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?