Older, because, well, very young children are not particularly helpful when a newborn arrives on the scene. They may have a fit of jealous rage and pinch the baby while it nurses. They may initially comply with your request to fetch a diaper only to lose focus halfway across the room when the toy shelf beckons. They still need a "wipe," a drink, toy, a [you-name-it]. They have no concept of quiet, especially when baby is napping.
Okay, maybe not a breeze, but there are aspects that become immeasurably easier. For example: I can cook a meal now. It may not be gourmet, but I can literally follow a recipe, prep the ingredients, and cook a real meal. In years past, if I tried to make dinner and a baby woke early from nap, I would rush upstairs (unable to bear the thought of my child alone, awake, bored or scared in a dark room) and rescue said child. Then I would try, unsuccessfully, to finish cooking with a baby on my hip. (Chef's knives, hot stoves, and babies do not mix.)
These days, I will be cooking dinner with Parker and Maddie playing nearby. When Jack wakes from his nap and starts to cry, I simply ask, "Who would like to check on Jack and keep him company until I can come up?"
"I WILL!" they both cry and bolt up the stairs.
CONFESSION: One of my guilty pleasures is to tune into the monitor and eavesdrop on the three of them. I love hearing the door creak open. "Hi Jackie!" Giggles, scuffing and scraping (as they climb onto the side of the crib), tinkling toys. "Mommy will be right here." "Wanna play?"
One afternoon I allowed myself some extra time in the kitchen. I hadn't heard any crying and assumed all was well. I'll never forget walking into Jack's room and wondering where all the toys had gone. Then I looked over at his crib...
I ran over with my heart in my throat. He was still so little. He couldn't even sit up yet. What if he had suffocated?? What had I done?!
Then there he was, hidden among pile of toys, happily playing with a plush block. Whew! What was that thing I said about parenting being a breeze? Yeah, scratch that.
Even with our minor scares (like finding Jack at the top of the outdoor playhouse because he'd followed Parker up the ladder), it really is great having lots of kids. Parker and Maddie are big helpers, and I am one blessed mama!