Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are coming to a close. School is nearly here. If your family is like mine, you’ve let most of the routines slide a bit. Dinners and bed times have been later. Kids have slept in. But now it’s time to put your children back into shape again. It’s time to enforce those family rules.
Here are five set rules in my family:
1. Dinner together as a family
Most nights of the week, our family eats dinner at the table together. This is an important rule for us. My husband and I both work outside the home and weekdays we don’t have a lot of time to spend with each other. Eating dinner and sitting around the table to talk is good for us to reconnect and wind down from a hectic schedule. To make this easier, I prep meals on weekends so I can just reheat on weekdays. This gives us less rushing around to figure out what to eat and more time to just sit, relax and talk. Dinner time is between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. for us.
2. Small treats after dinner
If our kids eat all or most of the food on their plates, then we allow a special treat or dessert after the meal. We usually let them choose between a variety of snacks we keep on hand. This is an incentive for them to eat the foods we prepare. We only offer it to them after dinner as we don’t give our kids treats right before bed. This is a rule that works well for us. Typical treats might be a Popsicle, granola bar, fruit or leftover candy from the last holiday celebration. We limit what they can have. By tying the sweet to the meal, it helps our dinners go more smoothly. Then we can focus on bedtime routines.
3. Bed times
With school back in session, we adhere to a strict bed time schedule. For our kids, lights go out at 8:00 p.m. Sometimes we may be later. Every once in awhile that time may be earlier. However, we strive for 8 o’clock on the dot. Our kids need to be awake at 6:00 a.m. so that gives them about ten hours of sleep. They need it as children and we need them to have it as their parents. After all, no one wants to deal with groggy, grumpy kids! Even if it’s still daylight outside, we put them to bed at the designated time. We have a mood setter in place that works great – darkening curtains and noisemakers in the rooms. In addition, ceiling fans help cool the rooms with air circulation. These three things create the ultimate sleeping environment for our children.
4. Spending limits
Another important rule in our household is to have spending limits in place. We try to eat out no more than twice per week. My husband and I talk before we spend more than $100 on something not needed. Groceries and regular bills don’t count for this. I will occasionally give my children dollars for a special snack or activity, but not every day or every week. By having these good spending habits in place and not buying frivolous things, we can live within our means and maximize our income.
5. Break the rules on occasion
With all these rules in place, there is one last one to mention. Sometimes we have to break the rules and be okay with that. I have these guidelines in place to make our family happy. Yet even I know that there are exceptions. Sometimes the chorus and piano rehearsals keep us from going to bed on time. We have moments when we may eat in the car instead of at the table. Certain weeks we spend more money than we usually do. By remaining flexible, I can still manage my home and teach my kids that breaking the rules can happen.
6. Set rules that work for you
What are your family’s rules that are non-negotiable? What policies do you have that keep everyone safe and satisfied? If you don’t have any, perhaps you need to come up with a list. Or if you have unspoken rules, sit down with your family over ice cream and remind them. Devise a plan and do what works best.
Mandy B. Fernandez is a writer living in Pensacola, Florida with her husband and two children. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in Technical Writing. She writes on topics such as business, education, creative arts, health, family life, parenting and natural foods. In addition she loves sharing humorous stories, poetry and essays about womanhood and motherhood. Her first children’s book, Kazoo Makes The Team, was just released. Visit her at www.writtenbymandy.com.