You see them at the shops or at the park – those mums with really close age gaps between their kids. Two kids under two - who in their right mind does that? For many families, it happens by accident but for others, it’s well planned. If you find yourself in the kids-super-close-in-age boat or are thinking about it, then this little article is just for you.
Grab a cuppa and join us for a wee little chat with three of our super special Riff Raff & Co staff about their direct experiences with having children very close in age.
SO, WHO ARE WE CHATTING TO TODAY?
Emma Kruger, Creator & Founder, Riff Raff & Co
Mum to Evie (5) & Louis (4)
Age gap - 13.5 months
Carmel Membrey, Social Media Manager, Riff Raff & Co
Mum to Hudson (4.5) & Wyatt (almost 3)
Age gap – 18 months
Chelsea Ross, Quality & Storeroom Supervisor, Riff Raff & Co
Mum to Cleo (5) & twins, Asha & Tully (3)
Age gap - 21 months
AND WHO’S IN THE ‘OOPSY’ OR ‘PLANNED’ BOAT?
Emma: “Accident. Complete accident. Two was always on the cards for us but it took a while to fall pregnant with Evie so thought it’d be the same for number two. Against doctor’s warnings, I refused contraception after Evie’s birth. Turns out it didn’t take long at all as I was pregnant by the time Evie was 4 months old!”
Carmel: “Our boys were planned. We always wanted children close in age and really wanted two of the same gender. Lucky us!”
Chelsea: “Two under two, planned. Three under two, hell no.”
WHAT TOP TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR PARENTS WITH KIDS CLOSE IN AGE?
Both Emma and Carmel have a number of tips to help you out with that age gap thing.
1. Synchronise naps
Emma and Carmel - are in total agreement on this point.
Emma: “This was the biggest lifesaver for me by far. While Evie was on a very strict nap routine, when it came to Louis, I complete rewrote our nap rule book. I would pop him down for a power nap at 9.30am and then be out the door at 10am. This allowed us to still attend our social catch ups with other mums but most importantly, it meant when we got home, I’d usually get an 1.5 hour break for myself as they both just conked out.”
Carmel: “The way I did it? Throw out any schedule you followed with one babe and just try to get the second babe onto first babe’s routine. My first kept his nap until he was 3.5 so I was very lucky to get some rest from both most days. It may mean that baby has a small sleep in morning while still young, and the larger one in arvo.”
2. Use your support system
Emma: “Meals or help around the house is the best present you can possibly receive or ask for. My wonderful mother’s group put together a two week roster of meals for us when Louis was five weeks old. It was a sanity saver. And honestly, by the time you have number two, no one really needs more blankets or onesies. But a home-cooked meal made for you every night – now that’s what I call support!”
3. Be kind to yourself
Carmel: “Look after you as well as your babies. There will be times you’ll feel like you’ve completely lost control. But that’s normal. Kids all over the world are screamed at/left to their own devices/put down (safely!)/walked away from etc just so a parent can breathe. And with two or more on your plate and so close together, you will experience this more often. Make peace with it and work out a strategy for you. Recognise when you’re reaching your limits and phone a family member for help. Or you could stay at a friend’s place to get a full night’s rest or - if you’re like me - check into a hotel once every six months to pamper yourself.”
4. Be social and share the hard stuff
Carmel: “Venture out of your four walls. The more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Ask friends to meet you at a park to entertain the toddler. Sit back with others and just talk. Getting it all out is a wonderful stress-reliever.”
5. Understand the stages
Emma: “The hard stages won’t last forever. For me and most people I know, the toughest thing about two under two is not the baby stage. It’s when they’re both walking. You go from having one semi-contained to both running in completely opposite directions. I distinctly remember mentally high fiving myself thinking ‘hey, this ain’t so bad!’. But then the younger one found his legs and my thoughts shifted gear to ‘there’s no way all three of us are going to get through this alive!’. It was a tough couple of months but we got through it. Like all stages of parenting and life, it was only temporary.”
CHELSEA'S SUPER TIPS
While Emma and Carmel were keen to share a whole bunch of their tips, Chelsea took a direct – but no less helpful – approach.
“My top three tips for parents with kids close in age are pretty simple:
- Routine and schedule
- If #1 doesn’t work, just roll with it. There is always wine at the end of the day.
WHAT’S THE MOST FRUSTRATING THING ABOUT CLOSE AGE GAPS?
Emma couldn’t pick just one. She had to offer two!
“I’d say relentless nappies. On an average day with a newborn and 13 month old I would do up to 10 nappies a day! It’s scarred me as I can’t change nappies for my friends’ little ones anymore.”
“The fighting. Now they’re older, the close age gap means they have similar interests so they play together really well - but 80% of the time they are fighting. From my extensive research, I don’t believe it will end any time soon.”“
Carmel: “Negotiation and communication. The toddler’s not quite at the age where they fully understand who this thing is that’s taking up all the time and attention they use to have.”
And for Chelsea it was all about ‘never having enough arms!’.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST THINGS ABOUT CLOSE AGE GAPS?
Emma: “We travelled a lot while the kids were young but found it got easier for us faster than some of our friends because we were out of that ‘baby’ stage much quicker. We were able to get back into the outdoors hiking and camping quickly because that stage of lugging all the baby paraphernalia around was short lived – cots, nappies, highchairs etc.”
Carmel: “Moving through the baby stages in one hit. As they get older, they morph into what I call this ultra-third personality and they balance each other out”.
Chelsea: “Company as they all have each other to play with.”
AND THE FUNNIEST THINGS ABOUT CLOSE AGE GAPS?
Emma: “That nod of respect you get from other mums with obvious small age gaps. There’s a natural comradery there when you see them at the shops or parks. The other funny thing is the fact I have amnesia for a good part of it! The combination of the broken nights, the physical demands, the repetitive nature … There’s huge periods I can’t remember but I suppose it’s Nature’s way of trying to make us go back for #3!”
Carmel: “Life in general with two under two is a laugh. I mean really, if you don’t laugh about it you’d be certifiable.”
Chelsea: “The funniest thing is the questions! So many questions. ‘Are they all yours? Are they twins? Are you sure? Are they identical? Are you sure? You should have them tested.’”
FINAL BITS OF WISDOM FOR THESE OUT THERE IN THIS PREDICAMENT?
Emma: “If you find yourself in this situation, embrace it. Know up front it has its challenges but also huge rewards. Cut yourself some slack - no one needs ironed, even folded, clothes. Eggs on toast is fine - no one is going to die from malnutrition any time soon. Just treasure each wonderful moment that comes along.”
Carmel: “Get out into your community. Go to rhyme time or parks close by. Try not to worry too much about your children doing the wrong thing or you looking like a hot mess. Just accept this is where you’re at for now. Chat to the other mums you see regularly because those bonds could see you through the hardest years.”
Chelsea: “It doesn’t matter if the house is dirty, toys are everywhere and kids have pasta and cheese for the third time that week. They’re alive, you’re alive = winning.”
So that’s it. Our top titbits for those of you with close age gaps … or those of you considering taking the plunge. If you have any good tips you’d like to add, feel free to drop us a comment below. And if you think you know someone who could benefit from this post, please use those socials buttons below too!