Updated on January 21, 2016
Mind The Gap: Five Things I Love About My Kids’ Age Gap
Growing up, I always thought I would have two kids and they would be two years apart. That was the age gap between my older sister and I, and it was the age gap between most of my friends and their siblings. It was almost as though the two year gap was the way it was supposed to be. Fast forward to four days after I’d given birth to The Heir, and someone asked me the question you should never ask a fresh new mom. “When are you going to have another one?” I was still sitting on a soft cushion and the postpartum night sweats hadn’t even started yet… But there it was. I blurted out that it wasn’t even going to be up for discussion until The Heir was two years old. That answer just sort of became the answer to that question which inevitably came up multiple times from multiple people over the first eighteen months of The Heir’s life. After that, people just sort of stopped asking. As it happened, King Dad and I didn’t even want to talk about a second until The Heir was almost two years old anyway, so somehow the answer that I blurted out in the “first week home with a baby” fog became a reality. Fast forward to now and I have two kids almost exactly three years apart (Petit Prince’s due date was one month less a day before The Heir’s birthday). You know what? I LOVE that my kids are three years apart. Granted I have absolutely nothing to compare it to, but in case you’re wondering about when to try for baby #2, I thought I would share my experience with a three year age gap.
I love a lot of things about the age gap between my two boys, but if I had to narrow it down to a top five, these would be them. In no particular order, here they are!
1. Only one in diapers.
You know what I was really pleased NOT to be doing when I was pregnant? Potty training The Heir. You know how your sense of smell goes into overdrive when you’re pregnant? Couple that with cleaning up pee and poop accidents, and getting up close and personal with public toilets. Not my idea of a pleasant experience. Potty training required my full attention and my full energy. There was no way I could have done it while newly pregnant just due to sheer exhaustion (super nose aside), and trying to get The Heir on and off a toilet (and wiped) when hugely pregnant doesn’t sound fun either. Potty training with a newborn in the house would have been really challenging as well. Since my kids are three years apart, The Heir was potty trained day AND night before I was even pregnant (heck, before we were even trying to get pregnant). I fully expected The Heir to have a potty regression when the baby arrived, and I was prepared for that. Then it just didn’t happen. I’m guessing this was in large part to his having been potty trained for a year by the time Petit Prince arrived.
2. The Heir understood what was happening.
When I was pregnant with Petit Prince, King Dad and I spent a lot of time talking to The Heir about the new baby. We took out lots of “big brother” type books from the library and read them ad nauseam (at The Heir’s request). We also brought The Heir to a couple of the ultrasound appointments. I wouldn’t say he had any understanding of the mechanics of what was really happening, but he did understand that there was a baby in mommy’s tummy, that he or she was going to be his brother or sister, and that he or she was going to be a part of the family and would be living with us. In fact, by the time I was into the third trimester, The Heir asked me every day if today was the day his baby was going to be joining us. He didn’t just understand, but he was EXCITED about the new baby. All that excitement transitioned right into so much love. The Heir didn’t go through a phase of disliking Petit Prince, being jealous, or even acting out on account of the new baby.
3. The Heir played independently.
Now this may just be the way The Heir is because he’s always been fairly independent, but by the time Petit Prince arrived independent play was the name of the game. I created a treasure box of fun activities for The Heir that lived in the nursery so that he could be with us and be entertained during long nursing sessions. The Heir played in his treasure box a few times, but after a short while he much preferred to just play in the play room on his own. If he needed something when I was nursing, he’d come to the nursery and ask for me. This was also really helpful when Petit Prince was napping and I wanted to take a much needed shower. The Heir was totally okay with playing on his own while I hopped into the shower for ten minutes.
4. The Heir still napped.
Naps are sacred around here. Nap time is mama time. It’s when I get time to eat, have a cup of tea, throw in a load of laundry, and prep dinner. I know “they” say to nap when the baby naps, but when you have two kids… Ha! Recently, The Heir has started to drop his beloved afternoon nap, but until about a month ago, he was a very consistent napper. He would sleep for 1.5-3 hours from at around 1pm. If things worked out just right, The Heir and Petit Prince would nap at the same time in those early months. This was amazing. In that first month or so, I’d try to get in a small nap if both kids were napping at the same time. It was a gift from the sleep gods and something I desperately needed some days. Other days The Heir’s nap gave me some one on one time with Petit Prince. As a mom of two, I’m very much aware of how little time my youngest gets with my complete undivided attention. The Heir’s nap time gave us that.
Within two months of Petit Prince’s birth, The Heir started preschool. It is amazing! If he’d been any younger, he wouldn’t have been able to start preschool for another full year (he had to be three by September 1st to start in the Fall of 2015). As challenging as it can be some days to get everyone up and out the door on time for preschool, it is so worth it for Petit Prince and I (and I know The Heir is getting a lot out of it too). Preschool gives me five hours a week where it’s just Petit Prince and I. It’s when we do library classes, it’s when we’ll be doing swimming lessons, and it’s when Petit Prince gets to accompany his mom on various errands. One thing that I was worried about for baby #2 was having the time to do the activities that I did with The Heir. Preschool has given me that time. I can’t really take a three year old with me to a library class for babies under 12 months old. Taking The Heir with us to the pool, but leaving him on the pool deck by himself isn’t an option. Preschool gives us the chance to do all the things I did with The Heir and that alleviates just a little bit of my mom guilt. Grocery shopping with one baby? Oh yes please! Seriously. When I had just one, running errands with him seemed like such a huge task. Now that I have two, only having one of them with me for errands is SO EASY. Thank you preschool!
With nothing to really compare it to, I find that the gap of three years between my two sons is pretty awesome. Knowing what I do now, I wouldn’t do it any other way!
What’s the age gap between your children? What did you like about that age difference?