Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony

April 9th, 2013 by Dionna | 21 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Natural Parenting, Consensual Living, Gentle/Positive Discipline, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting

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Welcome to the April 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Recipes

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing their recipes, their stories, their pictures, and their memories.


Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony at Code Name: Mama

Maybe it’s the neverending cold weather, maybe it’s a combination of five-and-a-half + a mama who has almost-but-not-quite gotten her cycle back, but things have seemed more explosive than usual the past few weeks in our house.

I’ve seen recipes for disaster and recipes for success – all under one roof. Here is what happened a couple of weeks ago. Ever since, it’s been noticeably calmer.

Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony at Code Name: Mama

A Recipe for Disaster

Start with:

  • 1 cooped up 5.5 year old
  • 1 teething, bouncing-off-the-walls toddler
  • 1 tired, cranky, hormonal mama
  • 1 overworked papa who is at the end of his rope
  • One cold, late Saturday afternoon after 5 months of winter weather

Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony at Code Name: Mama

Step 1:
Toss teething, bouncing-off-the-walls toddler’s diaper aside, because she won’t wear it anyway.

Step 2:
Sift all ingredients together in 1 house that is in desperate need of spring cleaning.

Step 3:
Combine feelings of boredom, hunger, and frustration, and sprinkle in about 2 hours of non-stop whining. {Note: Whining is not necessarily just from the cooped up 5.5 year old!}

Step 4:
Dredge up one towel to take care of teething, bouncing-off-the-walls toddler’s potty, which just went all over the carpet. Quickly whisk toddler to potty chair.

Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony at Code Name: Mama

Step 5:
Because 5.5 year old is grating (on both parents’ nerves), send him to another room. Simmer gently, and try not to boil over.

Well, except that we did boil over: the tired, cranky, hormonal mama and the overworked papa at the end of his rope ended up arguing, the cooped up 5.5 year old ended up crying, and the teething, bouncing-off-the-walls toddler got an example of how not to handle stress.

Fast forward about 24 hours, and our family was in the midst of peace talks. Here’s what we did:

Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony at Code Name: Mama

A Recipe for Family Harmony

Family Rules 6

Start with:

  • 2 apologetic parents, who had stewed overnight
  • 1 normal 5.5 year old, who is always much more calm when he feels heard and loved
  • 1 teething, bouncing-off-the-walls toddler
  • 1 morning after a really bad day

Family Rules 7

Step 1:
Start by coating children liberally with love. Homemade muffins don’t hurt either.

Step 2:
Drizzle on heartfelt apologies, and talk about how we want our family to function (we talked about respect, listening, being kind, working toward cooperation, feeling safe, etc.).

Family Rules 8

Step 3:
Make a list of possible “family rules.”1 Everyone seasons the list with rule ideas.

Step 4:
Blend ideas together into one list. Post somewhere that the whole family can see.

I think both Tom and I were skeptical about whether our family rules would be effective. What would we do if someone “broke” a rule? I searched Teacher Tom’s posts and found a comment from him that said a reminder to his preschoolers of the rules is usually enough. And it has been here, too!

Family Rules 9

The rules have helped us feel like we can regain some measure of sanity when things are teetering on the brink, and they help Kieran feel like he is going to be treated fairly when either parent is upset. I’ve scattered some of our rules throughout this post – most of them are phrased in the negative, but we threw a few positive, uplifting rules in, too.

Does your family have “family rules”? What are they, and why did you decide to enact them? How did they evolve over time?

Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony at Code Name: Mama

Wondering where my real recipe is for this month’s Carnival? You can find The Best Banana Muffin Recipe (Gluten Free & Vegan) at my guest post today over at Fine and Fair.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Three Favorite Family Recipes: To Eat, To Wash, To Play — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings is back with three family favorites: gluten-free vanilla orange sugar cookies, DIY powdered laundry detergent, and something fun for the kids: homemade “Flubber”!
  • Black Bean Soup Forever — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot shares a soup recipe that’s been around forever.
  • Do you want to know a secret? — SRB at Little Chicken Nuggets lets go of her mac and cheese recipe, a comfort food favourite for friends and family for years.
  • Creating Our Own Family Recipes — Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM shares how she’s trying to create meals that her girls will want to pass down to their own children some day.
  • Vranameer Chicken: A Family Recipe — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares a recipe that reminds her of childhood and more specifically, of her mother. It’s a South African take on sweet and sour chicken and what it lacks in healthy it makes up for in tantalising to the taste buds.
  • One Recipe, Three Uses: Dishwasher Liquid Detergent, Dish Soap, and Hand Soap — If you love saving money and time, you’ll love this green recipe from Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama, guest posting at Natural Parents Network.
  • Our Family’s Favorite Pies — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares recipes and tutorials for the quintessential American dessert.
  • Deliciously Easy Crock Pot ChiliLactating Girl shares her crock pot chili that is not only quick and easy, but awesome.
  • All-Purpose Crock Pot PorkCrunchy Con Mommy‘s simple “recipe” for cooking perfect pork in the crock pot is for whatever mood her family is in!
  • Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony — Cooped-up kids + winter weather + frazzled parents can all blend together into a recipe for disaster. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares what brought back the peace in her house.
  • Favorite Healthy Family Recipes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family’s healthy eating experiences along with links to free printable vegetarian recipes that her family has created with love.
  • Grandma’s Banana Bread — Megan at The Boho Mama has early and fond memories of her grandma’s banana bread. It’s love in a loaf!
  • Family Comfort Food — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares a recipe handed down that moms have made for their kids, for regular meals as well as to comfort.

  1. Adapted from Teacher Tom’s posts about classroom rules.

21 Responses to:
"Family Rules: A Recipe for Harmony"

  1. Crunchy Con Mom   crunchyconmom

    I love the part about trying hugs first. It’s amazing what a difference a little positive physical connection can make!
    When my son gets upset we do “3 special steps” (because are big special agent Oso fans) and our step 1 is to snuggle for a minute :) (2&3 are count to 10 and pick something new to play). Anyway, the hugging definitely helps the most.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I love the 3 special steps idea, and now I’m curious about special agent oso – I’ve never heard of him/her. Off to google!

  2. Claire   lactatinggirl

    What a cleaver way to do a recipe! I love the idea of doing family rules and I like the idea of them being ones I have to follow too. I’m definitely going to talk about this with my husband.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      These rules TOTALLY apply to us!! When it comes to how to treat other people, I think we should all live by the same rules :)

  3. Lisa Nelson   squishablebaby

    Nice. Nice blog post. I love this recipe!

    The giving people hugs after being upset reminds me of my mother and what she would make us do. We would have to go to opposite corners and then walk towards each other and give a hug.

    It worked every darn time! Smart lady she was, and smart lady you are.

    Great rules!

  4. tree peters   momgrooves

    this may be one of my favorite posts ever. And thank you for sharing that you and your husband can also be at the end of your ropes… Sometimes it feels like everyone else is so much more able to maintain balance…
    This is just so sweet and I love the way you wrote it and all the boxes with uplifting info.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Aw, thank you! And yes – we reach the end of our ropes quite often. It’s such a journey learning how to make those ropes longer :)

  5. Deb @ Living Montessori Now   DebChitwood

    I love the “Kisses are required on days that end in ‘y'” rule! It’s great that you’ll have regular family meetings. We didn’t have formal family meetings, but we often got together and talked things over as a family.

    I can’t say that we had specified family rules, although our kids grew up with Montessori principles, which have some similarities. Like Teacher Tom, I found that reminding kids of the rules when I was a teacher was generally enough.

  6. Crunchy Con Mom   crunchyconmom

    Special Agent Oso is a Disney show-we watch it on their website because we don’t have cable-and each episode he has a special assignment to help a preschooler accomplish using “3 special steps” (which are different each time depending on what his special mission is). It’s pretty cute and adapted well to our calming down routine!

  7. Momma Jorje   mommajorje

    I recently told Sasha (after apologizing for raising my voice with her… again) that she could always ask me to please not yell at her. She seemed receptive. Since then, she will sometimes ask me “Mommy, can you be nice?”

    Most of the time, it helps bring me back to where I need to be – being kind to my 3½yo baby girl. It gives me an opening to explain/ask for what I’m wanting from her. Sometimes it makes my blood warm up a bit, when I’m already making an effort to be nice (and succeeding).

    Still, its a tool that I’m SO glad I gave to her!

  8. Melissa   vibreantwanderer

    I have tried my own version of that first recipe many, many times. It’s terrible! :) I love your recipe for family harmony, though, and really appreciate your sharing it as I’m working on tweaking things in search of my own. I so appreciate the way you always share your challenges as well as your successes. It makes me feel less awful and more human as a mother to know disaster comes to other houses, too!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I don’t know of any house where disaster does not occasionally strike :) But yes – it is nice to know that we’re all on this journey together!

  9. Cady

    I have been letting the idea of family meetings mull around in my brain for a few weeks now. It seems like a great idea.

    And the hugs first thing… so true! I have found that whatever the situation may be, if I offer a hug it is usually accepted and it usually takes everything down a notch (for me and for my 3-year-old). The other day, though, when I asked if he needed a hug, his reply was “I don’t want to; Daddy, can you give Mommy a hug?” HAHA!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Hugs can almost ALWAYS diffuse a tense situation with Kieran. Of course when I’m frustrated, hugs are sadly one of the last things on my mind. I need to put our copy of this in a more prominent place so I remember!

  10. SRB   lilchicknug

    *deep breathes + tears* Oh, I needed this. Replace your kids with toddler + newborn and “spring cleaning” with “just moved” and that’s where we are. Just angry yelling, whining, and resentment all the time it seems. For good measure, it SNOWED here today. Yeah. I’ll be re-reading this a few more times and then showing my husband so we can cook this together.

  11. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    I really love the idea of family rules! I know that would go over well with our literal-minded five-year-old (I think all five-year-olds are literal-minded, right?), and he would definitely help remind us of the rules. Super cute post, by the way! :)

  12. Melinda   CongestedBaby

    This is a great post and a great idea. When my youngest son was little we had rules like “No Hitting” and “We are Nice to Each Other.” Now the rules are a little more sophisticated – no iPad during the week, and homework before legos. But they still get the job done!

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