Monday, October 26, 2015

Child Spacing Pros and Cons

At some point, every couple has to decide on the number and spacing of their children. Unfortunately, no one actually has any experience or expertise in the child-spacing arena at the time the decision has to be made, so it’s mostly guesswork based on those you can observe around you. 

Some couples want their kids to be born close together in the hopes that they will be able to play together and entertain each other. Maybe they hope they will be able to deal with the sleepless nights and endless diapering better if they just stay in the groove. Or maybe they’re thinking that they don’t want to deal with storing baby gear indefinitely, so they’ll get all their usage in quickly. Maybe one or both spouses are older than the average new mom and dad, so they feel a sense of urgency to “get this show on the road”, so to speak. Regardless of their reasoning, these couples opt to space their kiddos 2 or less years apart.

Other couples feel they need a little more time in between babies. They might be wanting to guaranteed a potty-trained Baby #1 before introducing Baby #2, or have the older one be more independent before adding another helpless one into the mix. Maybe these parents are concerned that the first child won’t get to fully experience “being a baby” if another baby comes too soon. Regardless of their reasoning, these couples opt to space their kiddos 3-4 years apart.

Still other couples wait even longer—5 years, 6 year, 10 years! Some opt to stop after the first little one. And some do no planning at all, figuring they’ll just take what they get whenever they get it, if they get it at all. 

We personally did a little combo of planning and oops-ing, but our vision was to have our children spaced right at 2 years apart. We were successful with Baby #1 and Baby #2, but the math got a little off with Baby #3. He got here a mere 17 months later. And then our little Oopsy will be right at 18 months behind him. 

Now, obviously, since all 4 of our kiddos fall into the “Closely Spaced” category, I can offer absolutely zero advice on any other spacing options. However, I have constructed a quick little Pros and Cons List for those considering this same close spacing. 


1.      They will be very close when they get older. Theoretically. 


1.      Every child is in various stages of potty training simultaneously, from full-time diaper-wearer, to nighttime diaper-wearer only, to full-time underwear-er with wet sheets at least once per week. Know that book, Everyone Poops? True story. And at least 50% of the time, the poop does not make it into the proper receptacle. Other true stories include: Everyone Pees, and Everyone Picks Their Nose and Wipes the Findings in Random Locations, and Everyone Sits on Your Lap to Toot.

2.      No one is far enough removed from the baby stage to have much sympathy for the ACTUAL baby when he steals toys or knocks over someone’s Lego structure, nor to have any sense of what it means to share. So that play time that we thought was going to be so precious because everyone would be just the right age to play so well together? That was lunacy. Play time reminds me of the Cornucopia scene from The Hunger Games: everyone runs for the exact same toy, then the losers attack the winner and engage in a chokehold death struggle until a victor finally emerges. And again, there is no leniency for even the tiniest of contestants. So baby brother is only 12 months old and has toddled unsteadily into the brawl? Dude. It’s on like Donkey Kong. 

3.      Everyone is a mess-maker while no one is a mess-cleaner-upper. From sun up to sun down, it’s spilled drinks, dropped plates full of freshly prepared food, toys flung far and wide, shredded books, unrolled toilet paper rolls, dirty laundry taken from the hamper and redistributed around the house, etc. And while our oldest is able to now assist with some of the pick-up, he’s slow. Slow. As. Christmas. And while he’s moving at his geriatric pace, the others are sure to be creating new messes. In fact, he might create a new mess himself while in the midst of picking one up. For example, he recently accidentally pushed the wrong button on the vacuum. So rather than turning OFF the machine, he opened it up, spilling out everything he just cleaned up, plus extra. 

4.      Laundry. Laundry everywhere. Mountains and mountains of laundry EVERYWHERE. And no one old enough to fold neatly or reach the top drawer of the dresser. And this is not your everyday laundry. These are piles of clothes drenched in pee, smeared with blood and mud and snot and food, literally left outside in the elements for a week before anyone noticed. And due to all the extra substances that find their way to the children’s clothing, they sometimes go through 3 or 4 outfits in one day, none of which will be placed in the hamper without multiple reminders.  

5.      Everyone needs constant supervision, but no one thinks they do. Why? Because they’re not “the baby”, they’re “big brother/sister” to someone. Therefore, they are far too old to hold your hand in the parking lot, or ride in the shopping cart, or sit in a booster seat, or take a nap. “I’M BIG!” they insist. So as far as they are concerned, they can check the mail without you going with them, close their bedroom door and play without you in there, use the scissors and sharp knives and glue without assistance… And the actual baby? Well, everyone else is doing those things, so I want to, too!

6.      No one is fully sleep trained yet. The potty-trained-by-day child is a wet-the-bed-by-night child. Which means a wake-up call for Mom and Dad to change pajamas and sheets and calm a foul-smelling, half-asleep kid. The baby is either still eating throughout the night, or teething, or both. Mom and Dad might as well camp out in the rocker. Any paci-suckers are unable to function during cold season and allergy season because they can’t breathe through their nose NOR their mouth. In Texas, those two seasons cover about 10 months of the year. Another wake-up call for Mom and Dad. And any remaining children are woken up by the ones already mentioned. More wake-up calls for Mom and Dad. So basically, closely spaced children = no sleep for at least a solid decade.  

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