Life doesn't always work out the way you plan it. When I was in my late teens trying to figure out what I wanted to be and do when I grew up, I thought I had it all figured out. I was going to go to nursing school and have three kids, preferably not all one gender, and with three years between each child. I didn't want my kids to have a large age gap. Oh, and I was going to do all of this before I turned 30.
None of those things happened, along with a host of other things that I thought would happen in my twenties. Instead, I am not a nurse and I have two boys who are 10 years and 11 months apart, one born in my mid-twenties and the other in my late thirties. Life doesn't always play by our rules.
When I was 25 I got pregnant with my first son. It happened earlier in the relationship than I would have liked, but it happened and we went with the flow. We would make it through. It was all good . . . until it wasn't less than a year later.
After five years I finally met my now husband. I was 32. We took things slow and didn't move in together for two years and got married a year after that. After being married for a year, we decided to try and have a rugrat of our own. I was 36 so it was now or never. Surprisingly, it happened on the first try and I was due about three weeks before my oldest son's 11th birthday.
I worried about the large age gap and starting all over again, but it's really not as bad as I thought it would be. I loved having more time to devote to each of my babies and as it turns out, I think their large age gap is pretty cool! But it does have its challenges.
Common problems and solutions
Activities for both age groups
This can be tricky sometimes, but we have managed to keep both kids entertained with activities that they both can enjoy. Hiking, the zoo, mini golf, museums, amusement parks, and family game night are just some of the things that we can do with both kids that are age appropriate and fun for both of them.
Even though we have gotten pretty good at finding things that the whole family can enjoy, it's still important to bring each kid out for some age appropriate one-on-one time. This is when I take my kids on a date. It may be something as simple as going out to lunch, bringing the older one to a movie, or taking the younger one to the playground.
Tag team vacations
When we go on vacation we have to work them much like we do the preceding two situations. We are going on a big family vacation this summer to Disney. We will plan plenty of activities we all enjoy, then split off and one of us will take the teenager and the other will take the younger one on age appropriate rides so they will both have fun and not feel like they missed out. The same goes for us; we will each be able to take turns riding grown up rides with our teenager.
Age appropriate interaction
This is another area in which we have to tread lightly. At 16, my older son has interests that aren't appropriate for his 5-year-old brother. My teenager has learned to be mindful of his music, tv shows, and movies when his little brother is around. He also has his own time to watch what he likes after the little one goes to bed and his room is his music zone.
The bottom line
You have to be flexible when you are raising kids with a large age gap. Unlike closer spaced children, you have to be more creative with your time such as scheduling appointments for your older child after the younger one has had a nap or trying to rearrange nap times around your older child's soccer practice.
While there are some challenges, overall I am very happy with their age gap and don't think I would change a thing, and neither would they.