and my child I already have”. Finally in a sweet spot with the one, I nanny another one so see firsthand how 2 sibling life is haha. Maybe next year….but if I change my mind, I’ll be just as happy waiting longer.

  6. Mine were going to be planned to be 4 years apart but then when I was a SAHM with a then 3 year old I had no time to shave or even think about sex!! I was in full mom mode and when I had free time it was to read and focus on recipes and “not getting fat”. He started preschool when he was 4 but then I actually had FREE TIME so I said to myself I’d take it easy. So now it’s looking like a 6 year gap will happen but I’m relaxed and have many hobbies and am in shape. Aside from daycares and centers we have no family to help so I think that’s really why. We’re on our own! Oh, and we’re health conscious.

  7. I’m almost in tears reading this. I’ve been struggling with the idea of having kids so far apart, so I decided to google it to see what other parents had to say. Your blog popped up and sounds almost exactly like my situation. I was pretty sure I didn’t want any more after a horrible pregnancy and Birth. My daughter (5) got on her knees and prayed for a baby brother last week and I’m (almost) feeling guilty for not giving her a sibling Sooner. We tried 2.5 years ago, and after 3 miscarriages we stopped trying. Now I’m revisiting the idea but worried about the age gap. It’s so nice to hear your story. Thanks!

  8. My daughter is 6. I’m so nervous about having another one my anxiety is through the roof at this point. All the what if’s. What if that age gap is to big and they don’t get along? What if I don’t know how to split my love? What if I don’t want to? If I wait any longer my child will be a teenager before the next one happens and I don’t want that. It’s nice to see others who have waited awhile also. Comforts me a bit.

  9. This is exactly what I needed to see. We will end up with a 5 year gap, and I have been so upset about it. This gives me so much comfort and hope. Thank you!

  10. My older bother and I are 13months apart (im the accident) and we have never really got along at all. Personality has more to do with relationships than just age.

    I had a difficult pregnancy, traumatic birth and a sick infant who had surgery at 5 months old for a condition the doctors struggles to diagnose. So yeah, looking back we were a bit traumatised, and took allot to get back to a place where we were ready again.
    My first just turn 4years and we have started trying this month, so who knows what and see.
    Im not looking forward to the severe vomiting again but my little man was worth it. I personally couldn’t have handled 2 Close together any way, so 5 years apart will suit us just fine.

  11. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve always dreamed of having multiple kids close in age but after our first son, who is 4, we’ve been experiencing secondary infertility for about 3 years now with 3 miscarriages. We are still trying but it’s nice to hear the benefits of having kids spaced out. It was not my first choice and I was feeling guilty because my son has been asking for a sibling for over a year now but it’s so great to hear how this has been a blessing for you and your family. Thank you.

  12. 5 years age gap is ok! My sister and I are 5 years apart and we are best friends. We were the children from a divorced home so we were always together, which helped us be so close with the switching weekends, etc. Sometimes growing up it was hard because I was older and wanted my alone time. It was hard on her when I left for college. I was 18, she was 13. I missed out on some of her experiences like her band concerts and just wanted to be with my old friends at holidays instead of her. I should have tried better and that was my fault. Now, we are 32 and 27. We are best friends, and been each other’s maids of honors at our weddings. My mom tried for years to have one closer to my age, but I am so glad my sister was born and she has brought me so much joy!

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