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My husband and I originally began rotating a designated Leader-of-the-Day among our children so that we could intentionally spend one-on-one time with each child on a regular basis. (See Planning Regular One-on-One Time with Each Child) What began as a few minutes of creating lifelong memories of everyday moments each evening, became so much more as we found more ways to use the leader-of-the-day approach. This plan helps us build responsibility and settle some sibling conflicts more quickly. Maybe it will work for you!
Each day we rotate which child gets to be the Leader-of-the-Day. We go from oldest to youngest, and skip Sundays so that one leader does not always have the same day of the week (now that we have seven kids). This way, they take turns having the favored day of Friday, and I work on lessons plans Sunday evenings.
The leader has both extra privileges and responsibilities. “Whose the leader?” becomes the question that helps solve many sibling conflicts, though not always without protest, of course!
My kids constantly aruge about whose turn it is to _________ (sit in the recliner, ride in the front, be the 1st player, check the mail, pick the movie, say the blessing, and on and on and on . . . ).
The Leader-of-the-Day approach provides solutions for many of these arguments.
Whoever is the Leader picks first, goes first or _____ first, period. Whether it is a seat or a game, or the last piece of pizza on leftover day, or even who gets to go with dad to the dollar store, when a conflict arises, I ask, “Who is the leader (or the leader next if the leader cannot for some reason)?” That settles it.
My kids used to argue three time a day about who gets to say the blessing. Now, the leader prays at breakfast (little ones with help), mom prays at lunch, and dad prays at supper. If one of the parents misses the meal, the leader may say the blessing instead.
Granted, there will be some things that all of the children are not involved in so that the oldest would always be the leader next except on the day after he or she is the leader. In that case, we try to go by who did it last and take turns as fairly as possible. For example, only the older two can ride in the front of the van. The oldest is always the leader next once it is past her turn, so they switch up as peaceable as possible, which anyone with teens knows is not always possible.
Developing Leadership & Responsibility
The leader not only has more privileges, but also has added responsibility, especially for the older children. If I need help with a particular job, the leader is the helper. If the leader is too young for the particular task, then I start back with the oldest ones, who need to be practicing responsibility and volunteering to help more often anyway.
This works great for accomplishing small tasks when something (or someone) else needs my attention more. It solves the sibling conflicts over who has to or who gets to help.
Possible Responsibilities for the Leader-of-the-Day
- Occupy younger siblings for a short period.
- Retrieve a forgotten item in the van.
- Help find lost shoes, socks, toys, etc.
- Check the mail.
- Feed the family pets.
- Help prepare breakfast or any meal (the older ones sometime cook breakfast themselves).
It’s not Fair
One understanding about the Leader-of-the-Day is that there is not way to make it completely fair for everyone. Maybe today the leader went with mom to town, but tomorrow mom isn’t going anywhere. Maybe we went on a family outing and got home too late to have one-on-one time with the leader. Maybe Dad checked the mailbox before he came in the door.
Children must understand that things like this happen by chance and cannot be helped. They must accept whatever happens to fall on their day. The next time around as leader may have more opportunities for both fun and responsibility. Occasionally, we will try to make up for missing the one-on-one activity with the leader if time permits the next day, but sometime they just miss out that day and look forward to the next time even more.
Will the Leader-of-the-Day cut out sibling rivalry?
Ha, ha, ha. Uh, no. Sibling rivarly will always be an issue, but the Leader-of-the-Day can cut down on the number of issue and bring a quick resolution to some conflicts. We’ve been using this method for years, and though it helps, my oldest two children still drive me crazy with their constant bickering!
What if Leader-of-the-Day approach causes sibling conflicts?
Sometimes, the Leader-of-the-Day will cause sibling conflicts. A child will do something that was supposed to be the leader’s privilege. Expect lots of whining by the leader. Sometimes we as parents, may answer yes to a request from another child, forgetting that the leader was supposed to have that privledge.
I don’t have any easy answers. It happens. A little forgiveness, a little grace. We need both empathy with the person wronged and forgiveness toward the person who may have accidentally neglected to keep the leader in mind.
No sibling plan will satisfy everyone every time, but the Leader-of-the-Day approach helps our family with both bonding time and resolving sibling conflicts.
As my children grow up, I want the to remember our home as a place of peace and shared responsibility.
Will the Leader-of-the-Day bring help parent and sibling relationships in your family? If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes. Please comment and let me know how it helps (or doesn’t) lessen sibling conflicts and build responsibility among your children, while creating lifelong memories in everyday moments. What other ideas to you have for improving sibling relationships?
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalm 133:1
For homeschooled families who are together ALL THE TIME, read this post from the Hmmm… Schooling Mom: Always Together