I have a really smart neighbor. I will call her PW. Since meeting her about 5 years ago, she has shared many parenting tips with me. Her kids are older….one in college, two in high school. They are sweet, hardworking, polite kids who genuinely care about each other and love their mom! Why wouldn’t I pick her brain for ideas?!
Many moons ago she mentioned that in their house they make it clear that it is a privilege to be a member of their family. I loved this! She had nailed it. It was my mission to make this mantra a part of our daily lives.
I started mentioning it when the kids were happy about something….where we were going for dinner, when we surprised them with a movie, when we let them stay up to watch TV, when they had donuts for breakfast, when we took a trip, etc, etc, etc. Every time their faces lit up and mouths cracked a smile because of something we were doing, I said “It’s a privilege to be a Mathis“. It didn’t take too long before they asked why I was saying that all the time. I happily explained:
It’s a privilege to be a
-we are alive and healthy, we have a roof over our heads, food to eat and clothes to wear, we know how to laugh and have fun together, we show our affection, we are a team and no one cares more about you than your team.
I kept it simple and it worked. They got it and agreed! From this, Team Mathis was born. Team Mathis means we stick together, don’t cause each other pain (physical or emotional), play fair and support one another ALL THE TIME. We made some simple guidelines as reminders. I avoided using the term ‘rules’ as we all know that rules are meant to be broken.
TEAM MATHIS FAIR PLAY
-asked & answered (my favorite! Instead of answering the same question over and over again, I just say “asked & answered”. You may not like my answer, but an answer was given, so stop asking)
-no name calling, be kind (simple, yet so important)
-no hurting, be nice (again, so simple, but hard to remember in the heat of an argument)
-less tattling, work it out or walk away
-no electronics on Team Mathis Night (a night when we hang out as a team)
-homework = no whining, just do it (for goodness sake, I didn’t assign it so don’t be mad at me)
-practice music/sports with a smile (you asked to participate, so step up)
-electronics only during free time (free time is announced)
-no interrupting, “excuse me”
-take care of Jagger, he’s a Mathis too
-use your manners
-say you’re sorry & take responsibility for your actions
Of course, if my family was perfect then these rules of fair play would be followed at all times. But, we are not perfect. We make mistakes. We hurt each other’s feelings. And that sucks, but it is life. We are still learning how to say ‘sorry’ and mean it and how to be in control of our actions. Something we all strive for on a daily basis!
What this has done is given us some dialogue. When the kids are fighting, we can remind them that we are a team. That the 4 of us were put together for a reason and we are going to be together forever. We wouldn’t let someone else call us names or pinch the hairs on our arms, so why would we do it to each other? It doesn’t always work and sometimes one of us needs to be removed from a situation, given time to cool down and regroup and then come back to the team. I am sure my neighbor’s kids fight too, but there is genuine love and respect between them and that is what I am shooting for! I will not give up!
I had a wall decal made for our pantry. It hangs above the door. In the pantry is also where our Team Mathis Fair Play list is located. Everyone is in the panty every day, so it seemed like the logical place! Order your own sign here.
It truly is a privilege to be a part of a loving family. I was lucky enough to grow up in one and I want my kids to realize how lucky they are. There are loads of children in the world who would happily change places with them. And if they are not a team player, they might get traded!
JUST KIDDING, of course!
I would love to steal your ideas on how your family works as a team, so please share!