I lost it last night. It had been a long day. I had a migraine. My kids had bickered almost from the moment they stepped in the door. No one was paying any attention to what I told them to do. I was frustrated.
As my husband walked in the door, he saw me standing at the kitchen counter with a knife in my hand, preparing dinner and yelling at my younger daughter. He walked over, removed the knife and said, "Why don't you go for a walk?" It was the mommy equivalent of being sent to time out.
As I walked, I realized that at that moment, I was dreading summer. We have four and a half days of school left. The closer we get to the end of the year, the more my girls seem to fight. I know they're tired. I know my older daughter is excited about the end of elementary school but nervous about the start of middle school. But for my sanity, I need my girls to get along. I don't want to spend the entire summer breaking up fights and scolding children.
Including my girls, we have six girls in our neighborhood. Since the weather has been nice, they've been playing outside together. Nearly every time they play together, at least one child stomps off mad because they don't want to play what the other kids are playing or they think what's going on is not fair. It's going to be a really long summer if they don't figure out how to play well together.
God doesn't want us to be angry with one another. He wants us to get along and cooperate. Anger is one of those emotions that can cause us to sin, to do and say things we don't mean. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,and do not give the devil a foothold." Being angry with others gives Satan an opportunity to stick his nose into our lives and steer us astray. The more we can do to teach our kids to solve conflict without anger, the more pleasing their actions will be to God.
This summer, each of the girls on our block are getting a "compromise bucket." I've discovered most of their issues arise from not being able to decide what to play. The compromise bucket is a simple sand pail. Inside the pail is a kitchen timer, Post-it notes, pens, a fake coin and a dry-erase board or a compromise chart. The girls can write on the Post-it notes the thing they want to play. They throw all the slips in the bucket and draw them out one by one. They write names on the dry erase board in the order the slips are drawn and set a time limit for each activity (the same time limit for each). They set the timer and play each child's game or activity for that amount of time, then move on to the next child. If they run out of time (someone has to go in or it gets dark), they start with the next person on the list the next time they play.
The fake coin is for the inevitable disagreements that don't fall under the "what should we play" banner. When they reach an impasse, they flip a coin to break it. It's fair and everyone has an equal chance to win.
You can grab your own compromise chart printable and make your own compromise bucket to help make this most conflict-free summer ever.
I'm hopeful the compromise bucket will eliminate some of the squabbles we encounter and make their friendships stronger. It will teach them compromise and the value of working out their problems. With six girls, two sets of sisters each, conflict is inevitable, but finding ways to teach them to resolve their conflicts not only helps make this The Best Summer Ever, it gives them a life skill that will serve them well in the future. And it just might keep me from needing a few more mommy timeouts.
The winner of the $10 Target gift card is Ami Swisher. Don't miss tomorrow's post where we talk about taking an everyday outing and turning it into a teaching opportunity. If you missed the beginning of The Best Summer Ever series, check it out here.
Linking up today with Raising Mighty Arrows.