Tuesday, July 12, 2011

House Rules

Last week I was fed up.  It was Little Lou's birthday, and everything about the entire day was a disaster.  From the minute she got up, Little Lou was in meltdown mode.  Bugs was irritable because he was just a week post-op, and Stinky didn't get a nap.  Mommy and Daddy spent much of the day dictating punishment after punishment, and we didn't get to do a single "fun" thing.  What a way to spend a birthday, huh?

I fell into bed, exhausted, several hours later than I probably should have gone to bed.  My hubby tried to tell me good night, and I burst into tears over the type of parents we've become and what I don't like about the way the family runs.  When I was done, he fell asleep.  I did not.  I laid awake for nearly an hour before I got myself out of bed, sat myself down at the kitchen table, and gave myself a time out.  You know, an "old-school" time out where you have to write sentences.  My sentences were about what I am doing wrong and what I intend to do to fix the problems.  Three pages, college ruled, single-spaced, of monologue about my disastrous parenting skills spilled forth. 

One of my biggest decisions involved TV time.  Unfortunately, the television has been overused (by everyone) at my house for quite some time.  Not just TV time, either--screen time in general.  My kids didn't play with their toys because they didn't have to.  I didn't get everything I needed to done because I didn't "have time" by the time I finished my computer "work."  My hubby and I didn't have a spare moment to spend together in the evenings because there was so much "to do" on the computer/TV/ipad/wii/ipod...  Hence, a new rule was born.  It's a mommy-mandated rule, but I've (mostly) stuck to it.  The rule, now, is that the television can come on after lunch, for the length of one movie.  This is silent rest time.  No talking.  That's the length of our entire screen time.  If you want to play on the computer, the wii, the gameboy, etc, you have to do it during that time (myself included).  Right now, for instance, we're "watching" Bolt.  They're watching, I'm here with you all.  We're all...adjusting.

Now, about those rules!  We have a lot of rules at our house.  I'm sure you do too.  I think sometimes it's hard to keep all the rules straight.  There are house rules and car rules and playground rules.  There are dinner table rules, which aren't always the same as the lunch table rules.  It's rules rules rules around here, with no real rhyme or reason, sometimes.  I decided we needed some rules.  Clearly defined rules.  Rules we all agree on.  So, Thursday evening, as we were making dinner, we talked about rules.  We sat as a family and made rules.  Mommy and daddy definitely took advantage of "veto power."  Mommy and daddy added a few rules of our own.  So here it is--the final list:

Walking Feet in the House
Only Food Goes in your Mouth
No tantrums
No yelling
No whining
Brush your teeth every day
Listen to Mommy and Daddy--the FIRST time
Clean underwear every day
Exercise every day
Hands and feet to youreself
Clean your room every day

Once the rules were written and posted, we all signed a paper, which was also posted on the wall.  The rules are right there, in plain view, for all of us to see.  Are there other incidental rules?  Yes.  We couldn't list everything...things like "couches are for sitting" are kind of a given anymore.  But we listed the 11 rules we could all agree on.  Since the kids helped create the list, it should be easier for them to follow them, right??

Just in case, though, we've come up with an incentive plan.  Today I painted our names onto 6 jars...one for each family member and one that says, "Everyone."  Hubby's bringing home 5 rolls of quarters.  Each of us will start with a full roll of quarters in our jar.  (Everyone but Stinky, who will start with half a roll.  The other half of his roll will go in the "everyone" jar.)  IF (when) one of us breaks a rule, we'll take a quarter out of our own jar and put it into the jar of the person we've "wronged."  For instance, say Little Lou yells at Bugsy...She will take a quarter from her own jar and put it into his jar.  If, in turn, Bugs hits Little Lou, he'll give her a quarter.  IF we break a rule that doesn't effect another person--say, for instance, I forget to exercise one day, hurting myself but no one else--that person would take a quarter out of his own jar and put it in the "everyone" jar.  The "everyone" jar will then be used for EXTRA incentive!  For example, if Little Lou helps set the table, she might earn an extra quarter!  At the end of the month (one month from whenever we officially get started), each of us gets to keep whatever money is in our own jar!  I'm excited about this, and going to try to convince the hubby to pool our funds to save toward that new TV he really wants!

I hope that all made sense.  It makes sense in my mind, anyway!

What do you do as incentive to keep behavior in check in your family?  Do you have posted "rules?"  Do the grown-ups have to follow the "house rules" at your house, or just the kids?


Cinnamon Hollow said...

I LOVE the jars idea! Our family has basically fallen apart as far as the kids listening to the hubby and me and doing what we tell them to. I have to tell them 100 times it seems to do one thing and the TV/video games, etc. have also taken over.

I like your rules. We need a system like that too. Do you mind if I borrow the jar idea?

Elizabeth said...

Absolutely don't mind! Steal away! We did a marble jar with Little Lou for a while, but filling a jar with marbles to earn an unnamed prize wasn't "tangible" enough for her.

One thing I've learned from working in preschools is that kids are WAY more likely to follow (and self-police) if they help make the rules!

Cinnamon Hollow said...

Gosh, these are such great ideas. I'll have to sit down and get them involved int he rule making then. I just read your post to Hubby and he agreed that it is a really great idea!

Thanks Elizabeth!!!

Selina said...

I love that jar idea! I hope it works for your family!

Kristin Reneau Harrington said...

We have had similar issues lately and we actually have a similar system (with the jars and quarters) but ours is mostly quarters for chores/jobs to be completed on their charts. Our problem is follow through :/ we do really well and then somehow fall off the wagon. We have tried something new this summer (I found in a book). They have charts and for each time they listen the first time and do what is asked with a happy heart (we love a yes ma'am or sir) they get a check & then a penny at the end of the month for each check.We have good days and bad but we needed an attitude change!

Elizabeth said...

Kristin, your kids are similar ages to mine...what's with the attitudes?!?

Nicole said...

I LOVE this idea.. I will definitely be using it when Haleigh is big enough (I feel like at 6 months she just won't get it haha)

Nicole said...

oh yeah.. and please keep us updated on how it's going!

boyzrule said...

Jar idea is a good one. We, as moms, have to keep the house in order physically and mentally. What a big job we have!!

April G said...

I think this is a fantastic idea! I am bookmarking this post so that I can reference it when my kids are older. I have two babies and a toddler right now, so they're a little young for us to do much besides gently remind them what is appropriate behavior, but this is a good plan for the future. :)

Brittany H said...

I love your rules. The Screen time rule is awesome! Such a great idea. There is way too much screen time at my house too. I also love the jar idea. It's hard for me to think of good incentive programs, but I think they are necessary most of the time.

Your time out story reminds me of myself. Keep those papers!

Mrs.Smitty said...

I love the quarter idea! Give toddler a few more months and she might be ready for a system like that. Thanks for the idea!

mojoraven said...

That's kind of neat. I'm still trying to figure out what rules I want to have. On one hand, I don't want life to be all "don'ts" and such; on the other hand, I want my children to have discipline and know how to conduct themselves. This seems like a good way to visually enforce whatever rules we decide on.

Misty said...

That is a brilliant idea! I may have to start that for myself!

amymccarty1985 said...

Great idea with the jars!! Nice post by the way as well :D

hula_mama said...

What a great idea to set the rules. We definitely need to do the same in our house when my toddler gets a little older.

Hubby and I have just started a new rule to improve kids eating habits. They are only allowed to have a glass of orange juice each day. Water, water, water or milk for the rest of the day. So far, its doing good. My 2 year old throws a fit at times, since he got so used to drinking juice.....we just don't give in. Now, everyone seems to like water.

Christina F. said...

Great ideas...I love your rules and LOVE the jar idea:) Can you update us with how well it's working:)

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