If you think about it, growing up, being in school and even being at work is mostly about following other people’s rules and having someone else make decisions for you. Yes, I absolutely recognize that we all need these rules to teach us how to be safe, kind, contributing members of the community, but they can also leave us feeling overwhelmed, conflicted, resentful and burned out as an adult.
So now that you’re a grown-up and are parenting kids of your own, how do you switch gears from following the rules to creating and enforcing the rules? Not everyone makes this transition smoothly or easily. And if you’re not lucky enough to have great role models in your life, or to have found some in books or in the media (hello, Oprah!), you may be feeling all alone in this.
No worries! As we get ready to start a brand new year I’m going to share with you the 2 steps I use and teach to create big, bold changes: 1. declutter/simplify your life and 2. consciously choose what to bring back in (i.e. choose what to give your precious time, energy and attention to!).
Declutter cupboards and closets, clean out your car, your smart phone and inbox and clean up your social media. Fix, donate or toss anything you’re not currently using.
Simplify routines and regular tasks like meal planning and grocery shopping.
Learn to set boundaries and say no when people try to add things to your list or your list of things to worry about and take responsibility for.
Once things have been cleaned up and cleared out you’ll find you have so much more time and space to focus on the things that are truly important in your life. Like yourself and your kids!
Think about ways to bring in more self-awareness, mindfulness, gratitude, forgiveness, fun, asking for help, positive self talk and self-care this year!
I’m lucky enough to have two very helpful boys that participate in our chores and routines because they’ve been taught right from the start that’s what being part of Team Jolicoeur means. They get an allowance every week no matter what because I want them to learn about making choices and managing money.
This weekend there were some bad choices being made and I was struggling with the idea of having them “earn back” some of the extra treats I had planned (a video, etc.). But I found myself getting caught up in all the details:
What do I do if only one kid is trying?
How many “good choices” or chores equals a video?
And the icky feeling that they would only be trying to get a reward, not doing it because it’s the right/kind thing to do.
So in the end I decided to stick with what works for us…
I try to stay away from anything that looks like behaviour modification because it’s outside my comfort zone as a parent and my kids don’t respond well to it. Natural and logical consequences fit better for me and they make so much more sense when I say it out loud and explain them to my boys.
We also do lots of acknowledging, rather than punishing and rewarding which works well for my two. For example, we have a paper for each boy and they get stamps on it when they make a good choice. Nothing happens if they get stamps and nothing happens if they don’t. It’s just a reminder for me to catch them doing good things and a way for them to celebrate all their hard work (because, let’s be honest, making good choices and being healthy can be hard work!) They can ask me for a stamp, they can give themselves stamps and they can give each other stamps. Most often they do it for their brother, which I think is amazing and adorable, and then I get to remind them to give themselves some too.
We also acknowledge the good and not so good things about our days during our bedtime practice and that’s a super nice way to reflect (without shame or punishment) on everyone’s ups and downs.
What about you? How do you mums feel about reward charts?