Having two kids that are in different developmental stages is a crazy balancing act. Between their different toys, schedules, food requirements, and even their eating utensils, it can make you feel like a circus clown juggling various sizes of sippy cups. Having an older kid as part of the equation complicates things even more, because they tend to want little to do with what their younger sibling is up to. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the struggles only moms with older kids will understand.
Thankfully both of my boys get along pretty well, until, of course, the younger one breaks something or if my older son decides from the get-go that he doesn't even want his brother to touch something of his with his "sticky hands" (I feel that way most of the time, too). I end up doing a lot of extra work to make up for when my little one feels left out, or when he wants to be just like his brother, but can't.
Sometimes I wish that I had children closer in age, so their schedules and their schools would have been more closely aligned and closer to each other (respectively). Though my older son isn't that much "older," he is old enough that when he takes showers, his little brother is still terrified of them. He can play independently, but his little brother needs lots of help. Just when I feel like I can relax into having the relative freedom that having an soon-to-be 6 year old, I am reminded of this other guy in my life, the 2 year old, who brings me back to reality: there is still a long road ahead.
Needing To Be Two Places At Once
One kid's pooping on the potty, the other one is still finishing up his mac and cheese. One kid wants more sliced cucumbers, and the other would like for you to wipe his butt. Which one takes priority? Who to help first? Is it the kid who is about to throw his entire plate of tomato sauce pasta on the floor in a rage because you aren't meeting his food requests fast enough? Or the kid that is about to dash off the toilet with poop hanging off his butt to tell you once more that he needs your help, in case you didn't hear him the first time?
School Pickup In The Middle Of The Little One's Nap
The bane of my existence has been my younger son's nap falling at the exact time of my older son's school pickup. Last year, when my older son only went to school for like, three minutes (OK, it was from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) of course that was during his little bro's second nap (ah, the good old days). And this year, my Little's once-a-day nap falls at the same time I pickup my older son from his full-day (finally!) school.
If I am lucky enough to be able to do the dreaded "transition" and proceed to do some Houdini type levitation on my little guy from his bed so that he won't even feel me carrying him to the stroller, and manage to keep him asleep all the way to his brother's school, I'm screwed once I get there. I can't hoist the stroller up all those school stairs, and though I've been tempted, I can't just leave him sleeping outside because hey, this isn't Norway. Sometimes I'll find someone I know who has already picked up their kid and ask if they can watch him while I go grab his brother, but I know this is a big ask. Most of the time it just means the Little Guy's nap is cut short, and I have a cranky little one for the rest of the afternoon. Ugh.
All The Different Ways To Carry Beverages
Before having kids, I had no idea that beverages could be contained in so many various ways: Bottles, sippy cups with lids, sippy cups with straws, "magic" sippy cups that don't spill when turned upside-down, juice boxes, smoothie pouches, performance water bottles that stay frozen for 12 hours, I have at least two of all of the above to suit the many moods and drinking stages of my two kids. In some of my darker moments, I imagine myself opening my kitchen cabinet, when a wave of plastic cups overwhelms and suffocates me, and no one finds my body for days.
Two Of Every Snack (Because No Sharing)
The number one rule of having an older child and a younger one is that there is absolutely no sharing of snacks. Everyone knows that the younger sibling has germs that will infect whatever snack the older child is currently enjoying and even the mere suggestion of sharing can bring on full-blown blood-curdling screams of, "I can't eat that once he's put his fingers on it!"
I go with whatever makes Mommy's life easier, and bring two of everything, even the thing that I know my younger son hates because you never know when that moment will hit, when your little one changes his mind. A 2 year old will arbitrarily say he hates donuts and then the one day you only buy your older kid a donut before the place closes will be The Day when your toddler sees Peppa Pig eating a donut and suddenly your youngest has never wanted a donut so badly in his life and you're dumb out of luck.
How All Your Older Kid's Toys Suddenly Become Choking Hazards
Everything was going fine in my house, toy-wise, when my older son was just under 3 and was finally playing independently with toys that were complicated enough they required he pay attention and figure them out on his own for some time. I finally had time to put more than just mascara on in the morning before going back to my baby and nursing him, or pumping for later (if we had just finished a nursing session) and my older son was discovering the joys of fantasy play.
However, what I didn't realize was that the enjoyment of the independent play time would be short-lived, because as soon as my second son started crawling around the floor, he went straight for his brother's tiniest toys. We quickly swept up all the teeny toys and tried to find places out of the way for them, but that also meant most of them were out of the way for my older son, too. And this, my friends, is when the iPad became a family member.
How Frustrating It Is That Your Little One Can't Figure Out The Older Kid's Toys
When my little one got old enough to actually play with his brother's toys without choking on them, it didn't actually get easier. That's because as intriguing as a marble ramp play set looks when your big brother is putting it together, when you're 2 year old, it can get pretty annoying when all you manage to do is lose your marbles. I mean that literally and figuratively. I'm always on the floor tinkering with Magna Tiles, marble ramps, and intricate puzzles to make my younger son's creations look exactly like the ones his nearly 6-year-old brother is making.
And here I thought the point of having more than one kid was so they could entertain each other while I low-key stalk my exes on Facebook.
Older Kid Playdates That Your Younger Kid Is Not Invited To
This usually doesn't happen if the older kid has a younger sibling, or if the parent is a normal level of chill, but occasionally you'll have an "only child" situation where the parent has expressly noted that she would like a parent or caregiver to be at the playdate but that her child would prefer no younger siblings be present. Well, what am I supposed to do, get a babysitter so that this play date can happen? Thanks, but no thanks.
"Babyish" Birthday Parties You Have No Choice But To Bring Your Older Kid To
The reverse of the above situation is when your younger kid has a birthday party to go to, and you have to bring the older sibling (again, because you have nowhere else to put him and he can't stay at home alone since he is just 5). Younger kid birthday parties are the worst thing you could take your older kid to, in your older kid's opinion. "I'm not a baby!" they'll declare. "I don't want to go to a baby party!" And you're like, "Dude, we went to the exact same play space last week and you loved it. It's going to be the same thing, we're just celebrating a 3 year old's birthday." Your older kid will hold fast to the notion that you are being completely unreasonable, and will moan the whole way there. But once he sees the fireman pole he refused to leave for hours the week before, he'll forgive you. For the time being, at least.
Your Older Kid Has Decided He Would Also Like To Be The Baby Today
And then there are the times when your older kid decides that he's over being "the older child" and would like to go back to being a baby. "Carry me!" he'll insist, at the exact moment that you're loaded with grocery bags, and pushing the umbrella stroller that requires two hands to navigate the uneven sidewalks in your neighborhood. "I can't walk all the way home. My legs are too tired!" Or it will be T-minus three minutes to the time you need to leave for school, and he will say he no longer remembers how to put on his own clothes and will lie heavy and limp on the floor until you dress him. Once in a while, my 5 year old will put in a request to breastfeed (declined, on my part, because those parts have not been in service for some time. Also, I'm afraid of all those sharp teeth.)