Part of having a slightly bigger-than-average family is that your kids wind up at different stages at the same time. This has its challenges but also its benefits. Today’s episode of Best of Both Worlds covers both.
Sarah and I originally recorded this episode when we were together in Miami, then realized that our sound files were blank. So we re-recorded it, which was sad, but perhaps it was just as well, because in the interim, Sarah posted on her blog about how hard toddlers can be, and about how forgetful parents of older children can sometimes be about this. There are certainly challenges to raising adolescents. It’s also really tough, and isolating, and boring to chase a toddler around at a social event where everyone else is having fun and relaxing. These statements can all be true. The post got a ton of comments, so you should go check that out.
In any case, we discussed that, and then discussed the logistics of our spread of ages (7 to 1 for Sarah, 12 to 4 for me).
One challenge? Finding activities the whole family can do. Whatever is fun and safe for the toddler might be boring for the older kids. Then there are things the older kids might want to do (ice skating!) that are quite difficult with a new walker. Parents often wind up trading off, but it can be fun to sometimes get a sitter for the little one and go do stuff that challenges and interests the big kids.
(Longtime readers know we took a few trips without our youngest. He wasn’t going to remember the trips, and they would have been quite difficult with him. The big kids got the experience of travel, which we might not have done if we’d had to bring a toddler.)
Sarah is also dealing with the challenge of nap time. Planning the whole day around it is complicated when older kids’ weekend activities can happen in the middle of the day. She suspects her youngest will wind up giving up the nap on the early side for this reason!
Then there’s the matter of keeping big kid toys away from little ones…
Some things have turned out not to be as big an issue. We have kids sharing bedrooms. Sarah’s 7-year-old and 5-year-old share, even though that’s a girl and a boy. They’re young, it’s fine. In my case, the pairing makes a lot of sense (a 12-year-old and 9-year-old boy) although both would really like their own space, so we shall see.
Then there’s an upside of having a spread of kids…built-in kid entertainment and even (gasp!) childcare. We’ve just started experimenting with having the 12-year-old be home with the 9-year-old. So far so good, which means it could possibly expand to the 7-year-old. I think the 4-year-old still needs adult supervision, so we won’t be able to skip date night sitters or anything for a while. But still, this opens up all sorts of possibilities for smoother weekends and afternoon activity runs.
Please give the episode a listen and let us know what you think! If you’ve got a spread of ages in your family, what have you found to be challenging? What’s been an upside?
4 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Kids at different ages and stages”
I am the oldest of 6 and we are 15 years apart. I am the oldest, and here are my two stories about the youngers getting things that I never got. First off, I babysat an incredible amount and my parents would make me turn down outside babysitting jobs or change my work schedule (once I was 16 and waitressing) so I could babysit. The next oldest, who is a boy and only two years younger than me, was supposed to be babysitting once, and he went over to the neighbors, and so they never had him babysit again until I moved out to go to college. And second, I was never allowed to watch R rated movies while I lived at home, but once I had moved to college, I called one night and talked to my 12 year old brother and 15 year old sister, and my dad had just taken them to see the movie Troy. I was livid and to this day, no one in the family understands why I was so upset.
@Dominique – oh, I feel for you on this one! Yes, the family policies topic is fraught, and the unfairness of certain things tends to stick with us 🙂
Sharing rooms could have been another idea to mention on the frugality episode as you can buy a smaller house if you are willing to have kids share rooms! That’s what we are planning to do, even though we will only have at most 2 children as that way we can have a guest room for out of town family, etc.
I’m one of 5 kids. 4 of us were fairly close together (10 year span between oldest and youngest) and then the 5th was born 7 years later. I never thought about how having kids spaced out affected my parents but they did benefit from older siblings watching younger siblings. We only have one child right now and he’s 16 months so I relate to Sarah’s current situation of having to watch the toddler non-stop. We are hoping to have a 2nd baby in the next 12 months. I know it’s going to be challenging to have a toddler and a baby but I’m 38 so the clock is ticking! I think every stage has its challenges. I didn’t love the baby phase but they are more portable and at least they stay in one place when you set them down. The toddler stage is definitely challenging but it’s also fun to watch them learn words and discover the world. I have 7 nieces and nephews so I have gotten to see how the challenges of parenting change over the years and I think I am probably most suited for ages 4-5 and beyond as I love it when you can have actual conversations with the child, put together puzzles, play board games, etc. The toddler stage is challenging since they have the attention span of a fly so it can be super hard to entertain our son on a weekend day. I’m so thankful for nice weather as we often take 2 hour+ walks on the weekend as he loves being in the stroller. It makes me nervous for the winter when it’s harder to get out (I’m in MN so the temps can be well below 0 with the windchill)!
Can you link to the Camper shoes that Sarah recommended?