Do you have a set of house rules? If not, they can be a valuable part of any home. Similar to a family mission statement, family rules are designed to clearly describe the expectations in your home, but in a more detailed way. Family house rules don’t have to be complicated, and you don’t need to feel like a drill sergeant to enforce them. But, house rules are key to helping your family to have less stress, less conflict, less yelling, and to run smoothly.
Before you go any further, you can have a cute template for your house rules that you can print. Enter your email below to have it sent right to your inbox!
Basic House Rules Template
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First things first.
As a mom of 9 with my oldest two now adults, I can say that the time you put in as a parent is very front loaded. In other words, when your kids are young you’ll be pouring so much into your kids without feeling like you’re getting much return on that time investment. I will say, however, it is always, always be time well spent.
And whether you’re talking about creating family rules or setting up rules and boundaries for your kids to follow, the earlier you acclimate your kids to have a set of rules, boundaries, or expectations in place the easier of a time you’ll have with it. So if your kids are used to having to follow rules or meet expectations from their earliest years, following these rules will always just seem to be a way of life for them.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to creating family rules is that you’ll want to make sure that as much possible, you as parents are following the same family rules, expectations, and boundaries. Obviously kids and adults are different, but when you’re making your family rules do keep this idea in mind. Make sure you put in some family rules that apply to everyone including parents, and make sure you create any family rules that you won’t be expected to follow sparingly.
Although the rules often change a bit as things change and kids grow older, developing some basic rules for where you are now is a great exercise in creating an efficient home that is also purposeful. The house rules we have in our family are appropriate for children of all ages from toddlers to teenagers and everything in between.
Here are the 25 basic household rules in our family & some tips for creating your own family rules (+ printable household rules template!)
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Family rule #1: We are a family, first and foremost
As member of our family our kids will have many benefits and privileges, but at the same time along with these benefits come expectations, requirements, and common courtesies.
Family rule #2: Mom and Dad are in charge
Period. That’s not to say our kids don’t have a voice, but it is understood that we always have the final say.
Family rule #3: You will respect everyone who lives here
Respect happens in all kinds of ways. It’s speaking to family members with kindness, it’s respecting the property of others, and it’s also a matter of thinking of others before you think of yourself.
Family rule #4: Rules are rules – they are not general guidelines
Sadly, I think this is somewhat lost on society at large these days. But, rules aren’t optional. If we’ve said they are rules, the expectation is that they would be followed.
Family rule #5: Life is not always about you, sometimes it is about others
What goes around comes around. When it’s not your “turn,” know that it will be someday.
Family rule #6: You are not expected to be perfect, therefore, you may not expect perfection from others
This means even Mom and Dad. This is a hard one, especially for me with my expectations as someone who is prone to perfectionism. But this family rule states that no one will ever be perfect, and apologies will always be a big part of this acknowledgement.
Family rule #7: Sometimes grace is extended, but grace is not to be expected
On that same note, there will be plenty of grace, but don’t expect it. If you do, you’ll most certainly not get it.
Family rule #8: If you don’t have something nice to say, just keep it shut
Wasn’t this something that we heard in the story of Bambi? The thing is, we will all be treated unfairly, unkind, and downright wrong at times – the the outside world. But, the home should be a protected place. And that starts with knowing you’ll be expected to think before you speak. This is one of those ones that needs to be followed for kids and parents alike!
Family rule #9: You better be able to hear other family members
You are expected to respond or acknowledge when you are spoken to, ear buds or not. If there is one thing that I cannot stand more than anything else, it’s probably being ignored. Pretending you don’t hear when in reality you don’t want to hear doesn’t fly here. My kids know they better be able to hear me when I speak to them.
Family rule #10: If you want to add something to the family calendar, you need to give plenty of notice
My kids over 10 are in charge of putting their events and activities in the calendar with at least a week’s notice if possible. Otherwise all bets are off about whether they’ll get there or not.
Family rule #11: Lying is not tolerated
If you are caught lying about something, you will receive twice the consequences. Being honest is always your best option. This is an important life lesson for your kids to learn, too.
Family rule #12: Keep your word
Man or woman, girl or boy, you are expected to keep your word. If you say you’re going to do something make sure you do. This is also one of those things you want your kids to learn while they are at home under your roof. This is also one of the family rules you’ll want to make sure the parents are also following.
Family rule #13: Communicate when plans change
If your plans have changed, you need to tell Mom or Dad as soon as they change. Do not wait to tell us what is happening. Teens are notorious for this one.
Family rule #14: You live here – we do life on our terms, not anyone else’s
It does not matter to us what happens in the lives of your friends. This is your life – you live here. Trying to plead your case based on how others do it will pretty much always be an automatic lose for you.
Family rule #15: Speak respectfully, even if you disagree
There are plenty of times to have a discussion, you may always speak your mind – as long as you do it in a respectful way
Family rule #16: When someone is speaking, they have the floor
This is basically treating someone with respect, but I couldn’t leave this off the list. Wait your turn, take turns, be mindful of others. A good life lesson for both kids and parents here.
Family rule #17: If you would like privileges, you will need to fulfill your responsibilities
“He who does not work, does not eat.” I love this phrase that was spoken by Captain John Smith. As a Christian family, it’s also important to note that this is also in the book of Thessalonians. After all, would your employer pay you if you didn’t do the job? Your kids need to learn this one sooner rather than later.
Family rule #18: Borrow, don’t take
If you want to borrow something, you will need to ask & not just take it. Otherwise, you’re stealing, even from a family member.
Family rule #19: The second rule of borrowing – return like you got it!
When you borrow something, you will need to return it as you found it and to where you found it
Family rule #20: There is no maid who lives here
I may have needed to post this one first. It just needs to be in writing.
Family rule #21: If you make a mess, clean it up
Plain and simple. You can take care of your own things and messes. If you need help, you may graciously ask for it, but you may need to sweeten the deal (even if just with a hug).
Family rule #22: Put things you use away
When you take something out, put it back. Again, no one should have to pick up after you.
Family rule #23: If you take the last of something, tell the person who needs to know
There is nothing more annoying than thinking you have more of something, only to find that you don’t. In the terms of toilet paper, this is of the utmost importance.
Family rule #24: Take ownership of your mistakes
If you break something, you will be involved in the fixing or replacing process. If you say or do something that causes harm or hurt to someone, you’ll need to own that one, too. Mistakes are to be expected (we ALL make them), but don’t try to hide them or blame someone else.
Family rule #25: Electronics are a privilege, not a right
Can I get an amen here? Even if your kids buy their own electronics, if they live under your roof your rules about electronics trump everything.
So, how can you create your own family house rules?
These are the steps you will find useful in creating your own family house rules. Feel free to use as many of ours as you like. But, in making your own, follow these simple steps and ideas.
Start by taking the ages of your kids into account – toddler, elementary, or teenagers
In the life of a family, I find it helpful to have rules that apply to everyone in a general way, ones that are more specific for younger kids, and rules that are more tailored for teenagers. Honestly, my teenagers often need to be reminded of the most basic house rules anyway.
Next, define your parenting priorities
While a rule for everything is tempting, you will need to have a limited list of house rules. Deciding on what rules to have starts with being clear on what you want the priorities to be in your family.
What are the most common struggles or family issues in your home?
Many of our family house rules are based on what the common sticking points and areas of conflict in our family. Taking these into account will help ensure that your family rules will help decrease the amount of stress, family conflict, sibling issues (and maybe even yelling) in your home.
Take into account the behavior or discipline issues you want addressed
Be sure you aren’t only taking into account the tasks type issues you want to address. Also take into account the behavior problems you and your kids struggle with. These could be fighting between siblings, areas of disobedience, or a general attitude problem that can be a source of stress.
What about manners for kids?
This is something that is a common issue in families. So many of the conflicts in our family can stem from a general lack of behaving with basic manners. Take the manners you value into account when creating your rules.
Don’t make your list too exhaustive
Our family settled on 25 house rules, but we do also have a super large family of nine kids. Maybe 25 would be way too many for your family. If your list starts off long, be sure to shorten it to make it something your family can actually live with and make a part of everyday life.
Print them off
Once you have created them, be sure to print them off. I included an awesome template you can print off and fill in your own rules. Again, don’t feel like you need to fill up every line. Your list of house rules should in a large part be reflective of the amount of people in your family.
Post your family rules where everyone can see them
This is such an important step. Once you have them all written out, put them where everyone whether parents or children can see them and follow them.
Having house rules for your family are an essential way to make sure that everyone is on the same page, expectations are clear, and conflict can be diminished.
These basic ideas are a great way for your family to get started.
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