The Pros and Cons of Having Babies Close in Ageby Katlyn Joy
Everyone has a different idea of what makes for a perfectly planned family. For some it's getting through the tough early years in one bold wave, while for others it may be spacing out children so they are almost like only children.
Every family has to determine what its own goals and preferences are, and even with that decision made, biology will have to be on board with your plans in order for things to go exactly as you wish. In fact, you may want to take that fact into consideration when considering how far apart you want to space your children as you may not get pregnant the first month, or fifteen for that matter, that you try.
Pros of Closely Spaced Sibs
Built in playmates. Any tween who has suffered through endless rounds of Candyland with a little brother or sister will agree with this one. Having kids close in age means ease in planning vacations that will appeal to all your children, will mean being able to go see movies together as a family without one member gritting his teeth or another shrieking in terror. Closely spaced sibs truly grow up together.
Sharing kid items. Sometimes having kids close together in age means a financial savings. For instance it's unlikely that your older child's carseat, crib, stroller or high chair will be outdated or need replacing when the next bundle of joy comes along. This can mean significant money saved. Also, clothing styles are unlikely to change greatly, so sorry lil sib, but happy hand-me-down time results.
Get through the diapering, tantrum and sleeping through the night headaches in one fail swoop. While it may seem overwhelming at the time, going through those difficult early phases one right after the other, or concurrently in some cases, has the lovely effect of peace after the storm.
Kids will go to school, camp, sports and activities together. Your little ones will likely always go to the same school, attend the same camps and outings and this can be a timesaver and a money saver especially in terms of gas saved in going to the same destinations instead of a virtual taxi route. It can also be a help to a shy child who doesn't mind sticking close to a familiar face even if it belongs to a brother or sister.
A united front. Kids that are close in age may fight like Rottweillers and Tabby cats, but when confronted from outside, they will close ranks and have each other's backs. Siblings are naturally protective of one another and kids who are age-mates are likely to form a formidable team against the world when need be.
Cons of Closely Spaced Sibs
Exhaustion. Having children in close succession is not task for the faint-hearted. Having a baby is a job in itself physically and if you don't give yourself too much of a break between pregnancies, you may feel run down and overwhelmed at the task of keeping up with not one, but two-plus babies/toddlers. Also, the first few years are quite labor-intensive in parenting so this time period in particular is a tough one.
Drain on parents' relationship. See the above for the reason. It can be hard to keep close to your sweety when you are chin deep in diapers and you have pacifiers and baby carriers in the drawer that used to contain lingerie and massage oil. While it's not impossible to maintain a close marital bond during the first years, it will be probably a bit more challenging.
Expenses will peak at the same time. While you can save in some ways with closely spaced babies, in other ways it can be a financial burden. You won't have a few years to catch up when you have two babies in diapers, two kids in sports, two teen drivers, and gasp!, two young people in college at one time. Occasionally, help can be found through reduced tuition for sibs or discounts for multiple kids from one family for activities.
Limited one-on-one time for each child.While family togetherness may be more easily achieved with closely spaced children, time for each child to be a child can be hard to come by. You may find yourself rushing the elder child through babyhood because another younger one is nipping at his heels. You may find in retrospect that you pressured your older child more than the younger one(s) because of this crunch. Sometimes moms even have to disrupt breastfeeding their older baby because they are now pregnant with a second. Having to wean a baby before you both are ready can be a sad experience for mother and child alike.
These pluses and minuses are generalities only and every family is unique. However, these are some of the more common experiences. You can determine what is best for your family, and build on the positive aspects of your choice while guarding against the potential pitfalls just by recognizing them.
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