Monday, 21 January 2013

Breaking the Rules

My husband and I consider ourselves reasonably strict parents.  After all, we need some order just to control the chaos.  But sometimes, there seems to be an awful lot of rules.  I know that the kids feel that way too: I've seen how they love to play school so they can be in charge and make the rules up for themselves.

Some of our house rules are etiquette rules.  Some rules are in place to guide our children's behaviour so that they can develop into considerate, courteous adults.  Others are about making sure we keep our kids healthy and safe. Some, admittedly, are made up on the fly.  Others are enforced inconsistently, depending on my mood; how tired I feel; if other parents are around; how many kids are involved; and mostly, if I really feel like insisting the rule be followed and then following through with a consequence at that given time.

The ironic thing about all these rules is how good I am at monitoring and guiding my children's behaviour and how poor I am at doing it for myself.  There are lots of rules that I try to enforce with my kids that I don’t follow myself.  

At all.   

Some of the double standards in our house are:

1. The two cookie rule.  According to Bill, there was a strict 'two-cookie-rule' in his house when he was growing up.  I'm sure we had something similar when I was a kid.  In principle, I think it's a good rule for teaching and practicing moderation, and we use it with our kids too.  But not me.  I allow myself three cookies.  And I've often been known to go beyond that limit too.  I should probably start enforcing this rule for myself.

2. No snacks before dinner.  The 'no snacking' rule seemed so revolutionary to me when I read about it in French Kids Eat Everything.  I was ready to whole-heartedly embrace it.   I haven't.  It's hard.  I'm much better at managing my kids' snacks than my own.  In addition to a glass of wine, I've ashamedly been known to nosh on some chips, crackers or cookies in the midst of making dinner.  Usually while shooing the kids down to watch TV so I can get away with it. I also confess to doling out a small, usually healthy, snack between getting home from the daycare pick-up and making dinner.  It just makes things a little easier.

3. Unless you’re wearing sandals, you need to wear socks with your shoes.  As for me, except in really cold weather, when my toes can no longer stand it, I avoid socks.  I can't stand wearing socks.

4. Keep your shoes on outside, even at the playground. I mostly follow this one.  Unless I'm in sandals and need to break into a run to save someone (usually my four-year-old) from some daring feat on the monkey bars.  It's hard to run in sandals in the sand.  However, my husband is a barefoot runner. While he doesn't technically run barefoot (he wears aqua socks to protect his feet), he often 'conditions' his feet in warmer weather by walking outside in bare feet.

5. If you get up from the table during dinner, it means you're finished - no dessert.  "Can I have some milk?" "I spilled my milk." "My fork fell on the floor."  Enough said.

6. No chocolate for breakfast.  For me, this rule generally only applies if there is no chocolate available for breakfast.

7. Sunscreen and hats.  I shouldn't admit this one.  I usually do, but not always, wear a hat.  And my face moisturiser has sunscreen in it.  But sometimes, that's all I get.  Especially as the summer wears on.  By mid-August, I'm tired of slathering my kids in SPF60.  I call it sunscreen fatigue.  After getting them all sun-safe, the extra time it would take me to do the same just seems like too much.  And I certainly don't reapply every 2-3 hours like I'm conscious of doing 
for them.

8. Wearing coats or sweaters and hats outside when it’s chilly.  I don't like being cold.  But I certainly worry more about my kids being warm than me.  And there are many times when they're wearing winter hats, but not me.  Why is hat head okay for them, but not me?

9. Put one activity away before starting a new one. Yeah, right. 

10.  No eating in the car.  I wish i didn't do this. It's right up there with the no snacking rule. But I do. Worse than that, it's usually chocolate.  Sometimes more than two.

What about you? What double standards are there in your house?

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