“Can I get my ears pierced?”
“Can I get them double pierced?”
“When do I get to sleep on the top bunk?”
“How come I have to put my own laundry away and they don’t?”
Sound familiar? As soon as our kids are old enough to ask for something, it starts….and it never ends. We realized very early on that we needed to set up House Rules for the kids who lived in our house and stick by them no matter what “everyone else” was doing and no matter what the rules in their houses were.
The rules were basically set by our experiences with our oldest, since she is the one who approached every benchmark in life first, whether it was sleeping on the top bunk, or having a cell phone, or whatever the case may be. However, by setting the rules for her, and making them known to the next two girls, it’s stopped a lot of the questioning. The rules are set, they know what they are, and there’s no question. We’ve only had to make an exception on one rule, one time, which I’ll explain later.
Having set rules not only helps us stay consistent in our parenting from kid to kid in our house, but it helps us have a ready answer when confronted with a question from another parent, and gives our kids a ready answer as well, when they’re asked if they can do something, by one of their peers. They may not like the answer, and their friends may not either, but at least they can blame us and say, “That’s the rule in our house,” if they want to.
Obviously we know that nothing can be written in stone and exceptions may have to be made along the way, and things may come up that we have no rules for and need to make a split decision on, but we have our baseline set of rules and we do our best to stick by them. We also know that our rules may be different than other families’ rules.
Clearly, we’ve only gotten up to the rules for twelve years old and sixth grade since our oldest is only that far along, but it makes me curious: what the rules are in other people’s houses? Do you have rules set up beforehand and stick by them or do you make them up as you go? Do you have rules that you’ve found helpful beyond the ones we have here?
Comment back and let me know.
Here’s a look at our House Rules
Age 5 allowed to have their first friend birthday party, at home, five friends
Age 6 allowed to have their first friend birthday party out of the house
Age 6 first time sleeping in the top bunk (*This is a safety rule told to us by the furniture store where we bought the beds, so there was no question here.)
Age 8 ears pierced
Age 9 last big friend party out of the house
Age 10 the almost sleepover birthday party (Three friends can be invited. Kids arrive with pjs, pillows, sleeping bags and stay late but not sleep over night.)
Age 10 Bedtime is moved to 9pm
Age 10 Responsible for putting away all of their own laundry
Age 10 first time sleeping at someone else’s house other than family (This is the one we had to make an exception for. Our second daughter got a birthday party sleepover invite from a family we’re very close to and we allowed it so she didn’t miss the party or have to leave the party. However, it was just an exception for the one night.)
Age 11 allowed to have an email address
Age 11 able to stay home alone for very short periods of time on an as-needed basis only
Age 12 sixth grade we allowed a laptop (our oldest “worked” all summer before her 12th birthday as a Mother’s Helper to save her own money in order to purchase a 10″ notebook laptop)
Age 12 or end of sixth grade can get a second earring hole if they want one (Sixth grade for us is the last year of elementary school.)
Age 13 or entering seventh grade can have an emergency-only cell phone