Thursday, 8 December 2011

Learning to share

Image from here
It is a big time of year for new things coming into our house. We have three kids' birthdays as well as Christmas, so it is 'game on' for our massive influx (although not so much this year).

Our household rule when it comes to getting presents is that you get to play with it all by yourself for the first day, and then it has to be shared with your siblings (if they are interested).

The only thing in the house that is exclusively yours is your bed. Everything else has to be shared. As you can imagine, we are not the kind of family who has a 'seat' at the table, on the lounge or anywhere else which is yours alone to populate. We have a shared plate of snacks for morning and afternoon tea, rather than our own serves. We have hand-me-downs, shared toys, shared TV programming. You get what you get and you don't get upset.

I never know whether I am on the right track or not, but my reason for this is that I want my kids to learn to share and I don't want them to get attached to material things. Stuff is stuff. What is important in life isn't where you sit at the table, but who you sit there with. Life is about making space for others and sharing your time, experience, thoughts and games with them.

It is a hard lesson for anyone, but I am proud of how my kids are coming along with this.

How do you manage sharing at your place?

PS: Speaking of sharing... it is the final day for voting in the Circle of Moms competition. Please share the love and vote for me. It is just a quick click and you can do it even if you have before because it is a once a day thing. Thanks!! xx


Diminishing Lucy said...

This is one of the most sane and lovely posts I hope to read today. Firstly, I love hearing about how you manage stuff like this in your family.

Secondly, we are on the exact same wavelength when it comes to kids, sharing, stuff and family.

Thirdly, this post is why blogging is cool - especially at this time of year - here I am all stressy - and you make it seem easy,AND you have birthdays to navigate too!

Lucy xx

PS As one of five, we shared everything too. (Apart form beds. But our parents bed was common ground on weekend mornings...)

I didn't realise that bags of chips came in single serve bags until I was quite an older kid! It irritated me at the time, but now, of course, I find it easier to share than not...

Kate Sins said...

This sounds like a brilliant way to teach children not to be attached to things. My two are nearly-three and nearly-one so we're entering the 'that's MINE' phase with the older one. I hadn't really thought about how best to manage it but am going to start employing an 'everything is everyone's' rule. Love it!

But would be interested to read why it's not a good idea...

Red Dalish said...

I really enjoyed your post. It's a concept I've only just begun to consider after just recently having my second child. Shared belongings are only just starting to surface in our home.

My 3yo is pretty attached to ideas about what is his stuff. He's very attached to routines and set processes. So far though, his adoration for baby sister has meant he is fairly happy to share when needed.

I'd love to know whether, and how, you apply your sharing rule to adult's possessions. I would shudder if my kids went into my handbag for example. Or my 'keep out cupboard' (for treats and presents). Do your kids question why some adult things are off-limits when they are expected to share everything?

danneromero said...

Great post. So honest. And to the point. I am glad there are families out there that haven't fallen into the trap of getting your kids everything just because all the other kids have it.

I love your idea.... It's theirs the first day and then anyone else can use it by the following day.

Mostly though, i like, and you are right, Stuff is stuff. It's who you are sitting at the table with that matters.

Bridget said...

Hope you don't mind, but I think I'm going to poach this approach and pull it out when my soon-to-be-bub is age-ready! Such a beautiful idea and a great way to focus on what is important in life. Very refreshing x

Miss Pink said...

Mr Black has a "owe me" complex where he feels the world owes him. It's quite annoying.

Me? I lean towards saying i'm not a sharer because there are things I simply refuse to share. I think it's because I was made to share my whole life with my little sister, and going from that to being a mum so quickly I didn't get any time to really be selfish.
However the things I won't share usually relate to food or space (when I need it).
The kids are made to share. Everything is shared, and it's ok to swap and so on. They do have specific chairs at the dining table, but sometimes they sit elsewhere and that's ok. It's more a habit thing for them. If there is a conflict over a toy, even if it technically is one child's we talk about taking turns and letting that child finish up for X time before it is the next child's turn.
I think many children sadly aren't taught to share and are very materialistic these days. But it all comes back to the parenting, and we all have tough days.

Mum on the Run said...

I love this perspective - and the understanding that the 'who' is the quality bit.
It's so important to Hubby and I that our son (even though he's our one and only right now) shares our gnerosity and welcoming nature.
Our home is always open and we love nothing more than to invite people into it to share a meal, a play, a chat...
We lend and gift easily - like you say, it's only stuff.
I have a feeling your kids are just gorgeous.

Mel said...

I love this! We are trying to encourage sharing with our 2 and 3 year old kids, but its hard at times! Our 2yo daughter is better at it than our 3yo who is very attached to material things - part of being the eldest and getting everything to himself for a while perhaps? We've found that being in daycare has really helped with their sharing, as they have to share 2 adults with up to 9 other kids (1:5 ratio for the older classes) and all of the toys with other kids, including limited trikes and play equipment. Not sure how we'd go with a shared plate of food as my son scoffs his food while his sister takes her time (and we need to make sure that she still eats) but if we open something like a packet of chips or even a punnet of strawberries, they both know that they get half each, so we're obviously getting somewhere!

Thanks for sharing how you do it - will definitely keep this in mind for our kidlets.

Mama of 2 boys said...

You are so awesome Multiple Mum, I love this train of thought. Such a clever way to deal with four little ones also... though I think this rule could be applied to any number of children really. I like the notion of material things just being stuff, I've never actually considered it before, but this is how I operate also. Purely accidental of course. I just never like when the boys are given too much... quite often I will put things away, just so it's not an embarrassment of riches around here. Angus has his b'day a little over a week after Christmas... it is certainly a difficult time to manage.

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