Creating Play Opportunities with Children of Varying Ages

We are a family with kiddos of vastly different ages. You know what? I love it. Sure, I’m going to be parenting until I’m 60, but whatever! All of you mamas of little ones close in age- you are superheroes. Truly. I don’t know how you do it. Sometimes I feel like I cheated the system or something!

With my oldest being nearly 13, and my youngest nearly 3, I have more help than most mamas could hope for! I would have never imagined this little family 15 years ago, but it is exactly what I needed!

There is only one downside. I was an only child growing up, so I had always hoped that my own children would have very close relationships with one another. Not so easy when your kiddos are mixed genders and very different ages.

Coming up with activities that we all can do together (and enjoy it!) is HARD. Below is a list of tried-and-true tips that our family to keep our children of varying ages interacting and enjoying each other!

We play A LOT of games.

Don’t get me wrong there is often fighting among my people over which game we are going to play. My house is not a 1950s TV show, after all. But once we get started, we almost always have fun! For harder games, the younger two can pick another family member to team up with, and even easy games can be fun for all of us.

We love games that leave us in heaps of laughter, like Catchphrase and Apples to Apples. And all three of my kiddos love the Game of Life. I could live without it, but that’s neither here nor there. Games are a great way for all of us to spend time together and still have fun!

We try to do physical activities together.

We are fortunate to live in a warmer climate, so we can often take family walks, bike rides, or go to a park. Even if you live in a colder climate, light exercising together is always a win! Many gyms have amenities for an entire family, as well as indoor pools. And my children LOVE the rare occasion when we can all play in the snow together.

If none of these options are easy for your family, a simple living room dance party can totally re-set the mood in your house. Sometimes all your kiddos (of all ages!) might need is a little silliness and burning off energy!

Keep a lot of “generic” toys in the house.

The kind of toys that you can make into whatever you want them to be! There are several toys that both our 7-year-old and 3-year-old boys love to play with. For example, legos, duplos, Magna-Tiles, and Lincoln Logs are all timeless building toys. The two boys might use them for different purposes, but they both love to use them. 

We also go through a lot of play-doh and kinetic sand! Although play-doh and kinetic sand may not hold my oldest daughter’s attention for a terribly long time, she will almost always come and play with the younger ones for a short while. If nothing else, she enjoys helping them make their creations, since they can’t always do it on their own!

Although it can be challenging to build close relationships among your children of varying ages, I absolutely believe it can be done! What do you do in your family to foster play among your kids?

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