So, anyway, I try to read light-heartedly, but one article from this month's issue in particular caught my interest.
The article has to do with recommendations on how far apart to space kids. Now, I know there is a TON of research online and in different sources, but I appreciated the brevity of this article. Basically, I took three nuggets of information away: according to the article, "a new study suggests that two or more years between siblings is optimal, resulting in higher scores in reading and math tests later," "...an even bigger gap can be best for the older sib," and that "when you have two in diapers, the family's day-to-day life is more about survival than enrichment."
I have so many thoughts about this.
First, I love the idea of choosing spacing for siblings, but after managing through IF, is that really even an option for most of us? I, personally, am choosing to start TTC again 6 months after my little guy was born because I have no idea how long it will take us to have another baby - or if we will ever be blessed with another baby. If we get pregnant right away, awesome. And if not, well, at least I can say we gave it our all. Everyone's decision on this is their own, and I support and respect everyone's decisions for their own family.
Here's why I feel like I need minimal spacing for my own family.
My sister and I are nearly 6 years apart. I am older. And, I can see where this study is coming from... my parents spent SO much one-on-one time with me from age 0-6, and I believe this is why (I promise I am not stuck-up here) I was a good student, applied myself, worked hard, did well in sports, etc., etc. My sister, on the other hand, didn't receive as much attention in her formative years as I did. Why? It's not because they didn't love her as much, but as she was going through the infant/toddler/preschool/school-age years, they were helping me with math problems, reading comprehension, history projects, and essays. If given the choice of helping my sister with her colors and shapes or me with my science project, I think they chose me to focus on. My sister was kind of along-for-the-ride. No offense to my parents at all... they were (and are) wonderful parents to both of us, but they focused so much on helping and developing me that my sister was left to follow in her older sister's footsteps. And she stumbled, to say the least. She had a much harder time in school, didn't apply herself, and still, to this day, has a hard time articulating what she wants to do with her life. As my parents were bringing me to cheerleading practice and supporting me through high school, my sister tagged along and didn't receive as much attention.
Now, I do not mean to apply this same circumstance to everyone. I know not every sibling pair is completely opposite from an upbringing perspective, and who knows if it's because my sister and I are 6 years apart in age with no other siblings (which I view to be a significant amount of time). But I've always known, that based on watching my sister not get as much development and attention as I did in my formative years because my parents were so busy with me, I wanted my kids to be close in age.
The study mentions that "increasing spacing between has a beneficial effect." And I guess I agree... for the older sibling. What about the younger one?
My opinion on spacing is: I want minimal spacing. And I know that I am speaking to a community of fellow IFers who may be thinking, "Mrs. D, you are crazy... be thankful for a baby whenever they come into your life." And I couldn't agree more. I am just thinking, from an optimal perspective, I am praying that I can have kids close in age so that we can get through the baby phase in a faster amount of time, and focus on "phases" around the same time. It would be awesome, if, Max starts to potty-training, and within a couple years, another child (if I am so lucky to have another child) gets potty-trained. Then we are done with that phase and onto the next.
I'd love your thoughts on this... even if they are different than mine. What is optimal spacing? Do you even care how far apart your kids are? Is there a point when, if your first child is a certain age, you would stop trying for more children?