How do you make sure that your younger children are getting the same experiences that your older children had?
When our oldest kids were younger we never spent Sunday afternoons watching football or soccer on TV. Neither Steve or I really cared to. We would much rather buckle our little ones into their car seats and go on long rides exploring nearby towns, or head over to an aquarium or a zoo, or maybe visit a children's museum… that sort of thing.
Now we seem burned-out on all of that stuff… and after living through a busy week of running kids from this practice/lesson/party/event to another, we we don't want to go anywhere or do anything on our “Sundays off”. And in defense of our laziness, these “Sundays off” only happen during January-March when the kids' soccer season is on “winter break”.
And yes, that's another thing that my older kids never had to do when they were younger… attend everyone else's travel-soccer games.
These days my three older boys love watching sports- and it is fun for me to turn game watching into a little “house party”, complete with homemade pretzels, chips and queso, pizza, and dessert. And I even allow them to eat their game-food on the couch while watching the game, something they are normally never allowed to do. They look forward to these afternoons, and I do too. But the younger ones (well, my girls anyway), don't enjoy watching the game at all. So they might hang out in the kitchen doing crafts, or having a tea party, and just join in for the food and snacks.
I know that that my girls are having fun too… but I also know that they aren't really having a say in how we spend our day.
As I started to really think about this….
I realized that the idea of the younger kids' childhood being different went beyond how we spend our weekends. It's other things…. like when our older kids want to spend Friday nights watching “Gold Rush” (Discovery Channel show), and the younger ones would rather watch a movie like “Tinkerbell: Secret of the Wings”…. guess where the parents usually are? Sitting in the family room watching the much-more-enjoyable grown-up show while the three younger kids are off in another room watching their movie on their own.
I think as the older kids get older- much of what they choose to do aligns more with how Steve and I would like to spend our down-time. And so we gravitate to doing those things. But after I shared with Steve my feelings on how we weren't doing enough to focus on spending time doing what the younger kids enjoy doing, he and I decided to make a more conscious effort to do just that.
So now Steve has declared Friday nights as “movie watching night” and asks the younger kids to pick the film. He makes up some big batches of popcorn, and sets up a little fort of bean bag chairs and blankets in our playroom, and snuggles in for “Tinkerbell”, “Maramaduke”, or even yet another showing of “High School Musical”. The important thing is that the kids get to direct the activity and they have Dad all to themselves.
Cooking with my younger kids allows me an opportunity to try out some of the recipes I've been pinning on Pinterest and sharing here on my Sunday Links to Love posts… all while spending time with my kids and teaching them some basic lessons on how to cook. I certainly developed my own love for cooking and baking by learning from my own Mom when I was a little girl….
I try to divide up the tasks so that everyone has the chance to measure, sift, and stir, and of course all of the kids get to share in the results of our labor! Sometimes it just the girls and I, and sometimes my youngest son Alex likes to cook with us too, and once in awhile an older sib likes to get involved too. But the point here is that I allow my younger kids to direct what we are doing, and get some un-divided attention from Mom.
I know there are other advantages of being a younger sibling…
Like having an older sibling around to teach you how to build a fort out of blankets, or play “Crazy 8's” with you. Or to set up a “store” where they covertly get you to practice your math skills while “shopping” for toys and trinkets. And about another million cool experiences that you get to have with one of your older siblings that you otherwise wouldn't if you were the oldest… or the only. But that doesn't get Mom and Dad off the hook of making sure that we play at their level, and allow them to help make decisions on how our family spends it's time. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of this.
Each week Nicole from Moments that Define Life and I present our Share Your Life Link-Up a place where you can link up any post that shares a bit of your life with us! Link up here or at Nicole's blog and have your post displayed in both places! We'd love for you to join us!
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So please link up if you wrote a recent blog post that shares your life… or please take a moment to leave a comment and let me know if you think your younger kids are having the same childhood as their older siblings…