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My 3 R's to tame the wild animals

Maybe it’s because I was a teacher in my former life, but my secret is an acronym of three R’s: Rules, Routines and Rest. Sounds like a total bummer house, but I promise they are loved, happy kids. I don’t get it right every day, but when I do the stars align and there’s peace on Earth.

RULES: If you ask my two oldest why we have rules they should tell you something along the lines of, “To protect us and keep us safe.” Rules are biblical ladies,

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise— so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." -‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:1-3‬ ‭

That “long life on Earth” bit- I translate that to, “Keep you safe,” for the kids. My girls know my rules and discipline are backed by the Bible. Even for my secular moms out there, “Obey your father and mother” and “treat others the way you want to be treated” are biblical, but also standard practice for most parents, so don’t tune out just yet. But I digress into what needs to be its own post of how we practically encourage, “honor and obey your father and mother.”

I try to always explain the ‘why’ behind my rules and discipline. If it’s a rule without reason they are less likely to follow it. One of our important rules that often needs reminding is, “No toys at the table.” If you’re playing, you’re not eating. And I don’t do sticky, crusty toys. Plus, then everyone at the table wants the toy, and do you want your toy in the hands of sauce covered Stella? I didn’t think so.

Here are a few others with their reasons:

“No shoes in the house.”

You stepped in dog poop yesterday, need I say more?

“Always wash your hands when we get home.”

You were going down a fire pole at the park and the kid before you licked their hands for a better grip.

“No running in the house.”

Fine, you can run in the basement where there’s less to crash into and no blind spots.

Current projects. Having their own mini trash is helpful too. The playdough trays are from my 2-year-old. The rules apply to everyone who can understand basic words!

“Playdough, beads, painting, all things small or messy are done on a tray.”

Do you want to spend more time cleaning up than actually playing? Keep it contained to the tray. I use old baking sheets, you don't need to be fancy.

“Never let Stella out of your little car in the front yard.”

The girl is a flight risk and we live on a busy street.

“No sleepovers, except with family.”

This is a tough one, I know. It’s my husband’s rule, but we’re a team. Tell me reader, when did you have a sleepover and not do something stupid? We’re raising four girls here, no double standards, just girl standards.

"You play, you put away."

I start teaching cleaning up just before age 2. 2/3 of the oldest are good at cleaning up after themselves, but there's always that one kid who would rather throw a tantrum for half an hour and then end up cleaning everyone's mess as a consequence. If you don't help clean up, you have to clean up all of it by yourself. I will help you, but if you stop helping, I leave you to do it on your own.

You get the point, always a reason behind it, always to protect them physically, emotionally, spiritually. The more rules established and understood, the less time spent correcting and cleaning.

ROUTINES: Anyone else counting down the days til school starts? I feel like everyone has gone back except for mine! The loose, relaxed summer is fine at the start, but a couple weeks into the freedom they start to get antsy. Children thrive with boundaries and routines that are clearly established. Just think of their day at school, it's planned down to the minute. The younger they are, the more established the routine.

I’m not saying that we skip birthday parties because they interfere with nap time. I’m saying there is a general routine, so no one is floundering and everyone knows what comes next. Even my 2-year-old wigs out when it’s dark and she’s not in bed, “Is oscuro we got to go to bed!” Exceptions are exactly that- exceptions to the routine, not the norm.

Summer is over (for everyone, but my family apparently), so I won’t get into the specifics of Summer Sanity Saving Routines, but it’s the routine that saves us from sibling squabbles, toddler tantrums, crying in the shower (the exaggerated echo makes me lose it after a very long day), and bad attitudes (myself included).

The routine is a balance of physical activity, activities with mom, independent activity, free time because they need to learn how to solve their own boredom with creativity, meals at a consistent time, quiet time, and on a good day minimal screen time. The routine ends at 8p, and then it’s Mama and Papa’s routine of relaxing, so I better not see you til morning, kid.

REST: Both for me and for them. Everyone needs an independent, SILENT, afternoon nap or quiet time. The baby naps, the toddler talks to herself in her crib for over 2 hours and only sometimes sleeps, the 5-year-old flips through books or listens to books on the epic! app, and the 7-year-old reads to herself. I'm inconsistent, but I try to do something rejuvenating for myself- work on the blog, drink a second coffee, stare outside and bask in the silence while I put back together all my interrupted thoughts from the day, read my chapter in the Bible if I haven’t yet, or exercise. I do something that recharges me. When the kids skip quiet time- I’m yelling by 4p. When I don’t rest during their quiet time, I’m yelling by 5p. When we all do quiet time I usually keep it together through bedtime.

There are other details that go into our day, and we are by no means a calm and collected house when you walk in the door at any given time, but these are the basics that help me maintain some sense of sanity. Expect interruptions (baby poop explosions, small cuts that merit big cries and even bigger Band-Aids, bonks that only cute ice packs can cure, the toddler finding and destroying big sister's perfectly organized box of 20 different colored sections of rainbow looms) and you'll be more prepared to handle them.

P.S. If you’d like to leave a comment on a blog or forum (I, for one, would love to get some feedback!) please become a member on my page. I would have to use a much more complicated version of Wix in order to allow comments without membership and then there would cease to be anything to comment on, because I don’t know how to use that version! I’m more of a cut and paste, fill in the blank, kind of blogger at this point. Thanks!

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