If you have more than one child, what’s the age gap between them? Do you consider it a close age gap?
My first two children are exactly two years apart. As in, they missed having the same birthday by 3.5 hours. While there are certainly smaller age gaps, I consider that a pretty close one. For a while, my house was one big jumble of naps, snacks, sippy cups, and toys that made entirely too much noise. There was a brief, awful time when my kids had alternating nap schedules. We could never leave the house because it was always someone’s nap time. But that time of life is also filled with sweet memories of library story time, trips to the splash pad or playground, and a trip around the block in the wagon.
2 under 2 has many, many challenges, but one thing it has going for it: you are fully immersed in one stage of parenting. Just the one. That one stage might be toddler survival, but at least it’s just the one.
I didn’t realize the perk that it was until I had my third baby. He came along a little further behind my first two, who were 5.5 and 3.5 when he was born. Still not a humongous age gap, and there have definitely been perks to the bigger age gap, but now I find myself in quite the predicament.
I’m in multiple stages of parenting at one time.
My kids are now 9-years-old, 7-years-old, and 3-years-old. My youngest is in full toddler mode. He’s potty training, doesn’t like following directions, and has strong opinions about everything. My older two are finally settling down and becoming more independent. They are finding their interests and passions. Dare I say, we are entering the golden years with them? But it’s really hard to enjoy the golden years of parenting when there is still a toddler to manage. This is why my 9-year-old has a childproof safety door knob cover on her bedroom door. It’s not for her. It’s to keep the toddler out of her room so her treasures stay safe and untouched. (Before you come at me, it was her request. She knows how to use it. The toddler does not. Everyone is happy, except maybe the toddler.)
We struggle to find activities the whole family can enjoy. My 3-year-old loves story time at the library; my older two have outgrown it. My older two play sports, but the toddler struggles to make it through 1.5 hour softball games. Many events for my big kids last until 8 or 9 at night. The toddler would be an absolute nightmare out at that time. My toddler loves The Country Fair in Dollywood; the bigs would prefer rollercoasters.
As a result, my husband and I find ourselves dividing-and-conquering most of the time. All activities on the schedule have to be organized by who is going and who is staying. It’s honestly not fun. I would prefer to go to everything together as a family. And yes, we do have frequent conversations with the older kids about being good sports and participating in a “toddler activity.” It’s just not always feasible and still requires my husband and I to split supervision duties.
It’s difficult to be in multiple parenting stages at once.
Now that that’s off my chest, I will say there are some really beautiful things about having kids in different stages. First and foremost, I am more aware that everything is just a phase. There were days I wasn’t sure we’d make it out of 2 under 2, but we did! I’ve already survived the toddler stage twice; I can make it through again! Each stage is hard in different ways and SO fleeting. It’s a good perspective to have on the hard days.
My older kids are SO helpful with the little one. My oldest was a fresh two-year-old when my middle child was born. She was “helpful” but not like she is now with her youngest brother. They entertain him and play with him. They can make him snacks and juice cups. They can read him books. It’s so nice not being the only person in the house who can reach the light switch.
My kids’ age gap is really not huge, but it’s enough to make us straddle parenting lines. One foot in one stage, one foot in another. I know this age gap will feel smaller as they get older. Maybe this is just part of parenting that makes it so frustrating and beautiful and rewarding all at the same time. A blessing at times, a challenge in others.