There are 7 years between my children, and yes, it was planned that way. Well, one afternoon I looked at my husband and said, “Are we going to sell this baby stuff or have another one?” and he replied, “Have another one and then sell it”. Romantics that we are.
Why 7 years?
Hyperemisis gravidarum. My pregnancies were really just vomit fests. I’d wake up with all-consuming nausea, vomit all day long, all evening long and all night long. I vomited at work and at home and at the shops.
It wasn’t smells that set me off, my nausea was permanent. Nothing worked to quell it – not ginger, not lemon, not drinking water or keeping my tummy full, neither over-the-counter medicine nor prescription medicine.
This, and the realisation that I could not parent a toddler, be sick like that and then look after a newborn at the same time afterwards, were why we waited.
(Finally, in my second pregnancy, I was given a prescription for medicine that stopped most of the vomiting, but not the incessant nausea.)
No right time
There’s no right time to have children and no right age gap. Personality will determine whether siblings are friends or not, and fighting between siblings is quite normal. In fact, children learn skills like negotiation, standing their ground and team work, among many things, from their relationships with their siblings.
Whether the age gap is big or small also doesn’t affect how much they argue. You’d think with a large gap that the older child would accommodate the needs of a younger one, and this does happen on occasion. And it does teach the older child patience and nurturing skills, but like all learned skills, it takes a lot of practice and there will still be a lot of fighting.
Also read: Are you ready for another child?
Entertaining the kids
The real issues come in when the children are a little older and you have a preschooler and a preteen. Their interests vary widely. One likes to go to play centres and jump and climb and run, the other likes to choose their clothing, gel their hair and not be seen near you.
Parties are another problem. With no weekend co-parent due to working schedule issues, my poor pre-teen must come along to lots of little kids parties. He’s too young to stay home alone, and the little one is still too young to be left unaccompanied at parties. At least it’s just a year or two until he is old enough to stay home by himself, which coincides with exactly the age she will be invited to drop-and-go parties.
There are some activities that both children love – the beach, ice skating, game reserves, restaurant meals – so not every weekend is a compromise or requires an activity on both days, one to suit each child.
So is a big gap worth it?
I can’t really answer that, as I don’t have a small gap between other children for comparison. I can say though that there is no right time to have children – you’ll never have money or time, but you will carve out a spot in your budget and carve out time in your life.
Is there a perfect age gap? No, you get what you get really, and you all make the best of it as a family.
What challenges do you face navigating the age gap between your children? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.