Age gap Mum-do I parent differently?

Age-gap-parenting1

I have a really big age gap between my youngest and my older children. When Rose was born Holly had just turned thirteen and Lewis, fourteen. It’s funny because I had such a small age gap between my first two children and now this huge expanse of time has passed and I have now ended up with teenagers and a toddler.

I get asked a lot what I do differently, and the answer is practically everything.

It’s really hard for me to even write this because in no way do I want Lewis and Holly to feel that the way in which I parented them when they were little was wrong or bad and that Rose is my second chance to get it right. Because it’s not like that, I have just learnt a lot and have the wonderful advantage of hindsight. This doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes now, of course I do. I have also learnt that even if you implement change, children are so individual they often resist anyway.

When Lewis was born I was only eighteen, barely old enough to look after myself. I was in a relationship on the road to nowhere, a road littered with lies and abuse. Holly was born exactly a year and ten days later and when she was newborn I found the strength from somewhere to go it alone. I was a single Mum to two children under two and life was hard work.

Six months later and refusing to live off benefits I went back to work as an agency dental nurse and the children went to nursery. I simply didn’t have the time to do the things with the children that I should have done. A luxury that I have now with Rose and one of the many benefits of working from home is time.

When Lewis and Holly were little I would depend on the nursery to do all the fun stuff like crafting and painting. I so regret not doing that with them as I get so much pleasure watching Rose making her beautiful splodges of messy artwork. I don’t think it has affected them in any way. In fact Lewis takes GCSE art so the nursery and school must have done a good job at nurturing his natural talent. I just feel it’s me that missed out.

Another thing I’ve done quite differently diet. When Lewis and Holly were small I wouldn’t have entertained the idea of baby led weaning (did it even exist back then?!) All three children were breastfed but with Rose I breastfed the longest (20 months) but again I had the time, inclination and energy to dedicate and give up a little bit of myself for her for that little bit longer. Lewis was fed jars of baby food from 4 months old (those were the guidelines back then) and Holly was on a mix of jars and home made purées from 4 months. With Rose we did baby led weaning and she started on finger foods at 6 months and has never eaten a jar of baby food or had anything puréed. The order of food fussiness from most fussy to least predictably is; Lewis, Holly and then Rose.

Money was another major factor and before I met Mr T (when Lewis was three and Holly was two) I couldn’t afford a car so used the bus. Anyone with young children who uses public transport will know it’s a serious mission. Don’t forget this was before the days you could wheel a buggy on to the bus. It goes like this…

Ensure buggy is collapsed before the bus arrives, timed perfectly so that you only have to spend a couple of minutes detaining wriggling children threatening to play with the traffic at any moment. Bus arrives and leave buggy plus all shopping on the side of the road. Tell Lewis to walk on to bus and find a seat. NOT UPSTAIRS. Chuck Holly to the old lady at the front who looks responsible and hope she likes babies. Jump back off bus yelling at the bus driver not to drive off with your children. Grab the buggy, haul it onto the bus, jump off again. Repeat instruction to bus driver. Grab shopping. Throw into luggage area with buggy. Reclaim Holly and find lewis who’s gone upstairs. I used to really get my sweat on!

It seems funny now but looking back it was pretty dire. Hoping for a patient bus driver and someone nice to lend a hand which happened rarely on either count. Shopping days were not my favourite.

After Mr T and I married came stability for all of us. He has been their Dad and loved them as so, unconditionally. My rock, my saviour, my partner in crime. We didn’t intentionally leave such a huge age gap but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to get pregnant and we sadly had our share of losses in the 8 years we tried for Rose.

I could go on and on about the different ways in which I have parented and have given only a few examples. I could talk much more about sleeping arrangements, screen time and discipline, but then this post would turn into a book. The subject of parenting is so vast. I think I’ve done what every parent tries to do and that is the best I can with the tools and know-how that I have at the time.

One thing I do know is that no matter how differently things have gone I have loved each one of my children in exactly the same way and I think you will all agree that that is the most important thing of all.

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Comments

    • Amy

      Written on 11th March 2015

      Reply

      Hi Toni, Wow it’s so lovely to ‘meet’ someone in the same boat as me! :) It’s so different isn’t depending on what your circumstances are like at the time-that counts for an awful lot. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment xx

    • Amy

      Written on 11th March 2015

      Reply

      Hi Jenny-thanks so much for reading and commenting. That’s really lovely of you to say :) I completely agree regarding the studies. I’m pretty sure that as we go along and have more children we change the way in which we parent and need to remember that all children are different and so respond to different methods. And wow you’re on #5?! Hat off to you lady xx

  • Donna

    Written on 11th March 2015

    Reply

    Oh wow. What a road you have been on. It’s amazing how you can do things differently with hindsight and even with 20 months between mine I feel I have done things differently second time around. It looks like you have a wonderful, solid family unit now – everyone looks so happy.
    PS, I giggled at ‘Mr T’ Obviously an 80’s child x
    Donna recently posted…Baker Ross Easter CraftingMy Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 12th March 2015

      Reply

      It has been a long road to get to where we are now but has gone very quickly if that makes sense. Lewis will be 16 soon and I just can’t get my head around that! Thanks hun, we are very happy and content with life :) And hehe yes 80s child through and through hun! xx

  • Coombe Mill

    Written on 12th March 2015

    Reply

    I had all 6 of my children close together and later in life, however there are differences in the way I did things too as I was working in an office with the first two and here at Coombe Mill for the last 4. 18 sounds so very young, I would have been a rubbish mother at that age and it sounds like you did a grand job. Things change with time and as you mature, it is a voice of wisdom and maturity that can write a post like this. All 3 of your children are very lucky to have you.
    Coombe Mill recently posted…From Farm Pigs to TeapigsMy Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 12th March 2015

      Reply

      Thank you so much Fiona that really means a lot to me. When I look back now I honesty don’t know how I managed sometimes. It was hard but I’m lucky that I met Justin and he took us all on, loved us and looked after us, it was only then that I was able to flourish as a Mother, truly. I am honestly in awe of you having 6 children closely together and already think you’re a fab Mummy as I follow your blog and have seen what you accomplish with them and with Coombe Mill. Thanks for reading xx

  • Jenni - Odd Socks and Lollipops

    Written on 12th March 2015

    Reply

    This is really interesting I always wonder if we had another, what we would do differently, I suppose this is magnified with an age gap as you are a different person I am vastly difference now at 29 than I was at 19 say.
    Jenni – Odd Socks and Lollipops recently posted…My Captured Moment #1My Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 12th March 2015

      Reply

      Exactly! There is so much water under the bridge and definitely magnified with the gap, I think I just question how I do things sometimes and can’t help to compare the two periods, although I suppose that’s not a bad thing. Like you I am vastly different as an adult than a late teen xx

    • Amy

      Written on 12th March 2015

      Reply

      It is very different-so much has changed over the years. And thanks so much Kaye it does make a world of difference. He is my knight in shining armour as gushy as that sounds. xx

  • Luisa @ Looking for mama me

    Written on 12th March 2015

    Reply

    Oh gosh, so much has changed in parenting in recent years. I only have one, and shes only 5 months but I am constantly asking my mother for advice and she hasnt even heard of ‘baby led weaning’ or Tresilians! I love hearing the perspective of mummy’s who have been through it all in the non-overly informed age we live in now!
    Luisa @ Looking for mama me recently posted…Combating Post Pregnancy Hair fall – Short is the new long! #YearoffirstsMy Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 12th March 2015

      Reply

      It really has moved on massively in terms of techniques etc. Half the stuff I hear about as a Mum to a little one now was never thought about 13 years ago. Just goes to prove that methods and advice change like the wind, so not to get to worried about the latest techniques and do what feels right. I love sharing the experience I have-right or wrong and glad you enjoyed reading. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment x

  • Ashley @ When the Dust Settles

    Written on 12th March 2015

    Reply

    I think it stands to reason that you will parent differently as you already have 13 years experience by the third child (hope I read that right).

    I know I am a much better dad to my youngest than I was to my eldest, my middle child I was better with than eldest but not as good as with the youngest, because I have learnt from my mistakes, am a calmer person through age (my youngest being 10 years younger than my eldest), and have a different life now, more secure in myself and work etc. (Actually I think you covered all this lol).

    Excellent post.
    Ashley @ When the Dust Settles recently posted…Parenthood is…My Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 12th March 2015

      Reply

      Hi Ashley, it’s actually great to hear all the replies and that the general consensus is that it’s normal to parent subsequent children differently to the first despite age gaps. I’m feeling now the age gap thing magnifies my experience in so much that I do feel a little guilt for being able to give my youngest more in terms of time and money. I guess my teenagers are benefitting too though. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment :)

    • Amy

      Written on 12th March 2015

      Reply

      Thanks Gemma-it’s something I forgot to mention in the post but as you say, if you had another than your boys could help raise that baby too. in fact my teenage children have a huge involvement in raising Rose so much so it’s almost as though she’s all of ours-if that makes sense! Thanks for reading xx

  • christina

    Written on 12th March 2015

    Reply

    There is 4 years between my girls and I still think we have done things differently with them. I do not think you need to feel you are slighting your older children, your circumstances are different. It is evident you love them all, just enjoy :)
    christina recently posted…Just Do it GirlMy Profile

  • Babes about Town

    Written on 13th March 2015

    Reply

    This is a great post, so honest and gives real insight into the challenges and also the blessings of parenting across the age gap. My boys are only three years apart but I definitely did a lot of things different, including the baby-led weaning approach which I’m convinced results in much less fussy eaters! As you said the important thing is that all your kids were raised on love and it looks like there’s a really strong bond between them, despite the gap. Oh and by the way would love to read more about your experiences, so no need to cram into one post but do keep sharing! x
    Babes about Town recently posted…10 Cool Gifts for MothersMy Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 13th March 2015

      Reply

      Thanks so much Uju. The BLW is quite fab isn’t it? I wish I’d known about it before, does definitely help with any fussiness. I truly hope all my children feel equally loved and I feel totally blessed that they are all as close as they are. I will most certainly write more about my experiences I’m really touched that people are enjoying reading x

  • Brighton Mama @ Our Seaside Baby

    Written on 14th March 2015

    Reply

    Ah, what an interesting read. I love the photo. I bet Rose gets so much attention! :) Getting on the bus sounds like a nightmare back then! Luckily those days are over although I do dread public transport sometimes. There are big age gaps in my family too and it’s really interesting to hear what you have done differently and how trends have changed over time. You are right, love is the main & vital thing any child needs and it seems your family has lots of it :)

    • Amy

      Written on 15th March 2015

      Reply

      She’s completely spoiled and loves it! The bus was an absolute mare not going to lie haha! It seems funny now but was pretty awful…Thanks so much for reading and commenting x

  • jenny

    Written on 14th March 2015

    Reply

    Ahh what a beautiful post and so true. I bet it was easier the second time with time, experience and more knowledge. No more loved more and loving them together is a bonding experience in itself. I know what you mean as I have two too. I would have loved a little highsight and maybe those older hands for help too! :) Lovely post. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme
    jenny recently posted…A walk in the rain + Hamster buggy bag giveawayMy Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 15th March 2015

      Reply

      Hi Jenny, thanks so much for your comment. The hindsight is priceless at times. Also knowing that their is light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to fussiness or sleeping etc. Just remembering that they all grow out of it is comforting during harder times. Thanks for hosting x

  • Terrie

    Written on 18th March 2015

    Reply

    I could also have written this post for myself – I even have a Mr T! My oldest three are 16,13 and 12, my youngest is 18 months, I was a single parent for 10 years inbetween – and the buses! Yes I remember! It’s crazy how we just got on with it and coped.

    I also have learned from parenting my older three and although I think I did the best job I could with what we had, I’m older and wiser now so my parenting with Little E is different.

    Brilliant post – pleased to have found you :)
    Terrie recently posted…Family days out ~ Durlston Cliff Top TrailMy Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 18th March 2015

      Reply

      wow you’re kidding, how funny that we are so similar!! I will be off to check out your blog, hopefully you’ll have some tips for me! xx

  • Anna Fraser

    Written on 18th March 2015

    Reply

    wow – I too could have written this!
    Seems there are more of us age gap parents than one would imagine!
    This is actually a really good post for me to read and makes me feel much better – I often feel a bit guilty for being able to raise my younger two children in much better, happier, wiser and more comfortable circumstances. I wish I’d of had the same time with my older two when I was younger, but like you, it simply wasn’t an option.
    I guess it important to remember that experience and an evolving life situation changes everything, and that’s ok.
    Thanks for a great post. Anna x
    Anna Fraser recently posted…Don’t look now : Your family is changing fast.My Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 18th March 2015

      Reply

      I am loving meeting all these age gap parents! So glad I wrote this post I have really enjoyed all the comments and feedback and also that the feelings I have are felt by most of us after all. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment xx

  • Laura @ Dot Makes 4

    Written on 25th March 2015

    Reply

    I could have written this!
    There is 10 years between my son and my daughter. I agreed with everything that you said and the circumstances are similar too.
    It’s amazing how different parenting can change from your first baby to the second, or third! But, what I’ve learnt over the years, especially when I was feeling guilty, is that as long as you cherish and enjoy the time that you do spend together, it’ll all be okay :)

    Laura X
    Laura @ Dot Makes 4 recently posted…End of Week 1My Profile

    • Amy

      Written on 25th March 2015

      Reply

      I am so happy to ‘meet’ other parents with big gaps. Honestly I can’t tell you how much better I feel knowing everyone else feels like I do. Thank you so much! xx

  • Kerry

    Written on 17th April 2016

    Reply

    Ah, baby led weaning, what a gem! Wish I’d known about that with my first two. I had mine all pretty close together 7, 4, 1, but I feel like I know loads more 3rd time in. Baby led weaning being one of my favs, my youngest loves food, is incredibly independent/obsessivly controlling about the way she eats. Thanks BLW. I think by the time you’re third baby in (irrespective of age gap), you kind of know what you’re doing! I’m not sure I’ll feel the same way once they’re teenage though. Both my husband and I were nightmare teens, this puts the fear of God in me!!! Xxx
    Kerry recently posted…Roost, Jeans, & First WordsMy Profile

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