When my youngest daughter was only a few weeks old, I met with a good friend who gave me the best piece of advice I received concerning my new baby and her big sister.
I had just finished describing my intense feelings of guilt over disrupting the life of my perfectly content two-year-old with a tiny, screaming infant who demanded all my attention.
As a mom of three, my friend understood. She told me, "You have to remember it's not what you did TO her, but what you did FOR her." The her in this sentence being my oldest daughter.
These words of wisdom served as a great reminder of why my husband and I wanted a sibling for our firstborn in the first place.
We wanted a second child so our first would not grow up alone. So she would learn sharing and compromise and sacrifice. So she would always have a playmate. So she would have someone to share in the misery of parental discipline through the teenage years. So she could be a sister, because the sibling bond is one of the greatest any of us can have.
This connection is celebrated in an official way every year on April 10, known as National Sibling Day.
Claudia Evart, who lost a brother and sister at an early age, created this day to honor them, as well as the special bond between all siblings.
Though not a national holiday (yet!), the premise of National Sibling Day is similar to that of Mother's Day and Father's Day, which we, of course, celebrate in meaningful ways. The idea is to recognize siblings in the same way.
With that said, gifts, flowers and breakfast in bed are not obligatory unless you really want to shock your brother or sister. A phone call or text or email on April 10 is a simple enough gesture to brighten a sibling's day.
For parents like me, National Sibling Day is a perfect time to explain and reinforce the bond our children share. Plan a special outing. Ask kids to write a list of favorite things about their brother or sister. Have a mini photo shoot, and print one of the best shots to put in each sibling's room. Do something that encourages them to be together, hopefully, in a peaceful way.
When the complaints about someone taking a toy or the whining over who got more candy inevitably resumes, we can show our children their favorite's lists or the sibling photograph as proof of how fun it is to have a brother or sister.
It is, in fact, the best thing we have done for them.
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