Reader call: Is there a best time to have a second child?

We've kind of talked about this previously, but not with as many commenters. I'm hoping everyone will just jump in with their own data points of experience.

Susan writes:

"Talking with my mama friends, one thinks that maybe she is pregnant again (accidentally) and she would feel badly for her 18 month old if she was pregnant because he is still so little and she'd planned to wait until he was school-aged so that both kids could have her focus when they were very young.

Personally, I think it would be better for myself, my husband and our 18 month old boy to wait until he is around 3 before adding another because of our quality of life and having the older child mature enough to understand his new sibling and be helpful etc, and away at at least half-days somewhere.

I'm just wondering if there have been any studies done on if there is a 'best time' for a child to gain a baby sibling and for a family's quality of life, and if the readers want to weigh in and we can do our own study.

Maybe there's no magic time to introduce Child #2, but if there is, it sure would be interesting to hear about!"

The premise is that you actually get to choose the spacing of your kids, which we all know isn't applicable to many of us. But, assuming that you could choose, what does your experience tell you are the pros and cons of different ages?

Personally, I think any age separation could be perfect or bad, depending on how many resources you have (of all types) when the kids are little, how you treat them, and what your priorities are. Everyone knows kids X years apart who are best friends, and kids X years apart who hate each other. Parents who loved the kids at a certain spacing and others who wish their kids weren't spaced at that distance.

So when we're offering our experience, let's talk about what our priorities were for the sibling relationship, whether we think the spacing achieved those goals, and what could have been different.

I'll start. My boys are 3 years and 2 months apart. For me it was important that my older one have his full "turn" to be The Baby, and he was definitely a big boy by the time the second one came. But I also wanted them to be close enough to play together, and to have some time home together before the older one had to be in school all day. Those things my priorities for the sibling relationship, and I think that spacing achieved those two goals.

My older one went to preschool a few days a week when the little one was 4 months old. It was good, in that he had that fun activity and it gave me alone time with the baby. But the logistical challenge of getting to and from school and trying to deal with the baby's nap at the same time made it kind of nasty some days.

My parenting goal continues to be encouraging them to be kind to each other and to work out problems between the two of them. I want them to be able to negotiate with each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt. I am not sure it that would have been as easy if they had been closer together. I suspect that if they'd been spaced more closely (under 2 years) I might not have had the emotional resources to be able to help them navigate their relationship. But who knows? It might have come together even faster than it did.

OK, everyone. Jump in. What were your priorities for the sibling relationship, and do you think your spacing achieved those? Let's pretend for a minute that the world is fair and everyone can space their kids and afford to have as many as they want.