There’s almost exactly four years between B and A. Three years and 353 days to be exact. For those who can’t be faffed doing the maths, A was born twelve days before B’s 4th birthday!
Some people think this is quite a big gap to have. It’s certainly a bigger gap than most of our friends have, and of our antenatal friends from when I was pregnant with B, we were the last to have a second baby (apart from one couple who aren’t planning another). But according to a recent article in The Times, we’re not that unusual. The article says that the average age gap between siblings in the UK is now 3 years and 8 months.
We didn’t originally plan such a big gap. Even before B was born, we spoke about having a gap of around two and a half years, and I remember when she was tiny and we were in that sleep deprived fog of the newborn days anxiously asking hubby “You do still want another one don’t you?”!!!
But things changed, we decided to wait, and then it took a bit longer than we had hoped, and I sadly had a miscarriage before A was conceived (more about all of those things one day I’m sure!). But putting aside the fact that their birthdays are so close together (imagine a birthday party for 21 four year olds in a church hall when your baby is 17 days old….!!), I think the four year gap is working out pretty well for us so far.
Of course every family is different, and there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ gap. I know there are pros and cons whatever gap you have, but here are some of my favourite things about how our wee family has worked out.
One of the biggest positives is the fact that I am on maternity leave during B’s first few months at school. I can drop her off every day, and pick her up (a real bonus for the first three weeks when she has only been in mornings – what a faff that would be if I was working!). We don’t have to worry about after school care, I can sit and do homework with her in the afternoon, rather than at 6pm when I’m trying to cook tea as well, and I just generally feel happy that I am getting the opportunity to help her settle in without having to juggle work as well.
I’m also very grateful for all the time I had to devote to B on her own. I was very lucky – I had nearly 14 months off work after she was born, and when I went back to work it was only three days a week, so we’ve had lots and lots of one on one time. I like to think that she has benefitted from not having to ‘share’ me with a younger sibling until she was 4, and I will always cherish that time we had just the two of us. And of course now B is at school, I will get that one on one time with A as well – not quite to the same extent, but more than if we’d had a smaller gap.
At four, B was already pretty independent in a lot of ways by the time A came along. She could go to the toilet by herself, get herself a snack from the cupboard, get dressed pretty much by herself… She was also very good at entertaining herself in the early days when I was constantly on the sofa feeding A. Yes we had lovely quiet times snuggled up reading stories, but she was also quite happy to take herself off to play with her dolls house or do a puzzle in the playroom for fifteen minutes. Of course there was the time when I told her to play quietly while A had his feed, she disappeared through to the playroom, came back dressed as Merida, and started firing suction cup arrows at the patio doors….!!
I was worried that B would be jealous of a new baby, given that she had been our one and only for almost four years, but other than a few stampy feet and shouty moments in the early days, she’s pretty much taken it all in her stride. We involved her right from the start – I will never forget the excitement on her wee face when we showed her the 12 week scan pictures and told her she was going to be a big sister. She’s so proud when people ask her about A, and she’s enjoyed showing him off to all her new friends at school. They are doing phonics and for each sound they learn they have to take something starting with that sound into school – for ‘A’, she took a photo of her brother! She reads him stories, sings him nursery rhymes and just generally chatters away to him nineteen to the dozen!
And for his part, A absolutely adores his big sister. His smile when she comes through to see him in the morning is lovely, and him giggling as she tickles him is one of those memories I have locked away in my heart (to recall on the days when they are fighting like cat and dog in a few years!!).
Of course it hasn’t been plain sailing the entire time these last nine and a half months. I couldn’t count the number of times I’d just got A off for a nap only to have to waken him after 10 minutes to take B to ballet or gymnastics. And then there were the days me and B would start baking, or doing a craft project, only to be interrupted halfway through. Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably know that A is not a particularly great sleeper, but now I have to be up at 6.40am five days a week, regardless of if I’ve only had four hours broken sleep, to get B to school on time. And of course B’s days of daytime naps were long gone by the time A was born, so when they were both at home all day I got no down time at all until they were both in bed!
I suppose I do wonder whether they will be close growing up, particularly as a girl and a boy rather than two girls or two boys. Will we be able to find things to do on weekends and holidays that will occupy and entertain them both as they get older?
But for now, things are working out pretty well with our 3 year and 353 day gap!!
Would love to hear what the best and worst things about the age gaps other people have are!