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1st May 2013 06:43 PM #1
6 years apart in a love/hate relationship
I am a single parent of two wonderful girls born 6 years apart - one now 8 and the other 2. Many people think that this must be bliss - so much better than children close together. After all the older one can look after the younger one right? They are half right. My older girl CAN be a wonderful help. But just like babies born close together, there are down sides.
My girls are very different ages and at very different stages. They need different types of toys, activities and television programs, there are safety issues for the younger one that don't exist for the older one, and a greater need for 'alone time' by the older one which leaves the younger one crying at the door. With only one of me and two of them it can sometimes be hellish trying to meet their respective needs. As an educator of more years than I care mention it is ironic that I find this as challenging as I do.
I am interested to hear from others with a big age gap between siblings what strategies you use to keep the peace. I would also love to share my 'tricks of the trade!'
28th June 2013 08:43 PM #2
I feel there are advantages and disadvantages of any age gap. My two are quite close in age (22 months between them). Advantages of this closeness in age is that they are starting to enjoy playing together and certainly enjoy similar toys. Also, as parents we did not finish the 'baby stage' before the second baby came along. I feel this is an advantage as we had already adapted our lifestyle to the changes in sleep and dealing with nappies, meal times etc. Another great advantage for me was that I could tandem feed and I believe this is what led to breastfeeding being established so quickly and easily with my second.
However, it can get tough with two little ones - often they both need me at once. My eldest is just starting to be toilet trained (led by him and his development) which can be tricky when my youngest is breastfeeding!
A number of my friends have a bigger age gap - and find some days very tiring - like you describe. I know that our health visitor advised that it is useful if there is some dedicated 'alone with mum' time for each child, if possible. For example, if your younger child still has a nap or is in bed for longer at night then you could do something special with your older girl each day (for example, cooking together, drawing or painting a picture together or perhaps starting an ongoing project like making a family scrapbook). It is also beneficial if your older daughter knows this will happen each day - and so can look forward to it.
Have you got any family members or friends who would be happy to take one of your girls to a sporting activity or for a play at theirs so that you can spend some time with your other girl?
You certainly have my respect! I find being a parent hard some days and I am not a single parent. I know this can be difficult to do, but it would be great if you could also have some 'me time' each week. Do you have time in the evening after they go to bed? Half an hour in the bath on your own with a magazine can make every difference to spending the next day with two children.
Being a mum is the best job in the world but it can also be the most demanding!
Last edited by ljmarsden; 28th June 2013 at 08:46 PM.