Monday, February 4, 2013

Ten Ways Bigs Help Littles {and Mom} ~ Big Family Idea Bonanza Series

We’re five posts into this series, and it’s time for some honesty. Sometimes, mothering a big family can be overwhelming.

With two children, we still had one-on-one defensive parenting. With three children, if one parent could handle two and one parent could handle the other, we were all right. But with four and up? We knew we were outnumbered.

When I think back on it, though, I remember, as a young mother, feeling pretty overwhelmed when my husband went to work and left me with two children. I had no idea how I was going to care for them all day long! A Big helping a Little (no matter what the age difference!) can be helpful at any stage and with any number of children. There is absolutely no reason or need for Mom to do everything.




Harness the bossiness of your first born. Use it to your advantage while also guiding and nurturing her spirit of leadership and helping her learn to control it. This sounds harsher than it is. J But, helping each other encourages a servant heart. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” {Philippians 2:4} And, it’s another opportunity to learn obedience to parents. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” {Ephesians 6:1}

For some tasks, I simply instruct, “Bigs help Littles!” This hasn’t happened overnight. It has taken some instruction and discipline to get to this point.

In other situations, I choose a nearby and available Big, say the child’s name, and give the instruction.

Here are ten situations in which our Bigs help our Littles. {I’m not discussing chores here, just general helpfulness.} There are many more, but I hope this list will get your gears a-going for your own family.

  1. Tying shoes.
  2. Zipping a coat.
  3. Holding a hand in a parking lot.
  4. Directing the Littles to pick up.
  5. Fixing hair. {I’ll put in a shameless plug here for the Lilla Rose flexi clip. So easy for my thirteen-year-old to fix my seven-year-old’s long hair!}
  6. Choosing the Little’s clothes if I haven’t already.
  7. Fetching onesies or diapers.
  8. Wiping off hands or faces.
  9. Washing hands.
  10. Staying close to the shopping cart to make sure the toddler doesn’t try to stand up.

As I was finishing this post, my biggest Big wandered in.

“Mom, we do more than that.” J

So, here are a few bonus examples ~

Keeping track of a Little at the playground or the playplace.
Filling a sippy cup.
Filling a snack cup with Cheerios.
Getting the toddlers in their high chairs before a meal.
Snapping on bibs and rolling up sleeves.
Playing with the littlest Littles while I do phonics with the Little who thinks she ought to be a Big.
Reading aloud.
Drawing pictures for the Littles to color.
Playing with Littles so I can finish a blog post or fix supper.
Let them win at musical chairs.
Tuck them in at naptime. {Infrequently, but it has happened.}
Start a DVD.


Training takes time, but the rewards will be worth it.






Do your children help each other? How else can Bigs help Littles?


Other posts in this series ~

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30 comments:

  1. My older kids help out a great deal. They can sometimes be resentful, but overall - they don't mind. They change diapers, fetch clothes, get littles dressed, and read to them. They help out a lot.

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    1. Great job, Rachel! So glad to see you here again.

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  2. My oldest is 7 but already helps so much. She loves to pretend she is a homeschool mom and read to or do activities with her sisters, she can also make simple breakfast and lunch stuff for them when I'm not feeling well and she likes to fold clothes!

    By the way, I am enjoying this series and featured it at my blog yesterday :)

    Here's the link: http://www.devoteandseek.com/2013/02/saturday-share-232013.html

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    1. An excellent reason for Bigs to help Littles -- when mom is ill. When the flu was going around last month, my two oldest girls were indispensable! Thanks so much for featuring me, Del! I so appreciate your wonderful comments!

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  3. We only have 2 children, but my oldest who is 5 is very independent and has such a helpful spirit. He always wants to help out his little brother. It's nice sometimes, especially on those rare occasions when I'm not feeling well.

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    1. A helpful boy -- he'll be a wonderful husband some day! :)

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  4. I'm the oldest of three, and I remember especially when my sister (7 yrs younger than I) was born, helping with feeding, diaper changing, room cleaning, etc, etc. :) I'm motherly by nature and I think being a big sister to a baby helped foster that a lot! Now I feel more prepared for my own future children, and I've been well prepared to take care of my husband and our home. :) And although I don't mother my husband (or try very hard not to!), I have a couple close girlfriends who let me do it. :)

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    1. I have heard others say that helping with younger siblings helped prepare them to care for their own children. I was the youngest and felt completely unprepared when I had my first, and, quite frankly, my second child. I'm hoping my children will know a bit better what to do with a baby. Thanks, Jaimie.

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  5. Great list! I know I need to work on helping my oldest help her younger brothers not just in completing the actions, but in doing it with a cheerful, servant's heart.

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    1. Attitude is everything. Difficult to teach and mold, but the pay-off is wonderful! So glad you visited, Kirsten.

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  6. Very interesting. My family growing up I was 8 years older than,my brother and my parents didn't ask me to help with him. They felt it was their responsibility not mine. So I've often wondered how bigger or closer in age families handled things. Thanks for linking this up!

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    1. Thank you for providing the link-up, Leslie!

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  7. Oh you are so right!!! We had to employ this after having only 4. It did take some time to learn and teach, but now with 5, older kids just jump in to help the younger ones. It really became a blessing when I broke my arm this past fall. The kids moved to helping in the kitchen, with other kids, and with cleaning. It was encouraging to see my efforts play out.

    No, it's not always perfect or easy mothering a large brood, but it can be pretty satisfying at times ;-)

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    1. I can't imagine running a household with a broken arm. Those casts are on for weeks! You make an excellent point that it takes time to learn and teach, but it sure does pay off. Thanks for visiting!

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  8. You have some really great ideas here. I would love for you to come over to my blog hop and share this and other posts there! I am also your newest follower and hope you will return the favor.
    http://countrifiedhicks.blogspot.com/2013/02/mondays-with-countrified-hicks-blog-hop.html

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    1. I am way behind in updating my list of link-ups, but I'll come check yours out. Thanks for the invitation, and thanks for the follow!

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  9. My Bigs do all of these things as well! I was am an oldest child as well and I also did most of these things. Dependence and trust in a family is what makes a strong bond that last throughout a lifetime. My siblings are still my best friends. :)

    Gretchen:)

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    1. What a wonderful testimony, Gretchen! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Such a great list! We only have three, but with my husband gone for 24-hour fire department shifts, I absolutely depend on my oldest and now my middle to help me out with our youngest! Lots of blankie finding...outside supervision/entertaining....and book reading going on around our house!

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    1. Wow! Those are long shifts. Sounds like you handle it well, Valerie. So glad you visited today.

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  11. Even my two year old (OK...that 2 year old is 29,LOL) could get the diaper for me!! I love your lists as it brings back memories of our Bigs helping our Littles. It really helped when they held the hand of a younger sib. It helped even more when they were willing.

    Thanks for linking up again over at WholeHearted Home this week.

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  12. How do you harness the bossiness and not let it get out of control? Whenever I let my daughter (7 y.o.) be "in charge" of something, she always takes it too far, and then later tries to be "the mama" in other situations where she really has no business being.

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    1. For me, it came down to discipline. For the most part, she is not alone with the Littles when she is "in charge." I am still within hearing and can (and do) correct her as needed. We have also had one-on-one mother-daughter talks about what her responsibilities are when she is helping and what sort of attitude God wants her to have. My oldest is now thirteen, so she's been through a lot more training than your seven-year-old. Stay calm and consistent. Pray unceasingly. Many blessings to you!

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  13. Thank you Meghan. You're right of course. Discipline and time will be the answer.

    Also wanted to add - I have a 1 y.o., 5 y.o., and the 7 y.o. The two older kids love feeding the littlest, handing him cheerios or chunks of banana, or feeding him with a spoon. That last is always messier than if I do it, but it frees me up to get other things done (like finishing out meal) while still quieting the fussing.

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    1. With time, it will get easier and they will become more helpful. That's another great way Bigs help -- feeding the baby. My two oldest girls were so helpful in spoon-feeding the two littlest boys.

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  14. Thanks for linking up to Mom's Library again! I can already see how much kids naturally want to help littler ones in my girls. I caught my oldest (5) helping my 19 month old put on his coat last week without being asked. So sweet.

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    1. Wonderful, Ashley! Nurture that and she'll become your right hand. Thanks for visiting!

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  15. Children can be a HUGE blessing if Mom takes the time to train them. My daughter is five and helps me out so so much already. Thanks for linking up at Mom's Library!

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    1. Training is the key, isn't it, Janine? Thanks for visiting!

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