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Family Rules: Five Moms Share

Written by Stacie Rose

Photography by Elle Rowley, Photographed by Nicki Sebastian

Ask before you take. Never open someone else’s fridge. Say “please” and “thank you”. Take care of your things. Don’t scream. Don’t fight. No jumping on the furniture. Look at people when they address you. And, “no” means “no”. When it comes to family rules, there is black and white, and a very vast grey area. But, once an individual steps into parenthood, they often find themselves in need of a solid set of guidelines—pronto. Since babies quickly become kids who are smarter than they seem, one might find themselves feeling captive to those kids, who will rule the roost if they don’t get some strict boundaries fast. Below, we asked five righteous mamas to share some hard, fast, and loving family rules, and we’re amazed by their honesty and dedication.

“By the time my twin nine-year-old girls get home from their after school activities, there isn’t a ton of time for homework. I don’t want them to rush through their schoolwork just to get to the TV, iPad, or phone, which I find pretty mindless and difficult to monitor. So, we have a ‘no screens of any kind on a school night’ rule. If they have schoolwork that requires the computer, they do it in a room with me or my husband present, so we know what they’re up to. If I let the girls have free reign with the screens, they turn into zombies that struggle to listen, and their overall behavior goes rapidly downhill. For the sake of harmony in our house, I limit screens. This rule was instituted in first grade, and my girls didn’t really argue about it for long. It just became part of the routine, and now I can use screens as a reward for exceptional behavior. We told them that school is our family priority. Our motto is, ‘we do what we have to do, so we can do what we want to do.'” – Kelly, Freelance Editor

“I tell my kids the best medicine is what we feed our bodies. You want to be stronger, taller, and healthier? You need to put the right foods into your body every day. It’s ultimately your decision. I can’t force you to make healthy choices, but it’s what I will serve in our house. Food made from scratch is what I try to stick to. There’s even a sign hanging in our kitchen that says, ‘Dinner choices: One, take it. Two, leave it.” – Jen, Speech Therapist

“I like the rule that states, ‘a little dessert after every meal, as long as they eat the meal’. This even applies to breakfast—no judgments please. I’m okay with one chocolate chip cookie in the morning, as long as breakfast is eaten. It can make for a happy kid, which makes for a happy mom. And, if we can start our day off happy, then all is right by me.” – Amy, Manager at CNN

“We have a strict rule about showing private parts, and talk a lot about who can see and touch our ‘privates’. It’s a part of our everyday dialogue, and whenever private parts are shown out of the norm, I make a point to say that it’s out of the norm. We are also very careful with our words. I am on a pretty strict, healthy diet due to a huge weight gain with my second pregnancy. I never want my daughter to deprive herself, so I don’t use words like ‘skinny’ or ‘fat’. I only discuss health. I explain to my daughter that she is always running, jumping, and playing, so she can have sweet treats and carbohydrates that I cannot have because I am not as active as she is. I only bring this up when she asks why I’m not having ice cream or a bowl of pasta with her.” – Ashley, Psychotherapist

“Family mealtime was sacred—no phones, no television, no profanities. Any off-color word spoken at the table required a $1 donation to the cursing jar, and all the collected funds were mom’s to keep. I also always cooked more than enough food, so that unexpected guests could join us at the spur of the moment.  I wanted my children to know that their friends were always welcome and that we enjoyed their company. When our son was in high school, he often invited a friend for dinner who ate with his hands. Since then, I have taught my children to have good table manners and respect for everyone around our table.” – Karyn, Grandmother and Retired Social Worker

Along with loving children comes great responsibly to shape, guide, and teach them how to be healthy, upstanding citizens, and there’s no manual for this. It’s the best job there is, and sometimes the hardest. We have to show tough love from time to time, whether that’s letting our kids cry it out or having them finish every bite on their plate, we must remind them how much we love them every step of the way. However one chooses to spin their family rules, the best success seems to come from keeping consistent. When rules are rules, kids know what to expect and how to act. What are some of the rules in your household?

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