my house my rules

My House, My Rules!

Posted on Posted in Parenthood

my house my rules

I very much used to be of the opinion that ‘my house, my rules’ was sacrosanct.  I didn’t care what you let your child do in your house, when they were in mine they followed my rules.  You may have let your child draw all over your walls, good for you.  Not in my house.  You may have let your child jump all over your furniture, kudos.  Not in my house.  You may have liked to feed your children Easter Eggs for dinner, I bet they loved you.  Not in my house.  But now, I’m starting to disagree with myself.  I’ve started adding caveats, and now it’s more like: ‘My house, my rules, unless…’ ‘Your house, your rules, except when…’

Why have I started thinking like this?  It’s really quite petty, so please forgive me, but a dear friend of ours – who we love to bits – is very lackadaisical in her parenting methodology: there is no bed time for her kids (8 and 4 years old) they go to bed when they are tired; there are no meal times, they simply eat when they are hungry; there are no restrictions, if the kids enjoy doing it, then they enjoy watching them do it.  And that’s fine, for her kids, in her house.  You’ll have already read about my current situation, so until I could find a more permanent solution to someone looking after George from 12-3pm, she agreed to pick him up from school and look after him until I finished work.  She was even willing to pick my daughter up from school at 3:15pm and look after them both in order to allow me to get home from work, rest for a couple of hours and then pick them up from hers.  She would feed them dinner and ensure that they did their homework.  A saint of a woman.  I took her up on her offer, who wouldn’t.

What actually happened was: she asked the kids if they fancied doing their homework, they said no, so she sent them out to play.  Before sending them out to play, they each had a wedge of chocolate biscuits and a Flake.  While they were playing, her children periodically filtered through the kitchen grabbing chocolate from the draw, a Freddo here, a Kinder Egg there, until the ice-cream man arrived on the estate at 4:45pm (my kids normally eat dinner at 5pm).  They each had a 99 complete with Flake, then settled down to dinner at 5.  Unsurprisingly, mine couldn’t finish their buffet of nuggets and chips, but were rewarded none-the-less with a bowl full of Carte D’Or chocolate ice cream.  By the time I got them home, bathed them, finished their homework, and rubbed their aching tummies, it was 8:00pm.  Needless to say they didn’t have a great night’s sleep, and were very tired the next day, affecting their behaviour and performance at school.

I said to her that I had asked her nicely to not feed them with loads of rubbish and to make sure their homework was done, but she laughed it off and said “kids will be kids, they need to be happy and enjoy life.”

For one moment I imagined this happening every school day for the next six months and I physically shuddered.  I cringed at the thought of how, through the best intentions, our friend would completely change our children’s outlook on what we have taught them is acceptable and what is not.  My son no longer considers her by her name, he now calls her the ‘biscuit lady’ because like a puppy she rewards everything he does with a nice chocolatey biscuit treat.  He no longer wants me to pick him up from school, he wants her to do it because he knows full well – despite my protestation – that she will give him things that I won’t.  Before you judge though, I’m not a complete bastard.  The kids have gone through a significant period of control and manipulation in the house that has clearly affected their outlook on food, and I’m trying to normalise that, but you can do things in moderation.  Why give them five biscuits when two will do?  Why give them the largest ice cream the van has to offer and a Flake, when a small one will do?  It’s that moderation thing rearing its head again.

Before I would have argued on her side.  It’s her house, and she is doing me a massive favour, so I should be willing to accept what happens in her house is her business.  Her house, her rules.  But it just doesn’t sit right with me, particularly because of the frequency with which they would have been exposed to the antithesis of my parenting approach.  Thankfully, it’s now moot because George has been accepted into school full time and work have given me permission to drop them off and pick them up every day.

What are your thoughts?  Is it your house, your rules, or do you have caveats too?

Use Code IAMEPIC For 30% Off Mini-Epic Personalised Video Invitations

10 thoughts on “My House, My Rules!

  1. At first I laughed a little thinking this is almost me with the treats.. until I read the amount! As a snack I’d give 2 biscuits or a small treat like A Kinder egg each but no more. Treats after dinner depend on how well they eat but they need to wait a little while. Eva’s 7 & would be in tears with a tummy ache all night if she ate all that! On a school night she has to be in bed by 7.30pm or she wakes up quite upset & doesn’t want to go to school. I have a few rules like not being rude to adults, drawing on walls, sharing etc but I’m not overly strict. Kids visiting are usually quite likely to be overloaded with fruit smoothies 😂

  2. I almost stopped after the first paragraph, in the last 3 months my kids have indeed drawn over lots of different walls, wrecked a piece of furniture by turning into a den and had easter eggs for breakfast lunch and dinner. Other parents can’t believe what I ‘let my kids get away with’. This however is completely unrelated to the general running of my household – I have a clockwork routine ( for my own sanity mostly ) that works well for us, don’t ever have arguments over bath times or bed times as these have been the same for 1000’s of days in a row.

    I think it would be a whole lot stranger if the worldview and rules changed in your friends household, just while your own children where visiting, and then reverted back normal when they left. I think it is very tough having anyone look after your children but especially if they are very different from ourselves, easy to spend the entire time worrying about what is actually going on. Sounds like 6 months would have been way too long – great to have flexible work options.

    1. Thank you for reading past the first paragraph. Sorry if you thought it was a dig at your family, it was more a demonstration of how uptight I am. Out of curiosity though, have your kids ever done any of those things in someone else’s house and if so, how did you react?

      1. That is a great question, I’ve never actually had a conversation with my kids about where and where it is not appropriate, this may be because of their ages ( 5 and 6 ) but so far they don’t write on walls anywhere else, even when staying with other family where there are a few less boundaries. What I have had a fair bit of is other children asking their own parents if they can drawer on their own walls, which often prompts a ‘shocked” conversation. To be fair, it is not just ‘as you please’, we have a fun routine where every 6 months we photograph all the new art and then all 3 of us repaint the bedroom.

      2. What an amazing idea! Have a dedicated wall to express their artistic side, photograph it, then have fun painting it. I’m genuinely thinking of stealing that for our next house!

  3. I’d be upset too! Schedule and foundation is key in there lives especially at this age. Good behavior patterns help shape them as ppl. Even if they don’t keep the routines as they get older it’s a foundation.

  4. We struggle with this when the kids are at my sister’s house. She will let them drink sugary drinks when we only offer milk or water. But she is great with them, other than the sweets they eat there. I just cringe inwardly.

    1. Sometimes that’s all you can do, isn’t it. It just means she’ll be the cool aunt and you’ll be the mean dad lol

I'd love to hear your thoughts, let me know what you think