Anyone with a 4(ish) year age gap between siblings? - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-05-2006, 08:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son is 3 years and 4 months old and we are going to start TTC this month. DS has been very high needs from birth and I only really feel ready for another baby now. There will be a 4 year age gap between ds and the new baby (if we conceive soon).

I know everyone's personal situation is different, and there are so many factors and variables to take into account when it comes to family dynamics but I'm interested in hearing other's experiences with a 4 year age gap - the good, the bad and the ugly.

I realise that it won't ever be exactly the same for any of us, but I think it will nevertheless be interesting and helpful for me to hear other's experiences.

Thank you.
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Old 01-05-2006, 08:51 PM
 
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I have three kids. There is a 4.5 year age difference between #1 and #2, and a 5 year (and one day!) age difference between #2 and #3. I *LOVE* the age difference! I really feel like I got to spend a lot of one on one "baby" time with each before the next one came along. My kids get along great, and contrary to what people will tell you, they do play together. In fact, right now all three are upstairs playing with trains. The only problem I've found is that my older daughters activites are starting to take place at night, and that's hard with two younger kids, especially since I'm a single parent. There have been times where I've had to tell her no, or I've had to ask the father of her friend to drop her off for me, so that I could get my other two kids to bed at a decent hour.

Good Luck!
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Old 01-05-2006, 09:25 PM
 
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that's our plan- if we ttc #2, we'll try to time it for a bit over 4 years apart. we thought we'd do 3 but we looked at each other this summer & realized we were in no way, shape or form ready for it! we'll see what the future brings.

i just went to a new dentist & he had pictures of his 3 girls on the wall. when i asked how old they were, he said "we were on the 4 year plan- they're 18, 14 & 10" they're all close & get along really well, according to him.

my brother & i were 2.5 years apart & so were dh & his sister. childhood was not pretty in either house, so that was one of our factors in changing that spacing
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Old 01-05-2006, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobica
that's our plan- if we ttc #2, we'll try to time it for a bit over 4 years apart. we thought we'd do 3 but we looked at each other this summer & realized we were in no way, shape or form ready for it! we'll see what the future brings.
That's how it happened for us too.

mmace - That's a very helpful account.

I appreciate the insights. Keep 'em coming!
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:03 PM
 
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My two are 4.5 yrs apart with DD 5.5 and DS 1 now. I know I wasn't ready for another at 2 or 3 yrs and it worked out they are 4.5 yrs apart. We knew we wanted another child but it took alittle longer to get one than we thought .... sometimes you can't plan everything.

So far its been good. DD was very high needs too, but so far DS is an easy going guy. Likes to play, eat, nurse and sleep. Not much jealousy and DD loves to play with DS and she can keep herself busy while I get DS down for a nap or nurse. She can also help out with him a little. Sometimes she gets alittle too helpful and I catch her carrying him around .

Overall its a good age difference and I think they will get along good in the future. DD is looking forward to playing with him.

Good luck to you!
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:07 PM
 
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I've got 2 years between DD1 and DD2 and 4 years between DD2 and DS and I must say I really prefer the 4 year gap. They are still close enough in age to play but don't fight as much. In fact, DD2 and DS are very involved in play right now and have been for about 45 minutes. And the baby period with DS was so much easier. It's almost impossible to take a 2 y-o and a baby anywhere by yourself. Whereas, taking a 6 y-o, 4 y-o, and a baby out wasn't so hard. My DD2 has a very strong mothering instinct and has always been glad to help out. She really adores her little brother.

The biggest drawback is that my older kids will want to do things that aren't really age-appropriate for DS like go ice skating or to the movies. It's harder to find activities that appeal to everyone.

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Old 01-05-2006, 10:12 PM
 
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nak...

four yrs and 1 month between my two - so far it's great! i was very glad i had an independent 4 yr old when my little guy was in those nurse 20 hrs of the day phase! she's a help - and now that litle one is getting interesting to play with, old enough to understand how to interact with a baby and not hurt him.
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Old 01-06-2006, 02:25 AM
 
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Mine are all 4 years apart... 9, 5 (twins), and 1 (well really 19 mos.). I love the 4 year spacing and the biggest challenge I've found has been between balancing the oldests activities with the littlest one. It's hard to explain to him why we're only watching his sister play ball! LOL So maybe my challenge is adding the 3rd. One benefit is that the oldest one is able to play more independently while dealing with the baby.
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Old 01-06-2006, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I very much appreciate it and it's been helpful for me to read.

I just got AF today so our first cycle officially TTC is here. I'm feeling very excited but also nervous. Did any of you feel like this? I feel like it has been just us 3 for so long and ds and I have such a close bond - it's difficult to imagine sometimes how another baby will fit in. We know we want another and I know ds will love having a sibling but at the same time, I'm nervous. Also, ds is so independent now... he can get dressed, go to the toilet, occupy himself, cooperate and help out etc. Having a tiny completely dependent newborn again will be a huge change.

Did anyone else have thoughts like this? I'm feeling conflicted because I know I want this but I'm nervous too.
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Old 01-06-2006, 12:57 PM
 
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4 years has been great for us too.
My oldest was a VERY high needs kid but my second was very easy going. My oldest immediately stepped in as helper and it has worked very well. 4 years later, they are very close and have a really close bond.

Good luck!
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Old 01-06-2006, 01:07 PM
 
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My son will be 5 in early March and DD is 7 months. I was SO hesitant to have a second because I didn't think that I could possibly love another child as much as I loved DS (also mentally healing from the csection).
I love the age gap. I was happy that I got to have so much 1-on-1 time with him and I absolutely love to watch him interact with his sister. He adores her. There is some jealousy periodically, but it's few and far between. The only slight regret I have is that I can't give my daughter all the 1-on-1 time that I was able to give DS.
I've found it challenging to give them equal time too. It's nice that DH and I can take turns with them so we spend some quality time with each.
I think the jump from 1 child to 2 is the biggest hurdle. It's smooth sailing now and the only issue that keeps hubby and I from going for #3 and 4 and 5 and 6 etc. is $$. We will see. I don't think I'd wait another 4 years though, probably closer to 2.
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Old 01-06-2006, 01:24 PM
 
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We are planning a 4-year spacing. I was influenced by the anthropological data that indicates the most common spacing in non-industrialized countries, where they don't typically have birth control but do typically nurse for a long time, is 4 years. No offense to people who have them closer together, but I think the 2 years or less spacing became common when formula was in widespread use and contraceptives were not as effective or available. I think as a result a lot of our generation and our mothers' generation grew up in families with close together siblings so that's what we think of as normal but I don't think it is IMO what nature intended or in the best interest of children, generally speaking. (Now I know someone with 5 kids each a year apart is going to tell me I'm full of crap and her kids are the best-adjusted most emotionally stable children on the face of the earth, so just remember this is only my opinion and it's worth what you paid for it.) Like a PP I really wanted for my son to have a lot of time to be a baby and get all my attention. And I really want the next baby to have just as much of that same experience, as much as possible.
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Old 01-06-2006, 01:30 PM
 
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My son is 4 years and 4 days older than my 2-month-old daughter, and so far I think 4 years is the *perfect* age difference. DS is old enough to take care of his own basic needs now and doesn't need or even want much help anymore, and he is also old enough to understand that I have to pay a lot of attention to DD. He has been a wonderful big brother so far and loves to help me as much as he can. The way my kids are spaced, Anna will be starting high school the year AFTER Chase graduates, so I won't even have to worry about having two high-schoolers at the same time. And assuming Chase does a four-year degree in college, he will be done before Anna begins. The only downfall is that my son isn't old enough for pre-K yet (missed it by 26 days), so I'm still having to pay for childcare for both kids while I work. Everything else is great, though. Good luck TTC! :-)
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Old 01-06-2006, 01:40 PM
 
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My kids are almost exactly 5 years apart. I love it, it's good for my personality as a mother. I can only handle one baby at a time with any degree of patience. Ds understood that sometimes dd couldn't wait and I needed to tend to her right away. He was old enough to get his own drinks and food, turn on the tv, get whatever toys he wanted. He was in school and I was able to give dd my full attention 6 hours a day. I had at least one kid sleeping through the night. Now they are 7.5 and 2.5 and they play together.

I know part of it is luck. Ds' personality is such that he loves little children and is very patient with them, and he is very laid back in general. He's very, very good to his sister and I am a lucky mom. I think it helped, as well, that he wanted a sister even before I got pg so he got what he wanted.

The downside would have to be it is still difficult to do things as a family. Ds has all these great games from Christmas (password jr., scrabble jr., monopoly, etc) that he wants to play. Not only is dd too young but she wants to play with the board and all the pieces and gets upset if she is excluded. For now we only play when she is sleeping or both parents are available. When we go to fairs or amusement parks we often have to split up. Ds wants to do a lot of rides that dd can't do, yet. He'll do a couple of little kids things if it's allowed but gets bored with that pretty quick. Dd also must dictate at times what movies or tv shows they are allowed to watch and ds can get annoyed with that.

Overall the age difference has worked very well for us. I think I'm a better parent for it and ds and dd are still great friends.
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Old 01-06-2006, 01:43 PM
 
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My daughters are nearly exactly 4 1/2years apart and so far it's not been a bad thing. My older dd is 5 1/2 and the baby is going to be 1 tomorrow( ). It was nice during the pregnancy because older dd was able to understand when mama was put on bedrest and couldn't get up. She was able to get a snack out of our special approved snacks drawer in the kitchen and could get mama a bottle of water from the fridge or wahtever. And when the baby was really little and I was nursing constantly she was a huge help and she was old enough to understand that her baby sister needed mama's milkies a lot because she was so small and that we could still snuggle and watch a movie so baby sister could have milkies at the same time. Now that the baby is older and walking they are best friends. They chase each other around like crazy! I never had to worry about Mady(older dd) accidentally hurting her sister when she was little because she was old enough to know that she needed to be careful but now I need to be vigilant. They play really rough and Mady sometimes forgets that Sara is still just a baby. But all in all, it's been a pretty positive experience. My sister and I are very close to 4 years apart and we get along GREAT. When we were little we got along really really well until I was in 5th grade or so. And we hated each other for a few years. When she was 13 and I was 17, we started getting along really well again and now we talk at least once a day on the phone and she's my best friend. So I dont' think a 4 year age difference is a big problem. We are loving the age difference in our girls.


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Old 01-06-2006, 02:54 PM
 
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nak.

My ds is 4 1/2 years older than dd. I've found it to be very positive. Ds loves to make his little sister laugh.

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Old 01-06-2006, 03:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wednesday
No offense to people who have them closer together, but I think the 2 years or less spacing became common when formula was in widespread use and contraceptives were not as effective or available.
Actually, I believe the 2 year spacing became very common when humans stopped hunting and gathering and started farming--long before formula was invented. It was not breastfeeding alone that gave pre-agrarian/pre-industrial societies 4-5 year gaps between babies, but taboos against sex when breastfeeding and widespread infanticide. When farming, the land is able to support more people than when gathering, and a higher birthrate became adventageous. 24 months has long been the average child spacing in the US. Check out genealogy from the 18th and 19th centuries. Now that we have contraceptives and little incentive to have 10 kids you can expect the gaps between kids to widen.

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Old 01-06-2006, 03:59 PM
 
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I stand corrected! And I agree with your last point. I know a lot of people who choose a 4 or 5 year spacing because they can't afford daycare for two simultaneously, or not for more than a year or so.
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Old 01-06-2006, 07:57 PM
 
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My sister and I are 4 years apart almost exactly and it has been pretty positive overall. A little tricky growing up because we were close enough for her to bug me but not close enough to have the same friends, but now that we're older we're very close. She tells me now how much she looked up to me and I am very suprised because I never knew!!

I have friends with kids of all different age gaps and I have to say I think spacing around 3-4 years is great. I watch my friend's dd sometimes (she's 4 now but I've known her since she was born) and I love spending time with her and being able to do things... if there was another little one before it wouldn't have been as much fun, but now I feel like we (ha ha) could handle another baby. So no matter what, you'll always have this time alone with your son and cherish it forever!!

Good luck ttc!!!
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Old 01-06-2006, 08:20 PM
 
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Interesting thread. My dd will be 3 tomorrow, and by the way TTC is going, she is easily going to be 4 by the time another babe is born. I always knew my dc would be 3.5-4 years apart. DD was so high needs as a baby and toddler that I could not even imagine bringing another child into the family, plus she had numerous food allergies and lived on bm for most of her calories until after she was 2. My sister and I are 2 years and 11 days apart and fought like cats and dogs growing up, my parents had us close together so we would play together. Yeah right, we never played together unless we were forced to, even as adults we aren't close.

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Old 01-06-2006, 08:55 PM
 
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was nak and exhausted yesterday when i replied so i wanted to add more....

a 4 year age difference really allowed dd to be a baby for as long as she needed. even through the fall when i was first pregnant, she needed/wanted to be carried a lot in the ergo, etc. - throughout my pregnancy (from the time she was 3 1/2 til just over 4), i noticed a lot of growth and emerging independence - wanting to dressed, wash, sleep by herself. at least in dd, there was a huge difference between a three year old and a four year old.

as a pp mentioned - no double college tuition! although we will be paying for 8 years in a row
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Old 01-06-2006, 09:05 PM
 
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Mine are 3 years apart. If I had to do it all over again I would make it under 2 years, or over 4 years apart. The 3's are so hard, and it was doubly hard having a new baby and dealing with a moody 3yo.

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Old 01-06-2006, 10:36 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kate~mom
as a pp mentioned - no double college tuition! although we will be paying for 8 years in a row
Now see, I really wonder if that is actually a benefit. My understanding is, if the family has two dependents in college at the same time, there is greater eligibility for financial aid. If you're looking at it long-term, you're better off getting that financial aid for a shorter number of years than squeaking by paying out of pocket for eight years in a row. Particularly since the years when children are in college are getting towards the end of the parents' earning years, when you should be shoveling as much into retirement savings as possible.

Here's my math, sort of simplified: In scenario A, Child 1 and Child 2 go to school during the same 4 years. Both owe tuition of $10K per year. The family's "expected contribution" also happens to be $10K per year. With the family's tuition cost being a total of $20K/year, the family will get financial aid to make up the difference (most likely loans but also probably some need-based grants). Total cost to family = $40K (give or take depending on then loan situation, but as I said I'm simplifying).

In scenario B, Child 1 attends for four years and Child 2 attends for the following four years. It is $10K per year and as this amount is equal to the parent's expected contribution, there is no aid eligibility. Parents pay $10K for eight years running, or $80K total. Man that means a lot less income to put in your retirement savings! (At this time a parent's retirement assets are not considered in the dependent's financial aid eligibility, so this is significant.)

My math could be wrong, I'm no expert, but that's what the situation looks like to me.
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Old 01-06-2006, 11:05 PM
 
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true - assuming, though, that the combined tuition is over your parents' expected contribution.
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Old 01-06-2006, 11:12 PM
 
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Ime, age gaps means nothing bad. Or they mean different things for different families. My first and second are 4 yrs apart and they aget along great. My 4 yr old was so totally excited about the baby he could hardly contain himself.

Personality, not age, is probably going to be the deciding factor in whether things go 'well' or are 'challenging'.

Congrats!!!!
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Old 01-06-2006, 11:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by springbabes
Actually, I believe the 2 year spacing became very common when humans stopped hunting and gathering and started farming--long before formula was invented. I
And actually, in my area, the 18 month to 2 year spread is so common because moms are first starting to have kids in their late thirties and don't have "the luxury of time," as one mom told me. I, however, did have that "luxury," and my children are 3 years and 7 months apart. It has been PERFECT for us for lots of reasons. My kids are now 21 months and almost 5.5 years old, and they are the very best of friends. Ds loves, loves, loves his little sister and the admiration is completely reciprocated. I won't bore anyone with particular details of their lovey-dovey sibling relationship, but it's great.
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Old 01-07-2006, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by UUMom
Personality, not age, is probably going to be the deciding factor, in whether things go 'well' or are 'challenging'.
Without a doubt.

Thank you everyone for the feedback, it's very interesting to read.
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Old 01-08-2006, 12:14 AM
 
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Just saw this thread so I'm coming in late. My kids are 4 yrs. 4 mths a part. I love the spacing. I get bad morning sickness so I didn't want my dd to be too young when I got preg again.
I feel that my dd really got to be the baby for as long as she needed to which was important to me. My dd was very excited about being a big sister. She was also very helpful after ds was born. My kids call each other their best friend and it warms my soul. They are very close.


Good luck ttc!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 01-08-2006, 11:03 AM
 
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May I also give my .02$?

DH and BIL and not more than 21 months apart. They had rough time when they from when preschool-aged until after both their teen years. They hit each other, they got mad at each other, they through things at each other - you name it, they did it. I know that they also had a lot of good times but still my DH tells his mom that he had secretly wished for more support.
Now they run a company together and that's the best decicion they ever made. Both know the other one almost like they know themselves, they rarely argue and everything is going smooth. DH says that he can't imagine another or a better business partner. And BTW - they are 31 (BIL) and 29 (DH).

When I got pregnant DH and me envisoned a similar age gap like he and his brother had but as soon as DD was born I told him 'no way'. I was sooo filled up w/that little thing and I never wanted some other child to disturb this. Since we decided that I will beginn an apprenticship this coming autumn (college and work mixed together, a typical european thing ) ttc is put on hold until after that - this will be in 3 years from now (Jan.'06) So DD and her future sibling will have a age gap of 5 years. A bit too long for my liking (I thing that 3.5-4 yrs is best) but ok. I sooo miss being pregnant and I am soo looking forward to it!

So to the OP - 4 years is just perfect in my eyes! :thump up
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Old 01-08-2006, 12:14 PM
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I have eight children and their spacing is anywhere from slightly under two years to slightly under five years.

I think because I have practiced attachment parenting some of the inherent shortcomings of having children closely spaced were minimalized but it made life extremely challenging to me.

Two years is simply too close. In my experience, you will either suffer or the children will suffer from the rivalry and constant vying for attention.

Three year spacing is pretty good but you get some of the rivalry of a close spacing and some of the distance of a far spacing.

I believe the five year spacing was a bit too much because they had little in common. The closely spaced children are close but, in their own way, the far spaced children are close as well. It isn't as natural and they need to work to cultivate their relationships.

I have two children spaced slightly over four years apart. They have some of the distance that is a disadvantage but they are very close to one another and have a very good relationship with one another. These are two very mellow sweet children. They are presently 10 and 6 years old.

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