Lots of mums have their babies within a few years of each other, and because they are of a similar age, they are interested in the same kinds of things at the same time. That means the kids are happy to watch the same films, play with the same kinds of toys, and listen to the same bedtime stories. If you’ve had a big gap between any of your children, the age harmony scenario doesn’t exist, and one child will be interested in completely different things to the other. That can make it hard to keep them both happy at the same time, so what can you do bring some harmony back into the family?
Not everything is age specific
Some forms of entertainment have no age limits on them and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Animated films are a good example of this – take Wallace and Gromit, Despicable Me, or any of the big so-called kids movies like Ice Age and Toy Story. These are all loved and enjoyed just as much by adults as kids, and should keep everyone happy for a couple of hours. Lots of toys, books and games can also be enjoyed by a wide range of age groups, so if you want the family to spend some time together, choose an activity that will appeal to all of them. This is one of your most important strategies for time spent together.
Doing things apart
Rather than have the kids bickering about whether they have CBBC or CBeebies on, let one watch their programmes while you spend time with the other, doing homework or making dinner. Then do a swap, so they both get a turn with the TV channel they prefer, and they each spend time doing other things. You can’t reasonably expect a twelve-year-old to want to play with the same toys as a five-year-old, so show them how they can take it in turns to do their own thing, and spend time together doing activities they both enjoy at other times.
Away from home
You should be able to organise a relatively harmonious living arrangement at home, but what if you’re away? Say you’ve booked a two-week dream holiday, staying at one of the luxury hoteles en Veracruz, looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the culture of a beautiful part of Mexico, and when you get there, the kids start arguing about going to the beach or the water park.
The best way to deal with these disputes is to apply the same principles you do at home, so you all spend some time doing things everyone enjoys, but other times you all have to take it in turns to do what individuals want. Then everyone has a chance to do the activities they’ve set their heart on and go to the places that interest them most.
Remember, there are some advantages to having children with a big age difference. The older kids are likely to be very protective towards the younger ones, and some are very good at playing with their siblings. You might have more problems when your older kids turn into teens though, as that’s an age with a whole new set of issues!