Other Thoughts

Sunshine Days: Making Ordinary Days Special

August 24, 2015 by Hayley Beck
[dropcap]E[/dropcap]ver heard this:

I want that one!

or

I don’t want to watch that!

or

I want the blue one

followed with

No, I want it!

A simple way to teach little ones some practical lessons about being selfless and letting others be special, too.

When my oldest daughter was three-and-a-quarter, and my second was almost two, the above phrases began in our family on a recurring basis. In trying to figure out how best to help our little girls share and take delight in sometimes giving in and not getting their own way AND without any tears or tantrums that follow, we officially declared May 2, 2011 to be Day 1 of “Sunshine Day” in our home.

Sunshine Day means each child has a day that is declared their Sunshine Day, rotating through all the children

On YOUR Sunshine Day you get to decide if YOU want the blue cup, and guess what? You’ll get it! If YOU want to get in the car first, you do. If you want to open the door, then you get to do it. No scrambling to knock anyone out of the way, and no objections. If you want the plate that is the exact same as the one next to it, with the exact same designsย on it, but you particularly want the one on the left opposed to the right, then you get the one on the left. No questions asked. If we’re taking a photo and you want to hold the baby for the photo, then it’s inevitable you will hear the question,

Whose Sunshine Day is it?

Sunshine Days have worked like a dream in our home.

I admit, at first, I was reluctant to start. How, after all, was this Sunshine Day thing going to address the heart? And then, what about birthdays and making those days the special days? But I realized Sunshine Days just affect those inconsequential matters, while we continue to work on our heart attitudes. It’s not that if it is your Sunshine Day you get to decide what we’re eating or where we’re going. It’s just little things that creep up and be able to respond to the inevitable “I want that one!” when there are two others that also want it.

Sunshine Day has given us a tool to work immediately on being selfless — if it’s not your day, the children have just accepted it without any grumps or groans. And they’re even able to recognize that. in another day or two, it will be your Sunshine Day and you’ll get to go first, or have the colour cup you want, or be the child to run errands. All the while, this allows for every child to have their turn without getting lost in the shuffle of family life, and experience the other days of finding joy in their sister or brother having the choice.

Of course, it goes without saying, the more children we have, the less often Sunshine Days come around. And, that’s OK!

We found almost immediately with implementing Sunshine Days that if it wasn’t their Sunshine Day, but it is their day to set the table, the girls were initiating the question,

It’s your Sunshine Day, which color [cup] would you like?

Whenever there is a squawk over something, I just ask “Who’s Sunshine Day is it today?” and that can generally settle it fair and square! And give me a moment, with emotions settling down, to talk about their heart. Now, there are times when someone just digs their heels in and doesn’t care that it’s another person’s Sunshine Day, they’re just going to throw that little fit-filled tantrum. I give my child a reminder that it isn’t their Sunshine Day, and if the fit-throwing tantrum continues, then they forfeit their Sunshine Day when it comes up next. In four years, I have only had to do this 5 times. I really can attest that it has given my children the tool to be gracious, even when their selfish little heart wants it their own way. And it keeps emotions at bay, giving us an opportunity to talk.

To avoid forgetting who’s Sunshine Day it is, an initial for every day is on the calendar. And throughout the day if Mum has to ask who’s Sunshine Day it is, we break out into singing the old campfire song:

From the rising of the sun (ch-ch-ch-ch-ch), to the going down of the same (eeee-oooo-eeee-oooo), the Lord’s name is to be praised.

This comes directly from the Bible (Psalm 113:3) and reminds us to praise the Lord from beginning to end, for that is really far more important than anything else, even who’s Sunshine Day it is today!

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15 Comments

  • Reply Laurie Hawley August 24, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Love this idea. But what do you do when it is child 1’s Sunshine day but child 2 and 3 are the ones arguing about who gets to play with the favorite toy?

    • Reply Hayley August 24, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      That’s a great question, Laurie. We’ve established in our home that I choose in those moments, because it’s neither one’s Sunshine Day. I remind the children that they’ll get to choose when it’s their Sunshine Day. I usually choose the child who is farthest away from their next Sunshine Day, though not always. It’s also established that if there’s any complaints, the complainer skips their Sunshine Day when it comes, so that is always a good reminder to just accept what Mum has said, without complaint.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 24, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Ahem. I am mean and take the toy away.

      I’m glad you are hear to answer the questions nicely, Hayley!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Reply Hayley Beck August 24, 2015 at 4:37 pm

        I do that too, Brandy. I tend to do that with my older ones, who are the same ages as your younger ones because they’re learning the ability to dialogue about it and compromise on their own. But with my younger ones, this alternative works well.

        • Reply Brandy Vencel August 24, 2015 at 4:43 pm

          Good point on the age differences! It has been so long now since I had little littles — my heart is hardened and mean. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Hayley Beck August 24, 2015 at 4:52 pm

            Brandy, there is not a mean bone in your body! You are one of the sweetest people ever to know.

          • Brandy Vencel August 24, 2015 at 4:54 pm

            Well, that is very kind of you to say. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Christa August 24, 2015 at 10:40 am

    I was reading along and thinking, “Sunshine days…. wait a minute… I have only heard of that from one person…” The email version doesn’t say who wrote it. Then I saw the “mum” and knew it was you. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing! It is such a helpful idea.

    My mom did the same thing for my brother and me, but it was based on the day of the month since there were only two of us. My days were the odd days and my brother’s were the even. We mostly used it to determine who got to sit in the front seat of the car. It definitely helped reduce conflict in our home. I am not sure if he ever worked out that I got more days than he did ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 24, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Ha! I didn’t realize the emails didn’t have the author name on them until today. We have since fixed that problem. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Hayley Beck August 24, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      Oh, hi Christa!! So, you mean you weren’t able to hear my Aussie accent until you got to “Mum”?? C’mon now!

  • Reply Karla (clay1416) August 24, 2015 at 5:44 am

    We have been doing this for a couple of years and love it! We don’t have a nice title like “Sunshine Day” but the kids know when it’s their day they get to choose first. It has helped to settle many fights!

    • Reply Hayley August 24, 2015 at 7:23 am

      I’m so glad you posted to encourage other moms that this does help in a big way to settle the inconsequential {or small} things, because those inconsequential things to little ones can feel like a big deal!

  • Reply Catie August 24, 2015 at 4:56 am

    I like this idea, Brandy! Do you rotate every day? I have 3 children, so every third day would be their Sunshine Day? Or is it more random? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Catie August 24, 2015 at 4:58 am

      Whoops! I just saw that Hayley wrote this. Sorry Hayley! This is a good idea! Are you the one that wrote about the Quiet Time rotation too? You have great ideas!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Reply Hayley August 24, 2015 at 7:20 am

        I have a child assigned to every day, in birth order. I have it on the calendar with an initial for each day. It takes all of 30 seconds to jot down their initials for the month. So, I currently have four of my five children {#5 is 18 months old} in the Sunshine Day rotation, so every fourth day is their Sunshine Day.

        Yes, Catie, I did write about Quiet Time rotations. Having five children ages 7 and under encourages one to figure out what helps make the most of any given day. Simple structure can ward off major chaos. Or at least, for most of the time.

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