When parents get stressed or overwhelmed, we make rules. It’s like a reflex for most of us. Then in typical fashion, we look up days or weeks later only to discover that our rules are more bark than bite. The truth is, kids need rules. They need boundaries. The problem is that parents must be able to enforce the rules effectively or the training our kids receive is that Mom or Dad’s word is no good. It’s a chink in the armor of your parenting that they will and probably already do exploit.
I would strongly recommend you trade rule-making for rhythm-making. Rhythm is defined as a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. This is partly what makes a song memorable. It’s the reason a group of people can all sing or a band can play a song together and stay together. If your family is anything like mine, your parenting could probably benefit from some healthy rhythms.
When you think of rhythms, think of the repeated activities that support your parenting goals. My wife, Amanda, is very good at this. She has established a morning routine for our boys. Each day, they know what is expected of them before anything else can happen. This began with an illustrated list. We’ve employed chalkboards and whiteboards to make it visual for our kids. It takes a little forethought but it pays off big time and empowers your child with personal responsibility for what’s expected of them. In many ways, rhythms are simply rules set inside the structure of time and space.
If there is a specific behavior you are seeking for your child build it into the rhythm of the day. When it’s structured within the order of the day your child benefits from the desire to comply because they want to progress through the day.
◽️Clean up the kitchen
◽️Start the day
◽️Bathe or shower
◽️Pick out clothes for tomorrow
◽️Read a book
◽️Sit and wait patiently for everyone to join at the table
◽️Say a blessing
◽️Say “thank you” to whomever prepared the food
◽️Share one good thing that happened today
◽️Complete morning routine
◽️Play outside and/or read until lunchtime
◽️Enjoy screens for one hour
◽️More outdoor play or reading
By no means is this a comprehensive list, but hopefully you get the idea. With a little creativity, you can establish some very family-friendly rhythms that help you stay intentional and sane.
It’s summer. Have fun and make every day count.