Today’s post is by Tricia of Raising Humans. Tricia shares ideas for simple, sane, and satisfying celebrations throughout the year – ways to acknowledge milestones and recognize accomplishments without going overboard. You can check out her other posts here.
Two years ago, right around this time in the summer, I began planning for a very special day: the day when my little girl would meet her baby brother. I was five months pregnant and my dreams were full of new life, new beginnings, new relationships to celebrate.
I believed that my girl’s first moments with her baby brother must be celebrated properly. And the Internet agreed, offering a boatload of ideas. So we bought the gift for baby brother to give big sister. We let her hold him and snapped dozens of photos. By the time we all started to settle into this new life, we felt good about those first moments. We had planted this tender new relationship and couldn’t wait to watch it bloom.
But the Internet forgets to tell you that sibling relationships are not a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ kind of thing. As parents, we play a very important role in celebrating the bonds between our children. We can show them how to love each other and be there for each other and celebrate their lives together.
Here are two simple ways I try to foster a sense of celebration in my kids’ developing sibling relationship:
Bring them together
Anyone with more than one child has probably had to separate a pair of siblings into opposite corners of a room. Sometimes distance makes the heart grow fonder and sometimes it is the only thing that makes the crying stop when a tower of legos has been knocked down. If you’re like me, you’ve experimented with proactively separating rather than waiting for the instigating moment. At first blush, it seems like a great idea.
But when I proactively separate them, I’m missing out and so are they. We’re missing out on a moment to celebrate the uniqueness of their relationship. That celebration might turn out to be soggy with tears but there will also be laughter and hugs. They will create games and play together and when they get in the zone, it feels like a private party for two.
If the day truly wasn’t made for playing together, and some just aren’t, I focus on the moments I know will feel like a little celebration. As often as I can, I let my daughter wake my son up from his nap. He opens his eyes to see her face, she soothes him out of sleep, and in that moment, they are the only two people in the world. At the end of the school day, I let my son be the first to walk into the classroom to find his sister. He delivers the first end-of-day hugs and she shows him off to friends and classmates. And though she may love those friends and classmates, everyone knows her relationship with him is something special. These moments celebrate how important they are to each other and usually set the stage for a smooth afternoon of happy together time.
As they get older, I look forward to fostering their relationship. I see sibling sleepovers and making time for them to spend together amidst busy schedules. I imagine hearing their chatter seeping through the floor above, long after they should be asleep, but letting it go because those moments are so special. Though there will be fights and tears and hard times, every time they are together is still a time to celebrate.
Nobody can resist snapping a photo of a newborn in the lap of a toddler or preschooler and nobody should. I know, I have hundreds of photos to prove it! But as my two grow, I continue to snap photos. And video too. When my two sit to play, side-by-side, I capture it. When they spontaneously throw their arms around each other, I document it. And when I hear an explosion of giggles erupt from the baby as he watches his big sister, I roll tape!
Then I do something with those moments.
About every six months, I pull the highlight reel from all of the sibling moments I’ve captured into a video. I use iMovie to arrange them and I pick a sweet song to play in the background. The result is not incredibly polished or professional and it’s probably painful for a proper video expert to watch. But that’s ok. Because when I’m done, I’ve got three or four minutes that celebrate my children and their relationship. We’ll watch those videos every so often just celebrate the joy they bring each other.
If (amateur) video production isn’t your thing, print out the photos to make an album or scrapbook. Load them into a slidehow for your computer’s screen saver or one of those digital photo frames. Create a collage with frames on that big empty wall in your playroom.
Those moments that embody the best parts of our relationships should be kept close by. They remind us that what we’ve got here is good. They give us something to find our way back to when toy-stealing and uneven distribution of dessert create bumps in the road. They remind us that what we’ve got here is special and it is definitely worth celebrating.