Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our House Policies

In line with the post I did a while back about freezer dinners and our need to just RELAX about some things, I thought I would share a little bit about my parenting policies. I'm on a few email lists on parenting topics and it's very interesting to me the things that some mothers try to control.

Things I 'enforce':

Manners: Aaron is better than I am at this, but we insist on the following

  • Please when asking for something

  • Thank you when someone gives you something

  • Excuse me when interrupting a conversation

  • Asked to be excused from the table

Kindness: Mostly this is kindness in our house, to each other. They are usually pretty good with others (isn't that like life in general - many people are nicer to strangers than their own family). I don't tolerate a child yelling at me (For example, 'No thank you' instead of 'NO MOMMY! NO WANT TO'), teasing someone else (including the dogs) or being mean to a sibling. This is happening less and less - and I just keep repeating 'Treat your brother/sister how you want to be treated'. And it works! You would think they were too young, but no.

Helping: Everyone helps around here. Maggie and Cam help set and clear the table. If they make a big mess (like spilling cheerios) they help clean it up. I don't get upset - man do I remember my mother FREAKING out if I spilled something. I just acknowledge the mess, and have them help fix it. Same with if Cam pees in his pants, no big deal, but go get yourself a change of clothes. They help feed the dogs. They help put away laundry. I'm not making 'chores' because that isn't what it is. They are contributing to the family. Because they are part of a family.

Family Dinner: I try to get us to sit in the dining room every night for dinner. It's helping them learn to sit and have little conversations, but it's also good for Aaron and I to reconnect at the end of the day. It would be nice if Maggie would stop pooping in her diaper the minute dinner is served, but we are getting there.

Things I care about, but don't try to control.
Sleep. I'm a mom who thinks one of the most important skills you can teach your child is how to sleep. Both of my kids went through my sleep boot camp at about 5 months old - and have slept through the night ever since. We have a routine that is pretty set in stone. We have dinner, we play, then we have a bath, read some books or watch a little TV, and then get into beds and turn off the light. Some nights, they pass out right away. But other nights? They play with their blankets or stuffed animals - or like last night, the glow sticks that I gave them before bedtime (not my best decision). And then they fall asleep when they do. I don't run up into their rooms and sit in there until they fall asleep. I just make sure they are safe, and in their rooms - and I let it be.

I feel like micro-managing when my child falls asleep is something I don't need to stress about. I certainly can't FORCE them to fall asleep and they will fall asleep when they are tired.

Potty training: Best advice I ever got - it's their project, not yours.

Toys: The kids play with whatever toys they think are fun. We have a battery powered guitar, a big drum, trains, a play kitchen, blocks, dolls, whatever. I don't ban anything. Maggie hasn't showed interest yet, but I'm fine with barbies and princesses. Cam will probably own nerf guns or whatever. We let them watch *some* TV, Aaron let's them play toddler games on the iPad. I'm not going to be the mom that BANS a certain type of toy.

As that get older - I see myself limiting screen time, if necessary, but when I was a kid, I never ended up watching much TV because I was involved in sports and had homework. I'm hoping that my kids are the same.

Jackets/Clothes (and at some point, hair). I let them wear what they want, when they want. Often this will mean Cam going to school without a jacket (Maggie on the other hand LOVES jackets). I watch people loading there kids up to go somewhere and seriously having a battle over a jacket. If the kid gets cold, he is going to realize that he should have put a jacket on. I always bring it with me, and if it really is cold enough? Cam will run over and ask for it soon enough (and then he will tend to listen to me on the jacket suggestion for a few weeks, and then he'll forget again). When Maggie is 15 and wants to dye her her pink - who cares?! It grows out. It's not permanent.

Now those weird ear stretcher things or piercings or tattoos? That's a whole other story.


Katy said...

We have a similar approach with our girls (now ages 7 and 10). I like the book "Kids Are Worth It", by Barbara Coloroso, which basically says that kids are capable and will rise to our expectations. Kind of a middle ground between being a helicopter parent and being a negligent parent.

Melanie said...

I love it! So true. The thing to remember about parenting is that we are teaching our children how to be responsible adults, not trying to control them. There are expectations that they need to meet, but there are also things that are just not battle-worthy. Our house is very similar. I have become more laid back as I have gotten used to this whole parenting business. :)

HereWeGoAJen said...

We have a lot of the same philosophies. No wonder we get along so well.

Mo and Will said...

Love this. Matches with a lot of how we think we will do things when we get to where you are. Thanks for sharing!


Elizabeth said...

I'm with you on just about all of this. Did you write about sleep boot camp? If so, would love you to link back. We've been working on sleep for the last month or so (the boy is 5.5 mo), and I'm always interested in what worked for others.