Controversial question indeed! Coming especially from someone like me who has decided that the family mantra will quite definitely be "we 2 ours 1". However, I just had to write about this because quite recently, I bumped into an ex-colleague who almost brainwashed me with her views on having another baby (and she felt that it's much better to have babies close together in age). Getting back to the topic of discussion, my colleague had her second child after nine years and noticed a slight disconnect with her kids because of the age difference. The older child preferred different games, activities, fun stuff and just about everything which left the smaller one no choice but to entertain himself. The only pro she felt in her situation was her elder son’s eagerness to assist with everything 'help' related. The result: more patience and no worries because the elder one is always watching out for the younger one.
I recently had the chance to experience something similar with my ten year old niece and son. It definitely helps when you have an older child who is eager to do just about everything from dressing to entertaining a toddler (or baby). My son, all of 19 months, loved the attention, wanted to copy everything my niece did (cartwheels included), would get a little flustered with the many hugs and kisses showered on him and walked away when he was bored. It gave me a lot of time to finish my own stuff and I enjoyed seeing them bond in many ways. The elder one keeping a watchful eye out on the little one, sneaking candy and forbidden food when I wasn't looking, teaching him fun things that I can't really see myself trying to. I can definitely see a lot of pros (mostly for myself) when children are years apart. Bath time, sleep time, and meals were full of entertainment and 'no tension'. On the downside, it was extremely difficult to stop my son from disturbing his (cousin) sister while studying for important exams, explaining her absence when she went off to school, and making him understand why he couldn’t do (or eat) some of the things she did.
I also have several friends who've had babies close together and it worked well for them. A gap of 18 months in one case, the older child had no idea of the difference and happily accepted the baby. Toys, clothes and other baby paraphernalia were available in abundance so there was no need to go out and splurge. There’s less jealousy (at least that’s what most of the parents say), comfort knowing that your kids will look out for each other, a lot more entertainment and tons (make that megatons) of chaos as you experience a déjà vu of tantrums, poop incidents, potty training, sleep routines and more. Managing my son’s current schedule is exhausting so with another similar one (so close), I might have a meltdown. The ideal gap (and not according to me) but the WHO is 2 to 4 years. While it might certainly ensure sanity for some, it does not seem ideal for someone who is keen on getting back to work.
However you may view it planning another baby is not as easy as deciding if you will have one now or ten years later. There are several other important decisions to make before I (or anyone for that matter) might consider expanding the family. Finances, age, complications during the first birth (if any), career, expenses, and the list is definitely not short. I personally feel that it's a couple’s personal choice on when and how many children they decide to have. Society, and (well really), family and friends should not feel the need to dictate when someone should (or not) have another baby.
What are your thoughts Moms? I would love to hear from you and thanks for taking the time (again) to read my article.