5 activities for mixed-age siblings to make life easier

From the second my older daughter, Hayley, could open her eyes, my husband and I had our little superstar signed up for every class under the sun—music, swimming, soccer, ballet, cooking and gymnastics. As new parents, making sure Hayley’s mind was always stimulated was important to us. Plus, these outings offered the opportunity to interact with other new (and sleep-deprived) parents.

Fast-forward four years. Hayley is still very active, but now her 1-year-old-sister, Ellie, tags along. Poor Ellie is a typical second child whose eating and sleeping schedule is constantly dictated by Hayley’s social agenda.

Of all the mom-of-two struggles I’ve faced, the hardest for me was figuring out a way to entertain my toddler without neglecting my baby, and to keep my baby busy (and give her the same experiences Hayley had) without boring the older one.

Cue the dreaded mom guilt.

Luckily, after some digging, I found that Chicago is chock-full of fun and educational activities that’ll keep your mixed-age siblings engaged at the same time.

Plus, as it turns out, research shows that age diversity in activities creates a non-competitive, nurturing environment for children. (Win!)

Family swim

Offered on Friday evenings and at least one other time a month (depending on location), these 90-minute sessions give your littles an opportunity to show off their skills or just splash around and have fun!

Goldfish Swim School, 2630 W. Bradley Place, Chicago; 1930 W. Hubbard St., Chicago

Mother Goose on the Loose Lapsit Story Time and Play

Designed to promote early literacy in young children up to age 3, these events feature lively read-aloud books and nursery rhymes, followed by open play.

Various Chicago Public Library branches; visit chipublib.org for locations

Sibling Gym

Let your little tumblers enjoy stretching, balancing, climbing and jumping at their own pace, as MyGym instructors challenge older and younger children to meet their developmental needs appropriately. The whole family will love the puppet shows they put on.

MyGym, 1461 W. Webster, Chicago

Wiggle& Giggle Together

Intentionally less structured to accommodate a range of ages, this class features activities designed for different stages of development. Through parallel play, your kiddos can engage in block exploration, art and sensory play, story time and more.

Kidville, 1030 W. North Ave., Chicago

Sibling Wiggleworms

This special Wiggleworms class for siblings embraces the big brother and sister role, with a focus on turn-taking and caring for each other, while sharing musical time through interactive songs.

Old Town School of Folk Music, 4454 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

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