As Pippa gets closer and closer to walking, as she and Heidi begin to ‘play’ more together, as the threat of constant danger from Heidi squashing her decreases, and as they clearly enjoy each others company more and more, I am so glad that these two girls are close in age. Heidi was 19 months and 2 days old when Pippa came into the world. It’s not super close, but I think it’s definitely close enough for us.
Age gaps between children can, of course, be viewed differently from one person to the next. Whether that is due to life circumstances, ones own experiences as a child, the ‘ease’ of a particular baby when thinking of the next, we each have formed our own thoughts, ideas and opinions as to what is best for our own family. And even then, things don’t always go to plan anyway! Our lovely gap was relatively planned (which really is only thanks to God, because He is the one who brings all of these things together), and I saw positives from day one, and am now beginning to see some more lovely benefits. Here are some of them:
No huge issues with jealousy/rivalry
Various Maternal Child Health Nurses (MCHN) mentioned that the age under 2 and over 3 is the best time to introduce a new sibling. This is largely due to sibling jealousy being at its peak in what is commonly known as ‘the terrible twos’. Our experience of Heidi being only 19 months when Pippa was born was largely jealousy free – or so we could tell! Heidi was mostly just excited about the new baby, and was affectionate and interested from the beginning.
Of course, as Heidi has grown, and continues to assert her independence and push boundaries in a normal, healthy, two year old way, we are mindful that we give her the attention she needs (a lot!), and encourage a kind, loving, fun relationship between the two girls. Rather than a relationship marked by comparison, competition and rivalry – all of which can occur much more easily than you would think! That innocent comment that so easily slips out, of “Look! Your sister can do it…” might come from a mostly innocent place, but can quite be detrimental in the long run. And so we keep trying!
They like playing with similar toys
We didn’t have to buy new things for Pippa, or dig toys out of deep, dark storage boxes for Pippa. Sure, we had to move some around, take away some little bits-and-pieces toys, but overall Teddies & Dollies, blocks and musical toys, they are winning toys for both girls. Which means less financial waste on two sets of quite different toys, less mess (although I don’t feel that so much!), and more ways for the girls to interact well with each other. What’s that Heidi? You want to build a tower for Pippa to knock down? What a great idea!! And so on…
They are able to entertain each other
This is only a relatively new thing, and one that still needs to be fairly closely monitored, but if the girls are in the same room, just the two of them (picture me about half a metre away in the kitchen spying on them), they can actually interact with each other in a way that actually looks like play! Pippa will follow Heidi around the house, at Heidi’s “Come on Pippa!” We can put a CD on, and break out the dance moves together. Pippa’s trademark move of shaking her head like a vigorous ‘No!’ sees us all follow suit in a crazy family dance party. Heidi’s dinosaurs have two people to bring them to life, even if mostly Pippa just chews on Steggy. It’s all so beautiful to watch.
I don’t mean to gloss over the very obvious difficulties and challenges of having two kids close in age. But today I just wanted to reflect on the a few of the positive aspects that we have experienced in our family. I think we can often wish things had been different, or that we would change things if we could, but it can be helpful to stop and think of the good things sometimes.
I am one of four siblings. I have a twin brother, who I am older by 3 minutes. We always had someone around to play with as kids, and I think I was always pretty relaxed at relating to guys because of relating to my brother. My sister is 5, nearly 6 years younger than me. Growing up, I was super happy to have a sister! We shared a room for a long time, shared clothes for a little while, and enjoyed doing things together around the house. Now, although we are different, it is great having a sister a bit younger than me, as we are in quite different life stages, and it’s exciting to see what she does, and what her hopes are for the future. My youngest brother is 8.5 years younger than me, and was always (and still kind of is) like a baby brother. Our relationship was not built on irritating years driving each other mental at home, as I moved out when he was only 10. Rather, it’s one of getting to know each other better as adults, and (I think) of mutual respect and love. While we are all very different, and I don’t think any parents plan for twins straight of the rank, our gaps (or lack of gap!) all have some positive aspects to them.
And let’s face it, we don’t know any different anyway! 🙂 And even when there are significant challenges or difficulties that arise, particularly due to the spacing of us and our siblings, or our children, it is so comforting to me to know that the Lord has made it so. He gives life and breath and everything else. There is no child that is a surprise to Him. No twin-set, no single baby, no age gap that is a surprise to Him. He ordains it all. Isn’t He good?! So very good. As one of the memory verses on a Colin Buchanan CD sings, “We give thanks to you oh God, we give thanks to you! Psalm 75:1”
What are the age gaps between your children? Or perhaps between you and your siblings? And for today, what were some of the positive aspects of those gaps? What would your ‘ideal’ gap be, if it was so simple as to just plan it?