If you find yourself expecting a six-year age gap between your children, here are our family’s experiences with how the two ages weave together.
The cutest little brothers they are!
Two Brothers With A Six-Year Age Gap
We all know that you can’t plan an age gap between children. Adding children to your family – no matter what that looks like – can be unpredictable. I had once thought I’d try to have my children 3 years apart like my sister and I were, but circumstances took me down a different path.
While it’s perfectly normal to experience a “grieving period” when the age gap is different than you anticipated, know that there are pros and cons to every single age gap, so really, your family will flourish no matter what!
But if you find yourself with two kids about six years apart, you might find it helpful to read some of the ways this has been both extra fun and challenging for us.
Our kids are 8 and 2 at the time of writing this post, so I can only speak to the years we’ve passed. But so far, it’s been an awesome, wild ride!
The Wonderful Things About Our Age Gap
Mazen was mostly independent when Birch was born
From the start, it was a little easier having a six-year-old who was mostly independent since my arms were full with a newborn. Mazen could get his own snack from the pantry, use the toilet on his own, and spent weekdays in kindergarten getting his energy out. This made those first few sleep-deprived months much easier on all of us. While at 6 Mazen still had plenty of energy and needs that we made sure to meet, they were a little easier to manage than a 2-3 year old’s.
Big brother teaches little brother new tricks
This was what I was looking forward to most when I knew we’d have a sibling for Mazen! He uses a different voice when he talks to Birch, and naturally it is THE.CUTEST.THING. Like when he told Birch all about Valentine’s Day!
Mazen can read to Birch or teach him how to stack blocks. Birch looks up to Mazen in a different light than he looks to us. Mazen is already his “super cool big bro” and when mom and dad are asking him to do something and Birch starts to protest, Mazen can often come in and save the day.
Even tasks like putting his shoes on are easier if I can get Mazen to give him some encouragement.
Of course, this teaching isn’t always helpful. I may have the youngest toddler in history to begin to say potty words. And I have caught Mazen saying things like “This is how you lick your toes!”
6 years isn’t too much of an age gap to not like the same things
Now that Birch can talk and run, the games they have in common have increased – especially open-ended, imaginative play, builds developmental skills for both of them despite their age difference!
They now play Star Wars Battle and make forts together. We have dance parties that satisfy both ages! I can already see how little siblings grow up faster than eldest children do because Mazen is always showing Birch a new game that’s a liiiiitle bit above his age.
Recently, we went outside as a family to play and Mazen said to Birch, “Would you like to play Bigfoot, go to the ice pond, or visit the lion?” Birch thought for a second and said “Play Bigfoot!” I love hearing them interact <3
The Challenges: Very Different Needs
Having different needs is both a pro and a con! But I’m adding it to the challenges because I think it’s more relevant here.
In many ways the boys can be opposites.
I can’t let Birch out of my sight, but that means he never gets into trouble. Mazen, however, is fine to be in another room or floor of the house, but sometimes I do worry about the things he might be harming.
Like the time he went to my room, got an antique diamond ring of my grandmother’s (ahem, a REAL diamond), and took it to the neighbors’. Thank goodness the ring returned home (can you imagine if he’d lost it in the yard?!). I only knew it had left my house because the neighbors told their mom who told me!
On the other hand, I was also working at the computer the other week and Mazen brought me a “cocktail” on a tray. While there was no alcohol involved, he had squeezed the oranges himself. He’s very clever and creative!
Mazen can get himself dressed but I can’t make him get in the car if he doesn’t want to go somewhere. Birch needs help with most things, but I can still pick him up and put him in his car seat and he has no idea where we’re going!
Family activities need to appeal to both kids
- We can’t take Birch skiing yet.
- Mazen is “over” some of our younger playgrounds.
- They have totally different friends.
- One can swim and one can’t.
- They eat very different meals.
But even within those topics there is overlap. There are playgrounds they both can enjoy, and Mazen actually loves Birch’s friends and vice versa.
Expectation levels are very different
Mazen has chores he is expected to do that Birch is not old enough for yet, like putting his dish in the dishwasher. This sometimes causes drama because “he’s only two” is never a good reason.
I will say that Birch is actually more enthusiastic about doing chores, so I’ve figured out some age-appropriate things he can help me with, like unloading the dishwasher and folding his laundry. He’s thrilled to help, just like his big brother!.
Through the joys and the challenges, there is no bond like siblings <3