Parenting Tips for Wide Age Gap Between Kids
Having one or two children has always been a topic of discussion, and no one has ever reached a conclusion. The fact of the matter is the number of children a couple wants to have should be their decision; not guided or ruled by the perceptions of the society and of course, their family.
Having an only child should never make you guilty and similarly, you should not be judged for having more than one. Once you have decided you want two kids or more than one, the debate arises what is the ideal age gap between siblings. (Debates and discussions all the time)
In this post, we will talk about the ideal age gap between kids and the pros and cons of a wide age gap, and finally, the parenting strategy you can have if you have a wide age gap between your kids.
What is a Wide Age Gap Between Siblings?
Generally, an age gap of over 4 years between two kids is considered to be a wide age gap. There is no rule about it, but this is just an accepted norm. Our previous generations had their second child 2-3 years later unless there was some medical complication.
Our generation has more options for family planning and is more conscious and makes decisions based on many factors like career and finances as well. Thus, a wide gap between kids is not uncommon but yes, it comes with its pros and cons and of course, devising a parenting strategy.
In my opinion, there is nothing like an ideal age gap. It is your decision and you never know how it turns out. For some, having kids within 2 years has worked easily, whereas some have struggled.
Let us see the pros and cons of a wide age gap which we assume to be more than 4-5 years.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Wide Age Gap Between Kids
Like there are two sides to a coin, there are both advantages and disadvantages of having a wide age gap.
- The older kid is more responsible and can help with the younger ones
- Allows couples to work on their career and finances. A short break in the career, especially for mothers, has less effects versus a long one.
- When the older one is independent and going to formal school, it means you had enough time with him individually. Similarly, you will be able to spend a good time with the younger one and not be juggling.
- During pregnancy, it is always easier to handle an older child. They are at an age where they understand pregnancy and the idea of having a sibling and thus, it becomes more manageable.
- When the age gap is wide, one kid in all probability will be sleeping through the night and would be toilet trained. This also means fewer diaper changes to handle and get more sleep.
- The younger ones always learn faster and easily from the older ones and thus, a lot of training and learning becomes easier.
- There can be hand-me-down things and you will not need to spend money again on baby gear and other baby products. But of course, you will need to keep them for all those years.
- When the two kids are of very different ages, a family outing is very difficult. It gets tough to cater to the needs of both as their likes and dislikes are different.
- The older one can take care of the younger one, but there are a lot of issues also and they do not mix due to the difference in their age and what they like.
- Tantrums of toddlers and teenagers or pre-teenagers are different but very difficult to handle. And when they both happen together, god save the parents.
- The toys of the older one and younger one are entirely different. What the older one uses might not be safe for the younger one and thus, more care is needed. And similarly, the cute toys of the little one will be annoying for the older one. And of course, you will need to spend on both as no one will share.
- The younger one never has a playmate if the age gap between kids is wide. I have seen in many cases; the parents are the ones playing which very much is the case of an only child.
When the kids are small, a wide age gap might seem more strenuous, but this can ease out when they grow up. The relationship siblings share is dependent on their personality and not the age gap. A little struggle in the initial years can later be a happier state with a close bond.
Parenting Tips to Handle a Wide Age Gap Between Kids
A wide gap means handling two sets of likes and dislikes and of course, temperaments and tantrums. Each child is different, each parent is different and of course, each family is different.
Everyone needs to find their rhythm in handling kids with a wide age gap. However, some basic tips can help manage easily with less stress.
Give One To One Time To Both
I have seen my friends with kids with a wide age gap. One thing I see some of them do and work well is to ensure that there is dedicated time given to each without involving the other one. It is often seen that the household work and jobs take a lot of time and what is left is mostly given to the younger child because we feel they need the parent more.
We must not forget that the older one is older but is also a child who needs the parents for their challenges and issues. Each parent can take turns to be with one, where you focus on them, do things they like, and talk about their life. If possible, if the younger one can sometimes be handled by someone, a lunch out with the older one or a movie out, will be a great way to bond and make them feel special.
Educate the Older One
When the age gap is wide, there is a high chance the older one is mature and sensible to understand the needs of the younger one. Explaining the struggles of parenting a newborn or the child’s development, can not only educate them but also make them realize your challenges and be more empathetic.
There is a thin line here which parents need to be careful of. When we explain the older one about the skills and milestones, we just want them to understand and not become a parent. They will get irritated and this is when their frustration needs to be attended to.
The older one should not always be the one understanding, sharing things, ignoring, or adjusting. This can cause resentment which will pose issues for the parents later.
Flexibility is important for every parent because kids do not grow up or behave by the book. However, this is more important for parents who have a wide age gap between kids.
You need to manage two age groups and their needs. You and your partner will need to do the balancing act and for sure do not expect a perfect situation. Being flexible with their moods and routines and of course, your expectations. There will be good and bad days, and you will find your balance.
Strike the Balance
The other day at a dinner, a friend mentioned how ‘babying’ the younger one has led to an imbalance in the house. And this is a common problem and this is where the parent’s role becomes crucial.
The younger one cannot always be treated like a baby and has to be made more responsible and accommodating. On the other hand, the older one needs to know what is good and acceptable for the younger one.
It boils down to balancing between the two kids, their ages and setting rules and boundaries. Giving privacy to the older one but limiting the exposure to the grown-up activities is something all parents need to do to ensure the development of the younger one and protecting the older one.
Planning a weekend out or a vacation gets challenging if you have a wide gap between kids. Each outing has to be with activities for all age groups or a good mix. Beach visits and swimming and similar activities are enjoyed by all. In an amusement park, there is something for all age groups. Similarly, there are many other ways to manage both.
In cases where it is not, parents might need to split, and sometimes, one must do or learn to wait while the other one gets to do things ideal for them.
Priority should be to enjoy quality time as a family but without frustrating the kids.
If you are looking for ideas, the post, Family Activities for Kids with a Large Age Gap is a good read.
Do Not Stress
There is nothing like a right or ideal age gap and trust me, parenting in itself is one of the most challenging things. Kids, be it one or two or more do not come with a manual, and handling them and understanding them is not easy. There are happy times and then there are times, you are ready to run away from the mess.
Parents need to be practical and positive and adaptable to changes. Each age comes with its challenges, and thus, when there is a wide age gap, all it needs is a bit of planning and lots of patience. Trust me, do not stress, and you will be fine!!!
What is that one thing you think will work to handle kids with a wide age gap? Do share in the comments and let us know.
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Arushi is a blogger and a full time mother to a baby girl. She realizes relationships in life and especially motherhood do not come with a manual. All women should learn from each other’s experiences and thus, she writes a blog, Being A Thinkaholic, to help people decode relationships, pregnancy and parenting. Her ‘thinkaholic’ brain works best at night when the world sleeps. Besides writing, she loves to travel and explore new places.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.