My boys are only eleven and eight years old, so when I say “older kids,” I mean they have passed that age when I have to constantly supervise them. I know other parents will tell me that having teenagers is even more beneficial, and I’m sure they are right. I mean, what a great day it’ll be when I can send my kid to the store for something! But right now, I’m basking in this “a little bit” older stage. I’ve noticed a lot of good things about it lately.
Though I haven’t had to do this for a while, it’s worth mentioning that I don’t have to dress them, bathe them, or even brush their teeth. It seemed like that stage of dependence would never end, especially since my boys are three years apart, but then suddenly it did. I still savor the extra time this gives me. A few more minutes of freedom here and there is wonderful!
My boys also play together or by themselves for long stretches of time — time when they leave me alone to do house chores or whatever I need to do. Though they’ve been doing this for a long time, the play time has been stretching out longer and longer. They need me less and less to help them with this or that.
My boys like to play games — board games and digital games — and over the years, I’ve had to read a lot of instruction manuals to these games. In the last year, as the games have become a growing interest, my 11-year-old has taken over the job of reading instructions. This alone, in my opinion, is one of the biggest benefits of having older kids!
Slowly, ever so slowly, I have been able to turn over more daily chores to the boys, though I try not to be a slave driver either. They sweep up their crumbs after dinner, clear the table and wipe it, put the wet clothes into the dryer, and do other, random clean-up jobs. I should probably think about expanding their chore list even more.
By far my favorite benefit of having older kids, however, took place this past week, which was spring break for the local schools. I wasn’t planning to do a spring break in our homeschool, but the weather turned perfect, and my eldest son mentioned a project that we had been talking about doing for about a year. That was to clear the little trail in our woods.
Before I had kids, I created a trail through a small patch of woods in our backyard. I used that trail a lot when my eldest son was a toddler, but later, as the boys got older and we began the time-consuming journey of homeschooling, our yard, especially the woods, were neglected. Weeds and other natural debris had completely covered the path.
Since my eldest suggested it, and my younger son was excited about it too, I decided to go “lite” on the lessons so that we could spend a few days on the trail. What fun we had! I was prepared for it to be a lot of work on my part, but the boys worked hard too. Together, we cleared the path in just three days, and now we’re motivated to do some other yard work too.
It’s always been a goal of mine to get the boys out into nature as much as possible. When they were younger, we did a lot of simple gardening and nature walks at local parks, and though we still try to do those things, our homeschooling schedule gives us less time. Now I see that as the boys get older, their experiences in nature may expand to new projects. They will do more because they finally can.
If there’s any mom out there making her way through the path of infanthood, toddlerhood, and still not quite independent enough years, I want to be a beacon of light ahead of you — whether you are looking forward to the future or not, there are a lot of great things up ahead!
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