My children are home. They are healthy, safe, and of course happy. Building a new foundation with them is getting tricky. I have a hard-enough time expressing myself and that has fallen on them also. Together, we are deciding how to handle situations. Even though they are 7 and 9, they still get a say in how things go around the house. Having too many rules can get heavy on them, so we decided to have more positive things that need to get done on our ‘house rules’ list.
First, I let them each pick something that we each can do for each other. They I asked them what they think we should do in difficult situations, like fights or disagreements. Then we talked about things that need to be done routinely. Three things in each of these categories, since there are three of use and three categories, comes out to only nine ‘house rules’. I like to call them house guidelines so it doesn’t sound so demanding to them. They were very cooperative with this, although they had a hard time on the first day with only two of the guidelines, they are excited that they had decisions to make on their own. Giving them power in the family is very rewarding to young ones.
I was very proud of them when we talked about the difficult situations. My 9-year-old said she would like her quite time if things get heated. A time-out sounds like something little ones need and she likes to feel like a big girl, so we call it quite time. My son said we need to start over. Start at the beginning of the argument and work our way through it. This is inspiring because he thinks that talking it through is important. This also builds communication skills, which I need practice on, too. I decided that saying sorry and showing love needs to be in that mix, too. It’s hard for young ones to express how much they care about each other, especially when they are siblings.
Routine is also very important for kids, so we each got to pick something that we should do every day. My daughter said roller-skating, my son picked bike riding, and I picked quite time before bed. This was really great because this keeps us all active together. The quite time before bed is very important because it gets us all to calm down and hopefully do something educational, which is hard to get to over the summer. Reading quietly, snuggle time, or even just relaxing in their own space can bring the energy down before they rest for the night.
Doing little things every day for each other is a great way for them to learn how to respect each other and care for each other. My son offered to speak up so we know what he wants instead of having a meltdown (still working on this one), my daughter said that she would help keep the house cleaned up because she knows how important that is to mommy, and I told them that I wouldn’t yell, I would either take quite time or at least speak softly. All difficult things to work on but I know we can at least try. That is a valuable lesson I learned in recovery. We have to keep trying and working towards our goals. This is what works for us. What works for you?