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Is having up to a 4 year gap between your children crazy or genius?

(47 Posts)
ejbab Wed 13-Aug-08 05:43:04

My DD is going to be 3 in October and DH and I are going to start trying for baby no 2 quite soon. This seems to be quite a big gap - think it's most common for people to have number 2 when their first is 2ish?
Has anyone out there had a gap like this between their DC? I'm really worried that I'll not only find it a terrible shock to have a newborn again (alongside a very bossy toddler) but that children with a 4 year gap between them will never play together.
I don't have any understanding of sibling relationships as I'm an only child and so is DH so any advice would be gratefully received. Thanks

Umlellala Wed 13-Aug-08 05:54:11

Well, we are finding the newborn thing a shock with a 2 year old - so I wouldn't worry about that. I think it would be a nice gap in terms of understanding and helping - I am certainly glad my dd is on the 'older' side of 2 iykwim.

IMO sibling relationships are about you and how you foster it, not ages (my little sis is 6 years younger than me, 4 years younger than other sister - and we are all v close).

We all played together a lot - my other sisters especially (remember them playing 'tigers' behind the fireguard grin)

Go for it! Good luck x

mrsgboring Wed 13-Aug-08 06:31:52

My DS is the same age and we are TTC right now. There are four years between DH and his sister and they get on really really well.

I'm totally scared too but, really, you get the age gap you get. Although families are more plannable than they used to be, things can still go awry, take longer, or less time than you think.

Fanlight Wed 13-Aug-08 06:58:35

I have four years between mine. yes, there is a difference in the way they play - well in the way they do most things. But the elder one certainly appreciates having a brother, knows how to make him laugh (much better than I can) and has started to make up games with him (younger is 14mo now) and they do find a way to get along but there is a lOT of me interfering when older one is too rough. Mind you he is a rufty tufty boy anyway and was pretty jealous from the start so this has a bearing.
Lots of 'just you and me time' and positive input with the elder one will definitely help but this can be said of all gaps...

Personally I'd have been pushed to have another in between - the elder one can do a lot to help, like sort out his own toiletting and getting a drink for himself/ answering the door or phone (albeit without pants on!) and such, that it is much easier in a way - also when we are trying to get out of the house, I can safely leave the elder one to wait or get ready a bit while I sort out the baby. Which is Never To Be Under Estimated!!! grin

there is a poem somewhere on another thread...will try and find...

notasheep Wed 13-Aug-08 07:01:13

The gap between my dd and ds is 4 years and 9 months and i dont think its too big at all.

It was lovely having dd at school and new baby at home.
dd is now 8 and ds 4 in September and they play together most of the time.

I wish you well

Fanlight Wed 13-Aug-08 07:02:51

...How do parents of two toddlers actually ever leave the house?! Or stop one running into the road!

Here it is, I think it's about when the second child is just arrived:

My two

My youngest child
needs me
he calls, tuneful airs of baby vowels
I lift
and hide
his fingers like snail stalks, grimbling, feeling
while we consummate our milky 'affair'
in the laundry cupboard

My eldest child
comes crying
his tears like hot big raindrops
as I lay my palm on his small head
then to the sofa
asleep, unguarded
clumsy, long as a ten year old
a deer in the forest
he dreams of robots

Whilst I try to fathom
my love of these two.


Btw I never found the newborn thing a shock at all. They both co slept as I am on my own. It was easy peasy having another tiny baby, he was very good. he elder one was much harder work!

ghosty Wed 13-Aug-08 07:12:03

It wasn't the way we planned but we have a 4 year gap and it has its pros and it has its cons (as I am sure a 1/2/3 year gap has)
Pros: DS was 'self sufficient' by the time DD was born - he could dress himself, was toilet trained (day and night), could be relied upon not to run off into traffic when I was putting the baby in the car or taking her out, was old enough to 'entertain' the baby for me for a few minutes at a time if I needed to go to the loo/answer the phone/make a cuppa/check the dinner etc.
I really felt that DS had the 'best' of me in that he and I did a lot together when he was old enough to appreciate it (ie museums/days out etc), lots of quality time before a baby came to cramp his style.
Cons: A baby came and cramped his style wink but hey, that's what 'family' is all about isn't it?
Just when DS was old enough for us to do really 'cool' things (we wanted to go skiing for example), the baby kind of put us back at home with nappies and naps etc (see above)
The age gap made it seem longer until they could properly play together - DD was 2 so DS was 6 by the time they actually had a 'relationship'.
DS has had to spend a lot of time being told, "But she is only 2/3/4, you are older and know better" and I hate doing that ... but as much as you try to avoid it you do have to do that sometimes.
DS is now 8 and we still haven't been skiing sad - maybe next year??

But really there are no cons - we can't make the age gap smaller, it is the way it is and it is the dynamic of our little family so I wouldn't change that really.

You can stress about age gaps but I think it is a waste of time - the gap is the gap and you work it the best way you can ... my two love eachother 80% of the time and are at eachother's throats 20% of the time ... like all siblings I suppose ...

ghosty Wed 13-Aug-08 07:20:19

Having said all that: Despite my saying that a baby 'cramped his style', DD has done nothing but enhance DS's life ... just learning to not be the centre of all attention, to step aside when someone else needs my attention, to be empathic when his sister is hurt or sad, to have a buddy at home (if one is told off the other always comes to his/her defence for example). There are times when he gets very frustrated with her but he loves her more than life itself and the feeling is mutual ... I love that about them.
When we moved to this house DS brought DD up to our room one night saying she was scared. We discovered that he had woken her up and asked her to come upstairs with him to our room because he was scared grin I loved that ... smile
DS loves to read DD her bedtime story - that is just magic that cannot be bottled smile

sdc1110 Wed 13-Aug-08 08:08:16

The difference between my ds is 3.9 years. It is great ds1 understood he was getting a baby brother and now plays with him and they adore each other well until the fights over power rangers start grin

maidamess Wed 13-Aug-08 08:10:08

I have a 5 year gap between my daughter and my middle son. Its not good. They are too far apart to play together. Or perhaps thast just their characters. She's very sophisticated and he's like a labrador puppy.

I have 2 years between middle son and youngest. That works much better IMO.

OrmIrian Wed 13-Aug-08 08:17:32

I have a 2yr gap between DS#1 and DD, and a 4yr gap between DD and DS~2. DS#1 and DD have a truly love-hate relationship, they can fight cat and dog but they also get on fantastically at times too. DS#1 is jealous of DD I suspect sad.

But between DD and DS#2 4 yrs is enough IME for her to feel a little protective. She mothers him a little - although now that he is 5 there is a bit more of an edge and a few rows. The difference is enough for them both to ignore him when they don't want him around but not so much that they can't ever play with him.

shabster Wed 13-Aug-08 08:19:07

I have an almost 16 year gap between my firstborn and lastborn!! Had four boys altogether but the middle two boys sadly died.

Now my eldest (who has just become a firstime daddy) is almost 27 and my youngest is 11!! They are beginning to form a relationship but the gap is enormous.

I agree with an earlier poster that your family are what you make it.

I always say that I have two 'only ones!' Children are a total blessing - enjoy them all no matter what their ages or the age gap x

Piffle Wed 13-Aug-08 08:20:04

dd is 5 nearly 6 and ds2 is 16mths
They are fabulous together!!! He adores dd
Added I have ds1 aged 14...
I like the age gaps!

Bluebutterfly Wed 13-Aug-08 08:20:41

Well we are going to have at least 4 years between our dc's. I started ttc when ds was 2.3 and we are still not pg over year later. So there will be a 4 year gap at least (if we ever get pg). At this point, for me the gap between the two dc's is less of an issue than the fact that I really want another baby!

Having said that there are some great things about the gap. Ds has had my complete undivided attention during his early years, but he will still learn to share with a sibling at a point when his demands for constant parental attention are diminishing. At the same time, with ds at school, I will be able to focus fully on my new baby for much of the day, so that baby #2 gets a lot of undivided attention I simply could not have given him/her when ds was a toddler. As I have no choice in the age gap, I intend to focus on these positives!

Good luck!

Bluebutterfly Wed 13-Aug-08 08:24:39

shabster, congratulations on becoming a grandparent! So sorry to hear about your middle sons. You are absolutely right, children are a blessing and that it the most important thing. smile

hermodike Wed 13-Aug-08 08:31:00

I have a DD nearly 18 and DS nearly 14 so four year gap and diferent sexes.
They are fine together. They drifted a bit when she went to Senior school but now that they are back at being in the same school together they love swapping gossip with each other.
She likes 'mothering' him and he likes being 'mothered' so it works out nicely.
We will never have the stress of a summer when both are doing GCSE/A Level or A Level/degree.

blueshoes Wed 13-Aug-08 08:52:55

ejbab, a big gap works particularly well in your case, when the older child is a girl.

If your dd is anything like mine, having her own baby at this stage is a dream come true. The 3 year age gap between her and ds has been fabulous. They play together like they have been mates all their lives (which in ds' case is true). Dd 5 is now telling me to have another baby on the basis that when it is born, I will 'give' it to her.

ejbab Wed 13-Aug-08 08:54:27

You have all made the idea of a sibling sound so lovely - no matter what the age difference. Thank you for that. I really appreciate this as I've been so fearful about the idea of having another baby (had pnd, have no family support where I live, am not feeling very confident in my mothering skills at the mo etc etc!)
Actually, quite feel like popping a folic acid and getting down to business straight away. Who knew MN was such an aphrodisiac!!

frogs Wed 13-Aug-08 09:06:41

We have two 4-year gaps -- have dd1 (13), ds (9) and dd2 (4.5).

Works absolutely brilliantly, and wouldn't have it any other way. The older ones are old enough to be responsible with the younger ones, but young enough to still play silly games with them. The older ones treat the younger ones as a mixture of favourite pet and comrade-in-arms.

You can delegate in a way that you couldn't with a 2-year gap (ie an 8yo can get a 4yo bathed and ready for bed, can read bedtime stories etc etc). They do bicker, but we don't get the constant full-on rivalry that friends with smaller gaps have. And it enables them to do things without constant adult input -- eg. 9yo ds wouldn't be allowed to go swimming by himself or ride his bike to the local park alone, but with his big sister he can do all these things.

It rocks. smile

Bluebutterfly Wed 13-Aug-08 09:10:10

Good luck ejbab.

frogs - you have made me feel better about the gap issue, thanks!

poorbuthappy Wed 13-Aug-08 09:14:48

We'll have 4 year gap between dd and the twins which are due in Jan.
I just didn't feel ready to have another baby when I still considered dd to be my baby!

And then life throws you a curve ball and you end up preggies with and games in our house!

ChairmumMiaow Wed 13-Aug-08 09:53:24

There's nearly 6 years between my nieces and TBH it works great. Whether its just a happy coincidence, or because she had a baby sister at 5, eldest DN has the patience of a saint 75% of the time, and plays wonderfully with her younger sister, particularly when they're on holiday etc.

gladders Wed 13-Aug-08 10:06:14

don't think any gap is perfect really?

we have 22 months - was hell at the beginning but is much better now (aged 4 and 2) -things potter along quite happily and they play together a lot.

there is 4 years between me and my sister and it had good points:-

i was very proud to have a baby sister aged 4
i enjoyed helping mum
Mum never had the frazzled 2 at home thing - we both had our own special time
i am still 9aged 37!) v protective of her
we played well together from when she was about 3 until she was about 7 (outised that we didn't have much in common)
we are v good friends now

MrsTittleMouse Wed 13-Aug-08 10:08:57

I really don't think that there is a perfect age gap either. On the plus side, you will avoid being me and pregnant with a lively toddler (not yet 2). It's exhausting! And your DD will actually understand a fair bit of what's going on, unlike my poor DD, who is going to have a real shock. grin

ForeverOptimistic Wed 13-Aug-08 10:10:02

There are advantages and disadvantages to any age gap.

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