Having more than one kid is never easy. You will inevitably be dealing with different age groups until they even out later on in life. Even if you had children close to the same age group, every child is different and every age group has different needs, interests, and requirements.
It can be so tricky keeping up with raising several kids across different age groups, and you’ll feel like you are losing your mind at times.
Not only is it tough finding the time to juggle all your responsibilities with children, but when you have kids in different age groups, you can’t really lump together activities or even cook them the same meals sometimes. The little ones usually need more attention than their older siblings, and this can sometimes bring about that ever-famous mom guilt that you are neglecting the older child. Figuring it all out comes with time, but there will be new challenges every day as they grow.
You will never know exactly what to do, but trying your best is all your kids need. You need to just understand your children and what they need, and try spread yourself out a bit. It will never be easy, but there are a few things to keep in mind to help you along the way.
1. Always make time for one-on-one time.
You might be always rushing around or fighting to find some free time, but it is vital to make one-on-one time with each child. As important as family time is, spending time bonding with each kid on their own will keep building your relationship and help you both feel included (and hopefully your child will not feel left out).
Parent dates are a great idea for this. Try to make time for one parent date a week, moth, bi-weekly, whatever you can make work for your family. However, you should have a set time or schedule for these dates so that your children know what to expect. You and your partner can go on the dates together, or you can take turns alone. I personally think that a mix of both is important.
You should rotate through each of your kids for these dates. Write it down on a family calendar so your children can see when their turn in coming. This will help your child visually see that things are being done fairly, so they don’t feel like they’re missing out or not getting a turn. Especially if there is a longer time period between when you’re able to have a parent-child date.
The dates don’t need to be fancy, they could range from taking your child out for a special treat to an activity they really enjoy. However, try to base your one-on-one time around what your child enjoys doing. Let the play a part in selecting the activity you do together, and be a good sport about it even if it’s not your cup of tea.
2. Be Flexible.
You need to remember that nothing is ever perfect. You won’t always get it right, and that is okay. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Sometimes the younger kids need more attention, and other times you might find yourself studying till late with your older kid. It’ll all balance out in the end.
Sometimes, as mom’s we want to be able to have a plan. We want to be able to map our days and know what’s happening, when, and where. However, kids are notorious for derailing plans. So take each day at a time; you will know where your attention is most needed. A mom’s best strategy is to be flexible—go with the flow.
3. Know your age groups and their requirements.
Each age group has different needs and offer up new challenges. Even if you have older kids, the younger ones will probably be very different to their siblings. You have to get to know what each age group needs in order to fulfill their requirements. There are tons of charts and ideas online that will help you know what types of activities and skills your kids should be enjoying these days.
It all sounds so formal, but getting the right things done helps keep everyone happy. I know when I first had a child, I kept thinking they were going to enjoy things that were way outside of their age and ability. I wanted her to grow up so quickly that I was trying to rush through all of the different stages. With my other kids, I was a little bit more laid back and able to enjoy each stage as they were in it.
You will just have to find a good routine to fit everyone into, as best as you can. Make sure you can rock your baby to sleep, while still being able to read to your teenager.
4. Have Family Values Set.
It really helps if everyone is on the same page. Have regular family dinners together or little meetings if you want and that works well for your family. Make sure everyone understands the family values, and that everyone knows that they are just as important as the next person.
This can really unify the family and helps them understand that sometimes your attention needs to be diverted to the child that needs it the most. This can also be a good way to make sure every child has a chance to be heard.
5. Help the older siblings be understanding.
Sometimes a little bit of responsibility goes a long way. Giving the older sibling some jobs to do around their baby sister or brother can help them feel included and needed. Get them to fetch nappies if they are still young, or have them read to the baby if they are a little bit older. This really helps everyone feel like a family unit, it helps you with both the younger kids and the older ones, and it also gives you a bit of a break!
There is no clear-cut way of raising kids in different age groups. This is because no child is the same, and also life isn’t easy. You as the mom know you kids best and you will know what each child needs through every stage of growing up. Just trust that you are doing your best, and hopefully, everyone else will know that too.
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