Monday, January 17, 2011

House Rules

Living with four kids under our roof is a bouncy, boisterous time.  There is a lot of haphazard running, thumping down stairs, happy squeals, unnecessary screams and bodies thudding on the floor.  And with our recent cold streak coinciding with Christmas Break ... I was so grateful for our large-ish house.  I love that I can send my galloping horde to another level of our home and enjoy some "sorta" peace and quiet.  In the midst of this cabin-fever, there has been a lot of wrestling, football re-enactments and gymnastic practice .... thump, thud, wham!

A few weeks ago, the kids were upstairs after dinner and we could hear from the kitchen what appeared to be a herd of water buffalo traversing the bedrooms.  It was accompanied with happy sounds, so we let them keep at it.  A few minutes into the apparent battle, Norah came downstairs for pen and paper.

"We need to post some rules."

"Okey-dokey.  Is everyone having fun?"


Here are the rules that kept everyone having fun ... and kept me laughing for a spell:

As you can tell, the offenses are listed on the left-side of the page, while the consequences are listed on the right-side.  Apparently, if you are caught breaking any of these rules, you have to sit out the designated number of minutes.

My personal favorites would have to be the Door Slam and Wall Slam rules ... I'm not sure if that refers to slamming yourself or someone else into the door or wall, but either way, you miss out on the action for 10-15 minutes.  I also had to laugh at Arm and Legs Backward ... ouch!  I'm glad that carries the stiff penalty of 15 minutes on the bench.  I'm unsure of the weapons they used, but if you use your weapon wrong, you have to sit out for 10 minutes.  Also, don't play with this bunch unless you intend to have fun, or you have to watch them have fun for 10 minutes before getting a second chance!

The biggest consequence I see in these rules is that with as quickly as our kids shift gears, if you are out for 15 minutes for Furniture is Bad Use, by the time you get to come back in, they might have moved onto building Legos ... bummer.

As funny as these rules are, they made me kinda happy.  I loved the initiative of the kids to make sure that the fun they were having upstairs fit within our own family expectations.  Without any help from Mom and Dad, they identified that teasing, bad sportsmanship and bad words would be inappropriate.  They also decided together that spanking and any contact with their faces was too rough.  They hung these pages on the bedroom wall so everyone would be aware and accountable.  Such good kids!

This was a perfect reminder for me of the importance of rules and boundaries in our home.  Even though the kids sometimes strain against the rules we have, I know that in reality they are simply testing the limits ... checking to see if we will uphold the rules ... checking to see if they are safe and secure.  These two pieces of paper were proof to me that my kids appreciate knowing what to expect and appreciate knowing that those around them have to play by the same rules.

I guess they were also giving us permission to keep reinforcing our house rules:

  • Heads on pillows and voices quiet at bedtime,
  • Asking be to be excused from the table,
  • Taking care of belongings,
  • First-time obedience,
  • Loving and respectful words,
  • Answering with a "Yes, Mom" or "Yes, Dad" when spoken to,
  • Using manners,
  • Cleaning up before moving on to the next activity,
  • Helping when asked,
  • Just to name a few ...

While the consequences vary for breaking our house rules, they all have a sting involved:

  • Time in your room to "pull your parts together",
  • A job from the "Great Learning Box",
  • Serving the offended person (in a way they choose),
  • Practicing whatever you did wrong, the right way (as many times as you are old),
  • And if all else fails, a swat.

If you choose to break a rule, you will have to endure the bummer result ... and that might mean missing out on the fun!

And as you can tell, this house is full of fun! :)

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