My kids love each other and get along most of the time. J is a loving older brother and handles most of Baby E’s baby behaviors with such grace that I am genuinely impressed with him.
However, I hear “Mom, can you move E for me?” at least 20 times a day.
You see, Baby E loves to wreck J’s play scenes. He’s 8 months old and pretty much destroys whatever J is playing with.
At 3 years old, J is starting to get really engrossed in big pretend play scenes and really dislikes it when they get destroyed. Hey, I wouldn’t like it if someone wrecked my work either!
So, I’ve been trying to distract E and often find myself moving him to different parts of the house to play. It doesn’t last long though because he’s crawling, and he gets right back to the playroom in seconds. Honestly, I don’t like to move him either. I want him to play and explore freely and I don’t like being mediator between the boys. But, what else can I do?
So, I asked for help from some of the best resources I know, the Kid Blogger Network, and my best mommy friend with two kids.
With all that help, I’ve made a few changes around here.
I’ll first share what I’ve done and then I’ll leave some more tips below with a few blog posts to help.
- First of all, I implemented room time for both kids. We live in a two story home with our bedrooms upstairs and playroom downstairs. J does not go upstairs to play in his room throughout the day, so I have set a certain time of day where I ask him to play in his room. He really does love it. I only ask that he plays for 30min, but usually he likes to stay for up to an hour. *This is how I get a shower most days too!*
Baby E gets 15 min of play time in his crib twice a day. I have a video monitor, so I can keep an eye on him.
Both boys get uninterrupted time to play without disruptions and some quiet time to play as they wish.
- I got this tip from Rebecca at Here Come the Girls. “I always tried to make the twins’ interruptions into part of the game. I would shout “giant baby” and encourage my eldest not to be upset but to find it funny and get pleased we could start again.”
And that’s exactly what we do. We yell “here comes the Baby!” when E starts taking apart J’s stuff, and we make a fun game out of it. Now, J thinks it’s funny and he’s more likely to fix his toys without getting upset and frustrated.
- When he does mess up J’s play, I just say “uh oh! Let’s fix it!”. The lighter I take it, the less J gets upset.
- I have found ways for them to play together with the same toys. The both really enjoy playing together which is great for their relationship. Sometimes I join in,
and sometimes I don’t. I’ll be blogging about these activities soon!
- I have quit designating toys to each boy. Now, they are all our toys. J gets to play with the baby toys, and E gets to play with the older toys. There are a few exceptions to this rule, like J’s blue blanket is something he doesn’t have to share. I’ve noticed since this little change, J has become less possessive and will let E play with toys that he’s not playing with at the time. Before, he’d yell and get mad at E for touching “his” toys.
Also, J gets to play with E’s toys without worrying about being told that those toys are not his, which can cause some anger towards his brother. He actually really likes to play with some of his toys, and so it works out great.
Since making these changes, things have gotten better. It’s not perfect and J still asks me to move E a few times a day, but there has been a noticeable change.
Here are a few more great ideas from the Kid Blogger Network that might work for your family:
- ”We have made our living room a baby-safe zone by blocking it off with a wide baby gate. There are baby-safe toys in there for my toddler, and my older kids (ages 4 and 6) know that their smaller toys can only be in their rooms. (We don’t have the luxury of a toy or play room.) They play often (with baby-safe toys like Little People and blocks) in the living room along side their toddler brother. But if they start to get frustrated with him knocking things over, they know that they have the option of moving their play into one of their rooms instead. It works for us.” – Krissy from B.Inspired Mama
- “We had our 3 year old set up her play at the kitchen table, out of baby’s reach. Baby, of course, often wanted to be involved, so then we’d put her in her high chair with toys of her own on her tray.” – Jane from Mama Pea Pod
- “I’ve talked and talked and talked with my 5 year old about this to help set up for the expectation that it will happen. I’ve also helped model for my 5 year old that he can show my one year old what he can do with the blocks, cars, or whatever he’s playing with. We’ve also set up certain toys up on tables our one year old cannot reach, wait for the younger one to nap, or our five year old simply closes his bedroom door to play.” – Heather from Little Moments
- “We used a double-decker approach. My elder daughter got to take over the kitchen table with her small worlds, so she had the upper deck to play, and little sister was free to crawl around on the lower deck. Then we could all still be in the same room, and (mostly!) everyone was happy.” – Cathy from Nurturestore
Here are some good posts about play with different aged kids that might be helpful.
3 Reasons We Use Our Baby Pool for Indoor Play from For This Season – A seriously brilliant idea!
Playtime Activities for Babies and Older Siblings from Creative with Kids
Crafts and Activities with Multi Age Group of Kids from Creative with Kids
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My son is an only child but I feel like I can use some of these ideas to help with playdates. I especially like “Here comes Godzilla!” when one of them wrecks something the other is playing with.
i have 2 kids the same age as yours. love the ideas!
I have only one child and still really like the most of the ideas, especially the double-decker approach.I’m sure that I’ll use them in the future.
I’m so glad you liked my post last week 🙂 This is one of my favorite parties because there is SO much good stuff to read! I have 2 little ones that are 2 years apart and I agree – implementing the “these are OUR toys” has been very helpful in decreasing possessiveness. I’ve also found that having duplicates – even if they’re not identical – has been helpful in encouraging parallel play (which is turning into interactive play with my little two right now – fun!)
I encourage my older two to give the baby a distractor toy…if they are building with blocks and baby comes over, quickly build baby a simple stack to play with
Nice post and good to see kids playing with their siblings and toys.