Wednesday, August 24, 2011

House Rules

My house, my rules.  How many times did you hear that growing up?  Well, it's official, I've turned into my parents!!  And I've found, there are worse things to become...

Growing up, there wasn't a list of rules for me to follow, well, unless you count the Ten Commandments.  Looking back, I wouldn't consider my parents strict, exactly, as a teenager I thought they were horrible!!  But as an adult, they kept me out of trouble, more trouble I should say, because I found plenty even on the short leash they kept me on.

My house, growing up, was pretty laid back.  We were far from stuffy, it was a home, not just a house.  It was my safe haven from the (sometimes) cruel realities of the "real" world.  Even when I got in trouble, say, at school, I didn't dread going home.  There would be punishment for doing something wrong, of course, but it would be fair and much to my chagrin I knew it was fair.  Do the crime, pay the time.  Stupid logic, it sucked having it as a teen.  But no matter how much trouble I might be in, I knew one thing wouldn't change, my parents would still love me.  They would listen to me, try to understand where I was coming from, sometimes failing...They did a great job, I can only hope I'm doing as well.

It is my belief that home should be where one can relax.  There's nothing more inviting after a long days work than to come home and not feel like you have to perform.  As an adult, we all get that.  But what about the kids??  Don't they, too, have the right to have the same kind of place?  I think they do, and I'm trying to find the balance (with three boys, it's sometimes hard!!!).  Never do I want my house to be a place my children avoid.  You know those adults that never seem to spend a lot of time at their parent's house??  Ever wonder why??  Our memory of home stays with us forever.  It's either something you gravitate towards, or you avoid like the plague!!

With three boys, nothing is easy.  Ever.  It's always something.  I couldn't be more easy going, really.  That has been something I've had to work on, not being so easy going...because really, when the patients run the asylum, things go south quickly.  So, I've tried to come up with some basic rules.  Pretty simple, and clear.  I will print these and display them in the house, so everyone can remember them.  These are FAMILY rules, not just rules for the kiddos.  The greatest influence we have on our children is not from what we say, it's what we do.  Actions speak louder than words.

Be nice.  Really, is it that hard??  Do unto others, turn the other cheek, if you don't have anything nice to say, DO.NOT.SAY.ANYTHING.

Be helpful to each other.  You know, if everyone came home and just did nothing, what do you think would happen?  "But it's not my job"...blah blah blah.  If you live in a house, it's your job to be helpful.  Mom vent:  It's not just mom's job to keep the house going.  She does the majority of cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, paying bills.  Would it really kill you to put any dirty dishes you have, or see, in the dishwasher??  Wait, you say the dishwasher is full of clean dishes??   There is nothing that will drive a mom/wife/woman over the edge than walking into the kitchen to find an empty dishwasher and dirty dishes sitting on the counter.  Seriously, open the dish washer, insert dirty dish.  It probably takes less time than it did for me to type that sentence.  A mess doesn't have to be made by you for you to clean it up.  When you see something that needs to be done, do it.  Why are you waiting for someone else to do it??  If it's your house, it's your job.

Clean up after yourself.  If you can't seem to help each other...then just focus on you.  Put dirty clothes IN the dirty clothes hamper.  Wash out the sink after you brush your teeth (or shave) in it.  Can I stress enough to put your dishes in the dishwasher??  No, I can't.  If you brought it out of your room, take it back to your room.  If you can't find it in you to help others, just don't add to the mess/chaos.

Shirts on at the dinner table.  I don't really need to elaborate on this one do I?

Yes, not what.  (Ma'am and sir are optional).  Yes is so much nicer, it really is.  I have a sing-song yes, it makes me appear to have interest when you call my name. (paranoid)  I like to think you have interest when I call your name!  When I tell you to do something, respond.  Again, yes/yes ma'am/ok/sure are all acceptable, but say them so people can hear you!  If you are on the couch, and I am in the kitchen, if you nod (yes or no) I can't hear your head rattle!

Say someone's name one time.  If they don't respond in 5 minutes, you may say it again.  Mama?  Mama?  Mama?  Mama?  Mama?  GAH!!!  There is a reason I'm not responding, you will have to trust me on this.  If your brother doesn't answer you, he's probably ignoring you, so just stop trying.  The dog doesn't like you, and saying his name a gazillion times will not make him come closer to you.  Sorry.  And William, I can listen to you without actually having to look at you.  When someone says "Yes William", start talking.  We don't have to make eye contact with you to hear you.  Mav, that goes for you too.

Do NOT use foul language.  Honestly, this is for the adults.  Children listen to your every word, especially the bad ones.  If you don't want your child dropping the F-bomb in front of Great Aunt Ida, don't use that word anywhere your children can hear it.  Trust me on this one.  Kids want to be like their role models, that's just how it works.  If they see you using bad language, they will see nothing wrong with it.  Even when you tell them you can because you're an "adult", if it's wrong, it's wrong.  There are plenty of other descriptive words we adults can use.  Take the time to find those other words and save Aunt Ida from fainting, she's old and she might break a hip if she falls.

Do not lie.  My mother has some sort of magic, I can't lie to her.  It's annoying, though I've gotten better at it as an adult (paranoid).  Thankfully, I don't need to lie to her, but the ability would have been nice when I was a teenager!  She gave me very sage advice once, I shall share it with you.  She said, never put a child in the position to lie to you.  Say you catch your angel child with a face covered in chocolate, you ask said angel child if they've been eating Mama's chocolate that is stashed in her night-stand.  Well, in their little brain it makes total sense to say no.  Seriously, fess up vs deny deny deny?  No brainer.  See, until children get older, they think when they lie, you will take their word for it.  Similar to how when they put the covers over their head they are rendered invisible.  So, when you simply as why they ate Mama's stash of chocolate in the night-stand, they are forced to either a) tell you, or b) stand there looking like a deer in the headlights.  That is the magic.  Since they still think they can become invisible, they will also think you know everything some sort of telepathy.  It's great!

So instead of ten, I've made eight.  Ten might just put the boys over the edge!  They can deal with eight, eight is totally do-able.  I think I'll print them out, have them sign them and put them on the fridge.  We have a marble system, one marble = 30 minutes computer time, so each broken rule will cost a marble.  LOVE the marble system!!  Makes my life easy, I like easy.  These rules, in black and white, will make life easy as well.  Kids like to know what's expected of them, I like a list I can refer to.  This seems like a win win for us!  We shall see over dinner...