House rules make a happy house. One that runs efficiently, politely, peacefully. Everyone knows what is expected of them and the functioning family relies on them. Right?
I saw something on my friend’s fridge that made my blood run cold. It was a list of House Rules. It was like when you turn up for a maths exam and realise you’ve forgotten your calculator. I’ve been mumming all this time without house rules! No wonder it’s all going to pot!
Up till then, I’d been applying rules ad hoc, assuming the kids would pick it up as we went along. But of course it makes sense to let them in on the structure I’m trying to impose on them. Children need guidance and boundaries; if they know what’s expected of them they are more likely to respond well.
So I instituted my own list. Wrote it out all nice and whacked it on the fridge at their eye level.
Then I tried to impose it.
And the kids did what they do best. Expose your weaknesses. Push you to the very limits of your tolerance. Reveal to you where your minimum standards actually lie.
Instead of sitting back comfortably and letting the rules run the house, as I’d (bizarrely, considering I’ve met my children) expected would happen, I realised I’d have to relax my rules a notch.
To really focus on what I will not tolerate, under any circumstance.
Turns out, of all the things I want to instill in my children, the bottom line is, if you’ll excuse the pun: no bare bums on the sofa. No bottoms, with indeterminate standards of wiping, to descend upon my cushions. Ever.
We’re basically a pair of pants away from being savages.
I imagine my house rules will have to evolve as the children grow older. Maybe we’ll have a democratic process every Sunday night to assess and review house protocols and decorum (parents of tweens / teens, please don’t snigger). Maybe money will start to change hands?
But for now, with my 7, 5 and 2-year old boys, here’s our house rules: dream vs reality.
Do you have formal house rules? What’s your non-negotiable?