Couple Money

How Far Apart Should You Space Your Children?

how long space out kids

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When a couple decides to have a family, they usually agree on how many kids they want.  They may even decide how far apart they want to space their children.  However, many people fail to consider the financial implications of spacing children.

My husband and I have three children.  Our first is 6 years old.  I was only three years into my career at the time of his birth, and my husband was a graduate student, so we knew we wouldn’t have another one right away.  I was off work for 10 weeks after his birth before I went back to full-time employment.  Even with discovering how expensive diapers and daycare were, we did fine financially surviving on my salary.

Our First Two Children Are Spaced Far Apart

My son was 4.4 years old when his sister was born.  Because she was born in the late fall, she will be a full 5 years behind her brother in school.  They are so far apart that they won’t be in day care or preschool at the same time.  Assuming my son graduates from college in 4 to 5 years, these two won’t be in college at the same time either.  This offers us positive financial benefits because we won’t have to pay for college for these two at the same time.

Many people don’t like the idea of spacing kids 4 years apart because they are afraid the children won’t be close.  I don’t know what the future holds, but right now my kids are fairly close.  My daughter, who is now 2, adores her brother, but she also likes to tease him.  They play together, though my son sometimes needs time alone in his room to play without his sister’s interference.

Our Second Two Children Are Spaced Close Together

My husband and I knew we wanted at least 3 kids, and because my second was born when I was 37.5 years old, we knew we wouldn’t have the luxury of spacing our children far apart this time.  In fact, we went to the opposite extreme!  My third child, another girl, was born 17.5 months after my second child.

While I returned to work after my second child was born, the daycare costs for two children under two in an urban area were prohibitive, so I decided to resign from my job when I had the baby.

We sent my son to a special preschool to learn Japanese (my husband’s native language), and we would like to do the same for our girls.  This school costs $650 a month for ½ day schooling; if two children are enrolled, there is a 10% discount.  Because I am not currently working, we are trying to figure out how we will come up with the $650 a month when my second child turns 3.  Even if we can find the money for her, my third child will be ready for the preschool just 1.5 years after her sister goes.  Then the cost will be roughly $1170 a month.  Because my daughter is born in the spring, the girls will only be one year apart in school.

Beyond the educational costs, there are other costs to consider when spacing children closely together.  I had hoped that my baby would be able to wear her sister’s hand me down clothes.  However, my oldest daughter is tiny; she is 2.5 years old and still wears size 18-24 month clothes.  My baby is only 9 months and wears size 12-18 months.  I see a day soon when they will wear the same size.

I had also hoped that my daughter would outgrow her crib before the baby needed one, but that has not happened.  Both girls are in cribs now.  (We saved money by buying the baby’s crib off Craigslist.)

Financial Considerations of Having Kids

There are great benefits to spacing children close together

There are also important financial considerations:

We are glad that we had three children, but the financial implications of the last two so close together worries us a bit.  If I had it to do over again, I would have probably started my family earlier and tried to space the last two about three years apart.

Melissa is a stay-at-home mom to her three young children.  She blogs about learning to live a fulfilling life on less and cooking her family healthy foods at Mom’s Plans.  She also blogs about her family’s attempts to dine out once a week for $25 or less at Dining Out Challenge.

Elle: I found Melissa's guest post interesting to read and think about. To be honest, my husband and I have talked about this topic. My sister and and were close in age and later on my brother joined us. It's fascinating to see how we've grown closer as we've gotten older. Please share your thoughts in the comments; I'd love to see your feedback.

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