Summer is upon us and as excited as I am about pool days and outdoor fun, I am dreading the constant bickering that happens when all three kids are home together. I am a nanny to two school-aged children and a momma to one preschooler. For all purposes, they are all “siblings” because they’ve been raised together from day one. This means they LOVE each other and simultaneously can’t stand each other.
Parents of more than one kid – you get it.
They miss each other terribly when they are apart but the bickering can sometimes be endless when they are together. No matter how much I try to keep them occupied, they will ultimately push each other’s buttons at some point. This is to be expected with siblings and I get it! Your brother or sister knows exactly how to get under your skin; they’ve been training their whole lives just to annoy you, right?
But I refuse to spend the whole summer fighting them to be kind to one another. So I’ve made a list of five ways we are going to work on being kind. I know they have it in them; they are all huge-hearted kiddos who are the epitome of kind to their teachers and friends at school. But sometimes, at home, that kindness takes a backseat to sibling antics. So here’s my plan for bringing a little more grace and kindness to the forefront this summer.
Charts work for some kids and don’t for others. For mine, they seem to motivate them SO we will operate with a reward system. If they fill a week of kindness stickers on their chart, they get an ice cream treat on Friday. It’s simple and can be for whatever timeframe works best for your kids. Pinterest has a million different kindness charts. We are using this chart
found on Pinterest but feel free to find one that works best for your family.
Model Kindness Myself
So many times we ask kids to do what we SAY but we don’t adhere by the same rules. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always nice but I’m planning on making an extra effort to speak kindly to them this summer and lay it on THICK. I want them to see it in action at all hours of the day, and the best way I can show this is by exhibiting myself. Some days, that will take a little extra effort or patience on my part but the payoff will be worth it to all of us. When they experience it from someone else, it’s much easier to then pour that out onto others. A great book that shows this in action is, “Have You Filled A Bucket Today” by Carol McCloud. If you haven’t read it, add it to your summer reading list now.
Talk About Kindness/Toothpaste Lesson
This seems pretty simple but I think it’s important to have an ongoing conversation about how our words and actions affect those around us. We will continue to have the conversations, even if they roll their eyes and act like they aren’t listening. I know deep down part of it is getting through and eventually, they will apply those lessons. A great activity to go along with these talks is the toothpaste experiment. Squeeze out a tube of toothpaste and ask the kids to put it back in the tube. When they realize they can’t, explain that’s how mean words are; you can say sorry but nothing puts those words back in the tube, and they sure can make a mess of someone’s life/emotions.
Be Kind to your Community
Summer is the perfect time to take some of those extra hours and do something for your local community with your children’s help. Last year, we made up “go bags” that we kept in the car with supplies for needy people. We are constantly on the go with activities and we would see people from time to time soliciting money. A great way to help is by handing out a bag with a little cash, some snacks, toiletries, socks, lip balm, etc. The kids really liked helping to put together these bags and it helped them feel some empathy for others when we talked about what to put in the bags. The kindness shown to others was immensely beneficial to them. There are so many local charities, soup kitchens, ministries, clubs, etc. that could benefit from your family’s help. The United Way has a comprehensive list
of volunteer opportunities you can check out today.
Random Acts of Kindness
This one may be my favorite. Once a month, we plan to enact a Random Act of Kindness. This doesn’t have to be huge, but we sat down and discussed some fun ways we can spread kindness in our corner of the world and the kids came up with amazing ideas. So far on the list we have:
– Buy a tired mom coffee
– Hand out flowers on the street
– Leave a little money on a box of diapers in the store
– Make homemade cards for the local nursing home
– Bake a treat for the fire department next to their house
– Send a surprise to a friend
– Walk the neighbor’s dog for free
Whatever activities you and your family come up with are great; let them get creative and start spreading kindness.
I’m sure we will still have random bickering about toys and Fortnite. I’m positive they will still argue over who gets the blue plate. And I’m 100% sure they will still fuss about what show to watch for movie night, but at the end of the day when it comes to the big things, when it comes to loving each other, well I hope we are even better at it by the end of summer.
“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” – Henry James