What do I do with him?

A new parenting dilemma is looming on the horizon. All of a sudden, during half-term, I realised it was on its way. I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming before.

My eldest is a tween. He’s not yet starting to pull away from Mummy and Daddy or (God forbid) find us ’embarrassing’, but he is definitely trying to detach himself from his sister and what she wants to do. The problem is, there’s only one of me and I have to look after all three of them at once.

My eldest is nearly five years older than his little sister. At nearly 6, and in Year 1, she is happy still to do almost pre-school stuff (although she is equally happy to do ‘dangerous’ climbing or watch Pirates of the Caribbean). At 10, with mainly 11 year old friends and in Year 6, her brother most definitely isn’t.

I am nine years older than my own sister, and my brother is six and a half years older than her. I don’t recall there ever being a problem when we were kids. I think the age gap was SO big, that we just did different things. By the time my sister was old enough to influence what the family did, we were old enough to do our own thing.

The kids and I are big fans of the (almost) local park. It’s great, there is so much to do. There’s a good playground, ducks to feed, animals to look at, lots of room to run around and play football or frisbee, an ice cream shop and trees to climb. In the winter we spend an hour or so there, but in summer we will spend four hours there without even noticing.

But when we went there during half-term, I sensed my son’s discomfort. He was the oldest child there. Many of the children were his sister’s age. Or younger.

My younger son, despite his intelligence and his closeness to his big brother, retains a lovely childish innocence. He is still happy, even excited, to be at the park. Even if he is also bigger than nearly everyone there. When we went to see Mister Maker off CBeebies, he was buzzing with the excitement of meeting someone ‘from the telly’ and remembered every word that Mister Maker had said to them. He wasn’t bothered by being surrounded by toddlers and pre-schoolers. Inspired, he rushed home to ‘make stuff’, while his brother sulked, moaned and grumbled.

So what do I do with my eldest? The problem isn’t going to go away, it’s only going to become more pronounced. My mum says ‘You’ll just have to leave him at home’. I don’t think that’s the solution for a number of reasons. For one thing, if I’m taking the kids to the park it’s because I want them to have fresh air and burn off some energy. If I leave him at home, he’s going to be reading (at best) or watching telly.

And I don’t think either of us are ready to leave him at home, anyway. He is only 10. I was left at his age, but I was incredibly mature and responsible. And I don’t think he is. He has some freedom – he can wander round the village on his own, both boys are allowed to walk to their Grandma’s (even taking their little sister with them) and if I’m in a shop, I will let him go into a nearby shop on his own. But at the moment, I think being left completely on his own is a step too far.

And, of course, he’s part of this family and I want him to remain part of the family. Families do things together. Even families with teenagers. We just need to work out what are the ‘right’ things for us to do together, without making either of them feel out of place. I guess, as ever, the answer lies with my younger son – find something which is right for the ‘in-between’ child and hopefully it won’t be too wrong for either of the others.

If you have been through this and have any suggestions, though, I would be very happy to hear them!

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I can definitely see your dilemma. I don’t have any advice I’m afraid as have never been in the situation. There was 4 years between my sister and me but we never actually got on anyway so didn’t do things together. I stayed at home as soon as I was old enough to do so. We only ever got dragged out shopping or to see family on the weekends so it didn’t bother me.
    At half term we just did our own thing. I don’t think my mum had a clue how to please us both lol.
    I think you’re doing a good job though and I think trying to find and inbetween compromise is your best bet.

    Found you through the #oldiesbutgoodies blog hop x

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  2. I wish I had some great advice for you but sadly not. My oldest is 9 and his sisters are 5 and I find this problem already. We tend to compromise sometimes I insist he plays with his sisters and he is rewarded with time with me when they are in bed. Good luck, Mich x

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  3. Thanks very much for commenting, ladies, I really appreciate it.
    Good idea to reward eldest when sister is in med, Mich. We have difficulties getting our lot to bed as we live in a bungalow, so they all tend to go at the same time. I think I need to get a grip of that!

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  4. I experienced this at about the same time as you. It becomes harder and harder to find some form of activity that entertains all three of them – my eldest daughter won’t go to the park anymore either. I think sometimes they need to know that we all do things together – maybe that means sending her to the cafe to get the coffees whilst the others play? And other times, i take them out individually to satisfy their individual needs….tough call but one we’re all experiencing 🙂

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  5. Thanks very much for commenting, it’s good to know you’re always going through similar things to me, Suzanne. We struggle with the individual time thing because my husband works such long hours, so he’s not around much. Apart from the weekend, when it’s non-stop boys’ sport!

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