Posted by: Kate | July 15, 2008

House Rules

We have two new people moving in here in three days, including a three-year-old with a good heart but boundless energy and a lot of chaos in her life just lately. She responds best, as many toddlers do, to simple declarative statements and peer pressure. So I’ve been trying to think through our house rules, trying to articulate some of the main ones before Moving Day.

This is what I have so far. What are some of yours? How does your house roll?

Food and drinks stay in the kitchen, with the exception of water.

No singing at the table.

Wrestling and horseplay happens outside, unless Mama is at work, in which case it happens on the living room floor.

We do homework and chores at 4:00 p.m. Chores are optional, and are compensated at a dime per chore, deposited into a jar for each kid. No chores means no allowance, which is how we buy Matchbox cars and treats from the ice cream truck and Pokemon cards and the other necessities of childhood which parents just don’t understand.

After meals, we put our own dishes in the sink. Those able to reach the faucet rinse them off before leaving the room.

No shoes in the house.

We don’t hit. We don’t bite. We don’t call names.

Each kid is the boss in his or her own room. This means that the occupant chooses the activities, the music, and the participants – it is allowed for anyone to say, “I want to be alone,” and close the door. Any activities in public areas (living room, backyard, playroom, minivan) are shared and the nearest available grownup is the boss.

Ask before having a snack.

Mom and Dad’s bedroom is off-limits without permission or an adult present.

Cross-posted at New England Mamas.


  1. The further along I get, the fewer house rules we seem to keep.

    But, I did want to say I love the new look!

  2. I think it’s wonderful what your family is doing for your friend and her daughter. Everyone has a right to feel safe. And if they get to stay with wonderful people in the process, that’s even better.

  3. We have a no feet on the couch rule that is twofold: keeps dirty summer feet from getting the couch gross, and also curbs the running, jumping, diving from the couch activities.

  4. I think it is great you are helping your friend out! And my biggest rule? When you hear Mom or Dad’s voice – open the ears immediately and be a listener. We do not want to repeat ourselves. (although we always have to anyway).

  5. Great rules Kate . . . that’s the adults sorted, what about rules for the kids?
    Seriously, you’re doing a fine thing. Lets hope your friend finds a way to work through this and get herself set up before two long.

  6. You know, it’s a good idea to have the rules written down. I tend to get irritated about something and shout, “New rule…!” It would probably be less confusing for BB if I wrote them down and confined the rules to logical things instead of irritated rantings. Half the time, I can’t even remember that I’ve made a rule about something. How’s that for consistency? I’m in so much trouble when we have kids that are with us all the time.

  7. Some of ours are:

    Keep the bathroom door closed at all times. (But we have a 16 month-old with a penchant for toilet play.)

    We tend to have an untidy house with miscellaneous things strewn about, but if you are asked to pick something up, you’ll be asked once. After that, that thing goes into the Saturday Basket, which means you will not get it back until Saturday.

    No riding the dog.

    You must say please if you are asking for something.

    You may pick out your own clothes, but Mommy and/or Daddy get final veto.

  8. You can’t sing at your table? You can only sing at ours…

    Those are great rules!

  9. Good luck on taking in a 3 year old. I do hope this 3 year old knows what a rule is….

    In my house in addition to the ones you posted, there is no toys in the TV room rule. Toys stay in the playroom (which takes up 1/3 of our mail level).

    If you touch daddy’s new TV, you will be fingerprinted and identified.

    Time outs do not include lovey bear.

  10. Here’s some of ours:

    When there’s tidying to be done, we all help, unless you’re sick or out.

    No jumping on, or otherwise disarranging, Mummy and Daddy’s bed.

    No putdowns.

    If I ask the kids to do something and they don’t think it’s fair, it’s okay to negotiate but a flat out ‘no’ or shouting at me is unacceptable and never works.

    Plates to the sink after meals.

    Shoes off and bags down as you come in the door after school.

    Wipe the toilet if you miss!

    No fighting. (hitting, punching, kicking, biting, scratching, pushing..)

    Please and thank you where appropriate.

    -Of course, they don’t always adhere to any of these rules and I find myself having to repeat most of them on a daily basis….. 🙂

    Love the idea of the Saturday Basket Lisa, I’m going to try it out.

  11. I can’t take credit for the Saturday Basket — I think I got it out of “Positive Discipline”.

    It works well for the stuff Lane loves… if she doesn’t care about it, not so much. But it does help identify the toys I can flag as ones to get rid of when we get around to downsizing the toy stockpile.

  12. I meant to say; ‘No jumping on Mummy and Daddy’s bed and pulling all the sheets out. Coming for hugs is just fine.” 🙂

  13. The Girl is nearly 17, so the rules are different now – i.e. boys are allowed in her room because the XBox is there, but the door remains open at all times. Call or text message whenever leaving work (15 miles of interstate after 10pm), or whenever she’s going somewhere extra that she didn’t say you were going in the first place – plans change sometimes. Mom and Dad always have the option to veto friends, plans et cetera but we try to let her figure out for herself what kind of people and activities are going to be healthy for her.

    We still say please & thank you and overall everyone picks up after themselves and generally helps out and looks out for each other. We all give and take – sometimes, more, sometimes less, but it all evens out as long as we remember that we love each other and remember to be nice to each other in little ways.

    Love the Saturday Basket idea and will definitely pass it on.

  14. I think I’ll be taking the Saturday basket on…My house is so over ridden with toys!
    A rule we have here-
    No evening swimming unless you eat dinner and help clean the table off. Since they started swimming lessons we swim 2-4 times some days!

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