One WonderMom Believes a Big Age Gap Between Kids is the BEST!

If you would have asked me eight years ago if we would ever have another baby, I probably would have laughed in your face.

Then, a little less than a year ago when our kids were 12, 10, and 8, we realized that despite precautions that had worked just fine for eight dang years, we were pregnant with baby number four.

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I was horrified at the way our lives were about to change all over again. Our kids were just old enough to kinda, sorta take care of themselves and now we’d have a little munchkin that was entirely dependent upon us again, and when I say us, I really mean mostly me.

Our world was about to get shaken up in a big way.

Turns out, it was the best thing that’s happened to our family in eight long years.

I worried about how our youngest would take it. She’d been the baby for so long, and she wasn’t eager to give up the title. I was worried that our oldest, almost a teenager, would be giving up even more of our attention than just being the oldest and most capable had stolen from her. I worried that our son, with his biddable nature, would wind up taking a back seat to a new baby and that it would hurt his tender heart.

Turns out, it was the best thing that’s happened to our family in eight long years.

Our Older Children Have Learned Remarkable Life Lessons.

More than that they think he’s pretty cool, I can see that having a tiny human who needs so much from us has taught them a compassion I can’t imagine any other experience matching. They’ve learned to truly care for another human, to willingly sacrifice their time, effort, and the attention they would probably be receiving from my husband or I, if we weren’t busy with the baby. They rejoice with every little thing that he learns, every new milestone met.

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On a more practical note, the big kids really help out with the baby. While they don’t do much diaper changing or bathing, they are all more than happy to spend their time entertaining him or fetching supplies. They’ve learned what it is to feel responsible for another’s well-being.

 

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The Relationship Between Siblings with a Big Age Gap is Special.

I can see incredibly special relationships forming. Our baby will have three extra people to look out for him in this world, three advisors whom he can trust implicitly. They love him so much and not one of them begrudges that he often intrudes on special time with me since he’s quite literally latched onto me much of the time.

He was born with three ready-made super heroes in his life.

I can see that his older siblings mean the world to him already, too. He recognizes their voices and seeks them out when we’re in a crowd. He jabbers excitedly when he catches a glimpse of one of them. Their smiling faces and sweet words make him so happy. He was born with three ready-made super heroes in his life.

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They’ll probably give him his first cold, but they’ll be there to help him mend his first broken heart, too.

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Finding the Energy to Give Four Kids What They Need.

Giving each of my children the time and effort they deserve can be difficult. It was hard when there were three of them despite that they actually needed so little of me. With the addition of a breastfeeding and caring for a newborn, it’s gotten even more complicated.

Giving each of my children the time and effort they deserve can be difficult.

We’ve got systems for everything now. There are charts all over this bloody house: before school checklists, after school checklists, monthly calendars, weekly calendars, meal plans, cleaning checklists, a list of all the bills due each month so I don’t forget any of them. We keep the house clean, get homework done, handle personal hygiene tasks, and make it to extracurriculars (close to) on time only because we’ve got everything planned out.

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I spent lots of time while I was pregnant (between the puking and prodromal labor) training the big kids to be legitimately helpful around the house and to handle their own business. I love the Adlerian school of parenting and I took a leaf out of Amy McCready’s book, The Me, Me, Me Epidemic, to very strategically teach them how tasks needed to be carried out. I spend about four hours each day nursing the baby, let alone all the other care he requires; there’s just not enough of me to go around for me to be running around cleaning up literal and figurative messes.

When my kids handle things on their own, they’re learning how to take care of themselves, how to be accountable for their efforts, and how to take responsibility.

When my kids handle things on their own, they’re learning how to take care of themselves, how to be accountable for their efforts, and how to take responsibility. Their efforts also mean that we have time to spend together as a family, and it does great things for my sanity. I take time to talk with and enjoy each big kid every day to make sure that they’re not getting lost in the crazy rush that is our lives these days.

It’s remarkable how the space in our Mommy hearts and minds can magically expand to accommodate having a whole new human to love, care for, and worry about. What’s even more remarkable is how adaptable and devoted my sweet baby’s big brother and sisters have been through our first few months as a family of six.★

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Taylor Roatch is a freelance writer and mom to four glorious little munchkins. She doesn’t have free time anymore, but back when she did, she enjoyed reading and watching things she actually enjoys on TV.

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