The Dos and Don'ts of Managing Sibling Schedules

Eliza Clark
September 8, 2016

Scheduling activities and play dates for two or more siblings doesn't sound like such a tough thing to manage. How hard can it be? But ask any parent who's done it, and they'll tell you it's a tricky business. How do you give each child the chance to explore their interests and develop their talents when time and resources are limited, and schedules (inevitably) conflict?

After trial and error in our own families, here are some general guidelines by which we try our best to abide.

Do:

Make time for each child to enjoy their own activities that may be different from one another.

Allow plenty of room in the schedule for siblings to have time together to play and bond.

Make sure each child can have play dates with their friends that are not interrupted by their siblings.

Bring a sibling along when taking another child to her/his events and activities. There are a lots of positives to this inevitable situation: it builds a sense of family, of mutuality, it teaches kids how to cope with waiting and "boredom," and gives them a window into their sibling's individual life.

Consider the impact on the whole family, including siblings, when making plans for each child.

Don't:

Overschedule one child and underschedule the other (unless it's a baby we're talking about). No one, not even a three-year-old appreciates being the third wheel all of the time.

Overspend on classes or equipment for one child, and then find yourself having to skimp on the others.

Put more emphasis on an older child's activities and friendships. It's difficult, but try not to. Younger children may go along with it, but feel subtly undervalued nonetheless.

Regularly leave one child with a babysitter while you take the other to piano, gymnastics or the like. Try to balance it out.

Don't overschedule yourself and the kids: if you're trying to get each of your different children here or there every afternoon of the week, you're going to be exhausted and irritable—not good for anyone in the family!

Let us know, how do you manage different siblings' schedules?

From the Parents

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