Strengthening Sibling Relationships: An Easy Idea for Summer Vacation

A few years ago, as summer was approaching, I was concerned with some of the one-on-one relationships my children had with each other. I’m a mother of four and my biggest concern was that my oldest (8 going on 9 at the time) and my five-year-old had NO friendship. They often bickered and fought.

So I came up with a plan based on the well-known thought “you love those you serve” and created a schedule for my children to serve each other. It worked so well we have done it every summer since.

Create a Simple Schedule for Siblings to “Serve” Each Other Through Fun Activities

This is how it works: every child is paired with every sibling every morning. The combos over the years have included activities like:

-11-year-old daughter and 10-year-old-daughter write and produce a play (including script, costumes and sets).
-10-year-old daughter and 5-year-old-daughter make up dances together.
-5-year-old-son reads an easy reader to 7-year-old daughter.
-7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old-son play jump rope, hopscotch, basketball or soccer.
-5-year-old son and 4-year-old-daughter color a picture together.

As Your Kids Grow, The Activities Can Become More Advanced

As my kids have grown we have continued the tradition and the activities mature as my children do. This is what we did last summer:

-13-year-old daughter and 12-year-old-daughter prepared dinner each morning (including a weekly menu and shopping list). They did all the prep work they could in the morning, together, then one of them did the actual cooking each evening.
-13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old-son played board games each day.
-13-year-old daughter read Alice and Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia to my 9-year-old-daughter.
-12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old-son practiced timetable flash cards.
-12-year-old daughter taught 9-year-old-daughter piano basics.
-9-year-old-daughter practiced her reading with my 10-year-old son.

The kids love this part of the day — and thankfully, they love each other. I will continue to do this as long as I can. I feel like this is one of the best things I’ve done for my children.

 


Credits: By Sara Urquhart, photo by Katrina Davis for Design Mom.

21 thoughts on “Strengthening Sibling Relationships: An Easy Idea for Summer Vacation”

  1. Oh Sara I am so glad to hear someone else has this as a goal for their children. I found myself in the same situation and have on and off tried service type activities for my 3 children. I am glad to see it from your perspective with activities that will allow the children to bond and have fun. I am going to focus our service in a fun way that is more like yours. Thanks for this post,
    April

  2. my sister and i didn’t get along growing up and i’m afraid that’s how it will be for my daughters. i hope to remember this when they are a bit older. such a great idea.

  3. This is a wonderful idea. I have a question about logistics – do the kids pair off with a different sibling each morning or do they spent time with each sibling every morning?

  4. I love this idea! Any more info would be SO appreciated… I agree with Jenny’s questions… how do you schedule this? And do the children pair up on their own or do you assign them?

    I’m loving sisters week!

  5. This is so great. I think we will be implementing this idea around here this summer-maybe even before! Like Jenny & Michelle, I also would love more info on the scheduling.

  6. FABULOUS idea! I am absolutely storing this in my brain for future usage. The kiddos are currently 2 1/2 and 1, so they’re a little young as of yet.

  7. Jenny,

    Each morning (M-F) the kids have specific things that have to happen before they can go play with friends. For Ruth I will ask all these questions:

    Did you make your bed?
    Did you clean the bathroom?
    Did you read with Lucy?
    Did you play basketball with Ike?
    What do you and Zella have planned for dinner?
    Did you practice the piano?

    Each child has an assignment with every other child every morning. It just becomes part of the summer routine.

    Michelle,

    So far I have always assigned the activities. My children are getting older and have done this enough years that I may give them some room to help me decide this year.

    Tiffany,

    As I choose an activity, I always consider the ages of the two kids involved. What kinds of things they could/should be doing anyway (like reading or flashcards).

    The kids I was most concerned about have always had light activites: like playing a board game each day. This helped them laugh together and there was no pressure (my kids are really good sports) when one lost to the other.

    I hope this helps.

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