Family Spacing – how do you decide?

March 23, 2011

Megan is a mama to a wonderful 20 month old son. She rambles on about anything and everything at her blog Just Me(gan) and writes books reviews at Library Showgirl. She’s nervously thinking about expanding her family, and would love to hear your thoughts on child spacing and what has worked for your family.

You know what terrifies me even more than becoming a first-time mom? Doing it all again.

My husband and I knew when it was time to try the first time around. We were ready (as ready as we could be), and most importantly, it felt right. This time around, I am constantly questioning myself. Am I ready yet? Is Brayden ready for a sibling? What’s the best spacing?

And of course I deal with all the same feelings other moms do. The ones I know are illogical but still linger in my mind. How will I love another child like I love Brayden? Of course I will. Is it fair to do this to him, to not have my focus solely on him? Yes, he won’t be my sole focus once I have another child, but he will gain a partner in crime. I love my siblings, and I know he will love his.

If we decide to try before Brayden is done nursing, how will this affect our breastfeeding relationship? I have heard of so many stories where pregnancy caused the nursing child to wean for whatever reason. I could dry up, or I might grow to resent breastfeeding. I know most people would tell me he should be weaned anyways. Or if they don’t say that, they feel that even if it does end up in weaning, what’s the big deal? After all, he’s over the age of one. He doesn’t need it anymore, but it still benefits him. It benefits us too. It’s a great source of comfort and one of my strongest parenting tools.

People always point out that the youngest child gets the least amount of time with his or her parents. That is definitely true. At the same time, however (unless you opt for a greater spacing between children), the older child is sometimes forced to grow up before they might be ready. Like I mentioned before, that could manifest in early weaning. I doubt we will wait until the point that Brayden would fully understand what is going on, and not many parents do. It seems like 2-3 years is the average, and we are definitely in that time frame. I just have to have faith that we will know when the time is right.

What are your thoughts? What would be the perfect spacing for your family? What resources, beliefs, or lifestyle choices helped you make or think more on your decision?

18 Comments

  • Jen

    March 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    We decided before we had B that we only wanted one child. It just works best for us and what we want to do in life and what we want to give him.

    But if we were to have more children I think we would want one to be out of diapers before having the second.

  • Becky

    March 25, 2011 at 5:59 am

    Our three are a little over 2 years apart. I breastfed the first two until 14 months and while we weren’t not trying, the natural works of BF didn’t allow for it. And then when we really did want to try, it took 5 months for #2 and 7 for #3. So no matter what you plan, it doesn’t really work out. There are 5 years between #1 and #3. My oldest really loves the baby and vice versa and she’s a good helper. That’s lots of fun. The good part about 2 1/2 years is that the older one is almost out of diapers. The two kids in day care is a killer, but you find a way to make it work. We’re paying for 3 kids in care now and it’s painful, but we look ahead and think how rich we’ll be again. 🙂

  • Blair@HeirtoBlair

    March 24, 2011 at 6:38 am

    We’ve got a few deciding factors – first, my mental health. I absolutely want to be completely “healed” from postpartum depression with a firm plan in place & my doctor’s blessing before getting pregnant again.

    & the next part is finances. Until I can stay home or we can afford two in daycare, we absolutely cannot have another one. It sucks, because ideally we’d start trying next January (I’d like them 3 years apart like my brothers & I were), but it’s all depending on finances.

  • Justthe10

    March 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    There is a way to have a large family, or a close spaced family, and get to have time with each child. There is also a way that the kids can interact with each other and not be responsible for one another or have their childhood cut short. Its all in how you set your mind and your household up.
    Do what you feel is comfortable for you. My first two were within 12 months of each other. My last 6 were within 7 years of each other. We make it work, as a family. 🙂

  • Jess@Straight Talk

    March 23, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Honestly I never even thought about baby #2 until last summer. It just didn’t “feel” right. I wasn’t worried about spacing because having a magical number between kids won’t make them best friends or things any easier.

    So now I’m pregnant with our second and the girls will be 5 1/2 years apart. And that’s fine! Yes, we’re starting over, but this is what worked for us. No magical formula required.

  • Janelle

    March 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I think had we tried to pick a “right” time we would have struggled to “pull the trigger,” so to speak. The universe picked for us, when I found out I was pregnant when my youngest was 13 months. He was still nursing at the time, but weaned himself shortly after that. I can’t say for certain, but I do think my pregnancy had something to do with it…so if that is important to you, perhaps holding off would be best?! Either way, it will be a fantastic thing when it does happen!

  • Briana

    March 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Unfortunately, no matter how you hope to plan things, the Universe may have other plans. My husband and I always said we wanted our kids to be about 4years apart. However, a month before my oldest turned two, I found out I was pregnant with our second daughter. They are 2 years and 7months apart. I am a planner and was really thrown for a loop when I found out I was pregnant the second time. I was so scared, and felt so guilty for taking away from my first daughter. Now that they are almost 2 and 4.5, I love the spacing! They really do play well together and get along most of the time. I am glad that the Universe planned it this way, it has worked out beautifully! Now.we are done and my husband just jade his vasectomy 2weeks ago. Also, some women try to plan spacing and then are more able to conceive for many years after the first one. I’m just pointing out that sometimes no amount of planning can prepare us for what life brings. Good luck to you!

  • Sarah

    March 23, 2011 at 10:04 am

    As a working mom, I don’t want to deal with two kids in childcare at one time.. or two in diapers, or really anything lol. I’m 80 percent sure I’m just a one-and-done mom, I don’t really want to have any more children, but if I did, 5 years would be good for me. I’d want my daughter to be in school during the day and to have her own things going on so she wouldn’t feel left out so much. I also don’t want to deal with the fighting (don’t give me that “play together stuff” cause mostly I just see fighting! 🙂 lol). I think I’d enjoy the whole experience a lot more with a good 5 years of space, it might feel like the first one all over again.

    It makes me uncomfortable to think about having another child just in writing this, I wonder what makes us think we have to?

  • Megan B.

    March 23, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Thanks for the insight so far. In the weeks since I wrote the post, we still haven’t come to a decision. We’re tenatively thinking of starting to try again around his second birthday, which is a little over three months away. I’m still torn, though, and I hope to feel peace about the decision by then.

  • Jen

    March 23, 2011 at 9:32 am

    If my husband and I had tried to plan the right spacing for our children, we would have never had another one. Seriously, there would have always been a reason to hold off for 6 more months, a year, 2 years. Our kids are 18 months apart, and my youngest was definitely not planned!! And although there are things that are really frustrating (my 18 month old having less time with mommy, 2 toddler tantrums at the same time, the never-ending potty training…), I wouldn’t have it any other way. No matter what you decide, you will find what works best for you, and your son will adjust with you.

  • Sara

    March 23, 2011 at 9:31 am

    2 1/2 to 3 years for me, too! I think for us it’s mostly because Ollie will be a little more independent and I’ll be able to split my focus easier, not having two that I still think of as “babies”. My brother and I are 1 yr. 11 mos. apart and it seemed to work for us. 🙂

  • Sarah

    March 23, 2011 at 9:26 am

    mine are *9 and younger* lol! See what happens when you try to have grownup coversation with kids on your lap 🙂

  • Sarah

    March 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Life is imperfect. There will always be something less than ideal in any situation. But the fact of the matter is that you are gifting your older child with a sibling, a friend, a soulmate.

    Your oldest child will learn to look beyond himself and think of others. He will learn to share. And he will have someone in his home to play with for hours on end when you are busy.

    We have four children ages 9 and older. None were planned, but even through inconvenient circumstance and difficult pregnancies I am filled with gratitude at the perfect timing between them that I could not have planned on my own.

    You guys will be fine. This new one is lucky to have a mommy like you!

  • Desi

    March 23, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Our plan, as of right now, is to wait until Liv turns 3 to start trying. I have a very handful of a child. For me, I don’t think I could handle another baby right now. I might change my mind but for now, thats my feelings on it. My main objective is to get a full year paid maternity leave.My husband is a Canadian and so is my daughter now, I am an American. We recently moved to Canada and at some point want to move back to the U.S., but not until I get my nice year of mat. leave!

  • Diana

    March 23, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Our plan was always to space ours a few years apart. So we’re not sure when we’ll start trying again, but it won’t be for a little while longer. I’d love to have mine 2 1/2 – 3 years apart, it seems like they would be able to be a bit more independent, and if I was sick again through the whole pregnancy, they would be able to head to a preschool.

  • kim

    March 23, 2011 at 8:42 am

    My first 2 are 2 1/2 years apart, and that was a great spacing. I didn’t bf long, so that didn’t play into it at all. My 2nd and 3rd are 15 months apart and it.was.hard. BUT, it’s pretty darn awesome, too. I had 3 under 4 1/2 and it was insane, YES, but they are a team, even if it is a crazy one. They cuddle and we find them all in the same bed together. They love to play together and my oldest LOVES to read to the younger ones. The younger ones try to do what she does. I wasn’t able to bf long due to various things, so I’m no help there, but my advice is do what you think will work. There’s no magic number. What worked for me will not work for somebody else. Other people look at us and go, “Really?” 🙂

  • melissa

    March 23, 2011 at 8:37 am

    My son is 15 months and I am 8 weeks pregnant with #2. I was SO wishy washy about becoming pregnant and my husband was beyond ready for another. So I finally just left it to God. I said if its meant to be, it will be. And even having that frame of mind I still avoided the time if month I thought I’d be ovulating. But guess what? It was truly meant to be! So now I am so excited for another tiny baby and I know its gonna be rough for Parker seeing me cuddle someone else, but I also know that he will love having a buddy once the baby is mobile. He’s such a big help to me now and i know he will continue to be with his sibling. I am constantly showing him babies and telling him theres one in Momma’s tummy. I can’t wait for the day I see them playing at the playground together, it will all be so worth it! So, good luck to you and me both!!

  • Teresa

    March 23, 2011 at 8:21 am

    My son was 2.5 when his sister was born. DH and I planned this because we each have siblings spaced about 2 years apart and always had playmates. My son was breastfeeding until a few weeks before his 2nd birthday. He stopped on his own and I don’t know if he was just “ready” one day or if it was because my milk changed due to the fact that I was around 5 months pregnant. Whatever the reason, I didn’t mind at all, as it gave me a 4 month break! Now DD will be 2 in May and she is still breastfeeding and I am so over it. I feel like I’ve been nursing for 4 years staright. I get frustrated sometimes but I know that I will miss these moments soon enough. I’m glad we had the children close together, because they get along great (for the most part). My son gets jealous sometimes when we are in the middle of playing something that my daughter can’t do yet and she needs a nap, clinging to me and begging for her “ba-ba’s” and my daughter gets jealous when she sees my son climb onto my lap during a cartoon. They push each other and fight over toys, but they also hug each other when they see the other one upset. They play nicely too and I hope they will always be close.

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