It was 5pm, or, as we call it in our house, The Wild Hour. That moment when my mind is on dinner, bath and bedtime (yippee). And my attention is definitely not on my kids.
Is that why they get cranky? Yes, but not entirely. Throw in boredom, tiredness, maybe the first stirrings of hunger. Add in a little extra of not liking dinner and hating baths, followed by bedtime.
This marvellous blend often seems to result in upsets, arguments, and tears. Epic cases of the sibling snarls. Oh my.
Often I hang back, doing the worst thing I can do to make this situation better. I ignore it. I busy myself with chopping and re-heating, boiling and rooting around in the fridge, while the arguments rise behind me. I promise myself that if I can just get things on the table, all will be magically resolved.
We'll come together for a warm, joyful evening dinner.
The sibling snarls will be gone.
Most often, these bids of mine to rush dinner out as if all is fine end when Child One stomps to the bedroom, Child Two declares he’s not eating, and three plates of food sit on the table growing cold.
Hardly the recipe for a smooth bedtime, I'm sure you'll agree.
Luckily, on this day, something clicked. In a good way.
My “good sense” switch flipped on somewhere in the depths of my brain.
Instead of hiding out in the kitchen, I waded into what looked like a Lego wasteland to find my two adorables in a stand-off.
“She won’t play,” said Child Two. “She keeps taking all the bricks.” He pointed to the bulging front pocket in her hoodie..
“I just want to build by myself,” she said, looking more hurt than angry.
That's when I got an idea.
Say goodbye to sibling snarls
One way to keep the peace without taking sides.
One way I could help them move on.
One way to give Child Two that attention I could see he needed.
I knelt down between them and told Child Two, gently, “I think she needs time in the Sister Zone.”
He pouted. I explained.
“See this rug? This is The Sister Zone. And guess what? While she’s in The Sister Zone, you get something very special too.”
His pout became a curious frown. “What’s that?” he asked.
“Special Time. We can play whatever you want to play for ten whole minutes before I finish dinner.”
Now he was interested.
I asked Child One, “Would you like some time in the Sister Zone?”
She smiled and said yes, and after a brief bout of bargaining over a few choice bricks with his sister, Child One decided on a treasure hunt game for his Special Time.
All I can say is that, blindfolded, his hidden legos were extremely difficult for me to find.
And that was perfect because my son laughed and laughed at my inability to find even one.
While I bumbled around in the blindfold he put obstacles in my way, and delighted when I fell or bashed myself (which, after hearing his laughter, I hammed up, and repeated over and over).
Ten minutes later, I went back to the kitchen and the children started their own treasure hunt.
The Wild Hour became calm hour.
Sibling snarls forgotten.
Thanks to Special Time.
Special Time is not normally my go-to.
I often feel a lot of resistance before I begin, despite knowing how helpful it can be.
Special time can be magic, but is not always easy
I don't always find it easy to feel enthusiastic about letting my whole agenda around dinner go. It’s not easy to believe that, after just 10 minutes of undivided attention, a child could suddenly go about their day in a calmer, kinder state of mind.
(Despite easily believing that by hurrying dinner all will go well!).
Of course, there is the possibility that Special Time will result in upset anyways, making a smooth evening even less likely. This fear is often why I run from it. Upsets and no dinner can be a hard prospect when i'm not in the mood to embrace chaos.
which might be why I so often do that one thing that makes it all worse.
I ignore it.
How about you?
Does your Special Time get pushed around, ignored, or buried under the blankie?
And yet, time and time again, when I do Special Time, I feel the good it does for my family.
If you feel a flip-flop in your stomach at the thought of Special Time, or even if you would LOVE to do more Special Time but there just doesn’t seem to be a spare minute lately, you’ll be excited to hear that our annual Special Time Fundraiser is just over a week away.
This is your chance to climb back on-board the Special Time train and stop the sibling battles. Create more warmth. More play and understanding.
Have some fun!
Want to get intentional about putting Special Time in your planner?
We’ve maximized our toolkit this year so that you can get seriously intentional about putting Special Time in your planner. (In fact, you’ll get your own Special Time Planner.)
And, for the first time, you can invite others to sponsor your Special Time!
Isn't that a great way to invite friends and family to support Special Time in your family?
The fundraiser gives you this focus to put Special Time back on the schedule in your family, and help parents in need.
If you want to stop those sibling snarls.
If you want to bring more fun to your family.
If you want to enjoy a smoother dinner, bath, and bedtime routine this is one fundraiser you’ll want to donate to.
It’s true our dinner was later than usual that night, but hey, a whole lot more food got eaten.
And mine was still hot.
Want to become an even more playful parent?
There's everything you need in our Special Time Toolkits.
You can receive your toolkit as a thank you for any gift you give to this year's Special Time Fundraiser. Go here to give.