Level 5 life: 3 things I am doing to help diffuse sibling fights
My children are, I assume, like most siblings, both the best of friends, and yet also, at times, the absolute worst of enemies.
This juxtaposition has only been highlighted during these past few weeks, when we have spent every second of every day together.
Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful that they have each other to play with and watch movies with, and go on long adventures on their scooters with when we are out and about. But there are also days when I am absolutely worn out breaking up fights over Pokemon cards or Harry Potter Lego constructions that have been knocked over or screaming matches over who can really hula hoop the longest.
Which is why I have implemented a few house rules for keeping tensions at bay – and keeping us all sane during these strange days.
And while I think some flexibility is important right now, I will not budge on these three:
1. Daily outdoor exercise
I don't know if it is my Norwegian genes, but I am all about outdoor play – and raising outdoorsy kids. Not just now, but always. I am a firm believer in the power of fresh air – and the old Norwegian saying: "There is no such thing as bad weather, you are just wearing the wrong clothing."
So what this means, is that during this lockdown, our most important daily activity has been our outdoor time. Walks, cycles, scoots, runs – we have literally explored every inch of our local area. There isn't a cul-de-sac or local green we haven't been to or played at, and I know that not only has all this exercise done us all good physically, but it has also improved our moods – and made everything else so much easier to deal with too.
2. Keeping us all on a relatively normal schedule
While being at home and away from school and the office can make days feel long and lazy, I think, for all our sakes, it has been important to distinguish between weekdays and weekend. Sticking to normal get-up times, meal-times and work times (note: we are not doing full school days, but are dedicating a couple of hours per morning to it) has made it so much easier to get through our days, and have something to look forward to as well – playtimes, outdoor time and the weekend.
Bedtime is also happening at the normal time, and to us, this, I think, has been crucial in keeping everyone feeling their best and being in a good mood.
3. Create separate break areas – and make time for one-on-one
My children are three years apart in age, and much as they play well together most of the time and genuinely like the same shows and movies on Netflix (which comes in handy for all our movie nights), they also need some space from each other these days.
To help them have some space where they can just be alone, we have agreed that the play tipi we have in the living room is my little girl's reading area – as that is how she decompresses. And my little boy has the cosy bay window in their bedroom as 'his area.' This is where he retreats when he needs some quiet time, and he will happily sit here and organise his Pokemon cards or play with dinosaurs or even just flick through a book.
It doesn't really matter what the space is or where, the goal is just to make sure it's a safe space, it's just for one child, and it's accessible anytime they need a break. If it has snuggly materials (pillows, stuffed animals, blankets), well, then even better!
I also try to schedule in some time every day when I get each of the children on their own, where we can chat or just snuggle or read a book, just the two of us, and honestly, I think it has really helped to make them feel seen and secure during these very strange and different days.