This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of HomeTeam for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
Right after my divorce, and long before either of my Little Boys were born, I asked one of my dearest what is was like to have half siblings. I really wanted to know if having “real” brothers and sisters felt different from having half brothers and sisters. She promised me that she loved her brothers and sister no differently. It didn’t matter at all if they were her “whole” siblings or her “half” siblings. That made me feel so much better. Now, as I watch my three boys together, I know that the Big One loves his two little brothers a lot, more than I expected that “whole” brothers would love each other. I can’t even express how wonderful it is to watch how tenderly and lovingly my teenager takes care of his two little brothers. One of the things that my friend talked about, and what I have learned about subsequently in discussions with “blended” families is about the unfortunate, but necessary separation of half-siblings. The Big One goes off to be with the other half of his family throughout the month, and my Little Boys pine for him. The Monkey asks me to make his big brother come home. I can’t do that, and he doesn’t understand that it’s important for his brother to spend time with all of his family.
What’s more is the fact that my eldest son is more than just a brother to my Littles– he’s a superhero, a playmate, a caregiver, and almost an uncle. When there is a decade separating your children, the relationship between them isn’t the same. Your older children actually take a role of caregiver and pseudo-parent. My mentor after graduate school told me this story about how much her littlest child missed her big brother when he left for college. She was just five when that happened, and her mother would find her on her brother’s brother, holding his pillows and crying. She missed him, and needed her big brother. My mentor said that she never realized how painful the loss of the regular presence of a big brother would be to her young daughter.
I’m very aware that it won’t be long before the Big One leaves for college. I already miss him, and I know that his brothers are going to have a hard time without him. It’s really important to get things in place so that the Little Boys continue to have a way to connect to their big brother. Using FaceTime is great for adults, but the Little Boys struggle with “talking” on FaceTime. They love seeing their brother, but don’t really know how to carry on a two-sided conversation yet. Right now, it’s mainly shots of their foreheads and up their noses.
I recently learned about an app called HomeTeam by Panasonic. It’s actually a program that is great for just the situation that I described with my boys– helping family members connect with younger children in a meaningful way. It utilized all of the wonderful technology that we currently have available to help young children communicate with their family when they aren’t quite up to having long talks just yet. It looks a lot like FaceTime, but also allows for the integration of a number of storybooks and games.
Using HomeTeam, my Littles can chat with their brother, or have him read a book to them (even if they don’t have the book in hand), and when they are a little older they can play games together. It’s available on the computer, but the Big One can access it from an iPad or tablet, and is available on iOS and Android Right now, it’s not an app that my Little Monkey can operate without adult assistance, but that’s okay. He is able to scroll through all of the books to pick out his favorites– he really likes the many different Disney books who feature his favorite characters and stories.
This is an app that has a monthly subscription of $8.95 for access to extensive library of books, and all of the other features. However, you get the first month free to try out the books and usability. This is a wonderful way to allow my children have meaningful connections when they are separated, and helps me keep building the brotherly relationship despite the frequent separations. It is also something that they are able to grow into over the coming years, as we prepare for that longer college separation.
If you are interested in HomeTeam, you can Download on Android or Download on iOS right now.