Every mom needs some “tools in their toolbelt” to make life run smoother and to build a well functioning family! The buddy system is a tool that has worked so well for our family and I love sharing this idea with other moms!
Over the years, I’ve seen some mega families endorse the “buddy system” with their kids. The Duggars in particular favor this system, creating a partnership between a younger child and an older sibling. For years, I balked at this idea, with the seeming replacement “Mom” that it created in the older child. Thankfully, an older mom at my church set me straight and pointed out the benefits of this system. “Even if you have 2 kids, you need the buddy system,” she advised. I took her words to heart and haven’t looked back!
Here’s how we implement the BUDDY SYSTEM in our house:
-We have 4 kids and they are divided into 2 buddy pairs. My first and third child are buddies, and my second and fourth child are buddies.
-The older child is not taking on a motherly role or replacing me, but merely being a helper and taking particular responsibility for being a special helper for their younger buddy.
Some tasks that are common:
-The older sibling gets to help pick out the younger sibling’s outfit for the day and help them get dressed (My third daughter gets so excited about this and LOVES to pick out her younger brother’s clothes!)
-My oldest daughter (age 6) can help her younger sister (age 2) brush her teeth in the mornings.
-The older buddies can help reach things (or find things) for the younger buddies when they need help.
-They all love riding on our backyard swing and pushing each other. Having the buddy system eliminates the arguments over who gets to push who, and the older buddy always gets priority in pushing the younger buddy. Everyone is happy!
-If I am busy washing dishes or making dinner and someone needs help with something, I remind them to ask their buddy to help them!
-The older buddies are also great at playing with the younger ones while I am trying to complete a task.
-They can help them put on carseat buckles or take them off (if needed, and I do a final check)
Here is why it WORKS:
-Each older child is SO eager to help! It never is an issue of not wanting to help or being forced into helping their younger siblings. They each LOVE their little buddies and enjoy assisting them.
-It has cultivated responsibility in my older kids.
-It teaches the younger kids learn how to ask for help in a nice manner, and has helped them learn to appreciate their older siblings in a new way.
-It gives me a little extra help! With 4 kids age 6 and under, I can’t be everywhere at once! The smaller tasks can be handled by the older kids, and it frees me up to be more available to the group as a whole!
It is not merely for mommy’s well-being that we implement this system! It truly has benefits for the children. Research from Toronto and from Macquarie University in Australia studied the impact of chores and responsibility on character. It was proven, interestingly, that children with daily responsibilities for the welfare of the entire family (as opposed to merely self care responsibilities) promoted more concern overall for the welfare of others. (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 112) What a great lesson.
Concern and compassion for others is something I specifically want to cultivate in my kids, and the Buddy System is a great TOOL that helps mold their hearts to be others-focused!