We have four children. Our daughter, who is the eldest, was three years old when I gave birth to our youngest. It sounds like a riddle, but it was simply our reality.
I honestly wanted my kids close in age, and I was blessed to have that dream come true.
Growing up, I had one sibling, a brother four years younger than me. Although it wasn’t a large age gap, I often felt the disparity in our years. So when I imagined having my own family, I wanted multiple children close in age.
As you can see, it happened for us. My little girl was just shy of turning four years old, our identical twin boys were two, and the newborn was about to discover into what kind of crazy family he had landed.
I had four babies in four years. It was madness. It was joy. It came with many lessons learned along the way.
I learned there are several advantages to having children close in age.
From the very beginning, they could share or pass down to one another so many things. Clothes, shoes, books, and toys could be used by all of them! Car seats, cribs, swings, and strollers could also be used from one child to the next. Although it seemed like we spent a substantial amount on diapers and formula, it can be said that buying baby supplies in bulk is financially beneficial in the long run. Once my kids outgrew the baby and toddler gear, I donated it to different charities, sold it online, or gave it away to friends.
I learned our kids will always have built-in buddies wherever we go.
Each time we move, I know they have one another to rely upon. I have proudly watched while they have handled situations such as a bully bothering the youngest on the playground or applied first aid after the twins collided on their bikes. They currently enjoy the same shows, movies, sports, and video games. Together, they can accomplish a multitude of chores that promote responsibility and teamwork. They are siblings who sometimes micromanage each other to the highest degree (with the best of intentions). But they are most definitely the greatest of friends.
I’ve learned there are a few disadvantages to having children back-to-back.
There were long years of fractured sleep and the many times when I saw every hour of the night with one baby or another. Those toys, books, and games that they all share? Those are also the primary cause of arguments and fights. The constant noise and activity can sometimes overtake our house, and things quickly start to go sideways. It can be difficult to have one-on-one time with each child, so special effort has to be made for dates with mom or dad. And when we all head out to a park or the grocery store together, at least one person we meet will ask me the ages of our kids with raised eyebrows and the offering of their opinion.
I learned it takes a village when kids are close in age.
As a mother of twins, a military spouse, and a working mom, I have had help with raising my children and managing my family. When my kids were tiny, I had the most amazing support in the form of babysitters, neighbors, friends, and family members. Grandmothers would visit us for extended periods of time. A grandpa was our preschool chauffeur for a while. One sister-in-law lived with us for fifteen months while my husband was training and then deployed. During the summers, we had nannies who not only took care of the kids but also did housework for us. And one adorable neighbor girl would come read to my daughter every Saturday while I got the boys down for a nap. Bottom line: it takes a village.
I learned it is a blessing to have wonderful people love on your children, but it can also be a challenge to parent through others.
However, I believe my kids (as well as my husband and I) are happier and healthier thanks to all the support we received. My children created strong bonds with the friends and family members who helped us over the years, especially when they were little. Now that the kids are older, my husband and I can manage the school drop offs and pickups, the sporting events, the homework, and the music practices on our own. We still invite the grandparents and other relatives on family vacations not because we need an extra pair of hands but because we’re so thankful to have these people in our lives.
Having children close in age is an adventure – so many lessons learned, so many joyful memories, so many more wonderful moments to come as they continue growing together. And I can’t imagine my family any other way.