So when I last spoke to my social worker, I mentioned that I realized I needed to come up with some house rules–before I get placement. With no children in my house, I naturally have no real rules. I hang up my towels and usually make my bed when I get up, but no one’s checking up on me, and basically things around here are pretty fluid. However, any child(ren) moving in will need structure, and I know enough about kids to know that can’t be completely made up as we go along. Sure, I’ll need to be somewhat flexible in being aware of what’s working and what’s not, and adjusting to each child’s needs and abilities, but I can’t just have a kid move in with no set rules and then start adding them! Better to have them there and take them away or adjust after the fact. That being said, it’s tough to come up with them out of nowhere, especially since a lot could depend on age (e.g. 5-year-old might need supervision in backyard while 10-year-old could ride bike around block alone).
So far, I have:
- Make your bed every morning
- Hang up your towel in the bathroom as soon as you’re done with it
- Maximum 1 hour “screen time” –TV, computer, video game–per day, with exemptions for movie nights/special occasions
- Be respectful (good umbrella rule covering teasing, treatment of others’ things/space, “attitude,” etc)
- Ask permission before going outside, or if already outside, before leaving (neighbors, park, bike ride, etc–depending on age)
- Healthy snacks allowed up until an hour before mealtime–younger kids need permission, older kids can access fridge & cupboards, maybe with snacks in special area to avoid food I’m planning on using for something getting eaten
- Everybody contributes to home-care–sweeping, dishes, laundry, setting the table, etc–including following these rules (according to author Sarah Ban Breathnach): “If you take it out, put it back. If you open it, close it. If you throw it down, pick it up. If you take it off, hang it up. If you use it, clean it up.”
- “Quiet time” begins 15 minutes before earliest bedtime
Ok, that’s where I am so far. Please feel free to suggest rules that have worked well in your own home, things you think I’ve missed, or let me know if you think one (or all) of my rules are just plain nuts!