Somewhere, long ago, a parent created the list of family life rules we all so naturally follow today. These unwritten rules have withstood the test of time, passing down through countless generations. No one knows for sure who this pioneer was, daring to share the lessons they had clearly learned on their own. But, these rules make sense, keep order, and protect our families so we follow them. We’ve all heard the saying ‘rules were made to be broken’. I don’t know if I can fully agree with that, I’d adjust a few words into ‘rules can’t help but be broken’.
You might be starting to sweat a little here, thinking I might say we should abolish rules and throw caution to the wind, but then you wouldn’t know me well enough. Rules have a great place in life, especially family life with young children. We use rules to help our children stay safe during times they aren’t capable of making responsible choices on their own and to teach children appropriate ways to treat others. But, every once in a while it might be okay to break some small rules. I find with my toddler that structure works for us, but every now and then a little shake up of the routine really helps curb crabby attitudes. So, these are my Top 5 Family Rules to Break (sometimes).
- No Running in the House: Living in rural Western New York, we don’t always have the option to take little ones out of the house for some good physical activity. So I say, why can’t there be running in the house sometimes? Sure, it might be a little dangerous, but so are many other things. If you take some precautions and set ground rules, safety can still be achieved. Indoor obstacle courses, chase games, and races to the potty are pretty commonplace. So clear some space, don appropriate footwear for your flooring surface, and Go!
- No Playing in the Rain: Those older generations in our families may tell us that playing in the rain causes colds, but we know from science that is not the case. Sure, being cold and wet might not always be the best option, but it’s not the worst thing you could ever do. When those rare, warm, rainy days appear, why not go out and play? Throw on some rain boots and splash down the sidewalk. Open up that umbrella and twirl it in the rain.
- No Food in the Living Room: Unfortunately for me, I have yet to even master this rule with my 2-year-old as far as snacks are concerned. We do, however, always eat meals at the dining room table as a family. In the summer it’s easy to move dinner to the table on the porch or set up a picnic in the backyard. But, those long winter months and rainy days can literally put a damper on things. We’ve started the tradition of once monthly T.V. dinner nights. I plan ahead for a relatively clean meal, pop in a movie my son chooses, and we dine together in a fun new way.
- Dolls are for Girls, Blue is for Boys: I hope this one isn’t too controversial, let me make it clear I cast no judgements or shame here. My son loves babies, he’s begged for a baby brother and when he was 1 picked out a baby doll at the store. Bubba, as the baby doll came to be named, slept with my son and travelled with us everywhere we went. In the back of my mind was a slight fear of what others would say, but what exactly is so bad about a boy with a baby doll? It teaches him to care for someone else and gives him a place to express love, Bubba is a friend. If we want our children to be accepted and accepting of others, wouldn’t it be okay for them not to have to worry about gender specific choices?
- Dessert Comes After the Meal: I noticed early on that my son would eat his dessert and then go back to finishing his meal he already said he was done with. That was my light bulb moment in terms of breaking this rule. Every now and then, it’s okay to have dessert before dinner as long as dinner gets eaten too. I set the ground rules, and if they are broken we stick to this rule for a while before trying again.