Every household has a standard set of rules, usually for child safety or parental sanity.
Things that parents insist on as standard. Don’t stick forks in the electricity sockets, or don’t set off fireworks in the car while daddy is driving. The usual stuff.
Equally, though, every family has its own unique set of house rules developed from their own experiences. Benchmarks set from ‘incidents’ that warrant setting a new rule in stone. For some reason, declaring something as a house rule seems to carry some weight when telling the kids what to do. They relish telling each other ‘house rule’ when something comes up. It’s become a ‘thing’.
Here are our House Rules.
Don’t ask for stuff after you’ve gone to bed
Getting the kids to bed can be a long, arduous task. It shouldn’t be. We have a routine. Pyjamas on, teeth brushed, toilet visit, then into bed for a story. Simple, eh?
Not. Not simple. My children and tormenting geniuses. The moment you tuck them in and give them a kiss goodnight, they begin. They bring up a LONG list of things that they’ve suddenly decided needs to be done. “I left my teddy downstairs”. “I want more water”. “Can I get a hot water bottle?”.
For a while, we acted like faithful servants. But, we caught on to their tricks. Their attempts to make the day last as long as possible and to shorten our window of ‘mum and dad time’. Before going upstairs, we got the kids to round up their stuff. We asked them before getting ready if they wanted hot water bottles. We refreshed the water in advance. We played them. And the rule of asking for stuff before going to bed was cemented. It’s gone a long way towards reclaiming the evenings for ourselves.
No toys / tablets / phones at the table
This is something I’ve written about before. Previously, I was addressing teenagers using their phones at mealtimes. Now the girls are a bit older, and they’re more tech savvy, these rules have had to be applied to them too.
Apart from the social aspect of mealtimes, it’s good for kids to have a break from screens. They don’t like the idea of turning all electricals off. Once they start being creative, however, they love it. They love play-doh, drawing, and creating stuff. Eve’s musical and loves lego. Jenny’s a star baker.
So, meals are tech-free zones. And better for it.
Things can’t be unconfiscated
We use the time-out spot and confiscation as methods of controlling bad behaviour. We have seen huge benefits from applying the principles of Triple-P Parenting. But, kids being devious kids, we’ve also seen them try to work their way around things.
So, if Jenny gets something confiscated, her immediate response is “how do I earn it back?”. This stumped me at first. Should I give her an opportunity to earn back confiscated stuff? I decided on not allowing it. I don’t want her thinking that punishments can be circumnavigated. It dilutes the impact of confiscation if it can be reversed.
So, when something is confiscated, it’s gone. It’s gone for 24 hours, or one hour if it’s a bigger thing. But, we keep the house rules and stick to them. Consistency counts!
No stories when you’re in the bath
About a year ago, we started on chapter books. We started with The Christmasaurus, progressed to Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone, and polished off The Princess Bride.
The stories are usually read at bedtime. I tried reading the girls books when they were in the bath, and for a niave moment I thought it would work. But it didn’t. They were too busy tormenting each other or trying to drown mermaid Barbie. Chapters were lost in arguments over who had the most bubbles. So, the house rule of no stories when you’re in the bath was introduced, although they probably didn’t hear me saying that. Preoccupied with spraying each other with cold water. Probably.
Keep the outside creatures on the outside of the house
This is a rule that came about as the result of Eve’s fascination with all things slimy. She’s one of those fearless kids who don’t see anything wrong with picking up slugs, snails and creepy crawlies. That’s alright. Kids should be curious. What they can’t do is bring those slimies into the house.
She’s tried. More than once she’s made that ‘awwwwww’ sounds that kids make when you tell them they can’t bring a family of snails into the house. So, this rule is for us.