Sleep expert and mum-of-two, Kaitlin Klimmer recently took to TikTok to share her thoughts on age gaps between children.
Kaitlin had initially hoped her own children would be close in age, and after sadly experiencing three miscarriages, said she was ‘anxious’ about the growing age gap.
But now, the mum says her concerns were unfounded.
‘I think the four-year gap is unreal and I would chose it every time,’ she says.
‘I just got finished putting my 16-month-old down for a nap, and we always lie with our kids until they’re asleep.
‘I fell asleep and woke up 20 minutes later not at all concerned about what my five-year-old was up to. She’s fine, she can hang out for half an hour by herself… it’s so nice.’
Of course, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time to have children – and often, parents don’t get a say in the matter – but if you did have the luxury of choosing the gap, what would you go for?
Ana Bonasera, 31, agrees wholeheartedly with Kaitlin. She is currently mum to four boys, Nathaniel, 10, twins Jude and Luca, nine and Spencer, four. She is also currently pregnant with a baby girl.
Author Ana has experience of a variety of age gaps – she fell pregnant with her twins when Nathaniel was just nine months old. But she says the four-year age gap between her twins, and her youngest son, Spencer, is ideal.
She says: ‘The day before Nathaniel’s christening I took a pregnancy test as a joke – I did not expect it to come back positive.
‘The biggest challenge with having three so close together was getting out of the house. In 2014, triple buggies weren’t as popular and there were no video tutorials pinging on my newsfeed showing me how to wrap twins in a sling – I wish there had been!
‘Nathaniel was an extremely active toddler so going to baby groups or activities was a struggle – it was a challenge to keep up with him and keep him out of harm’s way with two babies in tow.
‘It was definitely a time where I lived in survival mode, washing 28 bottles a day. I did whatever I could just to get through the day.’
When the twins turned three, Ana, who lives in Oxfordshire, started dating her now husband. She adds: ‘We got engaged in September 2017, and a few months later found out we were pregnant with our youngest, Spencer.’
And although the larger gap was due to her circumstances, Ana says it’s a positive.
She continues: ‘Spencer was born in June 2018 and the twins went to school from the September, which meant I could go to baby groups and not have to worry about running after a toddler.
‘I definitely think it’s easier to bond with your new baby when there’s a bigger age gap too – although I am extremely close to all four of my boys.
‘Being able to have that time during the day when the older boys were at school meant I could focus on Spencer – and then also have time to be more present after school.’
I think it’s easier to bond with your new baby when there’s a bigger age gap
Ana also says having a larger age gap means Spencer can look up to his older siblings.
‘They’re all amazing role models and play so well together,’ she says.
‘Now, I’ll have a five year gap between Spencer and our baby girl, and I’m looking forward to it.’
And for some mums, an even bigger gap works too. Nova Cobban’s son, Noah, was 14 when his younger sister, Grace, was born.
Nova, 44, says: ‘I never planned to have such an age gap – after I split up with my son’s father, I didn’t imagine I would have the opportunity for a second child -even though I always wanted another one.
‘But then I met my now husband. He didn’t have any children but very much wanted to be a father.’
Nova, a psychologist who lives in Bedfordshire, admits to initially having some reservations about having children so far apart in age. She says: ‘I was concerned about going back to the sleep deprivation and nappies stage – I had just got some freedom back now my son was a teenager.’
Nova fell pregnant two months after her 40th birthday. She says: ‘Noah’s reaction was lovely. I think for him it was actually the right time – he was old enough to not feel any competition or rivalry, and young enough to be at home to form a relationship with his sister.’
And Nova has found lots of positives in a large age gap. She says: ‘I’ve been able to spend time with Noah and Grace individually, without the other feeling left out.
‘I spend time with Noah mostly in the evenings when Grace is in bed, and with Grace in the daytime when Noah is at college.
‘It’s also great that Noah can occasionally babysit now that he’s older!’
Nova does, however, wonder if her children would be closer if they were similar in age. She says: ‘They have very little time together – Noah is at college in London and works at least one day at the weekend.
‘But we’ve all been on holiday, and it was lovely to see them doing things together.’
‘I love having the gap between them – it’s given me a chance to have my own life
And Nova says that, she ‘wouldn’t change a thing’.
‘I love having the gap between them – it’s given me a chance to have my own life at the same time as parenting.
‘I feel like it also gave me the chance to be the mother I wanted to be and made the experience last longer, which for me, is wonderful.’
But for other mums, having children closer together is the ideal – despite how tiring it may be.
Lucille Whiting, 41, is a mum to five children: Alexander, 17, Sophia, 15, Joshua, 11, Freyja, nine, and Elijah, six. She had them all in just 10 years.
Lucille, from Suffolk, says she ‘always wanted a big family’ and the small gaps between her children work perfectly for her family.
‘The small age gap means that they all get on really well and although they are all very individual and have their own interests, they have a lot in common. They genuinely enjoy spending time together. It’s quite usual to go upstairs to find them all playing online together.
‘It’s like having ready made friends that they live with all the time. They always have someone to talk to – usually at 10pm when they’re supposed to be asleep – and they’re definitely never lonely.’
Mum-of-two Anupa Roper, 44, from Leicestershire, agrees – there are just 16 months between her son and daughter.
‘My children are very close,’ she says. ‘They love spending time together and I often find them cuddled up on the sofa or sharing a big hug.’
Of course, Anupa adds that parenting two children close in age is not without its challenges.
‘When my son was born, my daughter was still developing in many ways when her baby brother came along.
‘They both woke in the night which meant I was sleep deprived for a long time.
‘But I am now reaping the benefits of having children close together. For us as a family, it has meant raising best friends.’
Of course, not all parents can chose the age gap between their children – whether that be due to fertility struggles, or surprise multiple births.
Octavia Lonergan, 42, is mum to four-year-old identical twin girls. She says: ‘When we were at our first scan, the sonographer was taking her time, and then said “I’m just checking how many there are!”
‘I had a strange inkling that I would have twins – I just knew somehow. To have it confirmed was an absolute dream come true.’
But caring for two babies at once was tough to begin with. ‘It was all the practical stuff,’ says Octavia, a graphic designer and best-selling children’s author from Surrey. ‘Twice the nappies, twice the bottles to make and twice the amount of attention required.
‘When both babies are crying it’s so hard to comfort both at once. I’d see other mums have their baby sleep on them in a cuddle, and it was nigh on impossible to do that with our twins.
‘I suffered from postnatal depression, anxiety and PTSD which obviously added to the difficulties. But once I got through that stage I began to multitask more effectively, and grew to love their individual developing personalities.’
And, as the girls grow, Octavia says that the twins can learn from each other, as they’re developing at the same time.
‘When we were potty training them, one would see the other succeeding and want to emulate it.
‘Now, they’re learning to write their names at the moment and it encourages them to see their sister doing it.’
While lots of parents share the ups and downs of differing age gaps, Louise Robbie, founder of Ovi Formulas, says that she simply feels lucky to have her children, Lockie, eight, and Monty, six – regardless of their age gap.
Louise, 42, who lives in Putney, says: ‘I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and was told I may not be able to have children.
‘I was told to start saving up for IVF, but after a hard and emotional journey, I decided to try and make some lifestyle changes. I became pregnant three months later.
‘Once I’d had my first, my husband and I started considering a second – because I was so concerned about the length of time to conceive, I wanted to try again quickly.
‘I became pregnant almost straight away, and there ended up being just 23 months between my two boys.’
The gap was smaller than Louise expected. She says: ‘It was hard having two under two, but compared to not being able to have children at all, we just felt lucky – exhausted but incredibly lucky.’
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