I have six kids. Those six kids came to me over the course of 7 years through a mix of birth and adoption. When my youngest was born my kids were 8, 6, 5, 3, 1, and 0. For a couple weeks a year, I have two sets of kids who say they are “twins” (they’re the same age until one has a birthday). I know a thing or two about having kids close in age. And I have zero regrets. If you’re just leaving the newborn fog and wondering if it’s too early to consider adding to your family, I’ve got a list of reasons to give it a try:
You’re already slicing all the grapes and hot dogs. There are a lot of safety precautions that come with having a tiny kid. Might as well have two tiny kids while the outlets are all covered, you bought the van with carseat space, you’ve outlawed marbles and button batteries, and you’re already slicing any foods that are potential choking hazards. At some point, it hardly seems like two is any more work than one when they’re spaced close enough that you’re prepared for their needs.
Potty-training two isn’t as bad as it sounds. When you’re cleaning up accidents, it’s really not that bad to clean up twice as many. What’s worse is getting out of the diaper and potty-training stage, getting used to not seeing someone’s bodily fluids on a regular basis and then having to get back into the habit. It’s a kind of deja-vu nobody wants to experience.
Nap time. This is the real selling point. When you have kids close in age, they nap at the same time. However horrible the day was, you’ve got a solid two hours in the afternoon when they will both be asleep (Lord willing). This also means you don’t have a bigger kid who is whining every day about not being able to do fun stuff because the little kid has to nap. This goes double for the level of complaining that happens when you always have to be home by 7 in order to get the little one into bed and then the house needs to be quiet. Big kids do not love this. Spacing kids close together means they have similar schedules and your house can run on a consistent rhythm without too much hassle.
They like to do the same stuff. Whatever one kid is into, they will both be into. They will play together and not be annoyed about the other one being too much of a baby or being too big (i.e. “too cool”) to play with them. You get double use out of any birthday or Christmas presents because they enjoy each other’s stuff. You can plan excursions they will all find fun. There is a set age when park playdates stop being fun, or when kids get too big for the McDonald’s playland, or when toddlers don’t quite get the enjoyment of the skatepark. When you have kids close together, you avoid the problem of having to accommodate vastly different priorities and interests.
School drop-off. Having your kids close in age means less stress when it comes time for them to go to school. You are maximizing the years they will have the same school hours and you won’t have to figure out multiple drop-off and pick-up times. They will have the same theme dress-up days, same school lunch menu, same day report cards go home (this is extra helpful when you have a child who might like to “forget” his report card. . . ). Life is more simple when kids go to the same schools for as many years as possible.
They like to watch the same stuff. There is a very specific season in a child’s life when Curious George is a favorite. Soon they move on to Scobby Doo or My Little Pony and then Transformers or Justice League or Barbie- Life in the Dreamhouse and THEN it’s some Disney Channel nonsense or Anime phase. If you need the kids to be entertained in front of a movie for an hour while you make dinner, it’s fantastic when they actually want to watch the same kind of shows and you aren’t exposing your toddlers to tween sass or making your 10-year-old watch a Leap Frog show about phonics.
It can’t get worse. For years I have sworn if my youngest ever got to be age 4 without us adding to our family again, I would be DONE adding to our family. Something about the constant chaos of young children over the past ten years actually hasn’t been that bad. I think maybe that’s because at some point it really can’t get worse. Someone always has a runny nose, or a potty problem or they’re crying about. . . I DON’T EVEN KNOW what they’re crying about half the time. We have reached the family chaos equivalent of maximum velocity. We can’t get any crazier. When you have your kids close in age, all the insanity starts to feel normal. If we had spaced them out more, I think I’d be annoyed at the insanity because I would have had a glimpse of normal at some point. I would have been sleeping through the night again, not seeing anyone’s poop, showering without interruptions and then BAM! Back to square one. When you have kids close in age, you just forget life could be easier and soon enough, “normal” will return.
This kind of life isn’t for everyone, but when you can embrace the struggles and joys of having kids close in age, there’s a lot of beauty in it.