Many parents have their children close in age, juggling two in diapers at once — but some families wait so long to have a second that they wind up juggling one in high school and the other in a high chair. Here are six Long Island families with at least a six-year age gap between their first and second children — and how they keep everybody happy.
THE SEWITCHES OF LEVITTOWN
Meet the family: Michele, 33, a wedding planner, and Shawn Sewitch, 34, who works in heating and air conditioning, and their children, Sydney, 6, and Easton, 6 months
Age gap: Six years
Why they waited: “We wanted three kids two years apart, but it didn’t work out that way.” Michele says. But, she says, the way it happened was a blessing in disguise. “She’s such a big help with him. God’s plan.”
Best part of the gap: Sydney likes to “baby-sit” her brother. “She’s the best big sister,” Michele says. “She’s going to grow up watching him grow up.”
What the siblings like to do together: For now, the family does activities geared to the older child and brings the baby along for the ride, Michele says. “In the fall we go to a lot of fall festivals,” Michele says. “We apple pick, we pumpkin pick. Outside activities are good.”
THE WOJNAROWSKIS OF WEST BABYLON
Meet the family: Antoinette, 37, a stay-at-home mother, and Walter Wojnarowski, 34, a school custodian, and their sons, Walter, 14, and Bryce, 8 months
Age gap: 14 years
Why they waited: “That’s the first question people usually ask,” Antoinette says. “We had a few miscarriages in between. He was a complete surprise.”
Toughest challenge: For Antoinette, it was readjusting to the unrelenting demands of a baby again. “That was huge. With a 14-year-old, you’re getting time to yourself again,” she says.
What the siblings like to do together: “At first I was worried — ‘What is this going to be like?’ My 14 year old is in love with being a big brother,” Antoinette says. And, being only 8 months old, the baby is easy to please, she says.
THE MERKELS OF CORAM
Meet the family: Samantha, 33, a banker, and Wayne Merkel, 36, a truck driver. Samantha has a 13-year-old daughter, Valeria Parada, and together Samantha and Wayne have Emiliana, 2, and newborn Maximiliano.
Age gap: 11 years
Why they waited: Valeria was so premature that she spent a year in the hospital. “It was hard for me to think of the idea of having another kid,” Samantha says. “That was a concern; that was what made me wait.” Fortunately, though Emiliana and Maximiliano were slightly premature, both were fine.
What Valeria thinks “It was very difficult because I was so used to being the only child for a long time,” she says. “I wasn’t the biggest fan of her when she was born. She was getting the attention. I had to get used to it. I started to help and I started to like her.”
Best part of the age gap: Valeria, who is in eighth grade, reads to Emiliana. “She loves rhyming books like Dr. Seuss books,” Valeria says. And the sisters watch movies together. “She loves ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and she likes the movie ‘Trolls,’ “ Valeria says. And Valeria helps to feed Maximiliano. “He’s so cute,” she says.
What the siblings like to do together: “The park. Definitely the park,” Valeria says. Emiliana can run around and go on the swings and slide. “I get next to her and make her have fun,” Valeria says. The family also goes bowling — when it’s Emiliana’s turn, they put the bumpers up on the lane. Emiliana also will sit at the table and do her “homework” when Valeria is doing hers.
THE STINGO/LEMAY FAMILY OF MEDFORD
Meet the family: Danielle Stingo, 31, a travel agent specializing in Disney, and Corey Lemay, who works in property maintenance, and their children, Chase, 7 and Cole, 1
Age gap: Six years
Why they waited: They wanted years between their children. “I think it’s a good age gap,” Danielle says. “I think I gave my older one the time he needed.”
Toughest challenge: Playdates. When she has to take the baby with her to her older son’s playdates, she worries that Cole will fuss or cry. When she has had to drag Chase to a meetup with babies, he’s bored. “I was almost pushing one child aside to give the other child time with their friends,” she says.
The best part: “My younger son follows in my older son’s footsteps so much,” Danielle says. He seems to develop faster because of it, she says. And, with the older child more independent, Danielle has more time to focus on the baby. She says she sees extended family members who have children closer in age, and their schedules seem more hectic.
What the siblings like to do together: “We’re going to the fall fair in Mount Sinai,” she says. “That way we can do something together as a family instead of picking one or the other.”
THE MORALESES OF GLEN COVE
Meet the family: Tiffany, 36, a day care owner, and Joseph Morales, 41, and insurance agent. Tiffany has a 15-year-old son, Jerry, and together Tiffany and Joseph have Ashton 9, and Cali Summer, 3 months.
Age gap: Six years between Jerry and Ashton; nine years between Ashton and Cali Summer.
Toughest challenge: “It’s scary that I’m going to have a kid who is in college and one that’s not even in school yet,” Tiffany says.
What Jerry says about the birth of Ashton: “It’s weird. You go from not having a sibling to having a sibling.” Jerry was 6 and in elementary school when his brother was born. “I was in love, finally having another person in the house to be with … someone I can play with all the time.”
What Ashton says about the birth of Cali Summer: “It feels good but weird at the same time,” he says. “I’m not the youngest in the family anymore.”
What the siblings like to do together: The brothers play video games together and they both run track. “Each of them has sports,” Tiffany says. And each kid models in print publications — even the baby will get into it, Tiffany says. “It’s a family thing.”
THE STAMMS OF BOHEMIA
Meet the family: Cara, 38, a stay-at-home mother and psychology student, and Kevin Stamm, 31, a banker. Cara has a son, Aiden McLaughlin, 9, and together Cara and Kevin have Dylan, 14 months.
Age gap: 8 years
Why they waited: Cara was a single mom until she met and married Kevin.
Toughest challenge: Meeting other moms with her situation. “It’s kind of been a struggle because most people have their kids closer,” Cara says. She posted on Facebook to try to meet other moms that way, because it’s easier to socialize with other families who have someone for Aiden to engage with and someone for Dylan to play with as well, she says.
Best part of the gap: “My older one has a very kind heart. When his friends come over, he’s really proud to show them his little brother. He’s really helpful when he smells a gross diaper,” Cara jokes.
What the siblings like to do together: “They really connect with each other is when we’re outdoors,” Cara says.