I never wanted to be one of those moms who had all of my older children do all of the work and take care of the little ones so that I could “have” my large family. I just didn’t see that it was fair to them. I see many older girls “stuck” in large families constantly taking care of their baby siblings and I think, “Where is the Mom?” I know she is busy, I have been there, but I just saw it as unfair to have them constantly taking care of the little ones so that mom could do other things. I even watched many of times and felt jealous because I was ALWAYS holding my little ones and did not get a break at all.
What do you do? Is it wrong to have the older children taking care of the little ones? I think you can have a balance. As a Mom of lots of little ones I had to realize that my life was going to be busy. There was no time to do things that “I” wanted to do. Get on the internet for a few minutes…..forget that. Take a shower every day when I wanted…..forget that. Even when I was so sick in bed with the flu, I had to figure out how to do that with a nursing baby and a busy toddler. I had to set aside my thoughts of what “I” was used to doing and start doing what my first job was to do….taking care of the little ones.
I do think that older ones can help with the younger children to a point, but I don’t feel that the majority of their care should be upon them. I have no problem having my older ones help me take care of the little ones, especially if we are going to be doing something bigger—like getting ready for an event or even taking them all out of the home. There was a time when if I was going to be taking them all out to even the park, I needed help or we were not going. You have to do what you have to do, but a constant stream of older ones holding the responsibility is not good.
What we did was have times during the day that the older ones were to spend with the little ones. This gave me a break from having to “do it all.” As well as help teach the older ones how to be responsible, interact with little ones, as well as do something for someone else.
Some of the older ones I had to have a list of activities that they could play with the younger ones. I printed it off and had it hanging by our activity shelf. This way, when play time came around, they could look at the list and see what they could do with the younger ones. I listed things that I didn’t have time to do with them (or things that were WAY too messy to do with all of them.)
- Go Fish
- Candy Land
- Paper cutting and glue
I had them play in various parts of the home so that they wouldn’t be interrupted. If I had to keep my eye on some of them, I kept them near me where I was working, but still enough so that they could feel they were “alone.”
I scheduled it right into our school day and divided it up for the week so that everyone had a chance to play with a younger one. I even did a time for the baby. I have many pictures of my older one reading books to my toddler. I didn’t even have time to do that during my busy day. I am thankful she enjoyed reading to them.
As my younger ones are older now, I can divide up the time that the older children spend with them as well. Now they enjoy playing things like board games as a group, going outside to play catch, or playing red light green light. My boys love when older brother Evan, builds them creations out of Legos. It may seem simple, but it is a time that they get to build some bonding time with the younger ones and at the same time, I can get a break.
My little ones look forward to the day and often ask, “Who gets me today?” If you haven’t implemented this before in your large family, expect your older ones to grumble and complain a bit. I had the eye rolls, the staring at the clock—in hopes of their time to fly by, and a couple of verbal complaints in the beginning. I just kept it positive and said, “Wow, you really did a good job playing with Stephen today. He really looks forward to the time you spend with him.” Things like that. Build them up. Let them know that what they are doing is making a lasting impression upon their younger siblings. Be consistent. Continue doing it everyday.
Don’t let them feel that because they grew up in a large family that life is burdensome or that they always had to take care of a sibling. Teach them to build relationships, grow bonds of friendship among each other, and to instill good character traits among one another. We are training up our children to have compassion for one another, to help when there is a need, and to learn how to interact with little ones. We are NOT having more children so that they can take the brunt of the work that God has given to us. We don’t have large families so that we can still be “comfortable” and have “me time.” All those things will come back as they get older, I promise moms of little ones. But for now, we need to set aside our ideals and pick up our boot straps and just figure it out.
Be blessed as you go about your day. Smile even if you can’t get everything done. Put down your phone, turn off the tv, and dig into the work that is set before you. Know that there are moms out there in the same situation as you are.