As an only child, I didn't know how quickly sibling rivalry began. When my own kids were toddlers, they seemed to argue and fight over every little thing. The absolute best parenting hack that I have relied on is colour-coding the kids. I still rely on it in some areas. Here's how to do it and everywhere it applies.
Picture: Pottery Barn Kids
Colour-coding is very simple. Assign each child a colour. You can pick them or let them choose. Stick with the basic colours -- red, blue, green, yellow, orange. Colour-coding will keep you from adopting that imaginary kid "not me!" (Who didn't follow the rules? "Not me!")
Making it work is easy. Whatever area you find chaos, use the colour-code system.
- In the kitchen, I bought each kid a set of dishes (cups, plates, bowls, mugs) in their colour. This kept me from washing a million cups a day. Also, at a glance, you will be able to tell who didn't put their dishes in the sink/dishwasher or follow whatever kitchen rule you have.
- Also, I did this with bath towels. Each child got a set of towels in their colour. Again, at a glance you can tell who left their towel on the floor.
- Buy colour-coded laundry baskets. Now you can quickly sort laundry for each child as you take it out of the dryer.
- Buy school supplies in the colour-code system (backpacks, pencils, pencil pouches).
- If your kids have identical devices (MP3 players, tablets, mobile phones), as my now teenagers do, there is a way to colour-code here too. They will no doubt customise their gadgets, but swap out the data cables for coloured ones to keep down confusion about chargers. You can do this for the wall charger too, but I recommend simply marking those with nail polish or permanent marker. With colour-coding, you don't have to hear "hey, that's mine".
Believe it or not, your kids will form the habit of picking up after themselves, because they will not be able to blame it on anyone else. If your kids do chores, colour-code their tasks. All they have to do is check the chart and see their colour to find out what they're doing for the day.
Colour-coding also works for scheduling. If you need to keep school and extracurricular activities straight for each kid, colour-code them.
You can use colour-coding for many things or just a few. Whatever works best for you. Basically, whenever you hear "not me!", "that's mine!" or you're asking yourself "who's supposed to be doing what?", you can colour-code.