Yes! I have been brave this year and braced my heart to have my two kids at home for two whole months! I must agree I was fearing this decision at the outset, but I decided to allow them to learn to play with each other, rather than engage them in separate summer camps. Allowing them to discover each others strength and fun quotient.
Siblings at war!
My 7-year-old boy loves to play by himself, give him a few books and a box of LEGO and he won’t surface for a few hours. He loves his own company and is absolutely content alone. While my 4-year-old daughter is playful and wishes to play with her brother all the time. Both are right in their outlook, it’s just a matter of preference. What she sees as play, he sees it as interference and there is war all day! It has been exhausting dealing with this all year through. So coming to the end of an academic year, I decided this had to end here and they have to learn to support each other and embrace their uniqueness instead of pulling each other down.
But how do I help them see that on the surface they are opposites, completely different in personality and choices but if they work together there is nothing that they simply can’t do together? They complete each other. One is like sunshine personified joyous and bubbly, the other seems like mother earth simple and grounded. Holistically that’s immense power and beauty. Alas, only if they could see it through my eyes!
Most siblings will tell you that their sister or brother were just the opposite of them and when they were younger they couldn’t see eye to eye. It’s a pity that a lot of people can’t see it even when they grow up.
At times, I also wonder if God does that on purpose, challenge us to help us rise, distribute different traits in one family to complete it. And hopefully, learn from each other along the way. (On a lighter note, I often look up to the skies and ask God if that is his way of having fun!) Well, having said all this here’s my plan put to practice, little attempts at helping them discover more about each other and that togetherness is fun
A high-on-fun schedule:
I made a printed schedule for the next two months that included broad areas marked out; wake up time, breakfast time, read and practice, free play, tv time, garden time etc. But all of it together! It allowed them to have a fluid structure to the day and helped me not to give repetitive instructions all day long. (more peace of mind is more fun anyway!)
There’s a hack here, sticking to the schedule earned them a bonus #do something new with mamma time. I am happy to tell you we are managing something new at least every two days. The kids are learning to encourage each other to finish the task at hand/ meet the schedule so that they enjoy their bonus fun.
The bonus fun:
This is not like your regularly earned points or stars that can culminate in a toy/ book/ ice cream. This is a guaranteed have fun with mamma time earned. Extra stories, bake a cake, paint a canvas, recycle toys, origami. Anything new that we have not done before! The spontaneity of it is addictive, I must tell you even though it is more effort for me, the sheer joy and madness makes it worthwhile.
Learning and sharing chores:
Since they are home all day, the kids are practising their life skills actively. Laying the table, making the beds, watering plants, tidying up. All of it either together or in turns. They are often trying to compete with each other, but a gentle reminder (sometimes with large eyes is needed. ) It’s not a race but we do to this together. They take joy in sharing how the dinner table is laid or how wonderfully the fruit is cut. Appreciation is an undervalued tool, it does magic!
Movies and books:
I have made a clear rule that we will read and watch content that we haven’t seen before. I am trying my best to sit and watch with them. We thoroughly enjoyed the Harry Potter series, the first 4 movies lead my son to pick up the book at the library. They both have been doing pretend play as Ms. Hermoine Granger and Harry Potter, enacting their favourite scenes. While I have been designated as Professor Snape on several days, and a kinder Professor McGonagall on some other days. (seriously, Snape?!)
Organising and planning:
Doing activities that allow them to think and plan together. Whether is it for our travel plans (they have their own version of the itinerary), a play date or picnic. Simply allowing them to be in charge of some part is helping them work together to make it fun for both. There are some delightful moments when one hears a “we” instead of me.
When the going is not so good:
There are days when everything is topsy-turvy, and they are in each others hair, squabbling, fighting, tears et all. But both of them face the consequences, not one. Initially, it made them angry but eventually over time they are willing to support each other, rather than blame. Realising that they are in it together whether good or bad. Both have missed ice cream treats, forfeited TV time for each other.
I can’t say that I have shifted a mountain, but it feels like a start to discovering that my sibling is an extension of me. Not identical to me, but still mine.
This will be a memorable summer I know it for sure, because if we all truly discover our blessings and gifts and choose to work on them, then life is a lot richer.
Wishing you all tremendous sunshine this summer, and cheers to finding more joy and innocence each day!
Image source: imagebazaar.com