One of the realities of having five children is that, most likely, there will be a wide spread of ages between them.
There are upsides to this; I’m happy not to have to supervise the older children constantly when I’m dealing with the baby. There are also challenges, one of which is finding activities that are fun for the whole family.
To be sure, this is kind of a rare thing anyway, no matter the kids’ ages. Longtime readers have already heard about my calculation, on one whine-filled hike, about the odds of universal joy. If each of four children is happy 75 percent of the time, and happiness is an independent event, then the odds of all four children being happy simultaneously is only 31.6 percent. Now that I’ve got five kids the odds are down to 23.7 percent. Not good!
Add the age gap and the proposition is even more complicated. With a handful of pre-teens, we’re looking for something they deem tolerable that will be safe and appropriate for a high-energy 5-year-old, and to which we can bring an occasionally fussy baby. That’s a tall order, especially if we’re looking for something the adults won’t hate.
However, there are some activities that truly are fun for the whole family. The Auto Show a few weeks ago fit the bill. And this Saturday, we found similar universal joy in the butterfly exhibit at the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s annual Flower Show.
We became members a few years ago so we could go early (the show gets mobbed; crowds lower the odds of happiness more). The baby dozed in the carrier the whole time. The big four kids kept dipping their Q-tips in nectar and then patiently waiting for the monarchs and blue morpho butterflies to land on them. We spent an hour in there admiring the beauty. Butterflies are truly one of nature’s gratuitous gifts; I don’t know why the earth features creatures with bright blue and orange wings, but I am so glad it does. There was one moment of butterfly exhibit unhappiness — the 10-year-old declared himself bored — but that got rescued by giving him access to the Seek app on my husband’s phone so he could hold up the phone to a monarch and learn that…yep! It was a monarch.
This might be more challenging next year when we have a toddler, but hopefully he’ll be fascinated by butterflies too. The 12-year-old shows no signs of losing interest!
What activities have you found to be fun for the whole family? I’d add the indoor pool at the YMCA (with waterslides!) to the list…