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Can Having Kids Close in Age Be a Good Thing?

“Girls! What are you doing down there? I heard a crash!”

“Did the girls eat a good dinner?”

“The girls have been awful at naptime this week. I’m losing my mind.”

kids close in age

I say things like this all the time. The girls. The kids. Them. I’m always lumping them together in casual conversation, sometimes appropriately, and sometimes unfairly. It’s hard to avoid it; most days it’s all I can do just to get a complete sentence, one that actually makes sense to other people, out of my mouth, and having to articulate each child’s name just takes too long.




But since I’m a mom, I feel some guilt about this. We moms are so good at making ourselves feel guilty about stuff. I try not to do it, but it happens anyway. I feel guilty for talking about them as a pack, a group, a mob, instead of the individual people that they truly are. The thing is though, that I don’t really think of them as anything other than individuals. In my head, I know all of their quirks and preferences and traits. I mean, I’m their mother. Of course I do. But because my children are all girls, and so close in age, it’s inevitable that they spend most of their time as a group.

I had twins first. I never knew what it was like to focus all of my attention on just one baby. From the second each child developed even the most basic awareness of herself, there was another person there too, right beside her. A sibling has always been there, sharing her space, her toys, her parents.

Doing “something special” can be very simple

Before the twins were born, I had grand plans to make sure to spend one-on-one time with each of them. I figured my husband and I could take turns doing something special with each of them, even if something special was just a trip to the grocery store or the library. Even with the best of intentions though, actually doing that turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. And then, when the twins were only 20 months old, our youngest daughter was born, making “the girls” into an even bigger group, making our lives more full, and making me feel even more guilty about not having enough time to give to each individual child.

I know that part of my worry over this is that I am a person who has always needed alone time to maintain my sanity. I was an only child until I was almost out of Kindergarten, so I had plenty of one-on-one time with my parents as well as plenty of time to myself.

I don’t want to project my experiences or preferences onto my children, but sometimes I think I can see them getting angry and frustrated by the way their siblings just never go away. They are always in each other’s stuff, in each other’s way, in each other’s faces. I get it. Sometimes I get angry and frustrated that people never go away, too.

kids close in age

Regardless of the circumstances, there’s still housework to be done

Yesterday they fought fiercely. There was an angry edge to their voices that made me cringe. I broke up fights. I put people in time outs. Nothing really seemed to make much of a difference, and I felt helpless. The twins are only three and the youngest isn’t quite two, so they’re too young to understand how to separate themselves for a few minutes of solitary playing, and while sometimes I can play with them or help them do a puzzle or a game, the truth is that sometimes I just can’t. Dinner has to be made. Housework has to be done. They have to learn how to play together without my help, but man, it’s hard when they’re screeching at each other in the next room.

I know I am not alone in my concerns. My best friend, who also has twins and another child, worries about it too, but as best friends tend to do, she said something that has stuck with me and helps me to keep things in perspective when I feel guilty. She said, “We’re not doing them a disservice by giving them siblings.”

Wow. She’s so right. I love my sisters. I love that my children have sisters. Having siblings is a good thing. It’s not easy, and it’s often more storm clouds than sunshine, but it’s an important and potentially incredibly rewarding relationship.

So I have to remember to take a deep breath and focus on the good things about having three kids so close in age. When we do get an opportunity to do things with them individually, it’s really special. They love it. But it doesn’t take them long to miss each other and they can’t wait to tell the others all about their experience.

And then there are moments like the one yesterday, when everyone woke up from afternoon nap. The twins couldn’t wait to see the baby, and when they burst into her room, she squealed with delight. They pressed their faces between the bars of her crib and all three of them sang a beautiful, loud, totally out of tune version of “Do Re Mi.” Over and over.

They were happy, they were singing together, and they didn’t need me at all because they had each other. They were the girls. The kids. Them. And they loved it.

Kate Parlin

Kate Parlin

Kate Parlin is a writer and stay-at-home mom to three girls, two of whom are twins. She writes about her parenting adventures - the funny, the frustrating, and the infuriating - at her blog, Shakespeare's Mom. She lives in Maine with her husband, their gaggle of girls, and two ridiculous dogs. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

14 comments

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  • This is so beautiful! And so true. My girls are 2 years apart, and occasionally they fight and want ONLY what the other one has, whatever it is, only until she puts it down. Then other times they are giggling and laughing, and making a strange noise/word that we have no idea about, but the other one just finds it hysterical. Those are the best moments ever. Even when whatever nonsense word caused a giggle fit gets repeated 11 billion times. Great post!

  • All. Of. This.

    My 2 boys are adopted. They are four months apart – obviously not biologically related. They keep me on my toes and on the verge of loosing my crap.

    Great post. I could definitely relate!

    Jill

  • I have twins and a baby, 28 months apart. I love having three so close together, with the exception of occasionally wishing anyone was old enough to help out (they’re 3 and 10 months) and the crazy stares every time we leave the house. 😛

  • The moments they can wait to see each other is the precious moments between them I had to laugh at your cartoon. Thanks for sharing.

  • I have 4 kids all together, The first 2 are 12 months apart, then 6 years later one, and then another 6 years later. My oldest gets along great with the littlest, the 2nd oldest gets a long with both of the younger 2, and the 2 youngest are best friends, always together, and even asked to share a room. I think it is great for them.

  • My nieces are 5 yeras older than their brother and ths makes things easier (to some extent) for thie mother. They are able to help their brither and watch him for short periods of time while their mom runs errands.

  • My son is an only child, but I am close in age with my siblings. I think it was good being so close in age. We are still very close.

  • I had two children 22 months apart and then five years later another three children within 20 months. The last two were twins. I totally understand where you’re coming from as far as grouping them all together and then also not having enough time for everyone individually. I would say that it does get easier as they get older though and I agree that you aren’t doing a disservice to give them siblings. I like that perspective! Ultimately I think I do like the closer age ranges better because everyone can do the same activities and enjoy the same things.

  • I don’t have any children and I myself was an only child so I really do not know what it would be like to have siblings. All I can say is if they get along most of the time-then don’t worry!!

  • My boys are 6 years apart and I wish they were closer together. The youngest feels left out because he can’t do the things that the oldest one is allowed to do. For example, the oldest can ride his bike to the park alone, while the youngest must wait for me to come along. This causes lots of fights and hard feelings.

About Author

Kate Parlin

Kate Parlin

Kate Parlin is a writer and stay-at-home mom to three girls, two of whom are twins. She writes about her parenting adventures - the funny, the frustrating, and the infuriating - at her blog, Shakespeare's Mom. She lives in Maine with her husband, their gaggle of girls, and two ridiculous dogs. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.