4 Rules I Never Thought I’d Have to Have

Parenting is filled with unexpected moments of delight and horror in almost equal measure as far as I can tell. Your kid tells a funny joke far beyond her years, and then she head butts you and busts your lip open.

I knew there would be unexpected challenges when I became a parent, but there have been some things that have completely shocked me. Even though I’ve been a nanny, preschool teacher, and an older sister for most of my life, the innate ability of our darling child to wreak complete havoc on our lives still astounds me.

You know I’m a big fan of setting clear boundaries and making sure everyone in our lives knows the rules. But there are a few rules we’ve had to make lately that I definitely did not expect to ever have to have.

Here they are:

1)   No eating on the toilet

We usually don’t carry snacks around the house, mostly because we have a dog who will put her tongue into your hot chocolate if you so much as turn your head away for an instant (true story). However, Julia likes to take her sweet time during meal times. From what I’ve read on the subject, eating slowly is healthier, so I’ve allowed her to meander through her meals. She often spends a full hour at the table; so inevitably, she sometimes has to use the bathroom in the middle of a meal.

It never occurred to me that she would want to bring her food with her! But, kids will be kids. They have their own ideas about things. And since eating on the toilet just isn’t sanitary, this is one rule we’ve made that I had never even considered before having a child of my own.

2)   No jumping into your underwear

Last week Julia wanted to jump into her underwear. The problem is that she has no idea how hard her head is, and very little impulse control, so when Daddy said, “No. Jumping into your underwear is not safe” she was already launching herself straight up into his face. She actually gave him a concussion when the hardest part of her head hit him right between the eyes. He saw stars and was completely altered for days afterward. It’s a week later and he’s still not completely healed. We have GOT to handle this head butting thing a.s.a.p.

3)   No nails at the dinner table

For her third birthday, Julia received some construction tools (thanks Dad!). She got a vice, I built her a workbench, and she now has her own hammer and tool belt. When I taught her how to hammer in a nail she got so excited that she wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon hammering nails. Unfortunately, after about an hour it was time to go inside for dinner.

As you know, I try my best to avoid grabbing things away from my daughter, but when I told her it was time to put the nails away she held on to them like they were crucial to her very survival. I tried to talk her through it, but she was so upset she wasn’t able to think clearly and all she knew was that holding on to those nails was essential, and I was trying to get them away.

I’ll admit, I grabbed them away, reminding her that it was a safety issue since nails are sharp and they’re definitely not allowed at the dinner table.

4) If you want to lie down in the mud, you have to take your clothes off

Lately one of Julia’s favorite backyard activities is to use her watering can to create a huge mud puddle (in a designated spot, thankfully) and then play in the mud. This is all well and good and a healthy activity, but I don’t enjoy scrubbing the mud out of her shirt, pants, and underwear on a daily basis. So I’ve made a rule that she’s welcome to play in the mud puddle, as long as she takes her clothes off first. She’s still getting used to this rule and you should see the surprised looks on her grandparents faces when she announces, “I’m allowed to put my tummy in the mud, as long as I take my shirt off first!” It’s a good thing kids are washable.

I’m sure these remind you of some of the more bizarre rules you’ve had to implement. And I could use a laugh, so I hope you’ll share some with us all. What are some rules you never thought you’d have to have?

Have a great week, Shelly


Nice ones. We recently had to implement wait for mommy to get your milk, don't help yourself from the fridge. Also Toenail polish on toenails only, not knees or feet. This is hard to distinguish, because I totally let her paint all over her skin most of the time. But nail polish is different. From a more positive point of view, I usually say only play with toys at this time, in this place instead of saying when not to play with what. The high chair is only for eating food, but Rainbow bear can still sit on the tray.  The notion of how to avoid hurting another person's body even has gray areas -- today high-fives were painful, because she was discovering that I draw the line at slapping someone's chest. Only hands.

I hate rules and I hate making them for Iris. I know it's important, but mostly I want her to know we have to be flexible and cooperative. Something that is allowed at one time of day, or in one place is not ok at others at all, and she's beginning to recognize that. It's a good reminder that those lines blur easily for our little kiddos. Thanks Shelly!

AwakeShelly moderator

@SamiFournier Thanks for sharing a little bit of your world with us! Sending you all hugs, Shelly