Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summertime Truce


She's been out of school for a month now. I'm not going to lie — that first week she was home, none of us handled the transition well. We all yelled. A lot. My two oldest had gotten used to spending a large part of the day apart so when I tried to recombine the elements, there was quite a bit of clashing. The school year was enough to make them forget how to be around each other, even though they spent the previous three years joined at the hip.

It didn't take long for my daughter to pick up the annoying habit of loud fake crying each time her little brother wouldn't play to her liking. She asked every day how many days until school started again, longing for her friends and space.

I let them work a lot of it out between themselves and over the past month they've hammered out a cease fire, for the most part.


But sharing is still a problem.

How should I solve the sharing issue? Should I make them share, regardless of ownership or who had it first? Should I teach them that if a child is already playing with a toy, that child gets to play with it until he's done? What happens when my son starts playing with a toy that technically belongs to my daughter? What happens if it's a toy that she hasn't played with for months — who has the right to hold it?

Here's what I've been contemplating, sort of a sharing bill of rights:

1 - You have the right to keep special toys for yourself. If it's an object that you don't want your siblings to play with, keep it in your room because it will make them feel bad if you play with it in front of them. If something is outside of your room, it's fair game (unless it's an outside toy.)


2 - You don't have to share something that you had first, but it's really nice to share and highly encouraged. Mom or Dad gets to decide who had it first, if there's a dispute about that. If you want something that your sibling has, you can play with it when he or she is finished.

3 - No yelling at each other. If there is a problem, talk nicely, or come tell mom or dad. I'm trying to not yell, too. My actions rub off on them.

4 - There is no ownership of certain chairs or spots on the couch. Whoever got there first gets to sit there. If you get up to go do something else, you lose your spot. (It's surprising how often this is an issue at our house!)

5 - (This last one is for mom and dad) - A hungry and/or overtired and/or overstimulated child WILL have sharing issues, which can be solved with food/calm/bedtime.

They're doing much better, a month into summer. So am I. Now they are back to being partners in crime instead of mortal enemies.



(My favorite part about this photo is that they both have that ubiquitous childhood tattoo — the smudge of frosting on the forearm. I think that "childhood" ends when that mark no longer appears.)

There's still a lot to be desired as far as sharing goes, but don't worry; we'll have it all figured out, just in time for my daughter to go back to school in August.


Lindsey said...

Great ideas. Sharing is never easy, and when the kids are close in age it's even worse. i have been through it and it's never pretty when they start arguing. I had to enact some rules at my house too. They are as follows:

Try to handle it between yourselves, if no compromise can be met; take it to Mom.

Do not yell or hit, if you do; Mom takes ownership of said toy.

Once Mom makes a decision it is set in stone, if you have a problem with the decision; Mom takes ownership.

If more than one person wants to play, you have 15 minute incriments. If you go over time limit; mom takes ownership.

Now, "mom taking ownership" translates to mom throwing it in the garbage (unless it was expensive, then it goes in my closet, shhhhh).

Linda said...

I think you got things going on the right track with your rules about things....by the way, we have 7 children, 2 of which have grown up and moved out and we now have 5 teenagers left at home.....the whole 'saving your spot' issue NEVER goes away!!! I am just sayin'......oh, yeah, and I'm trying not to yell so much too...blessings!

Jen at Cabin Fever said...

You're right... your actions do rub off. I bet its really hard to take a breath and be calm. Its actually quite comforting to hear that other people get stressed and "yell" too. :)

melaniek said...

I love the sharing ideas, I'm finding that's something that is needing clarification more and more each day in our house. Good to hear though that they are getting better with each other again. Happy Summer to you all!

cheri said...

i'm having sharing issues with my son, too, but he's just 2. i do appreciate sharing your bill of sharing...and that cake in the foreground :)

Katherine said...

Oh, the endless sharing debacle. My son will suddenly become upset when his younger brother is playing with "his" toy, a toy he hasn't played with for years! We're working on this. We have similar rules. If it's special, you have first rights to the toy (but you better keep it somewhere safe.) If it's in the toy room, it's fair game, and whoever has it gets to play with it. Although, if it's a highly desirable toy, we set a timer. 10 minutes per child.

Cyn said...

I like your rules. We also have numbers 1 and 4 in our home.
The funny thing is, there is tons of stuff to play with, but often the kids only want to play with their siblings' special toys and only when the affected sibling is in the room to watch.

Liz said...

Love the Sharing Bill of Rights. We used to have problems with claiming seating spots in our house, too. So we had "Safe Seat". A spot was open to whoever sat there while it was open (like you said), but if you had to go potty or if you wanted to get a snack, you could call Safe Seat (making sure an adult heard). Then no-one could steal your spot while you were away for a few minutes. There were, of course, rules for what constituted a quick errand and what (like going to play) was not. I loved Safe Seat.

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