Why a 5-year age gap between my kids has turned out to be perfect

Why a 5-year age gap between my kids has turned out to be perfect

My first three children were born very close together.

So up until now, I never really knew any other way of doing things. My life was always about having at least two kids in diapers, balancing the terrible twos and infancy, multiple car seats and strollers, and dealing with tantrums and teething and baby poop patterns while potty training.

After our third child was born, we tried to get pregnant for years, and even endured a late-pregnancy loss before conceiving the baby I am due to have in the next several weeks.

For a long time, I thought having an age gap of five years between my youngest and the baby would mean he would be at a disadvantage; that he would have a hard time fitting into our crew. I also worried how I would fare going back to the baby stage after such a long break.

But I'm starting to realize there are many benefits to the five year age difference, not only for me, but for our entire family.

My youngest actually understands that I’m having a baby. For a toddler or even a preschooler, the idea of a sibling growing in mommy’s tummy and then coming home to live with you, forever, is very abstract. I remember trying to prepare my kids for the arrival of our baby, but truthfully, they didn’t get it until the baby was born, and didn’t go away. This time my youngest daughter is almost 5, and she really is getting it. It’s fun to see her level of excitement and how much she wants to be involved in the pregnancy. One of the cutest things she does is to whisper goodnight to my belly before she goes to bed each night. Sniff.

She also accepts that sometimes I’m tired and I have to sit down, so I can’t play anymore or we have to leave the park. Can’t say I experienced that kind of empathy during previous pregnancies!

I don’t have to pick my daughter up anymore. Sure, I like to cuddle with my (current) youngest, and hold her when I can, but now that I’m heavily pregnant, it’s a relief she doesn’t need to be carried. She can walk on her own (even if sometimes she’d rather be carried), and spare me the back pain, and even potential complications associated with lifting a child in pregnancy.

My little one is newly self-sufficient. At almost 5 years old, my daughter can now dress herself (yeah, her outfit choices are often questionable, but she can perform this task on her own), do most of her business in the bathroom, get her own snack, and play independently. What all of this means for me: I have more time to rest and focus on taking care of myself than during previous pregnancies.

I can get things done without having to watch her every second. Of course a 5-year-old still requires constant supervision. But she can play in her room on her own, or go upstairs without me having to follow an inch behind. I can only imagine how this will translate once my son is born. I’ll be able to actually shower or eat when the baby is sleeping rather than chase after a toddler. How liberating!

I have a helper. My daughter is so excited to help out with the baby, from picking out his outfits to maybe even giving him a bottle (we’ll see!). What a luxury to have an “older” child who can fetch a diaper or grab my phone for me. And who (probably) won’t poke him in the eye, like my 2-year-old kept doing when my second daughter was born.

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

Watch the video: 11 Parenting Mistakes That Ruin a Childs Growth (January 2022).

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