When we raise our children, we quickly learn to setup house rules so that everyone in the household knows what their responsibilities are. It's a great tool for helping children build skills and confidence. It also makes sure that no one person is overwhelmed with too much work related to keeping your home running smoothly.
Creating, monitoring and communicating (via a family command center) the house rules is the most important task in any family unit. I remember how we needed to adjust our family house rules when we moved, or when I or my husband's travel schedules changed. House rules also change when someone retires or starts a business.
At a community event yesterday, I met a woman who said her house was really out of control as two grandchildren had recently moved in. At first I thought she might be talking about young children with tons of energy, which can be a shock to grandparents who've had a quiet house for years. It turned out that Pat's grandchildren are 18 and 20!
House rules change depending on the age of your children, and this certainly changed the advice I offered to Everyone needs to write their own house rules. To help you get started, here's advice from professional organizer Peggy Pardo, DecoratingFiles.com.
Allocating Space for Extended Family Members
You might have a large house with “spare bedrooms” until your children move out and you create rooms for your hobbies. You have fewer responsibilities and more free time to catch up on your wish list that you've been adding to for years. In my house, I have a quilt room that doubles as a guestroom and my husband has space for his astronomy gear.
Pat has sacrificed by freeing up bedrooms for her grandchildren but it means she's piled everything into her craft space and made it unusable, and that's not good. This led to a discussion about letting go of things she's owned for years, and sometimes you just need someone to give you permission to let go … so I gave Pat permission to let go of the things she hasn't used for more than a year.
Part of this discussion also focused on the memories you associate with things, as that's is what makes it hard to let go. As Pat and I had started our discussion on the subject of cameras, I explained that the best way to let go of things you don't use, is to take pictures which are much easier to store … and enjoy when you create great coffee table books.
Here are a few favorite ways to capture your special memories forever:
- Create traditional photo albums.
- Get involved in scrap booking with Creative Memories (home parties) or visit your local scrap booking store like WhollyScrap which opened the same month I started my handyman business.
- Upload your photos to Flickr, Facebook or Pinterest to share with others.
- Create digital photo albums like you can do with Linea (this is on my to do list). What I love about this solution is you can create photo albums so easily, share online and print books when you want them, e.g. for gifts.
- Create photo videos which I use for my business, like this story about one neighborhood's July 4th celebration.
House Rules for Young Adults
As our conversation continued, I asked Pat how she was spending her days. She explained how there's a lot more work to do with more people and yikes, I don't think she realized she was running a bed and breakfast for her grandchildren. My advice was very simple:
- House rules start with assigning chores to each family member.
- Each grandchild should cook dinner once a week. This might include teaching them how to cook and they're going to grumble until it becomes routine. Everyone will benefit when you sit down together for dinner … and this might be another one of your house rules.
- Each grandchild should have cleaning chores assigned that they have to complete weekly, and posting this on a chalk board somewhere that they can check off when done, will help remind everyone.
All of these ideas made a lot of sense to Pat, and she seemed to relax a bit when she realized she could reduce her workload while exerting more control over what's happening in her home. While Pat isn't currently on Facebook, she said she was willing to sign up in order to join my Savvy Homeowner Club (click to learn more) where we can continue this dialog to create a home that she can enjoy, even when her grandchildren are living with her.