The first few outings after a recent prolonged bout of illness were insane. The kids were so excited to be outside the house that it overflowed into noisy chaos. Our grocery trip was cut short. I left a fabric shop with only one item from my list (and the list consisted of "elastic" and "black thread"). Another shopping trip took 20 minutes to get two items, and ended with an old man asking if I was okay. I was, though simultaneously trying to restrain an angry Finn from running into the road, and comforting Vieve after she pinched her fingers in the car's door-handle.
Frankly, their behaviour was humiliating. After three horrible outings in a row, I felt ashamed at the thought of taking them anywhere.
I had to get on with life, though, and thankfully their behaviour returned to more manageable levels. Going out lost its novelty, and I think I've finally hit on a succinct combination of rules.
When you're dealing with twin three-year-olds, it's important to keep your instructions short, memorable, and enforceable. My three rules of shopping are:
1) Walk close.
2) Be quiet.
3) Pointing, not touching.
After the recent shopping debacles, I've resorted to kneeling down with them outside the store and asking them what the rules are. If they're not in a mood to show that they're aware of the rules, they certainly won't be willing to follow them.
Knock on wood, these rules seem to be working... and if I have to remind the kids while we're shopping, at least I get knowing grins from other people.
We have other rules in our family, of course. Some are common to most households: throwing is an outside game; no jumping in the bath; chairs are for bottoms.
Some are... more unique, and crafted from the special synergy of the personalities within our family.
My eldest son's rules, based on frequency of occurrence, would look like this:
1) Go outside if you're going to be that loud.
2) Dinner doesn't need sound effects, but it does need forks, not hands.
3) Just ask. If a batch of muffins looks tempting, just say "Could I have a muffin, please?" rather than spending 20 minutes saying "I'm so hungry. Is there anything to eat? Gosh, those muffins look good. What can I eat? I'm hungry." If you just keep saying "What can I eat?", I'll just keep replying "food".
Vieve's rules tend to be about personal habits.
1) Don't bite your toothbrush when I'm trying to brush your teeth.
2) Don't eat rice off your brother's penis.
3) No "touching your bum" on the couch. If you want to do that, you need privacy, so please go to your room. Sitting or lying on the arm of the couch also counts as touching your bum. And sweetie, I can still see you doing it even if you close your eyes.
Finn tends to be quite the ingenious troublemaker, and inspires rules born of secret mischief. His purposeful intent is indicated by an evil chortle of "ha Ha HA!". It drives me crazy.
1) No touching the spray cleaner. Definitely no using the spray cleaner to secretly fill up the kettle so that when Mummy turns it on, it bubbles and foams all over the bench.
2) Use no more than three pieces of toilet paper at a time. You should never put a full roll of toilet paper in the loo, let alone the three I had to fish out with a plastic bag glove. Toilet paper should not be used to make a trail from the toilet roll holder to the backyard, even if you're trying to pick up your own lawn-poo. *shudder*
3) As tempting as that little flappy slot on the front of the computer is, it's designed for obscure square things called "floppy disks", not cotton buds. Or nail clippers. Or sandwiches. Stop putting stuff in it! It's empty and should remain forever so!
Perhaps for the sake of brevity, I should just say "Stop doing things that it would be appropriate to say 'ha Ha HA!' after."
What rules do you have in your family?