I have three children aged five, three and very nearly one. Between my first two children I have twenty two months. Between my second and my third there is two and a half years. The smaller gap was hard work. As in “please someone come and save me from this fiery pit of poke your own eyes out, insane, crazy hard, reality” hard.

Leaving the house was nearly impossible. Occasionally when I had my husband on hand to child wrangle I would attempt to go out. It took hours to leave the house due to putting on shoes, coats, gathering double buggy, change bag, snacks. Then inevitably when we got to our destination someone would need a wee, a feed, or be in the middle of a tantrum. I remember one particular trip to (why god why) the January sales with a two month old and a two year old. It was horrid, we bought nothing, and on the way back to the car a look passed between my husband and I that said wordlessly “what on earth have we let ourselves in for”.

Time passed and things got easier but we vowed that next time we would leave a bigger gap. Ideally a three year gap as this seemed far more sensible. Now I’m not good at maths and ultimately got my timing wrong and started trying for baby number three too early. Upon seeing the second line on the stick I realised my youngest would actually only be two and a half when baby was born. oops. So once again I had two in nappies and was pushing a double buggy.

However six months older is a lot at that age and this gap was easier. It felt less like I had two babies, and consequently less like my head would explode on a daily basis. I have my three fabulous children and they will all grow up close in age. I’m hoping that the graft of the early years will pay off when I have a five, seven and nine year old. I’m hoping they will play together as a little gang, and subsequently have sibling support for the rest of their lives.

Experts say that the ideal gap is less than one year (though seriously who has the energy to  erm procreate that quickly) or more than four. The theory is that under one your child will not notice any difference and over four and your child can understand and talk about a future sibling.

Conceiving less than a year (again, really ?)  after giving birth or more than five years after can result in low birthweight or early babies. This means that four years is officially the ideal spacing between children. I have a close friend who has this gap and it seems to have worked well for her. Her eldest got her full attention during his preschool years and started school months after her baby arrived. Consequentially baby now gets her attention when her eldest is at school. Good for her and her family.

Personally I think the ideal gap is whatever works for you and your family. Consider your career, financial commitments, desire to have another child and do what feels right.