On July 1st my boyfriend and I combined families into a new home, while his kids live with their mother for residential purposes they are with us three weekends a month so we still needed to be sure to address how we would parent five children together; his and mine. Communication is one of the most important factors when you are working to blend two families together and is an important part of a healthy relationship. Both my boyfriend and I were acutely aware that we needed to find a middle ground to parent our five children together.
I have parented my children with a positive parenting approach all of their lives so they are used to my rules, and while I am pretty much a big kid and very lenient there are some things that are simply important in keeping that parental boundary up with your children. My boyfriend wanted to be both the parent and friend all of his children’s lives but struggled with finding the happy medium that I had found as a parent wanting the same result. This alone is why we work so well together, he can see how I approach situations and set rules makes sense; I am all about give and take, teaching kids respect, trust and allowing kids to have an open forum in my home. I would much prefer to have built a strong relationship with my kids so that in the future when big deal issues arise they will not be afraid to turn to me for answers, advice and support.
Prior to moving in together my boyfriend and I came to a middle ground with parenting, the issue is that his kids are not used to many rules. It’s been a difficult transition as we when discussed how we would do things it involved poster board in a common family area in our new house with lists of house rules, and we have yet to create this poster board. We have yet, in two weeks, to been able to sit down and truly implement how we planned to parent our children together in this home as a family unit, but are going to take time this coming weekend to really get implementation started.
Here are some ideas we have put together to keep a happy, healthy home with boundaries, happy kids and teach our kids responsibility as well as consequences;
- Create house rules poster board; this will cite all rules including TV shows that are not permitted to be watched by any child in this home, language usage by children that is appropriate, use of positive words are accepted in this home but not negatively putting down anyone else, walk away when you feel overwhelmed, appropriate bed times per age group and rules on electronics usage … just to name a few.
- Create chore Charts based on Age Groups; this will list out chores for the three older kids (my daughter and his two) that they will be expected to complete when they are here. My younger two boys will have their own list of age appropriate chores on another poster board. Since the older three are here half the time or so, then they will have chores to do but not be expected to do so many chores that they are unable to have fun while here.
- Be consistent, Firm and to the point; no more explaining the whys behind saying NO, we are the parents and all children in the house need to understand that as parents we can just say no because we simply feel that’s the best answer, there is no need to get into an explanation to your child about why you said no. Especially when said child feels they deserve, need and expect an explanation for the word no.
- Create Consequence Board; a poster board will be created listing out consequences for actions, this will help both parents stay on track with being consistent, firm and to the point as well as working together instead of apart from each other.
- Hang All boards in a common room area for all children to see. Sit down and explain this is our family rules, consequences and expectations of all in our family and place boards in common area of home for daily reference if need be by both parents and children.
You see, my boyfriend’s children are amazing kids but they really have been raised differently and like most co-parenting children each home is slightly different or extremely different. While it’s recommended that co-parents work together to establish similar parenting rules across households to alleviate transitional issues with the kids it’s not always how life works. This is our way of working together to implement structure ito our home so that we can all love each other as a new formed family unit, and help make transitions from one parents house to ours slightly easier.
I keep thinking back to the day when my oldest was about 2 years old, she would help me with laundry and other household chores. My oldest grew up with responsibility and consequences for her actions in a consistent manner. My oldest learned how to help her Mama around the house without complaint, it had simply become a part of her everyday life without hesitation. Now, here I am a Mom of three with the youngest being four and I don’t believe either of my sons have ever really had any consistent chores in the house. Sure they pick up after themselves when asked, usually. Sure they take care of their dishes after dinner by placing them in the sink. They put their dirty clothes in the basket, usually, after getting dressed in the morning and evening. They do not have any consistent chores and that is part of what I am trying to change.
I used to have this cute magnetic chore chart that my oldest helped me make and it was used with enthusiasm, everyone did chores and they had a little magnet creation placed under the column for said chore. I don’t know why I stopped. Another part of that chore chart was if they didn’t listen or what not, they got a tally mark and were deducted “points” from an end of week reward.
One idea I have for when we all move into this new place is to start being consistent as a parent as well as to set up specific chores for the kids. I want to ensure that each child has some chore, it will be every day help around the house as well as ensuring they pick up after their own self. I am no longer picking up toys or crayons because they didn’t pick them up their own self. It’s not my job, my job is to be Mom and ensure I teach them to be well rounded children who will turn out to be great adults who accept and understand consequences and have a sense of pride because they can pick up after their own self, take care of their own self, etc.
My idea is to have a chore chart up with simple chores for the youngest and work the chore ideas up to age appropriate levels. The older kids can have a month to accumulate “reward points” and the younger boys can have a chance to accumulate “reward points” each week. Reason being, the younger kids need a more immediate gratification feeling for their work while older kids can usually handle the waiting period of a month. At the end of each “waiting period” the children will be able to pull a “reward ticket” out of a hat or basket that is created by the parents. From there, each kid will earn a chance to pull out a “reward ticket” that has something written on it based on them getting either money for their chores, extra time with parent, or even extra time with their favorite thing to do such as laptop time or video game, etc. Each child shall pull only one “reward ticket” per month and as parents we may choose to put less “reward ticket” options in the basket if the children did not follow along with their list of chores as expected. Basically they may get some form of a reward but as they consistently do said chores their “earnings” could increase in time as they show us that they do their chores consistently.
This method sounds like it will be a rewarding experience and in turn allow the kids to feel some pride in being an important and responsible part of the household.
What are some ways you have instilled life lessons of picking up after yourself and doing chores with your kids?
I used to have an amazing chore chart that I created my own self at home out of craft supplies and I found using a chore chart is a fantastic way to show the kids that they are completely their responsibilities and in turn get some form of reward, even if it’s simply your praise vocally! This in turn creates happier kids who then appreciate the life they have due to their parents hard work all that much more!
I recently read an article about The Demise of Guys? Over my Dead Body and upon completing this little article, I was left compelled to write something about it. Being a Mom of two boys, I fight hard to try to teach them within the best ways I can being that I am a woman and all, to be a real man. My four year old son will go out and shovel the deck after a snowfall. My six year old son knows that there are some things around the house he needs to do because he is simply “the man of the house with his brother”. That is how it is.
I am not saying that I am placing all these adult responsibilities onto my sons, but in a world where the statistics say that the average young person spends 10,000 hours gaming by the age of 21, I have to say, is my daughter going to find herself in a situation that is not so much the norm now? Meaning, rarely is it I see friends of mine dating a guy who is addicted to video games as badly as I see it in these tween/teen years. Does that mean in the world where my children live as adults that my daughter will end up being both the woman and the man of the household? I surely hope not.
That is where setting chores and expectations at home comes into play. I am all for having video game time, I am all for having that thing that your child just loves dearly available to them, but at what cost? In m personal opinion the best way to teach boys to be man and girls to be woman is to give them a bit of responsibility! Set in place chores that work based on their age, teach them that when they give into the household, even something as tiny of a task as picking up after their own self, then in turn they get the benefit of their favorite electronic or game, what have you.
That is how us adults have to work, we do not get to play until after all of our work and household chores are done. Children at the ripe age of 2 can start helping in chores around the house in some shape or form, it’s time that parents start being parents and not allow these 10,000 hours of video gaming time to happen! Get up, stand up and set some chore charts up so that your kids have a visual of what is expected of them each day before they can sit down and play.
Have you used a chore chart? Did it help teach your kids to be more responsibility?