I read somewhere recently that the ideal age gap between kids is 12-18 months. Well, that’s it, we’re fucked. There are 12 years between our oldest and our youngest. That means that in a few years, we will have a senior in high school and a kindergartner at the same time! We were both married before with 2 kids a piece but we wanted to have a child with each other. We ended up with 2 more. Our kids are 2, 4, 9, 11, 12, and 14. I remember when our 4-year-old was born there were things that I had just straight up forgotten about having a baby. There were other things that were like riding a bike. There were days that I thought I was definitely too old for this shit and others that I was the freaking baby master. There are times I wonder what the hell we got ourselves into. The large gap in ages come with their own set of problems and blessings. We not only have some large age gaps. but we have a lot of kids, 6 to be exact. Add the blended family dynamic and some days you have a real shitshow. Every day you have organized chaos. Large families with large age gaps are a whole other lane. Here are some things I’ve discovered about raising kids with large age gaps
1. The relationship will be different
I love different. Different is beautiful. There were times when I was pregnant that I worried about the bond our kids would or wouldn’t develop with the babies. Total honesty, they weren’t all psyched about the idea of more kids in the house at first, but that changed once they came along. The difference in age clearly means they won’t be outside shooting hoops together or gossiping and exchanging secrets, at least not anytime soon. Instead, they are playing hide and go seek, reading books, and kissing boo-boos. The relationship between our 14-year-old and the 2 and 4-year-old is more like a second mom. She is the little ones’ favorite and a source of comfort. To Mason (4) his older brothers are the coolest people alive. They are still close, just in a different way. The relationship is different, but it is still beautiful. One day, when they become adults, they will be best friends. There is also a 5 year age gap between Lilly (14) and Merideth (9), but they are insanely close. They tell each other everything. It’s almost as if the age gap doesn’t exist. I can’t wait to see how it grows as they do.
2. Vacations and family activities can be tricky
Trying to find family-friendly activities that are great for kids 2-14 is almost impossible. It’s like no matter what you end up doing, someone has to take one for the team. Sometimes it’s the older kids, sometimes its the younger kids. Most of the time its because the little ones just aren’t physically capable. We’ve split up at times to make it work. One of us will take the little kids and the other will take the older ones. We recently took the older 4 to their first concert and left the babies with a sitter.
Vacations are even more tricky sometimes. It’s not like I can take the family white water rafting with a couple of toddlers. Those kinds of vacations will have to wait a few years. This doesn’t mean we don’t take family vacations. We take a 10-day vacation with all 8 of us every summer. The last few years its been Gatlinburg or The OBX in North Carolina. We just have to do things a little different. We typically rent a house with a pool and find just one big activity to do for the week. This year we went and saw the wild horses in the OBX. ALL of the kids loved it. We spend the rest of the week in the pool, walking around town or going to the ocean. Honestly, it makes for a more enjoyable vacation because I don’t have the stress of all these planned activities. Plus, it saves a TON of money!
3. We never get alone time because we still have babies in da house
Despite the fact that we have a high schooler, we also still have a 2 and 4-year old that require constant supervision and interaction. This means that unless they are asleep, we always have a kid in our faces. Were 36 and 39, so most of our friends are going out to concerts etc on weekends while their kids are at home. They are enjoying having more of their own time finally, but we are very much still in the, “we need a sitter” stage. Being that I am a stay at home mom, the sitter list isn’t very long, so it isn’t always easy.
I’m at home all day with these tiny little terrorists, catering to their every whim. 3 o’clock comes around and suddenly its time to run the older ones to all their sports and activities. I feed the kiddos somewhere in between then homework and bathtimes start. I think my husband comes home sometime during all of that, but I’m not sure because these damn kids got me running like a mofo. Some days I find myself watching the clock waiting for 8 to hit so I can start putting the little ones to bed and FINALLY get to say hi and hug and kiss the hubs without someone trying to jam their way between us. Everyone knows that toddlers never let mom or dad love each other without needing to steal back their affection. One day I will miss that, so I try to cherish it now.
4. I’m getting old, but I don’t feel like it
On the plus side, I like to think it’s keeping me young. They still require a lot of chasing around. It’s like my own personal workout program. There is always something different going on. One minute I’m teaching colors and playing bad guys, the next I’m doing algebra homework. Besides, toddlers are real dicks sometimes, so they keep me on my toes. We live in a suburban neighboorhood where our place tends to be the “hang out spot.” Since we have kids in preschool, elementary and high school, we tend to have a dozen or so kids hanging out here of all different ages at any different time. It really does keep it fun. I’m still getting to enjoy fun things like play-doh and hide and go seek. I get to know all the gossip from the sandbox to the high school hallway. So despite the fact that I am pushing 40, I still get to play like a little kid every day. If you know me at all, that’s right up my ally.
5. The dynamic ultimately helps us all thrive
It works for us. The big kids still get to enjoy little kid stuff, the little kids get to do some big kid stuff they probably wouldn’t do otherwise. The older ones have recently begun to flip their script and join in on the fun of being the tooth fairy and helping with Santa. It has been neat to watch that new chapter unfold and watch them participate in creating that magic for someone else instead of always being on the receiving end. It is teaching these kids something about flexibility, compromise and the importance of family. They are picking up life skills along the way. I never would have thought I’d be having kids into my mid 30’s or that I’d have kids so far apart, but it happened and I can’t imagine it being different. That has probably been my biggest lesson thus far: life in its own unpredictable journey, so hang on and ENJOY the ride.