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Reblogged:Two Years Apart Worked Well

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According to my bookmark manager, I apparently thought I'd find a site called Ask Mr. Dad useful way back in my St. Louis days, when my son was around one. (My wife, a physician, was in subspecialty training then, so I was the main caregiver for most of that time.) If that was true, I failed to cash in, for I had only tagged it as "evergreen" -- a possible source for blog posts that wouldn't age with the news cycle.

So there is that, and I am again aware of it as of yesterday.

The first item that scrolled up then was a post on "The Art of Baby Spacing," which does a pretty thorough job on the subject, as far as I -- a dad with two kids two years apart -- can tell. The author, Armin, covers several big areas of concern in pro and con lists for a mother considering a second child fairly soon after the first.

Here is the advantage of our spacing that resonates with me the most:

They'll always have a companion. When the kids are entertaining each other, there may be less pressure on you to do so. In addition, the younger child will constantly be trying to imitate the older one, which means (a) it'll take less effort on your part to teach them, and (b) the younger one will learn just about everything much faster than the first did.
Image by Annie Spratt, via Unsplash, license.
Yes, and while there is also lots of refereeing to do, the times the kids play well together have indeed made it easier for me. I particularly remember needing to work to make a deadline during a snow day in Baltimore, and the kids conveniently being "on autopilot" almost the whole time.

I also have a younger brother similarly spaced from me, and having had a friend my entire life is a big part of why I was glad to go along with my wife's wishes on the matter. (Her sister is a couple of years younger, too.) I see that as potentially one of the best things I could do for my children in the long run. (The author mentions this in his next point, as well.)

And now, on to my "favorite" disadvantage:
The first few years are going to be grueling for both of you. Those sleepless nights and lack of time to yourself (not to mention the back pain) will be extended for another couple of years. If the kids were spaced further apart, you'd (possibly) get a break in between.
Fortunately, no back pain for me. But, as I have seen commenters at Hacker News put it -- mildly for anyone who enjoys intellectual work -- caring for infants and toddlers is mentally hard. The first two or three years after our son was born were a penance in many respects: Our daughter had just started sleeping well -- and then we had a baby interrupting us all night all over again. Babies are helpless and toddlers still need lots of attention. So, no solid work time, except in the wee hours (after a few months) or with a sitter or daycare.

That said, as hard as it was to sleep poorly again when our son was born, I think I was better off: Getting taken back that small notch was easier for me than going from life with a five- or six-year old all the way back to caring for a baby would have been. First, the adjustment was smaller and second, the demanding (for me, anyway) infant/toddler times were telescoped together, saving me a couple of years.

And now, those times are over, not that they didn't have their charms. I realized recently at a pool party that the kids were independent enough that I had a pretty good time. I could play with them (rather than mainly guarding against them drowning) or socialize with the other adults while they goofed around with the other kids. This was also my first solo trip with the kids: We saw my family in Mississippi on Independence Day while my wife was on call at home. It was a long car trip, but it went very well.

With the grueling baby plus toddler stage somewhat in the rear view mirror now, I am on very glad we spaced our kids apart this way.

-- CAV

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