Monday, 9 September 2013

Siblings and happy playtime

One of the bigger challenges of having two children I've found, is keeping them both happily engaged in an activity together. The younger one always wants to do what the older sibling is doing, which can result in frustration all round. We are currently at a nice stage where the two children can play together more or alongside each other, without one terrorising the other! There's nearly a three year age gap between them and my youngest is nearly two. I've been noticing lately how many things they can both enjoy now.

I thought I would share a list of activities my two both like getting stuck into. If you have a closer age gap, it might not be so helpful but it may give some ideas of things to try with your own children:

Physical activities
  • Chasing games
  • Ball games - simple throwing, rolling or kicking a ball back and forth
  • Hide and seek - the youngest can't really play of course but has great fun running around looking for her brother. She and I team up and hide together too.
  • Jumping on the trampoline (we're lucky to have been passed down one that we have in our garden. Even though my youngest can't jump yet, she loves being bounced around and falling down)
Messy play
If you can bear a bit of mess and confine it to an area, this is probably the biggest hit for them both. Some ideas include:
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Jelly
  • Lentils/dry beans
  • Shaving foam
  • Painting (finger painting or with brushes/rollers/potato printing)  
  • Sticking stuff onto to paper/cardboard with glue
Creative activities (with less mess)
  • Drawing/scribbling with crayons/pencils or on an etch-a-sketch
  • Stickers 
  • Stamps
  • Play dough 
  • Lego (my daughter used to destruct my son's Lego creations but is now happy sorting through the box of Lego pieces or playing with figures/doors/windows while he builds)
  • Building towers - with boxes, blocks, stacking cups. Both ages love to build a tower and then knock it down!
  • Gardening. Allocate them a patch of garden to dig around in or a pot of soil that's just for them. Let them help with watering the plants and if you have any rocks/gravel, they'll have fun scooping it up. The older sibling can help plant seeds, pick homegrown produce and such like.
  • Books. The older sibling will likely enjoy hearing stories you read to the younger one, or will want to take turns lifting the flaps etc so it can be a nice relaxing activity to enjoy with both children. Maybe the older child can even read a book to the younger sibling.
  • Walks/parks/playgrounds. Letting them both run around, climb, explore, splash in puddles, pick up sticks is always fun!
  • Music. We have quite a few intruments at home for the children (maracas, tambourine, harmonicas, an accordian, flutes and more!) and they both love playing them and generally making lots of noise! If you don't have instruments. putting on a children's CD and/or having a sing-song is another option.
What do your children play well at together or alongside one another? Any other ideas to add to my list above? Have you struggled at different stages in finding activities to suit both ages of your children?
photo credit


  1. Alas not, my daughter is an only child - or in our household at least. She has an older half-brother who is nearly 14 and we were delighted and amazed when he willingly had a long game of hide and seek with her the other day. It was so funny to watch him trying to explain to her that she mustn't jump up and shout "I'm hiding under the table!!!". :) 10 years between them so it's really cute when they interract - definitely a bit of hero-worship going on!!!!!x

    1. Oh that's very sweet of him to play hide and seek with her! Bet she loved it. Only until quite recently, my son would shout out where he was hiding too. xx

  2. Gorgeous picture! It is really lovely when they start to interact and play more together isn't it? I have found it goes in cycles with my two. I have the same age gap and I think it was around similar ages that they really started to interact. Music is a definite leveller as at this young age they are both of a similar ability. Walks are lovely too. My elder (boy) has tried to encourage little sister to play football with him, but as he has gotten older he gets too frustrated with her, or will boot the ball just too hard!
    One thing that they will sit in companionable silence doing separately (yet together) is painting. I will cover the whole table in huge pieces of paper and let them loose on it. They will often be there for an hour each doing their own thing, but every so often complimenting and encouraging one another.
    Here's to more harmonious play xx

    1. I'm sure you are absolutely right about it going in cycles. I won't kid myself that the frustrating times between them are over ;-) .It is nice though as you say, to see them start to play together more. The painting sounds like a good activity and perfect for different ages and abilities to enjoy. xx

  3. My children are 3 years apart also and spent years playing together. My daughter would come up with plots and create adventures with Playmobil characters and Legos or dinosaurs. My son would absolutely love it. For us the challenge came when she moved on to other things in her teenage years and he was crushed that she was not playing with him anymore. I'm not sure he's overcome that completely yet. I do hope they will get very close again one day. (they're 19 and 16 now)

    1. That's an interesting insight with your children being that bit older. I can see how the teenage years might impact the closeness between siblings (as it can do with the parents too!). I am sure when they are out of their teens and starting lives of their own that the closeness will return. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Discovering what your children love doing together is very important in developing their relationship. Great article. :)


    1. Thank you Anne, you're absolutely right.


Thank you for reading. I'd love to have your comments and thoughts!