Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Order in the house

Since I'm the parenting expert and my children are so well behaved and always do everything I ask them and never complain about anything... (okay, you're all laughing your head of with me, right?)

Let me start again. Since I've found a few good methods in the dreaded area of obedience, I thought I'd jot them down here.

A while back my kids developed that gene that all kids seem to have - the "I love macaroni and cheese" gene, and more specifically, the Kraft Dinner gene. I can tell you that in our house, that gene fades away when you become a parent, as both James and I dread the thought of eating it anymore. But my kids - they love it.

It got to the point that they were begging me everyday for this delightful lunch. When I said no, they would beg and whine and whine and beg and then beg and whine some more. It drove me crazy! I never gave in, and yet they always seemed to think that asking again and again would eventually wear me down. So I came up with a different system. I made Tuesdays macaroni and cheese days. I have to endure the meal once a week, but if they ask any other day of the week if they can have it, I simply say "what day is it today?" And if it's not Tuesday, they seem to accept it.

Kids love order. Kids love schedules. I think they find comfort in knowing what to expect. And, as shown above, they seem to accept the most unlikeable circumstances as long as it is expected. I use this theory in many areas of our home life.

We don't have TV hookup, but we do have lots of movies. James and I are both filmmakers, so I can't fault my children for having a love of movies. But at least a movie self-limits. There is no danger of letting the TV cartoons run longer than you wanted - when the credits roll, it's over. Again, we set specific expectations in this area. When the kids ask to watch a movie, I say, without skipping a beat "when do we watch movies?" and without skipping a beat they reply "after nap". Now, there are exceptions to this, like if one of them (or one of us parents) are ill, or in a few other extremely rare circumstances. But 99% of the time, it's after nap. And it's only one movie. And we alternate whose pick it is. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays it's Colin's pick, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday it is Caleb's pick. Sunday they may choose from a specific set of "Sunday movies", and they have to choose together or they get no movie. Even before the age of two, these are concepts they can understand. And again, because of the schedule and expectations, there is amazingly no arguing about it. Besides, if they start to argue or fight, I turn it off. They know this and rarely push that button.

There are limitless ways this can be used to your advantage. Now that the weather is nice again, I plan on having outdoor time every morning. Only Daddy plays computer games with them, and only for 15 minutes. Toys are always tidied before bed. Sometimes you can schedule to their advantage: play time always before wash time in the bath, or two books and a story always before bed. Get creative. Plus it's a great tool to go to when something is driving you nuts and the kids just don't seem to give you a break!


Jules said...
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Jules said...

This makes me laugh because when we were growing up, the three of us would get into major arguments about what we watch on tv and who gets to sit where in the living room (best vantage point to the tv), and who gets to sit in the front seat in the car when mom takes us to run errands.

Mom came up with the day system: we'd rotate as to whose "day" it is. If it was my day, I get to choose what to watch, I get to sit in the tv chair, and I get the front seat in the car. And it worked! No more arguments - about those things anyway..