When the Whole Family is at a Similar Stage

When Ralph got home from two years in Colombia, our family took a vacation. First we went to Yosemite, and then we spent a couple of days at Disneyland. On the trip I observed to Ben Blair that it was the first time all the kids had been fully able to participate in the whole trip.

The whole family could hike together without needing assistance. The whole family could swim confidently in Yosemite’s watering holes. The whole family like watching the same movies.

But I especially noticed it at Disneyland. The whole family could ride every ride — meaning everyone was tall enough for every ride, and no one was too young or too old to not enjoy the roller coasters. And because we don’t go to Disneyland very often (that was our second visit as a family), it’s possible that it will be the only time that ever happens!

It was interesting to have a trip to Disneyland where we totally skipped all the little kid things. No one cared about going to the Finding Nemo (Crush) show, meeting characters, becoming a Jedi. We didn’t even step into Toon Town or Bugs’ World. It’s like a whole different park! It also made me realize that we’ve never been to Legoland, and have probably missed that window altogether.

Maybe the idea of having all your kids at similar stages is totally normal and regular for you. I suppose it’s different for big families — if we had stopped after two or three kids, then they would have pretty much always been at the same stage, from about 4 years old and up. But even then, I think it changes things when the kids are all old enough that the parents and kids can really enjoy and share similar experiences — like roller coasters. I think we must have ridden the Incredi-Coaster ten times, and Space Mountain another ten. : )

Anyway, just thinking about this after seeing my kids in action last week in Palm Springs. It wasn’t the original plan, but at the last minute, Ben Blair ended up driving everyone down (except for Ralph — he had classes). They were all on Spring Break, and we ended up needing extra helping hands. I really love that we can all work together on something or enjoy something together. I know this won’t last forever, and I’m trying to soak it up.

Your turn: Are your kids at similar stages? If yes, have you noticed a change in your family life or activities? Are your kids grown enough yet that they can fully participate in things like hiking or skiing or baking? Do you feel like you remember being at similar stages as your siblings? Or were there big spaces in your family? I’d love to hear.

P.S. — How did you decide to space your kids?

23 thoughts on “When the Whole Family is at a Similar Stage”

  1. We aren’t at similar stages yet. My kids are almost 9, almost 7, 4.5 and 1.5 but I am literally counting down the years until we are. It feels freeing to be out of the baby stage and so exciting to be moving towards the adventure stage. That said we are to Disney World this summer and leaving the baby with grandma for a day. I am super excited to do it with my bigs!

    1. Same! Ours are 9, 7, 3, & 1 and I cannot wait till we are a cohesive unit instead of the divide and conquer family we are now.

  2. I love that my four teens/young adults now have similar interests in books, movies, and so on, and it’s not me staying home with the youngest while the older ones are off together on an adventure. But as soon as it coalesces like that, it changes–now I have one on a mission, and one engaged… a whole new life stage coming up. I’m grateful for good relationships and memories together to carry the siblings forward into their adult lives.

  3. We are down to one 4-year-old who isn’t able to participate in everything and I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Taking my three older kids skiing this year really made me realize how fun it’s going to be when she can keep up with everyone and there will be no kids or parents left out of the activities. I can’t wait until we can all do things together!

  4. I only have 3 but mine are spread out (1,5,11)…most of the time I love that they are spread out in age, but the downsides are starting to dawn on me as I realize how little time I really have left with my oldest at home and all the things I want to fit in but need to wait until the youngest is old enough…We travel frequently and most of the time I compensate by spending longer at any one destination so that we can do everything we want but at a toddlers pace. For example we went to NYC the other week and my older two wanted to go the the art museums but instead of spending 1 long day at the Met, we went twice, both times over my little ones nap time (he slept in the stroller) and then headed to Central Park soon after he woke up. It worked, it’s just slow. Every time we are at a theme park or the beach or hiking I think- wow I wonder what my life will be like when they are 8, 13, and 18? I think I’m going to wish I had more of those years with my oldest, where we weren’t planning things around the little ones schedules/abilities, but we all do the best we can!

  5. My sisters are 2 and 5 years younger than me and growing up, we always did everything as a complete family. Part of that was probably the fact we never lived near extended family for babysitters, but I always think it is so strange when you leave someone behind on a family vacation. However, as I’m anxiously “waiting” for my 2 year old to keep up with my 5 yr old, I can understand it would be a necessity if you had kids spread out. I wouldn’t want an older kid to miss the joy of Disney just because a baby made it a hard trip. I’ve always been a little sad that my family will most likely consist of only 2 kids, but this is one advantage I’ve never thought of!

    1. I had only 2 kids for 10 years! We had some good times from when the girls were 5&8 till 10&13. Then we had another baby. He’s almost 3 now so trying to plan a family trip that everybody will enjoy is tough!

  6. I have three daughters ages 9, 8 and 2. We totally went back to the diapers and we don’t regret it at all! We have done more with the baby than without her, including 3 months in Ecuador and then most recently 1 month in Mexico. There’s lots we do separately, like watching movies without the baby or games without her, but we have learned to treasure the activities we can all do together and that we all love like going for walks and bike rides. It’s forever a balance, but I would never trade it!

  7. I have twins and a little girl who is two 1/2 years younger. The boys are 4 1/2 right now, so while we aren’t yet at the same stage, I can see it coming in the not-too-distant future, and I’m really excited. For that reason, I’m holding off on Disney until everyone is out of naps and diapers and can enjoy it pretty equally. I think one of the benefits of having twins, for me, is that you do get some efficiencies and joys out of them being at the same stage all the time (as opposed to boys spaced a year apart). It is really fun – and hard – but we get to have some great conversations, and you can watch them bounce ideas off each other. It’s really cool having that shared experience. This winter, we left the little one with a babysitter and took the boys skiing – it was great to have that experience together, and will be even better when “the baby” as we call her – can join us.

    We didn’t have a choice when spacing the boys, but with our baby, our ideal was 3 years but we ended up getting pregnant really quickly. I’m happy with our choice. If she had been a boy we might have tried for another, but I’m nearly 40 and feel happy and complete with our party of 5.

    I felt so joyful reading this post. Thanks for sharing what a wonderful experience parenting can be as the kiddos get older.

  8. We’ve been all at a similar stage for a few years now. My kiddos are 10, 12, and 14. A major breakthrough was a year or two ago when our youngest could pull a suitcase in the airport. :) I’m trying to soak up these years while they last – the travel, seeing the same movies, etc. It’s golden.

  9. This made me have flashback! My parents felt guilty for never having taken us to Disneyland, so when I was 20 (and my 5 siblings ranged in age from 18-30), we all packed into our van, picked up my oldest sister in San Francisco and oldest brother in Los Angeles and spent Thanksgiving at Disneyland. It was a great trip and no one complained about being too old for any of it!

  10. We’ve got three kids, 6, 3.5 and 1.5 and we just feel like we are re-entering the world of humans. It feels so good to be able to go to dinner (albeit early and always at kid-friendly places) and just have a little bit more spontaneity in life. We are still tied down to naptimes for a little while longer, but just being able to take our three out and they all enjoy it and all participate is so life-giving. We are enjoying it so much we are considering being done with kids when #4 was a real possibility for awhile. I can’t even imagine what it will be like in just a few short years, although I will definitely miss the down-time that naptime provides.

  11. I think about this often and I only have one child so far. He just turned 3. Before I had kids I always thought I wanted them pretty close together, like I was with my sibling (25 months) but then when my son was 1.5, I was in NO way ready to be pregnant again. So I’m a little bummed hypothetically that any future kids of mine won’t grow together in roughly the same stage, but I know it will be what it will be.

  12. I love when my 23 year old texts my 19 year old book recommendations that I’ve been told that I wouldn’t be interested in… the secret lives of siblings. I love it

  13. This makes me so happy and hopeful. I have two (10&7) and two (2&1) and sometimes I feel like we have two families. I can’t wait til we can all hang like this.

  14. My kids are just shy of 2 years apart. Last summer they were 7 & 9 and we really noticed their similar stages on our vacation: they are both capable swimmers, both can bike independently and they are up for adventure (skyline luge). We also recently enjoyed a March Break ski vacation together! We are in the prime years for family fun! Now we just have to figure out how to agree on what to do :)

  15. I was exactly the same! We even considered just sticking with one, which I NEVER thought would be my path in life. But, the truth is, once the first got to be old enough that we could all do stuff together, it was just a little bit hard to imagine adding a baby into the mix again!

    We did, almost 2 years ago, and she’s just wonderful. They’re 6.5 years apart and while it has some drawbacks, it also has some perks! Baby goes to bed early and predictably, and we get evenings with our older girl. Naps are annoying, but as opposed to when it was one and I often felt like it just put a giant wrench into a busy day, this time around I am happier to let it be my time to relax, or get things done.

    Funny though, I’m trying to plot out what will be a very busy Saturday tomorrow (school carnival, family coming into town unexpectedly) and it would be GREAT if I wasnt having to plan a nap smack dab in the middle of it all!

  16. What a feeling! That’s really cool.

    Our kids are 6 and almost 8, and I remember the first time I realized that I could safely leave the house without bringing any kind of change of clothes for the youngest, and even THAT was so freeing. I was no longer, and would never again be, the mom with a pull up and a small pair of pants in my purse…I could bring a smaller purse! Yaaaaaas.

    We are now nearing that on a brain-level: our 6 year old is beginning to read, and as he is moving through the “easiest” books, I’m realizing that the time is coming soon when I will be gleaning through our kid library, boxing up the most primary-level books and putting the best of them into storage for their own kids someday. It’s a crazy, WONDERFUL feeling. My husband and I are both definitely “big kid” kind of people, and we are savoring each moment of new independence and capability with deep relish.

  17. Congratulations to you for hitting and appreciating this time in your family’s life! My own two are less than 3 years apart so it’s always felt like we’re in the same stage, a fact I entirely took for granted until now.
    What was so surprising and wonderful (to me) is that your squad was both mature enough and available to support you at Alt Summit. How awesome is that?!? Kudos to you and Ben Blair for being both a team and independent, and for creating a family who so fully function that way as well. You ALL seem to have such a generosity of spirit! It makes my heart happy.

  18. That sounds fun! My siblings and I are almost there, maybe we are. There are five us of with a 20 year age range. The youngest is 23, so we’re all adults, but he’s still in college and living at home, so we’re not all out on our own. But sometimes I’m surprised about how adult my baby brother is now – considering he was born during my sophomore year in college!

  19. My family never hit that stage. I was the baby of the family, an unexpected surprise. When I went off to middle school my sister got married, and then had a baby; my brother was in university. Now that we are all adults, we’re very close although we are at different stages once again, as I just had a baby last summer and my nephews are teenagers. This topic is on my mind lately as I don’t want the same for my little Nora, so I decided to let things happen without planning a specific age gap: if it’s meant to be, we will manage!

  20. Congrats! This itself is a milestone for some families. I have a girl who is 2.5 years old. Currently, we spent most of the time with Soft Toys from Urban Dhaage. Let’s see how it goes as the beautiful journey has just started for us.

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