Managing huge age gaps in an "activity" family - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 06-15-2010, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So here's the problem:

Ds is 6yo and dd is 19mo. Up until dd was crawling and trying to constantly escape, we did a lot of our learning through all kinds of out-of-the-house activities... mostly trips to farms and museums, etc.

That's becoming SERIOUSLY. IMPOSSIBLE. with dd. And I don't even know where to turn for advice because the people around me respond with things like "Just give her something to do in a stroller that will keep her occupied" and "Let him go to school for a year". Well, she wants to be with her brother and she's an extremely active kid. Nothing keeps her occupied in a stroller. Ever. And hsing isn't the only thing affected by this, but the other things are easier to manage (ie: I grocery shop very late at night minus kids and crowds).

But I'm really starting to feel... I don't know... but it's not good. I guess "trapped"? We've spent a lot of the last year dealing with things related to our relocation and not much fun stuff at all. I don't know what to do. I feel like I finally am going to have time to do all this cool stuff that ds and I would love to do and I have no idea how I'm going to manage to do it with dd. We're relocating in July and I don't even know anyone I could use for 2-3 days/month to go to museums and stuff without her. And then I feel horribly guilty about the idea of doing that.

Ds is a very get-up-and-go kid, and I'm right there with him (we have our "down" phases, but for the most...).

Thoughts?

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#2 of 17 Old 06-15-2010, 04:15 PM
 
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You might find it helpful to adjust the type of out-of-home activities you're doing. The age-range of my kids is almost 9 years. During the years that the youngest was a toddler we spent a lot of our out-of-home time just hanging out in natural settings. My toddler would pick up stones, find sticks, climb things, run about. I'd chase, redirect and supervise. In the wide open unstructured outdoors my older kids would build Andy Goldsworthy style ephemeral art installations out of natural materials, or create "forts," or whittle, or climb trees, or scour rocky beaches for interesting things. We started geocaching about then, which gave us some interesting math and geography and a fun treasure-hunting goal. I'd give the older kids the digital camera or camcorder and they'd shoot photos and videos. Self-guided nature walks were always fun, the kind with brochures or interpretive signs. They might sketch in a nature journal. We had a couple of sets of lightweight binoculars. We used Peterson nature guides and similar to identify natural species of birds, mushrooms, trees, etc.. The wide open space and the novelty of the outdoors allowed the older kids to be involved in projects and interests with a minimum of interference from the youngster.

One thing that I've really loved to do with my kids is to make a tradition of visiting one particular location or short trail once or twice a week throughout an entire season or two, taking note of what changes, developing very keen eyes for change, noticing more and more about the site each time we go back.

Just a thought.

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#3 of 17 Old 06-15-2010, 04:16 PM
 
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Ok first off it is HARD when you have a little one around this age and older ones. I've done it twice now. What I basically do is to pull right back on situations that are hard with the younger child for as long as need be. No magic solutions. BUT the good news is it gets better, much much better, and you will probably find it much easier within the year.

Don't suppose she naps? I can still normally get an hours nap out of dd2, and so if we are going to the museum or similar we time it so the older kids get a bit of time doing big kid stuff while she is asleep in the pushchair or sling. It is all about timing. Another naughty thing I do is to give her a load of favourite snack food (healthy stuff) and she gets to sit in the pushchair and snack while the older kids get to go round wherever we are with me (obviously this works out better outside), then she gets out and we all go round together. But my youngest is a little older than your youngest-she now gets stuff out of a museum trip too...

I think part of having 2 + kids, of having brothers and sisters, is accepting that no-one is going to get what they really want or even sometimes what they need at all times. My youngest spends way more time in the pushchair and the car than her oldest sibling did at her age. But when she is 6, she will be doing much more cool things than my oldest does now because we will not have a 2 year old to consider also.

TBH think you need to hang in there! It will get better really fast, and then it will be great, sibling relationships are brilliant (mostly)

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#4 of 17 Old 06-15-2010, 04:19 PM
 
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Fillyjonk, just had to comment on your username. My 16yo just won a regional story-writing contest for youth 25 and under with a fabulously weird semi-realistic story inspired by the tale of the Fillyjonk, one of her favourites from her early years.

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#5 of 17 Old 06-15-2010, 04:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heatherdeg View Post
So here's the problem:

Ds is 6yo and dd is 19mo. Up until dd was crawling and trying to constantly escape, we did a lot of our learning through all kinds of out-of-the-house activities... mostly trips to farms and museums, etc.

That's becoming SERIOUSLY. IMPOSSIBLE. with dd. And I don't even know where to turn for advice because the people around me respond with things like "Just give her something to do in a stroller that will keep her occupied" and "Let him go to school for a year". Well, she wants to be with her brother and she's an extremely active kid. Nothing keeps her occupied in a stroller. Ever. And hsing isn't the only thing affected by this, but the other things are easier to manage (ie: I grocery shop very late at night minus kids and crowds).

But I'm really starting to feel... I don't know... but it's not good. I guess "trapped"? We've spent a lot of the last year dealing with things related to our relocation and not much fun stuff at all. I don't know what to do. I feel like I finally am going to have time to do all this cool stuff that ds and I would love to do and I have no idea how I'm going to manage to do it with dd. We're relocating in July and I don't even know anyone I could use for 2-3 days/month to go to museums and stuff without her. And then I feel horribly guilty about the idea of doing that.

Ds is a very get-up-and-go kid, and I'm right there with him (we have our "down" phases, but for the most...).

Thoughts?
can you but 19 mo DD in a MT, toss her on you back and go? I was able to wear my now 2.5 yo son all the time like that for a long time -- i still wear him, for shopping adn so on, but now when he sees his brother doing something he wants to TOO so it no longer works for feild trip kind of stuff.

at 19 month, at 24 months even -- if i had DS2 on my back and kept moving (paceing even) I could go to museums and farm tours and so on ..

Aimee + Scott = Theodore Roosevelt (11/05) and 23 months later Charles Abraham (10/07)....praying for a little sister; the search starts May 2014
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#6 of 17 Old 06-15-2010, 06:10 PM
 
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hi i'm sorry i don't have any advice because i'm pretty much in the same boat. dd is 7 next month and ds is 9months and crawling and into everything. we do get out alot but its very difficult because ds dosn't sleep easily at all he needs lots of quiet and prefers to lie down with me. i use lots of slings all the time but he dosn't sleep well in them so he just gets very tired and irritable all the time. dd is very sociable and wants to be out with others everyday so i find trying to meet these 2 very different needs to be impossible. staying at home dosn't work either because ds is into everything dosn't want any toys only wants everything that isn't safe so needs constant watching. i tried to do some reading with dd today and the only thing he wanted was the book that we were reading, nothing else would do and this was very distracting for dd. sorry to join in with my problem, just wanted to say that you aren't alone - i'm really finding this so difficult and have been wishing that we had a middle child inbetween so that dd would at least have someone to play with while i see to the baby and then we wouldn't have to go out of the house so much to find someone to play with. i'll be interested to read the all the replies.
good luck! hope things get easier for you.

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#7 of 17 Old 06-15-2010, 11:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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moominmamma... I've tried parks. Partially because I'm a firm believer in "outside time" but my ds6 is SO. NOT. a nature/outside kid. The park is okay only if there are other kids there. It breaks my heart because I would've been the kid to eat up everything you wrote and my son is absolutely NOT an outdoorsy kind of kid no matter how hard I try to sneak it up on him (like even trying to do things he likes--but outside). Now that we're relocating, I honestly have no clue where we could even go to do those things, either (in places where I don't have to worry about where I am when nobody's around--which may be my NYC 'burb paranoia, but I'm not sure).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post
Ok first off it is HARD when you have a little one around this age and older ones. I've done it twice now. What I basically do is to pull right back on situations that are hard with the younger child for as long as need be. No magic solutions. BUT the good news is it gets better, much much better, and you will probably find it much easier within the year.
Okay... well I thank you for the acknowledgment that I'm not missing something and that it IS really hard; and the hope that it will get better sooner rather than later.

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Don't suppose she naps?
Nope... of COURSE not. And if she does, it's 30mins MAX at no particular time of day.

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Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post
I think part of having 2 + kids, of having brothers and sisters, is accepting that no-one is going to get what they really want or even sometimes what they need at all times.
ITA with you there. It's just that at 19mo & 6yo, neither one of them understands... and it stinks for mommy, too.

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Originally Posted by Momma Aimee View Post
can you but 19 mo DD in a MT, toss her on you back and go?
I suspect the MT is a backpack type thing? I'm not sure--I haven't tried that. I need to investigate that. Good call--thanks!


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hi i'm sorry i don't have any advice because i'm pretty much in the same boat. dd is 7 next month and ds is 9months and crawling and into everything. we do get out alot but its very difficult because ds dosn't sleep easily at all he needs lots of quiet and prefers to lie down with me. i use lots of slings all the time but he dosn't sleep well in them so he just gets very tired and irritable all the time. dd is very sociable and wants to be out with others everyday so i find trying to meet these 2 very different needs to be impossible. staying at home dosn't work either because ds is into everything dosn't want any toys only wants everything that isn't safe so needs constant watching. i tried to do some reading with dd today and the only thing he wanted was the book that we were reading, nothing else would do and this was very distracting for dd. sorry to join in with my problem, just wanted to say that you aren't alone - i'm really finding this so difficult and have been wishing that we had a middle child inbetween so that dd would at least have someone to play with while i see to the baby and then we wouldn't have to go out of the house so much to find someone to play with. i'll be interested to read the all the replies.
good luck! hope things get easier for you.
Ugh... it just SUUUUUUUUCKS. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my kids and that's part of why this sucks: because neither is really happy. Well, I guess the baby's kind of oblivious for the most, but that's because I've stopped tormenting her into going anywhere.

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#8 of 17 Old 06-16-2010, 09:49 AM
 
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A few ideas, hopefully some will work:

Does your oldest swim well? If so, you could go to a pool - particulalry one with a goood kiddie section. Ditto beach. Use life jackets if it helps you feel better.

Summer Reading programs at the library. Bring DS to particiapte while you chase after the baby. Toddlers are not ususally a great match for libraries, but hey, DS might be happy and you get out of the house which is crucial for sanity.

I would work on doing things in your yard or park or a trail. I hear you when you say Ds is not an outdoorsy type person, but I do question it. I am not sure a 6 yr old is that set in his ways yet as to be called "not an outdoor person". I wonder if anyone is not an outdoor person - or is that a label we ascribe to ourselves? I think embracing the outdoors is so good for people that I would actively work on it. There is a book called Last Child in the Woods which might make for an interesting read.

Do out of the house family stuff on the weekend when you and your partner can take turns with the toddler. Do it every weekend. Break up the week a bit by grocery shopping or library every WEdnesday. It might get you through the weeks...and before you know it (about a year or 2) the 19 month old will be a portable 3 year old.

Toddlers are hard (the hardest, IMHO). Hang in there!

kathy
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#9 of 17 Old 06-16-2010, 10:42 AM
 
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I suspect the MT is a backpack type thing? I'm not sure--I haven't tried that. I need to investigate that. Good call--thanks!
Yes, a soft back pack thing

http://babywearing.wallypop.net/asian.html

that is the one i have ...

i looove it. I still wear my 4.5 yo all the time -- he loves it and begs for his turn.

I can wear my 2.5 for hours -- a whold trip to the zoo.

It is harder now as he wants to be down and active ... but for a loong time he was happy to see and be there.

i like it as it is soft, fits to teh baby / child and me bettter ... and since you "ajust it" each time you put it an there is always a good fit -- no matter which child or outfit. i don't have any extra work going from child to childs. also no hard parts on me or baby.

Aimee + Scott = Theodore Roosevelt (11/05) and 23 months later Charles Abraham (10/07)....praying for a little sister; the search starts May 2014
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#10 of 17 Old 06-16-2010, 03:58 PM
 
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If you have a friend with older kid(s), can you do trips and museums together? I find that very helpful, because younger DS can participate as best he can, but then when he inevitably gets too wild, I can take him to another room to nurse or calm down. Meanwhile older DD can stay in the class and keep going. My friend doesn't mind helping DD here and there when I have to duck out to take care of DS.

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#11 of 17 Old 06-16-2010, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hear you when you say Ds is not an outdoorsy type person, but I do question it. I am not sure a 6 yr old is that set in his ways yet as to be called "not an outdoor person". I wonder if anyone is not an outdoor person - or is that a label we ascribe to ourselves? I think embracing the outdoors is so good for people that I would actively work on it. There is a book called Last Child in the Woods which might make for an interesting read.
I've read the book. *I* am a completely outdoors person. I made the mistake of pushing that on my child by encouraging different types of activities and it wasn't until I was at an HMN meeting where it was pointed out to me that I was pushing my desires and beliefs on my son (and the suggestion was that it might have been contributing to some issues we were having at the time). In my eyes, it wasn't healthy for ANYone to not be outside. Apparently, I was wrong.

Worthy of note that my ds struggled with sensory problems that are not completely resolved. So it's possible that his issues with being outdoors may be tied to that.


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If you have a friend with older kid(s), can you do trips and museums together? I find that very helpful, because younger DS can participate as best he can, but then when he inevitably gets too wild, I can take him to another room to nurse or calm down. Meanwhile older DD can stay in the class and keep going. My friend doesn't mind helping DD here and there when I have to duck out to take care of DS.
We're relocating and don't have any friends or family where we're going. But it's a good thought and I'll keep an eye out for new friends that might fit for that.

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#12 of 17 Old 06-16-2010, 05:23 PM
 
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I've read the book. *I* am a completely outdoors person. I made the mistake of pushing that on my child by encouraging different types of activities and it wasn't until I was at an HMN meeting where it was pointed out to me that I was pushing my desires and beliefs on my son (and the suggestion was that it might have been contributing to some issues we were having at the time). In my eyes, it wasn't healthy for ANYone to not be outside. Apparently, I was wrong.

Worthy of note that my ds struggled with sensory problems that are not completely resolved. So it's possible that his issues with being outdoors may be tied to that.




We're relocating and don't have any friends or family where we're going. But it's a good thought and I'll keep an eye out for new friends that might fit for that.
speaking as an adult with sensory issues and who hates the outside -- yu may be on to something. Enviorment is so much more controled in side. outside it is ...icky ... the grass, the wind, the dirt, the bugs, the weeds ... I can see it

Aimee + Scott = Theodore Roosevelt (11/05) and 23 months later Charles Abraham (10/07)....praying for a little sister; the search starts May 2014
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#13 of 17 Old 06-16-2010, 05:34 PM
 
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I signed ds up for cub scouts when we moved to a small town. My younger ds was 2 at the time and I needed to find something for ds to connect with other kids. I agree with the pp about not having the mindset that your ds won't eventually learn to enjoy the outdoors..at the same time don't force him either. My ds was dx'd with SPD as a toddler and has outgrown/adjusted many of the difficulties he experienced. There is still hope and at the tender age of 6 there are so many changes that can come with time.

I realize that cub scouts is often frowned upon in this forum , but in our experience it has been wonderful for our whole family. I took youngest along to all the meetings, campouts, ect. My older dd's have enjoyed it as well. DH and I have made friendships as well.
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#14 of 17 Old 06-16-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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#15 of 17 Old 06-16-2010, 05:52 PM
 
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My son is 4.5 and my daughter is 22 months. AND she is a handful. He never strayed from me. Her, we call her the runaway baby.

I wear my little one in the front in an ergo. I like ergos better than mei tais because you don't have the long straps. That's a to each is own. Same thing that I carry her on my front rather than my back. If your little one hasn't grown up in a carrier, she may be resistant to one now. You'll just have to give it the ol' college try. I know if I take mine out of the car and put her right in the carrier, we're fine. If I let her run around then try and put her in the carrier, she protests.

Our 2 big problems in going places is her running away and her naptime. Things like open gym happen when she naps. For now my solution is mainly to do playdates for my oldest. I babysit a little girl 3 times a week. I don't charge her dad anything to do this so it works out really well for both of us. When we do go places, I like to have another adult who will stay with the older kids while I follow my little one around. Or, if we go to the children's museum, I tell my son that we can only go if we follow her around because I am not going to fight her to get her to stay in the room he wants to stay in. So far he agrees to this since the alternative is we don't go. OP, I know you'll be relocating and won't know people, but for me playdates is my savior. Your oldest is a bit older than my son, but it would work for me at that age as well because I believe in delayed academics. (We're also on the unschooling spectrum, but we're not radical.)

We also do the baby pools so that they're both in shallow water where I can stay on the heels of my daughter and my son can free roam around the pool (we just got a big dump truck and some other water toys to make the pool more fun.)

At this point I really do feel like I just have to do the best I can to keep my kids entertained right now. I hear around 2 it gets easier. We're 2 months from then. We'll see.

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#16 of 17 Old 08-21-2010, 08:16 AM
 
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Moominmamma, sorry, only just returned to this thread!

Well done your 16 year old! Was the story that inspired her "the fillyjonk who believed in disasters?" love that story.

My mum has a mug with "your" face on it, iykwim.

Do you like Tove Jansson's adult books at all? Have just finished latest (I think) collection of her short stories-travelling light. good stuff.

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Fillyjonk, just had to comment on your username. My 16yo just won a regional story-writing contest for youth 25 and under with a fabulously weird semi-realistic story inspired by the tale of the Fillyjonk, one of her favourites from her early years.

Miranda

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#17 of 17 Old 08-21-2010, 08:42 AM
 
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We don't homeschool, but my kids have a similar age gap(about 5 years). I concur with wearing the little one. The only way I ever got to do anything with DS1, or accomplish anything like shopping, gardening, etc. was to 'confine' DS2 on my back. With him up there, we could go anywhere and do practically anything. It was great!
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