Thursday, January 30, 2014
advantages to having your children close in age
Everyone seems to have their own arguments for what they believe is the "best" spacing to have between children- whether that be 1, 2, 3, or 5+ years. I'm well aware that we aren't all going to agree on this subject anymore than we will all agree on whether cosleeping or crib sleeping is safer, on cloth versus disposable diapers, homemade versus jarred baby food, breast versus bottle, etc. But this is my little corner of the internet and I feel like I should write about what has worked for my family, because someone, somewhere might find it helpful. So here we go! I'm diving right in. Plus even if you don't agree with me, this post is filled with adorable pictures of my boys together- so it's a win-win ;)
10 reasons why we enjoy have our children less than two years apart
1. If you already have one in diapers, why not have two? Elliot is potty trained now, but up until a few months ago, we had two in diapers. I know people who literally cringe at that thought... but really, it wasn't bad at all. We used cloth diapers for the majority of that time, which saved us a ton of money over having to buy sposies in two different sizes. And eventually, they wore the same size disposables. Once you've gotten used to constantly changing and wiping little bums, the number of bums that need changing doesn't really matter. Your second child is also more likely to potty train sooner as he/she watches their older sibling go through the process. Emmett regularly accompanies Elliot to the bathroom, and he asks to "potty" often. I have no grand plans of attempting to potty train him anytime soon, but I'm confident that he will be ready much sooner than his brother was. He is already showing a lot of interest.
2. One year olds generally adjust to new siblings with far less jealousy than two-three-four year olds. I'm not just basing this on my own experience, either. I can't even begin to tell you the number of pediatricians and fellow parents who told me that children under 2 have a much easier time adjusting than older children when I was pregnant. Elliot was the center of our universe before Emmett arrived- and I was worried that he would resent his new brother. It was the complete opposite though. He was so young that he adapted effortlessly, he seemed to love his brother almost immediately. His universe was not turned upside down when his brother was born. And now, it's hard to even remember what life was like before we had two. Elliot definitely doesn't remember life before he had a sibling. To him, it's just always been this way.
3. One year olds are excellent helpers. Elliot was amazingly helpful right from the start when it came to his baby brother- he delighted in bringing me diapers, wipes or nursing pads, giving his brother toys, tucking his blankets back around him if he kicked them off, and he would often try to pat or otherwise calm his baby brother if he started fussing without any prompting. You see, one year olds typically don't have the "attitude" to refuse. They want to please you, they want to be involved, they want to help in any way they can. I know Elliot sure did! Now that my boys are older, Elliot is great at keeping Emmett out of trouble. He will scold him if he pulls all the books off the bookshelf (and then help him clean them all up), or if he's doing something dangerous, like getting into the cleaning products, he will come running to tell me.
4. They always have a playmate. As soon as Emmett was old enough to play, they played together. This was not only adorable to watch, but it also worked in my favor because if I needed to get something done, I could count on the boys to entertain eachother. I like knowing that neither Elliot nor Emmett are ever lonely. They play together constantly. I was an only child until I was 8, and I begged my parents for a baby brother/sister. It makes me happy knowing that my boys will never experience that kind of loneliness and longing. They always have someone to build block towers with, to figure out the missing piece to the puzzle, to laugh and just be silly with, to get into trouble with- even if mama or daddy are cooking, cleaning, shoveling snow, gardening, at work, etc. Plus, playing with two small children is infinitely more exciting and interesting than with just one.
5. Hand me downs rock! Emmett has been able to wear almost all of the clothes that Elliot outgrew. I know this wouldn't be true for brother/sister pairs, but that crib, exersaucer, stroller, carseat... all of it can be used again before it even gathers dust in the attic. Toys get twice the love. First child wasn't a fan of pacifiers, or blue bowls, or that expensive toy that everyone said you had to buy? Never fear! There's a good chance that your second child may be able to use at least one of those things, making it not a complete waste of your money.
6. Your children learn how to interact with other children. I know many parents will say "but I spend all my time playing with my child. Why does he need a playmate?" Well... there are certain things that toddlers can only learn by playing with other children. They learn how to share, how to communicate their feelings to one another, to play cooperatively, to help one another. Sure, they could also learn these things in daycare or play groups, but when they spend 100% of their time with a sibling, toddlers are generally much better at all of this. They learn simply because they have to in order to coexist happily.
7. You'll lose less sleep. It's no secret that we lose a lot of sleep during the first few years of our children's lives. The way I look at it, if you're already used to waking up early and/or waking up throughout the night with one child, it isn't a difficult adjustment when the second comes along. You haven't yet gotten to remember what it feels like to sleep in again, or get twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep. It feels natural and normal. Both of my boys have been sleeping through the night for over a year now. If we had waited until Elliot was older to have our second child, I would still be waking up to nurse an infant now. It would double the amount of hours we spent waking to care for small children.
8. Your younger child learns more, and they'll be school aged at the same time. Emmett reached almost all of his developmental milestones before his brother did, mostly because he learns from example and is always striving to catch up to his brother. He talked sooner because he heard Elliot talking, he walked sooner because he wanted to be able to follow his big brother around, he learned to copy Elliot's animal sounds, he started eating with utensils earlier because he wanted to be like his brother. I could go on and on.
The fact that they'll be school aged about the same time is also a big one to me, because I do plan to finish my education and stat my career once my children are in school. Imagine, however, how much more difficult that would be if by the time Elliot was entering kindergarden, we had another baby? The whole cycle would start all over again, and unless we wanted to put a child in daycare, I wouldn't be able to return to work for quite some time. Also, it's likely that the majority of the time your children will be in the same school. This cuts driving time in half, and it's also sort of comforting to know that Emmett would have a big brother to stick up for him in school if he were to be picked on/etc.
9. You're still in the habit of all things baby. You haven't yet forgotten what it is like to change a dirty diaper, the ins/outs of introducing solids, the sleepless nights, to clean up toddler messes... you're already devoting a giant amount of your time and energy to another small human being. Bringing another baby into the mix doesn't change your world very much- it just makes you an even better multitasker. ;)
10. The memories- everything is just more fun! Seriously? I don't know what is much cuter than a toddler cradling or loving on a new baby... or two toddlers close in size going everywhere and doing everything together. Holidays and birthdays are more fun. One thing is for certain- there will be great memories. Things won't always be easy, it may be a bit challenging at first as you adjust to having two tiny tots to care for. There will be times where you want to pull all of your hair out. But when you see them snuggling next to each other, sharing a snack, watching their favorite movie together, your heart will melt. When you walk in on them having a little conversation in tiny voices, or you watch the older sibling take the younger by the hand to show them something, it makes it all worth it.
I realize not everyone thinks this way. Some people purposely wait five years before having another child, and some people choose to have only one child. And that's completely fine. There is no equation to make the perfect family. Elliot and Emmett are 16 months apart. Having children less than two years apart isn't for everyone, but it's definitely for me.