"Can Amber sleep over?"
"Can my friend stay for dinner? Can I stay?"
Those words at one point or another can catch a parent off guard. A play date with no expectations is suddenly turned into an unexpected ordeal. Questions arise.... Do I have enough for supper, Do we have anything planned? Am I forgetting something? Is there a lesson I'm forgetting about?
Getting caught off guard, didn't always throw me for a loop but at times I realized I needed a better game plan when requests would strike, including shopping trips when the "CAN I HAVE __________?" demands would surface.
Having a game plan prior and discussing with your kids about unplanned requests can be a win/win for all. My favourite tool that I wished I had implemented sooner was what we called, "THE FIVE MINUTE RULE"
How our family implemented the rule.
First, we sat the kids down and talked about how it felt to be put in a position where we could be feeling anxious or unsure of plans, while sometimes we could say "yes" there were times that we needed, time to process a request before giving an answer. The FIVE MINUTE RULE gave us breathing room. As parents, we would listen to their requests, and not feel the need to dismiss it so quickly or to give in either. For myself, I'm a thinker, I hate being put on the spot, so our responses went from being "panic parent mode" and feeling like I just stepped into their "request trap" to giving each of us control by replying to them "I need 5 Minutes to think about your idea and I'll let you know"
We talked before hand about why that was important, that we didn't like to be put on the spot, that our answer wasn't an automatic no, it just meant we needed a moment to think and process.
Perks to using the Five Minute Rule
- They no longer would whine if they didn't get their way, as they came to expect our reply would be "Give us 5 Minutes and we'll get back to you"
- Avoided melt down moments because they were reminded of going in before hand, that any requests they asked for, the five minute rule would apply, to allow all parties to time to process. Whining didn't win them any favours and would most certainly guarantee an automatic "no"
They still would happen but they were far easier to control.
- It taught our kids that we had to be thoughtful about others and what it meant to impose on someone or on a family.
- Another perk we discovered was that our kids would some times feel pressure to invite a friend to stay, this gave them an out. We could easily invoke the "Five Minute Rule" and even take them aside to confirm if this is what they really wanted to do.
- It also gave the other parent time to think as well without added pressure on them. We could talk about the plans without our kids begging in front of us.
We went from having meltdowns to having control over situations. Which in turn gave our kids control over situations as well. Do you have a parenting strategy that works well for you and would like to share it? We'd love to hear from you, your idea may have you featured in an upcoming post! Reach us via our CONTACT PAGE or leave a comment below if you'd like to share it with us.
As a side note, we also started to do this with our kids when they were about 6 and 7 years of age.