“Put your shoes in Loulou’s entrance, please.” “Hey! Your shoes ?!” “No, we said no phone at the table!” “But are you kidding or what, how many times am I going to have to repeat this?!” Do you sometimes feel like a parrot? To have to constantly repeat things so that everyone takes the lead? Don’t worry, it’s normal, and yet, there is a solution that can make our daily life easier… Tadam… the Rules of Life at Home! To tell us about it, I leave the floor to my friend Caroline, mom of Isis (6 years old), Noah (10 years old), Sid (16 years old) and Céline (23 years old, mom and more at home 😅)!
Why Establish House Rules?
It is an established fact: rules are necessary for the functioning of a society. In education, the rules provide the framework, to live better with each other. However, not all families have the same requirements and it is important as parents to PRIORIZE!
Our educational principles must be prioritized, taught and explained, while keeping in mind that the child learns above all by IMITATION (💡 “Ahhh…but that’s why my kids drag their shoes…” 🤣). See also our other article on house rules.
Rules of life at home: why display them?
What ? House rules? I can already hear some object “yes, but no need to stick them in the fridge!” “No, but at home, the rules are inside”. “It’s okay, I’m not a bully, I’m not going to display the American-style DOs and DON’Ts…” Anyway, that’s what I thought to myself!
And yet, with 3 children at home, we tried it for a while, and I must say that we found our account! Why ?
Because I realized thatby displaying the rules, it allowed it to become TANGIBLE and above all REALISTIC… Because, clearly, when we have in mind the manual of etiquette and good manners, we quickly spend our day sending orders and injunctions to our toddler(s)… And according to the good old adage: TOO RULES KILLS RULES, I felt like I was never heard.
So displaying the house rules allows them to be clearly stated, so easy to remember for everyone, and especially for parents. We can thus concentrate our energy on 4 or 5 courses of action for a fortnight, and then change the rules!
In fact, it allows the child to internalize them step by step.
Rules, but not just any rules!
In shops or on Pinterest, there are plenty of magnificent paintings with “The rules of life in the house”… And we find all over the place: “Don’t complain / be happy every day / love each other / keep your head up high / laugh a lot / always tell the truth / forgive even if it’s hard / etc.”
WOW! THE PRESSURE OF OUCH! It’s clear that we can’t be against it… but I don’t know about you, I couldn’t stick to it!
I don’t want my children to complain all the time, but we have the right to feel dissatisfied and express when something is not right for us, right?
I love to laugh, but I don’t laugh like a whale every day, because I have the right to be sad or worried.
I hope my kids tell the truth most of the time, but do they really need to tell Granny Jeanine that she stings and smells bad out of her mouth 😉…
Alright, you see the board?! So the rules, yes, but not if they force us to deny our emotions (who are there to allow us to grow), nor that it gives us the goal of being perfect…
The rules of the house are something else: they are a framework that allows us to live together, to set achievable and tangible objectives!
Co-construct the Rules of Life of the House
Who decides within the family?
In many families, the parents decide. Dad and Mom agree and impose (or propose according to temperament 😉) the framework for the whole family. OK, sometimes father and mother don’t really agree, but we act as if (and besides, children quickly understand who to turn to when the rules are not shared… Not stupid, the wasp! 😉) It can also happen that one or the other sets the tone, much like in the image of old-fashioned families where the patriarch decides everything. And then there is also the family of the child King, where the Cherub imposes the weekend program on those around him.
I don’t know about you, but it’s not always very easy toaccept rules that we did not choose ! Moreover, in a democracy, we vote for a president who will legislate according to the program on which he will have been chosen (there, we can discuss it, but that is not the purpose of this article 😅).
The family council, collectively decide on the rules
That’s why at home, we moved to the family council. The principle: we sit around the table and we decide together the rules of the week (more often 15 days) according to the “problems” or agenda. Everyone has the right to express themselves and it is incredibly interesting, enriching and sometimes disturbing to open up to their exchanges.
Me : “Okay, kids. I wanted to congratulate you because we were really good at achieving the objectives of the week: clearing the table, we won! Brushing teeth in rhythm and in the bathroom, it was almost nickel… On the other hand, we are not yet at the top on the shoe garage!
Isis (6 years old): Yes, I don’t know where to put them, I can’t get to the top of the closet! And I don’t understand why we say “no screen during the meal” and that it’s not for everyone?
Sid (16 year old teenager): Well, I would like us to discuss my outing with the friends again next weekend.
In short, everyone puts their ideas, their problems, their possible feelings of inconsistency and we discuss them! And it’s exciting, because when we talk about it calmly, it really EXPLAINS the benefits of periods, for example:
“Actually, I love to hug you or read you a story in the evening, but if I spend my time cleaning the table after dinner, you’re already almost asleep when I arrive. And that’s important, because you need sleep. Is it possible for everyone to clear their cutlery and 2-3 objects on the table so that we can spend more time together?”.
Besides, if you want to get lots of concrete tips to make the rules fun and help our children listen to us (without having to repeat things 100 times), leave us your email and receive the “YES DADDY” PACK for free , YES MOM”, all the keys to make them cooperate without shouting. 👉
So how do you make the House Rules work? Here are the principles that seem essential to me.
The key principles for shared rules of life
The principle of COHERENCE: the Rules of Life apply to everyone
There’s nothing more annoying than laws that only apply to some, right? Why is something true for one and not the other? Of course, this does not mean that the 16-year-old goes to bed at the same time as the 6-year-old, nor that the youngest will have her smartphone in kindergarten. However, why would dad (or mom, let’s be honest 😉) have the right to look at his phone during the meal when it’s forbidden for teenagers?
And why are Mom’s shoes lying in the middle of the living room when we’re supposed to put them away in the closet when we get home!
The advantage of displaying the rules is that they become tangible for everyone. And that’s where we realize that we’re not always so copies and consistent as we want to believe… (which my daughter loves to point out to us of course!)
The principle of SCALABILITY: the rules can change over time
And yes, we live in a dynamic world and our children are growing up. There are rules that are relevant at one time, and that have much less meaning a few months or years later. The family council makes it possible to realize when certain principles no longer make sense. Maybe at 10 years old, my son no longer has to go down the stairs on his buttocks, whereas at 3 years old, we were afraid that he would slip in his socks on the stairs… Maybe at 6 years old, the light is turned off at 9 p.m. and the teenager has free rein to experiment with his bedtime (we play the policeman less, and he learns to accept the consequences…).
The principle of FUN: should educating rhyme with imposing (or punishing)?
We agree, children need rules. But is it necessary to enforce them in pain, with pressure, tension and punishment? Or on the contrary, isn’t it more effective to implement them with joy and good humor? Don’t our children want to cooperate more when we do things while playing, with lightness?
- To store shoes, if we make a magnificent cardboard garage for the hall cabinet, won’t that make people want to “park the sneakers” there more?
- When it comes to cleanliness at the table, isn’t it better to risk being bitten by a crocodile if you forget the polite words (please, thank you)?
- For the teenager who spends hours on snapchat, isn’t it better to send her a wink and offer to do something else rather than deprive her of her phone for the week?
All this to allow children to understand that the rules are no longer there to restrict freedom, but to promote living together! And what could be more empowering for a 6-year-old girl to feel that by putting her plate in the dishwasher, she has more time to tell mum about her day before going to sleep?
The principle of REWARD: let’s celebrate our successes together!
When you have a promotion at work, it’s party time 🥳! When you pass an exam, it’s champagne (with or without alcohol) 🥂! So why not treat yourself to a pancake evening to celebrate the end of the “fortnight of rules”? Or a Pizza-TV tray… Or a games evening (by the way, the board game Happy Week helped us a lot to get started on the application of the rules of the house in festive mode…).
The idea here is to have a good time with family and not to gratify everyone from a material point of view. Because when we feel “rewarded” for our efforts, it is not enough after a while, and we always need more to continue to invest ourselves (and without really feeling satisfaction).
A table of rules to print
There you go, you know everything about how to co-construct the rules to increase the chances of wanting to follow them! In addition, Charlotte offers us a great “Chart of the Rules of Life of MY (!) House” (printable for free). You have understood it well, it is not an all-filled table to have a well-formatted child because everyone’s rules are different…
On the other hand, this table of rules at home to print is pretty and fun, it offers us 4 blank boxes, to fill in with our children according to the rules retained for a time (one week, two weeks, one month)… And when they will be obsolete, we simply change it! 😉
A word of advice from my experience: focus on one task for up to a month and move on. If she hasn’t come home this time, it may be that something wasn’t ripe with our child and he needs a little time. We will come back to this in a few weeks or months. It’s more effective and motivating than obsessing over a “failure”.
Come on, good family advice with your darlings and happy “Table of Rules of Life for the house” ! 🤗