*This is a guest post
*This is a guest post
Let’s talk siblings with big age gaps. When I was pregnant with my youngest – after 8 years of life with an only child – I spent most of my time; either worrying how my eldest would adjust to life with a baby brother or wondering how the new baby would cope living in a house with an 8-year-old doing his best impression of a stampeding elephant. I needn’t have worried though, the eldest adored his little brother and, as soon as he could walk, the youngest secured his position as ‘chief stamper,’ powering around the house and leaving a trail of destruction in his wake.
When you welcome a new sibling in to your family, all parents worry about how life will change, especially for the existing siblings who might have to adapt to sharing their parent’s attention and time with a much louder (and ever so slightly more demanding little person. For families with siblings with big age gaps (5 years or more,) whilst having a more independent, and helpful, child around the house can ease the demands in those exhausting early months, welcoming a new sibling can bring about some unique challenges – like finding a day out that the whole family can enjoy.
Here are my top 5 tips for parents of siblings with big age gaps:
Quality time over quantity
A common worry for parents of more than one child, is whether they are giving their children enough individual time and attention. For parents of Children with big age gaps, it’s important to remember that their needs are vastly different, therefore they may require different levels of time and attention. The emphasis should be on quality not quantity, it’s far more beneficial for children to have quality time with their parents rather than the exact same amount.
Give them space
Whilst having a brother or sister can be great fun, older siblings often remember a time when it was just them and they can crave a bit of space to call their own again. Giving them their own room isn’t always possible, especially if you have siblings sharing or a toddler with no boundaries like ours, but allocating some time for them in a shared space might be. Having a place for your eldest (or youngest) to have to themselves can help them to feel that their boundaries are being respected and their needs are being met, plus it frees you up for point number 3…
Divide and conquer
Spending time together as a family is great and it’s a perfect opportunity to reconnect with one another. However, if you have children with a big age gap, it can help to connect with them separately too. Whilst taking them out for an activity that their brother or sister might not enjoy is a great idea, individual time can be something as simple as sitting down to play with them. The important thing is that they have your undivided attention. I used to spend time with the eldest once the youngest had gone to bed and I’d take the youngest to play groups whilst they eldest was in school.
Family time can still be a thing withsiblings with big age gaps
Finding an activity suitable for the whole family can be tough when you have siblings with a big age gap but don’t despair, Mother Nature has your back. Everybody loves the outdoors, no matter how old you are, and most public greenspaces have handy swing parks and ice cream trucks to keep everyone happy. We tend to dine only in places that have a ‘kids zone’ and whilst this somewhat limits our culinary experience, eating out as a family is far more rewarding than posh food.
Have you ever looked at your child and wondered how they grew so tall and started answering you back? Well, there’s nothing like having a miniature version of them to remind you of how much time flies. All too quickly, these precious years will be no more than a memory. Parenting children with a big age gap might require more planning and effort on our part but in years to come the happy memories you have created will be priceless.
Do you have siblings with big age gaps? I do hope these tips helped you and your tribe, please add any of your own in the comments section below.
Chantelle is mum to Ollie ( aged 12) and Parker (aged 4). She is the creator of Family Wellness Mama, a blog which follows her journey to find family wellness and that elusive work/life balance.
Picture credit: People photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com