In the Robinson house, you could have divided my children into two groups: those who thought rules were created to keep us safe and happy, and those who believed rules were for building strength/endurance while breaking them.
If that was the case in your family, whichever side of that line you stayed behind as a child just might have some bearing on how you view my next sentence: Your life as a mom will be happier if you create rules to follow for yourself.
Did you wince? Me too, at first.
As an artist, I always preferred to do things as I felt like doing them. That’s great for creativity. But as a mom, who feels like cleaning the kitchen? We only get about 18 summers with our kids, so I’d rather be at the zoo than cleaning my kitchen.
It’s human nature to take the path of least resistance. Have you ever seen someone in your house walk past an empty dishwasher and put their dirty dish on the counter? Yeah. It’s like that.
We all fall into autopilot mode. Busy moms and distracted kids are flying by habit most of the time. So why not make this part of your basic makeup work for you instead of against you?
Rules Habits for Mom
If you create a rule for yourself, soon it will become a habit. Some people feel squishy about trying to form a new habit. It feels too much like a goal. By telling yourself this is the rule, you just keep doing it without the anticipation of a point in time where you have either failed or succeeded. What we tell ourselves is the single most important factor in accomplishment.
I’m not giving you rules to follow. I’m showing you the rules I gave myself to survive living with a herd of children. Look them over and see if you want to adopt any for yourself.
- Always run dishwater before starting to cook a meal.
- Clean all utensils and pans as soon as you’re done with them. (I try to get them done before sitting down to eat.)
- Always empty the dishwasher before you’re done cooking a meal. (Dirty dishes after you’re done have to go somewhere.)
- Never leave the house with a dirty kitchen.
- Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen.
- If you can’t follow rules four and five, set a timer and clean for only 15 minutes.
Hint: if you have followed rules one through three, the rest pretty much take care of themselves.
Triggers for Kids
We all have triggers that make us do things or enjoy different aspects of our lives — like watching a movie and eating popcorn. Why not create good triggers for your kids? The greatest discovery for me was 15-minute pick-ups. Combine this with a naturally occurring trigger and miracles happen.
- Create a game: Set a timer for 15 minutes. Announce: On your mark…get set…GO! Send them off to race the timer. If the room, table, toys or whatever you’re targeting gets picked up and put in place before the time goes off, grant a simple reward as a prize.
- Create a habit: Set your timer, only this time set times that naturally occur every day. In our house, we had a 15-minute pick-up every day before Daddy came home. (How else was he going to get through the door?)
Once everyone is accustomed to 15-minute pick-ups, you can call them whenever you need to. You can go to the zoo and return to your home instead of housework.