When my boys were little, I remember feeling completely exasperated with their toddler antics. And not exasperated in the “this is so funny” way; I mean exasperated in the “I have no idea how to fix this and there’s no end in sight!” way.
Some late night googling led me to an article that talked about how preschool-aged children thrive on rules.
It’s something in their brains. Their genetic makeup. Their DNA.
Little kids like rules.
I put a HUGE post-it on the wall (my husband has a thing for giant office supplies), and the boys and I talked through some potential rules. I drew rudimentary pictures to help them visualize our new rules—
A pair of shoes meant “put your shoes away.”
A toilet meant “don’t forget to flush!”
A chair with an X through it meant “no climbing onto the kitchen counter to find the chocolate I hid above the fridge!”
Then I let them scribble all over the huge post-it note, and it became their own.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that it worked. They were the perfect age for the boundaries that our official family rules gave them. I’d even catch them reminding each other in serious, mini-adult voices, “It’s the rules.”
That doesn’t mean they never climbed onto another counter or tried to swing from the pendent light, but we were on the same page.
We had become a team.
Now that our kids are older, I don’t have to refer to “the rules” in the same way that I used to.
Our boys do amazing things now, like brushing their own teeth and—get ready for it—putting themselves to bed!
But there’s still something about the tidiness, the predictability of rules that appeals to my kids, and over the last couple of years, our family purpose statement has slowly taken the place of that giant, scribbled-on post-it note.
Instead of “flush the toilet,” we’ve progressed to “be brave and kind.”
Instead of “put your dirty socks away,” we’ve moved on to “do hard things.”
They thrive on the identity that we created together during our sessions of writing our family purpose statement. I’m honestly amazed at how often they bring it up in our day-to-day talk.
And I want your family to experience this too.
If you’d like to find more purpose in your parenting and more unity as a family, will you check out my eBook over on Amazon?
I’d be thrilled. (And if you leave an Amazon review, I will owe you FOR LIFE. #forreals)
At only 30 pages, I think it’s a great mix of inspiration and practical application; it gives you just what you need but doesn’t take more of your valuable time than absolutely necessary. I hope you’ll agree!
Whether you start working on your family purpose statement right away or you let the idea brew in your head until you feel more ready, I really believe this short book will re-inspire you to parent purposefully and to live with more joy as a person and as a family.