Everyone always thinks I’m nuts when I tell them I have babies close together. I promise it’s not as hard as you think! There are pros and cons to having babies close together, but it’s not so bad.
My oldest two children are 13 months apart, 12 months and 3 weeks, really.
Just shy of being technical Irish twins.
My second born and third born are 15 months apart.
My third born and fourth born are 16 months apart.
So that’s 4 babies in 4 years. And, surprise!!!!, I’m pregnant again.
So, in 4 years I’ve given birth to 4 children.
“Are you nuts?”
“Have you lost your mind?”
“You do, um, know how babies are made, don’t you?”
These are how people generally react when they find out how close my children are in age. Most people can’t imagine what would possess a woman to do such a thing. I just smile and say, “Really, it’s not as hard as you think.” And I mean it. And it’s not because I’m super mom, it’s because of the way we organize and run our home.
It isn’t always pretty.
Sometimes I’m tired.
Sometimes I’m angry.
I’m often overwhelmed.
But it’s worth every minute and not as bad as you might think. Here’s why.
Routine brings peace
I followed a routine as best as I could, and very early on my daughter was napping well and sleeping through the night. And this includes overseas trips and a complete migration to another continent. I was so overjoyed with being a mother and having a sweet baby that we didn’t feel compelled to wait to keep adding to the brood. In fact, I have been able to get the kids to “Buy Into Their Routine” and that means they sort of follow the routine on auto-pilot.
Of course, there are various things that can make infancy difficult – colic, food allergies, illness, etc. – but barring those medical complications, a good routine takes out so much guesswork and complication. With each new addition there have been adjustments made, but on the whole, our home is one of peace. Well, as peaceful as it can be with tiny tots.
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There is a semblance of structure
With regular nap times, independent play, and the benefits of routine I felt a confidence and security knowing I had a “strategy” to fall back on. My kids all take a nap at the same time every afternoon. They do independent play in their rooms at the same time and go to bed around the same time. Having a predictable daily routine helps make having four children so close together possible. In fact, it even makes it highly enjoyable.
You can even use visual cues to help your toddlers follow their own routines. My daughter and oldest son enjoy using these cards to know what to do when. You print them, cut them out, hang them up, and voila! Younger toddlers won’t be able to follow it without supervision, but older ones certainly can and enjoy the independence of doing so.
I worked on their (and my) sleep
With my four children, at least 2.5 hours each day (not including all night) they’re all asleep (or resting) at the same time. From approximately 1pm to 3:30pm they are all in their cribs or beds. And they all go to bed between 7:30-8:00pm. This is absolutely not bragging and it’s not because my kids are exceptional – except of course they are exceptional – it is because healthy sleep habits are not a mystery, even though it may seem so right now.
By helping to instill good sleep habits, you raise babies and toddlers who like sleep. This means they’ll go to bed most days without a fuss. Not all the time, mind you, but it’s much easier. I also focus on getting tons of rest and taking power naps. A must in my book.
I gave myself breathing room
I need regular alone time to put my best foot forward. And considering I work from home for a few hours daily, the space that independent play and regular napping give is a godsend. Each morning the kids play independently and in the afternoon they rest. At night, they are in bed at a reasonable time and that gives me hours a day to recharge and refresh.
I am a firm believer that every mother should parent based on their own strengths and beliefs, within healthy boundaries of course, but I don’t know how a mother of children aged very close together could cope without consistent routine. Without it life is chaos.
Regular connection and discipline raise pleasant children
Now, children are children and we are all born with “my, me, mine” tendencies. My pastor used to say if you don’t think humans are born into sin then you’ve never had kids. On the whole, my children are sweet, cooperative, grateful, and well-behaved. Just yesterday we were at the car dealership for over an hour and they commented on how well-behaved and calm our children were.
Of course, shortly after this they started playing with an oily chain outside and started trying to climb up the show cars, but hey, toddlers can only sit still for so long, right?
My parenting philosophy is to discipline in a way that helps children learn to trust their parents and draw security from this. Food, sleep, other needs are met in a timely fashion before circumstances become dire. Children are taught what is expected of them, shown plenty of positive love and affirmation, and given consequences when needed.
When having children close together in age, it’s important they are obedient to your word and follow instructions well. This will not be 100% and sometimes you’ll have children running away from you screaming “don’t get me” and the neighbors will start to get suspicious. But that won’t be the norm.
Some days my husband and I wonder what on earth we got ourselves into!
There is squealing, tattling, spilling, back talk and tears. From the kids and the parents.
It’s loud, relentless, and all-consuming.
But it’s also amazing. And really, it’s not so bad…
Find a Better Routine
If you (and your little ones) struggle with routine and sleep, this book is for you. It has over 25+ routines for children ages newborn to 5 years old. Get more information here.
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- find a routine and rhythm for your child
- learn how to juggle multiple routines (for 2 or 3+ kids)
- know what is and isn’t working so you can make one tweak that’ll change your day
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