Having kids close in age — awesome but challenging
At the beginning of my parenting journey, I raised my son as an only-child for 13 years. When I gave birth to his sister, it felt like I was starting from scratch because I had completely forgotten what it was like to take care of a baby. The adjustment period was tricky, and learning to parent a teenager and a newborn at the same time was insane. By the time I felt like I was kind of getting the hang of it, we decided to try for another sibling, and it happened much sooner than we expected.
In just 20 short months, I found myself with a newborn, a toddler, and a teenager. It sounds crazy, I know. But surprisingly, that transition happened a lot smoother than I expected, and I was more than happy that my worries were amiss.
Most parents have run this scenario in their minds, and if we’re being honest, it plays out like some kind of horror story. Being pregnant while taking care of a baby doesn’t sound like much fun (it really isn’t), and the rest doesn’t really hold up in their favor either. However, after clearing the haze of the babyhood phase for both of my toddlers, I can attest that there’s far more to look forward to than fear, and I’ll be the first to tell you that my kids aren’t even the well-behaved kind.
Having experienced two different sides of the parenting spectrum, I can easily compare the two situations. When it comes to raising an only child or siblings close in age, both have their own pros and cons. I can’t say one is much better than the other (as the mother), but I will say that watching your kids hang out together is probably one of the best things you’ll ever witness.
Having kids close in age has not been without its challenges, but this is why I think it’s pretty damn awesome.
Baby-mode is still on
Unlike the huge age gap I initially had to navigate through, following up with a sibling right away made me feel like a pro. All the tricks were still fresh in my memory, our daily rhythm only needed some minor adjustments, and I felt confident in my ability to mother with very little sleep. Just another day loading up on caffeine to keep me going.
Hand me downs don’t go out of style
If the vanity aspect of taking your kid’s pictures in the same clothes their older sibling wore isn’t an issue, then this is a lifesaver. I didn’t even buy anything for my third child, and she’s still going strong with the second-hand goods up to this day.
You are absolutely getting your money’s worth if you splurged on some serious baby gear, and the good news is— it’s all still very stylish. Huge bonus if you kept everything gender-neutral, or ended up with siblings of the same gender. I also loved how I never had to figure out where to store everything.
Less guilt about giving them attention
This was probably the biggest contrast I noticed from having an only child. When siblings get to a certain age where you can leave them to play on their own, you don’t really stress about whether or not you’re giving them enough of your time and devotion. Sure, they’ll fight (sometimes every two minutes), but for the most part, they keep each other entertained. Forever.
They learn how to communicate and develop social skills together
I feel as though this matters way more under our current situation, but I was really happy my girls had each other throughout ECQ. I watched as they attempted to have conversations, and always called on one another when they needed to play. There’s daily practice of sharing (or the lack of it), taking turns, and the simple decency of having to be considerate of another human being.
It saves us the trouble of having to worry about finding a playdate, and whether or not they’ll be comfortable around other children when it’s time to go to preschool. They help each other learn and grow (all day, everyday), and there’s just no substitute for that.
They’ll always have each other
What’s better than an instant-friend? They will only remember life with the other one in it, and as they grow up, they’ll move through the seasons together in roughly the same short time span. A close age gap means they will always be on the same boat, developmentally, and are more likely to keep each other close. They’ll either encourage one another to succeed or end up in jail together, either way, they’ll always have each other.
I’m not gonna say that having kids close in age is always sunshine and rainbows. As soon as the toddler stage hits, they require a ton of energy and even more patience, and most days make me feel like my head is about to explode. But for all the mom-rage those two bring out in me, there’s absolutely nothing that double baby cuddles cannot fix.