I've gotten a bunch of requests to talk about spacing children. Before we start, I want to say that I think this is a relatively unimportant topic because a) it's an incredible luxury to be able to choose how far apart you want your children to be, and b) any spacing will work out well if the parents make an effort to facilitate understanding between siblings (and, conversely, any spacing will suck if the parents increase the competition between the kids).
Also, I'm not going to argue for any spacing being best, because all I have is my own experience to draw on. That's what you guys are for, is to give a whole bunch of data points. All I can do is tell you what worked for me and why I chose it.
My brother and I are three years apart (I'm older, quelle surprise) and I always felt like it was a great distance. We were far enough apart not to be on top of each other, but close enough to play together easily. I didn't think I could handle kids two years apart or closer, so I tried for three years, and my own two are 3 years, 2 months apart. I'm very happy with the spacing (although, really, are there that many people who are unhappy with the spacing for their kids for more than just the first 6-12 months?), but here are the things I learned:
1. At that point it was already too late, but when my older son was 2 1/2 I had this feeling that he and I could both have handled it easily if another baby showed up right then.
2. One thing that was amazing about having an already-three-year-old and a newborn was that when I needed to nurse the baby down, I could stick the three-year-old in front of a Bob the Builder episode and know he'd stay glued to it like a younger child wouldn't. That was a lifesaver for the first six months.
3. A three-year-old was verbal enough to tell me what was bothering him emotionally and logistically.
4. If I'd had my kids 18 months apart I would have gotten the excruciating 18-month and three-year-old stages over with at the same time, instead of dragging out the angst.
5. My two started playing together constantly from the time the little one was nine months old or so. But so did the kids of my friends who had their kids four years apart.
So you can see that there are benefits to all sorts of spacings, and you'll always second-guess, even just a little.
Now you play. What did you do? What worked for you? What worked or didn't with your own siblings, if any? What would you like to do? What do you wish you had done? What role do you thing parental stress level and mindfulness has on the equation?