After I had my first daughter the questions about when we were planning to have our second came pretty quickly. I can vividly remember her being just six months old and being asked if we were going to start trying for our second. At the time I couldn’t imagine getting pregnant as I still had my “after baby body” and I just wasn’t ready. We moved back down to Palm Beach County when she was two months old, my husband had just started a new job, I had just quit my teaching job and we were both finding our footing in our new roles. We decided we would wait to add to our family. We didn’t really have a timeline on that, just that we would try when the time felt right.
Well, as it often does, life began to move a mile a minute and before we knew it our oldest was four before we finally felt ready again. We were blessed to find out that our “second baby” was actually going to be our second and third as we had twins! With our oldest being so much older, I never imagined that when we did add to our family that I would ever have two in diapers; I love that our plans often end up looking so different (and much better!) then what we had planned in our head.
Our twins arrived just two months before our oldest turned five so now my life involves kids in very different age ranges. My oldest just finished Kindergarten and the twins are sixteen moths old and just now learning to put multiple words together. It can sometimes be a challenge to entertain and make all of the kids happy when there is such a large age gap. I’m still pretty new in the “Mom of Multiples + 1 Club” and I’m still learning but I have found a few ways to help manage the age gap at our house.
- Let the oldest be the big helper! I am sure this can work even when the kids aren’t so far apart in age but in my case five years really is a large enough age gap that my oldest truly is my helper. She has loved her new role as big sister since day one and I believe a large part of that is that we let her help in a lot of little ways. Simple things like asking her, “Do you think the diaper bin should go here or there?” allowed her to feel she was a part of the process from the start. She brings me diapers and wipes and watches the babies like a hawk now. She also loves to sit and teach them letters and songs. She relishes in the fact that is older and can help them learn. It’s a chance for her to be a little bossy and it be totally okay!
- A flexible schedule. With my oldest her schedule ran like clockwork with perfectly timed naps, meals and activities. I would plan my entire day around her. Now having a perfectly timed schedule like that would be impossible. I have learned that being flexible keeps us all sane. I still maintain a pretty good schedule for naps and dinner time but the rest of our day is flexible depending on what activities are going on.
- Make time for each individual child. As the twins get older this is something I will have to get better at in regards to them, but even now I try to make moments for each of my three kids that is only about them. For us this means, letting Nana watch the babies and taking our oldest for the day to Disney or the movies and giving her time to experience activities that are age appropriate for her that the little ones aren’t yet ready for. It also means while she is in school I do things that are totally focused on the babies. Sitting with my bitty girl on my lap and reading her favorite book for the 10th time and then later racing the cars with my little guy and yelling “GO! GO!” with him as he cracks up. Trying to make those moments where each child feels they are individually important is something I will always try to do and I think with the age gap in our house it’s extra important so that everyone’s different needs are being met.
- Do things that everyone can enjoy. Just as it’s important for us to do things separately for each child from time to time, our daily life has to include times when everyone is enjoying together. My oldest knows that all the tiny toys have to stay in her room. There’s just no way she can have Lego pieces near the babies. This could have been an issue but instead she now knows the toys that the babies can play with and loves to bring them out to show off and share with them. In turn, the twins always think something from Sissy’s room is far more interesting than anything they have so they will all play together with whatever she brings out. We also watch movies that everyone can sign and dance to: Moana, Trolls and Beauty and the Beast are on a constant loop over here! I’ve said it before and I will be probably saying it again but dancing is a big thing in our house. Music just brings us all together and really seems to keep everyone happy. Plus dance parties are fun no matter what your age is!
As the kids continue to grow and their needs and interest change, I will have to try to keep up with all of the changes too. I have no doubt that at some point the age gap will be difficult as my oldest will be able to do things her siblings aren’t yet ready for and eventually they will notice this. I’m not sure how I will handle those moments just yet but thankfully I have a few more years to prepare!