Thursday, March 06, 2008


It's a numbers game.

If you have more than one child, chances are that you've suffered the endless bickering about whose turn it is to sit where - particularly in the car. Chances are, anyway, that you remember the fights with your siblings! (Now you know what your parents went through, don't you!) And if your kids aren't yet out of baby seats or booster seats, then all I can say is enjoy the relative peace while it lasts... I have always said that as kids get older, some things do indeed improve -but all you do is move on to another "phase".

If you have more than one child, chances are that they fight about whose turn it is to do just about anything. In our house it's not only who gets to sit in the 'best seat available' in the car, but also on which seat round the dinner table. (Call us weird, but the only set spots are mine and the Daddy's. And you can call us slack parents, but the 'better' seats are rated according to best line of vision to the TV, and you can go bite your bum if you are going to lecture me about not having the TV on while eating dinner... What if I want to watch the news? Or whatever else is on?.... It's just the way it is here.. ok.)

It could be about who gets the sofa bed when they stay at Grandmas, or who has to about who has to have the first shower, and.. yes, well, any other thing you might imagine.

And it's enough to send a mother right up the wall, screaming as she goes. I know. I've been there.

I did try a few of the usual strategies. "Taking turns' involved far too much memory required on my part.. and nagging appeals about how long each 'turn' was, and stuff like how it was not fair because SHE got to go a LONG way yesterday, and this is only a SHORT trip today), or 'first in best dressed' - which is hardly fair given the age differences - we finally came up with a pretty much failsafe system, which also has the added advantage of making them do all the remembering, and some mental arithmetic to boot. Not that that was the major goal, but it has proved to be an added bonus, and it assuages some parental guilt when you get the "How to be a better parent" type tips in the school newsletter about how to incorporate the Three Rs into your everyday family life. I've never been a fan of deliberately being 'educational' at home - IMHO more often than not it just happens - so those tips actually annoy the hell out of me, but that's another rant for another day!

Anyway... this is how it goes:

They get a DATE each, on a rotational basis. Three kids, rotate through the calendar. Easiest way is that one gets the multiple of 3 date... and the other two are either side of it. ( This selection process is the hardest thing you'll have to do with it - the rest is plain sailing.)

When it's your day - by date - you get the first choice in ANYTHING that involves choice between siblings. Car seat. Dining room table seat. When to have your shower... whatever.

There are just a few rules to go with it.

  1. If you aren't around on your day, tough bickies. No rainchecks. Person whose day it is next gets the choice. Swings and roundabouts - another time someone else won't be around on their day.

  2. Mum or Dad have the ultimate right of veto, and if they decide someone has been really BAD, then they lose their day.

  3. On the 31st of the month, Mum gets to choose who gets it as their day. Usually the child who has pissed her off least in the past 24 hours.

  4. End of February, 29th and/or 3oth miss out? Tough.

  5. If it's your birthday it's your day. If your birthday happens to fall on your date, oh well, sorry, you don't get an extra day to make up.

  6. If you can't do the maths, then the other two have the right to NOT do the maths for you... Funnily enough this only seems to apply to the ELDEST who, while having the easiest maths to do - this year she got the 'multiple of three' dates - also seems to be constantly the vaguest on what date it is. The youngest two are right on top of it.

  7. If there is a seemingly onerous choice it works in reverse - eg. having to go up to have your shower first ( oh my god how awful is that!) then the person whose day it is LEAST has to go first, and then the next. Naturally if you actually WANT to have your shower first on any occasion, then you get to choose.

  8. It applies wherever you are. eg. it saves Grandma from having to make decisions about who sleeps where.

That pretty much covers it. I don't give out many parenting tips because I don't think I'm much of an expert in that department, and there's nothing worse than the 'parenting expert' is there!

But I reckon this one is worth filing away for future reference and experimentation, and adapting to your own circumstances. It has pretty much saved my sanity this past year.

Disclaimer: This strategy does NOT work once they are sitting in the car, and they are fighting over personal space, and "she TOUCHED ME" and "she HIT ME" and "her mp3 player is up too loud" etc etc.... If anyone has the solution to that, other than the van we used to have whereby they were separated by distance and a middle row of seats to put one of them in, then I'd love to know!


Fantastic Tracey. I am going to print that off and save it - whilst they may be too young for it now, the Boys are already starting to fight over sharing, so I think it may come in extremely handy in the future!
Ok, I'm pretty mean, so when the kids bicker "she touched me" or "he's too loud" I make them sit in silence and stare out of the nearest window, hands in laps, for about 10 minutes (until I don't feel like making one ride on the roof anymore).

Good-o on taking turns on every aspect of choice- we do that for setting the table, but I never thought of spreading the idea to other areas! GREAT tip!!!
Easy - get rid of two of 'em, or at the very least send the to boarding school. Solved!

that is a great idea - wished my parents had thought of it.
I'll get it easier - odd and evens when my twins are old enough.
thanks - the planning Queen should be informed about this one.
i am definitely borrowing that idea for the future, no good with one kid at the moment. thanks!
Oh I likey!

I get so sick of the bickering over who gets to sit in the front, who gets to lie on the long couch, who gets to watch the big tv on what days! Arrrghhhh! My living nightmare!
I don't really have that problem, but I will file it for when the nephews and nieces arrive en masse.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?