Age Gap: Toddler and Teen

Cynthia Dermody

siblings far apart in age

Photo by NunyaBeezWax

What's harder? Having kids close in age or farther apart? Ask me, and I'd say having a toddler and baby was the hardest thing I've ever done -- both physically and emotionally! But then again, it's impossible for me to say since I only have the two. So I asked two stay-at-home moms, one with a toddler and a baby and another with a toddler and a teen, to compare notes.

Yesterday, busykids said being mama to a toddler and a baby is way harder, though, like me, she can't speak from experience. But mom20yearsapart can -- here's what the mother of six children -- including a toddler and a teen 14 years apart -- has to say.

Cafe Cynthia: Did you plan to have such a wide age gap?

mom20yearsapart: No, my 18 month old daughter wasn't planned. I was happy with what I already had, but someone thought I needed to do it just one more time. I already had two teens when my 7 year old and 8 year old were born, so it wasn't a big deal this time around.

How did your teen feel about the new addition?

Everyone was happy. My teen would have rather had had a little brother, but he's still happy with his sister and enjoys playing with her and teaching her things.

What's the best thing about having a toddler and a teen? I could think of at least one biggie -- free babysitting!

When my teen is home and I have to run to the store or go pick up the other girls from school, he will watch his little sister with no problem. If hubby and I want to go out for a few hours, then we will pay him to watch the girls.

But you don't want to rely too much on teens because they will rebel. Your teens shouldn't be the parents. It's good that I have him around more in the winter. If I have to run to the store once he's home from school, or go pick up the other kids, I don't have to bundle my toddler up and take her out into the cold.

What's the hardest thing about having a toddler and a teen?

Coordinating family outings and activities that all the kids enjoy is a little challenging. My son will go watch a movie with his friends from school because most of the movies he wants to see we can't take the other kids to, or I don't want to see them. During the summer, we take the kids to a drive-in to watch movies. I can usually get the tot to sleep before the movie starts.

As for trips, it all depends on where we are going. We took a family trip to Florida last year. My teen was cool with some of the things we did, but other things he had already seen before, so he wasn't enjoying himself.

Do you worry that the age gap will prevent your toddler and teen from having a close relationship?

No, my two older kids used to be close when they were kids and now my oldest son (21) and daughter (20) almost can't stand to be in the same room together.

What do you think is harder -- having a toddler and a baby or a toddler and a teen?

I have done the toddler and baby thing a couple of times, and I'm just not sure which is easier. My teen is an honors student and doesn't give me too much trouble. I do have some attitude problems from time to time, but nothing that gets out of hand. With a baby and a toddler, one con is having to buy two times the amount of diapers.

++What types of challenges do you face raising both a toddler and a teen?

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