One of the disconcerting things about becoming a parent is that suddenly you are cast in the role of enforcer of all rules. It is your job to lay down the laws of the house, and no one else’s.
Not so long ago you were flouting your curfew, but now you are the one insisting on a punctual bedtime. You can remember well the days of leaving your dirty clothes trailing on the bedroom floor, but now you’re the one who won’t be satisfied until every last laundry item has been placed in the basket. You used to love eating salad leaves with your fingers (strange but true), yet these days you are constantly reminding your kids to use their forks and knives.
What happened? Adulthood, we suppose.
Even the most grown-up of adults, however, can still remember the pleasure of breaking, or shall we say bending, the rules. Indeed, we often long to forget about bedtime and stay up late with the kids watching movies and eating popcorn on the couch… and why shouldn’t we? Who’s in charge around here, anyway?
Of course, not all rules are fun to break. If, for instance everyone in the family decided to dump their coats in the entryway rather than hang them up when they come home, it would make for a big old inconvenient mess. And where’s the fun in that?
So which household rules are fun to flout every once in a while? Here are a few of our favorite bendable rules (but only when we say so!):
#1. Food stays in the kitchen or on the table. Oh, we are hyper-vigilant about this one, normally. Food stains and crumbs all over the rugs and furniture are the last thing we need. And yet… it’s so fun to eat pizza in front of television while watching a movie, and the kids think it’s a huge treat.
#2. No television during the week. Yes, this is important as a rule, especially for school age kids. But, you know, every now and then there comes an occasion when an hour of tv could be just the thing to get us through the day.
#3. Clean up all toys, games and crafts before bed. Usually, we enforce this rule without mercy. But if the kids are in the middle of building an especially spectacular block city, or making a complex art project, or playing a long board game (why does Monopoly take so long?), then we are willing to bend.
#4. Go to bed at bedtime. This is the key to a happy household, we usually maintain. And yet, staying up late for a special visitor or some other unique occasion is never out of the question, and often worthwhile.
#5. Do not touch anything on Mom’s dresser. It’s a forbidden zone in our house, and so the bottles of perfume and the jewelry box seem terribly mysterious to the children. When they are being especially delightful, we sometimes bend this rule: they’re allowed to try on the baubles, sniff the scents, and peer at the other precious items. They think it the most tremendous privilege!
#6. No jumping on the bed. It is indeed a rule (who wants to have to remake the beds at any given moment?!). But if ever a rule was made to be broken, this is it. I mean, what is more fun than jumping on your parents’ bed?
The best thing about bending the rules now and then is that it helps us appreciate their ordinary, workaday value all the more. It is good to be reminded that we have rules for a reason.
I often hear from parents how difficult their mornings are. Getting the kids up, dressed, fed, brushed, (loved!), and out the door to school can really be challenging. It's especially tricky when you, too, are trying to pull yourself together, get re... read more