To many parents, the prospect of a large age gap between kids can be met with concerns. Will the siblings still have a close relationship? How does a mum cope with a newborn while having to do the school run twice a day? What about returning to the baby bubble after so many years being well free of it?
There are pros and cons to any age gap, and certainly no such thing as the perfect one. But if large spacing between children is something you are considering or faced with, there are numerous reasons why it can in fact be advantageous for families. With five years between my kids, it certainly has been for mine – here’s how:
You can rest while pregnant, and as a new mum
And by rest, I don’t mean finding five minutes to sip tepid tea at the kitchen sink. With the eldest at kindergarten or school for a bigger part of the day, you can actually put your head down when baby naps.
An older child can be better equipped to welcome a new baby into the family
Having spent many quality years with their parents, and being more mature than a toddler, the eldest is more likely to be accepting and excited about the arrival of their (often long-awaited) sibling.
You get quality time with each child
Having one-on-one time with each child while they are babies and toddlers is fabulous for bonding. In addition, having spent all day with the youngest, they’re less inclined to fight for attention when the eldest comes home from school needing homework help and chats-a-plenty.
The eldest child becomes more than a companion
I adore seeing my daughter care for her younger brother, whether reading to him (and boasting an impressive range of voices that I simply don’t have), helping him if he falls, even feeding him. According to Dr. Lucille. K. Forer, the youngest is more likely to view the older sibling as a type of parent than a peer, making the eldest feel mature and valuable, while offering security to the younger child.
The eldest child learns responsibility and becomes a helper
With the eldest quite capable of following instructions, they offer a much-appreciated second set of hands. OK, they might not be willing or able to change nappies, but they can certainly grab you a new packet of wipes when your hands are tied amid a full-scale blowout.
Siblings are less likely to fight over belongings or compete with each other
I doubt any family can avoid arguments, but it has been reported that large age gaps result in children being at very different stages of life. As a result, they have a stronger sense of identity and are less likely to directly compete with each other.
You get a breather between child-related costs
Like extra-curricular activities, day care, kindergarten and school – brilliant when it comes to private school fees!
You can re-use old gear without doubling-up
Car seats, prams, cots, high chair, toys, dinnerware and so much more baby gear that the eldest has long since outgrown can be scrubbed off and put to good use again, saving you the expense of buying doubles.
Are there still squabbles and defiance with a large age gap? Absolutely. Is parenting still exhausting? Totally! But if a large age gap is on the cards for you, rest assured there are plenty of ways that it can work beautifully. And fear not – you will get the hang of nappies and prams again!